'A Life With Steam'
by Joe Challis
Hardback. 155 x 235 mm (approximately).
Text: 320 pages including archive photographs and illustrations
supplied by the Rural
History Centre, University of Reading.
Art Section: 16 pages of both full-colour and black-and-white
photographs illustrating Joe Challis life with steam -
at work and in preservation.
Distributed by the National Traction Engine Trust, the book is
available by mail order from NTET
Sales, 90 Devon Road, Luton, Bedfordshire LU2 0RL or for
Credit Card orders by phoning (+44) 1582 733971 (after 18.00
£27.00 (including £3 p&p), or £24.00 post
free to NTET members.
This is no ordinary book - it is a revealing look behind-the-scenes
written by a man who lived, worked and breathed steam ploughing
engines from the 1920s to the 1940s before enjoying a remarkable
renaissance in the 1980s. An evocative trip back in time, A
Life With Steam is about the men and machines that were
to change the face of British agricultural life during the early
decades of the 20th Century. It is about the life and the times
of the men and their families whose livelihoods and, in many
cases, social lives depended on and centred around the steam
Centred on the Basildon Estate in Berkshire - now in the care
of the National Trust - this is a story written by a man who
is a living history book, this revealing book charts the ups
and the downs, the disappointments and joys in peace and war
- in good times and the bad. It is a rich and often humorous
tale - never dull, always absorbing - that readers will not want
to miss; a rarely seen vein of British rural life between the
first and second world wars. From 1912 to the present, A
Life With Steam is an evocative taste of yesterday - a
time not so many years ago, that now feels to many people to
be centuries away.
Born in 1912 in Berkshire, Joe began work at the age of 14 for
a firm of steam ploughing contractors as a cookboy - before being
put in charge of his own mighty ploughing set just a few years
later. Joes mighty stallions of steam were used to plough
up orchards where modern jets now take off from Londons
Heathrow Airport. He also used the lumbering equipment to demolish
houses for the then new A4 Great West Road out of London before
moving on to steam rollers for the construction of Britains
ever-burgeoning road system.
Today, people of all ages can delight in admiring preserved steam
plough engines, many formerly rusting hulks, but to hear from
one of the men who made them work - and witnessed their birth
and near death - is rare. A Life With Steam includes
rare archive pictures of steam ploughing and rural life of the
period, as well as glorious colour pictures of the steam plough
engines as they are today.
A Life With Steam is published by Finial Publishing
on behalf of the Buxworth Steam Group, with the assistance of
the Steam Plough Club and the National
Traction Engine Trust.