In this lavishly illustrated book Geoffrey Wheeler has drawn on a lifelong love of railways reaching back over fifty years, from his first contact with steam locomotives, to the realisation in January 1945 of a youthful ambition - that of becoming part of the Great Western Railway. In addition to many black and white photographs, Geoffrey Wheeler illustrates his story with a selection of his highly acclaimed locomotive portraits, the meticulous production of which has been spread over many years and which, he hopes, depict that deep-rooted love of steam engines - and not only those belonging to the Great Western. Among the 24 full-colour portraits by this 'Master of Locomotive Art' are Flying Dutchman, Gooch, La France, Flying Scotsman, Mallard and Duchess of Sutherland. As well as appealing to dyed-in-the-wool steam enthusiasts, Geoffrey Wheeler hopes to reach those who simply had a fleeting love affair with steam trains. He aims to attract the model railwayfraternity and, in particular, the 'rivet counters' - those who search painstakingly for detail, as he has done, spending countless hundreds of enjoyable hours unearthing not only technical details and oddities, but liveries, too - those dating back to an age when distinctive colour schemes, no matter how ornate, seemed always to complement the shapes to which they were applied. As Geoffrey Wheeler has studied, researched, drawn and colour each engine - from mighty express locomotives to humble branch-line enginges - so each in its turn has endeared itself to him and received its share of enthusiasm. It is Geofrrey Wheeler's hope that the reader, be he (or she) a keen student of railway history or railway modeller, or, simply, a casual browser, will recapture the love and admiration for the steam locomotive that has gone into the shaping of this book.