Oswestry-based writer Paul Evans published his first book – at the age of 89! Proving that age is no barrier to success, Steaming Through Life is Paul’s fascinating account of his career on the railways during the age of steam engines. It follows the author from humble beginnings in Newtown Mid Wales to his life in London and subsequently closer to home in Shrewsbury. Today, Paul is an active member of the Cambrian Heritage Railway in Oswestry.
“My biggest boyhood dream was to work on the magnificent steam horses that we think of as railway engines,” said Paul. “I started aged fourteen as lamp boy at Newtown railway station. But I was fortunate enough to carry on working on board a variety of steam engines – and I loved it all.”
Paul’s story is a memoir of life on board steam engines, filled with the adventures of a young man making his way in the world. On the one hand it is a heartfelt personal narrative – with tales of companionship and romance too – but it also tells of close shaves, pranks and near disasters. At the same time, Paul’s tale also provides an increasingly rare insight into this golden age of transport – a period which has all but gone.
“I wrote this book in longhand originally in 1959 and the books were put away safely and colleagues and friends at the Cambrian Heritage Railway insisted that I publish it as this is now important history. As I had very little idea about computers, I didn’t know how to go about getting it published, so I approached Dave Andrews who is Reader and Writer in Residence at Oswestry library. Dave has been a tremendous help to me and to my wife Jenny who has also done so much to support me. Dave has published a dozen books and has helped lots of writers. Without his knowledge and experience my book would never have made it into print.”
Though this period in our travel history has long since disappeared, people today continue to be fascinated by steam engines and Paul’s book gives us a genuine, first-hand account of life as a railwayman as we travel with him to different parts of the country. It will be a fascinating read for anyone with a passion for steam engines or an interest in the daily life of those who worked on the railways during the Golden Age of steam.
It was a 90th birthday to remember for Oswestry author Paul Evans when he met record producer and songwriter Pete Waterman at a recent railway event.
Paul presented Pete, who was a steam locomotive fireman before he joined the music industry and is still a great railway enthusiast, with a copy of his book ‘Steaming Through Life’ based on his own career on the railways.
The two were able to compare notes on their lives on the railway. It was the closure of Wolverhampton depot in 1963 which drove Pete Waterman to try and emulate his heroes, the Beatles, and make his way in music. Paul too had a change of career, but like Waterman he always retained his deep love of steam engines and continues to work as an active member of Cambrian Railways in Oswestry.
Dave Andrews, who worked as editor on Paul’s book, said, “It’s always wonderful to publish your first book but it’s an especially great achievement at the age of 89! Paul’s book is written with tremendous energy and enthusiasm and his story captures a period in the history of the railways which was almost lost. I’m delighted for him.”
Steaming Through Life is available from various outlets including Cambrian Heritage Railways shop, Oswestry Library and Branchstow Books (online) or direct from Paul at firstname.lastname@example.org. Price £8.99. plus, P&P
Paul and Pete Waterman.