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Posted By Robert. Stephenson

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Posted By Robert. Stephenson
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Bidder Street, E16, is one of the oldest streets in Canning Town and is named after the railway engineer George Parker Bidder (1806-1878). Bidder came to West Ham with Robert Stephenson in the 1840s. He was the engineer responsible for the building of the Thames Junction Railway, (better known as the North Woolwich Line) in 1847. He was also the chief designer for the Royal Victoria Dock, and later for the London, Tilbury and Southend railway line. This picture is from the Illustrated London News of March 1856.

Did you know?

As a boy Bidder had been known as the ‘calculating boy’, because of his amazing ability to do sums quickly in his head. He toured fairs earning money by showing off his skills to the public.

Posted By Robert. Stephenson

As reported in the Manchester Evening News


The 1937 locomotive Manchester United. The nameplate, on the side of the train, is to go under the hammer this weekend and is expected to fetch between £80,000 to £100,000. (Picture: The Model Centre - TMC)

The 1937 locomotive Manchester United. The nameplate, on the side of the train, is to go under the hammer this weekend and is expected to fetch between £80,000 to £100,000. (Picture: The Model Centre - TMC)


Auctioneers hope the restored piece will fetch between £80,000 and £100,000 when it goes up for grabs this weekend. It took pride of place on the 1937 Robert Stephenson-built steam engine that operated between Manchester and Marylebone, one of a number which took the name of football clubs.

When the train was scrapped in 1960 the surviving nameplate was snapped up by a collector for the £15.

And when he passed away it was bought for £17,500 by a Florida-based expat who restored it to glory.

It goes under the hammer again on Saturday at Derbyshire County Cricket Club – and is expected to break the £60,000 record for the amount paid for a loco nameplate.

United bosses say they are aware of the relic but have no plans to buy it for the club’s museum. However, Chris Dickerson, from auctioneers Sheffield Railwayana, said the nameplate has sparked unprecedented interest.

He said: “We have had a record number of hits on our website and we have already had people contact us to tell us they will be there on Saturday.”

He added that it was particularly popular given United’s historic links with the railway – the club was founded as a railway workers’ team in Newton Heath.

Chris said that the train version of Manchester United had lived a ‘nomadic existence’.

Chris added that there is also a Manchester City nameplate – which is part of a private collection.

Posted By Robert. Stephenson

David Williams has reported progress on his historical novel Mr Stephenson's Regret which is to be published by Wild Wolf in the Spring.  On his web site he says "Final preparations like this are by turns interesting, tedious and worrisome as one labours to ensure the book is ship-shape and ready for the voyage, for there's no turning back after the launch. There are quite a few tasks involved.

Between the covers and the story

As well as the blank flyleaves you might find at either end of a book, there is the title page and often some printed matter, which the publisher prosaically calls front matter and back matter. In preparing for publication, the author will usually have some part to play in what goes on these printed pages. Some books include a foreword, preface or introduction from the author. In this case I have written a short note reminding the reader that Mr Stephenson's Regret is a novel not a history, and explaining in a paragraph how I've dealt with the question of historical accuracy. I've also included in my short introduction a few acknowledgements, and ended the note with a dedication. As my contribution to the back matter, I have updated my profile as Wild Wolf like to include a little biographical information about the author inside the back cover.

The covers

Peter Fussey is the Wild Wolf artist who was responsible for the outstanding cover of my first novel 11:59 and it's Peter who has been given the task again for Mr Stephenson's Regret. Peter is more accustomed to the thriller and horror genres which are Wild Wolf's stock in trade, but I'm confident he will come up with another excellent cover for my work of historical/literary fiction. My job is to brief him properly. I think our challenge is to get the subject across effectively without making the book look either like a history or a work of romantic historical fiction. I've sent him a few suggestions and one fairly detailed brief for my preferred option which focuses on the young Robert and his new wife Fanny, with the iconic Rocket engine in the background. I'm looking forward to seeing what Peter can come up with.

For the back cover I have written a 'blurb' that I hope will attract the interest of the browsing book-buyer. One of the difficulties of a first edition is that before publication there are normally no reviews to quote from. In this case, however, we have an excellent pre-publication review from the influential Publisher's Weekly. An extract from the review is going on the back cover under the blurb. For your interest, this is what it says:

"This richly detailed and meticulously researched storyline breathes life and a palpable sense of intimacy into these historical figures and immerses readers in an England embroiled in political and social upheaval as it teeters on the cusp of the industrial revolution."





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