March 1935 saw the publication of the first RCTS booklet, the original Locomotive Stock Book. This was a momentous event , not only for the Society but also in the railway enthusiast world as hitherto no up-to-date complete list of all the locomotives running on the main line railways of Great Britain had been available. The booklet also included the locomotives of the Midland & Great Northern Joint Committee, London Passenger Transport Board and Cheshire Lines Committee. This pioneer publication not only raised the status and profile of the fledgling RCTS but also led to a growth in membership. It was issued free to members and was available at a sum of 1/- (5p) to non-members.
Following the instant success of the Stock Book, annual editions were produced up to the outbreak of World War Two in 1939.Each new edition introduced extra features, such as lists of named locomotives and the stock lists of the Irish railways , and minor companies. In addition illustrations were included of all classes of locomotives that had been rendered extinct during the year in question. The 1939 edition ran to 54 pages and cost 2/6d (12 1/2p).Wartime caused a break in the run of this publication but the 1946 edition caught up on the missing years. Following the end of the steam era on British Railways, the 1969 Stock Book was the last one produced in the original format.
Despite wartime restrictions on printing 1941 saw the issue of The Locomotives of the LNER ,1923-1937 by K. Risdon Prentice and Peter Proud, 136 pages , price 3/6d (17 1/2p).This book had first appeared as a series of articles published in The Railway Observer. This publication triggered an important extension of the RCTS’s activities.
In 1951 came the giant step of the publication of Part 1 of the renowned Locomotives of the GWR. For the first time the task was undertaken of writing a complete history of every locomotive owned by a major company. This authoritative project was rounded off in 1993 when Part 14 was published.
In 1954 the Society considered reprinting and expanding the book on LNER locomotives. By then the GWR series was already highly regarded and it was decided that the LNER stock should be dealt with in a similar fashion. Part 1 Preliminary Survey was published in 1963 and the last of 19 volumes Part 11 Supplementary Information was published in 1994 to fully cover the subject. Like the GWR series this was another team effort and lasting friendships were forged in the process of achieving the objective.
1960 saw the start of Donald Bradley’s history of Locomotives of the Southern Railway and its constituent companies.Again, these publications were a tour-de-force and like the GWR and LNER series left little else for future historians to say because of the comprehensive and detailed coverage of the subjects.
Between 1986 and 1992 the Society published a four part series covering Great Northern Locomotive History from 1847-1922 by Norman Groves and this was followed by a comprehensive survey of the BR Standard Classes in five volumes, released between 1994 and 2012. All of these are still available except Volume 4 – the 9F 2-10-0 Classes.
In 1999 the Society commenced the publication of the four parts of The Great Northern Railway in the East Midlands by Alfred Henshaw completed in 2003, which have all sold out.
Currently the LMS locomotives are receiving similar attention, with books on the Highland Locos (2 volumes in 1988 and 1990) LMS Locomotive Names (1994) the Evolution of LMS Locomotive Boilers (1999), the Jubilees (2006), Hughes and Stanier 2-6-0s (2009), two volumes on Black Fives (2013 and 2015) and Pacifics (2017) already published.
With volumes on the Royal Scots and the Patriots in the pipeline it is safe to say that RCTS publishing remains well to the fore of the history of steam power in Great Britain.
It is not only locomotives that feature in the Society’s publishing programme as many other worthy subjects have been covered down the years beginning in 1966 with Tom Routhwaite’s The Railways of Weardale. Other recent titles have been The Railways of Keynsham and Plymouth’s Railways in the 1930s both by Russell Leitch and The Birkenhead Railway (LMS & GW Joint) by T.B.Maund.