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Mr Cooper recalls that he was 16 years old at the start of 1967.

“In the past, I have penned and illustrated the occasional magazine article on the fifth, 25th, 35th and 40th anniversaries," he writes.

The photographs are supported by extended captions and the book contains a wealth of detail about the operation of the railways in the last years of steam.

“With the dying moments for steam, many engine men were looking for their last fling, encouraged by the many enthusiasts filling the front coaches and corridors,” he writes.

“No 35003 Royal Mail at the head of the 18.15 Weymouth-Waterloo on June 26 1967 covered the 3.3 miles between Winchfield and Fleet in 1min 56sec at an average of 102.4mph and achieved a peak of 106mph through Fleet, admittedly with a load of only five vehicles or 170 tons.” The Bournemouth Belle service, an institution since 1931, was by now mainly hauled by diesel engines, but it was pulled by steam locomotives again on July 3 and 5.

As the end of steam drew near, railway lovers made the most of opportunities to see the locomotives in service.

In the last weeks of operations, Mr Cooper notes that there were several “exceptional runs” on newly upgraded lines, on which the speed limit was to be raised to 100mph.

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