You’re now reading the re-designed New Build Steam! We hope you enjoy it, as we follow and relate the unfolding story of this exciting chapter of railway heritage in the UK over the coming months and years.
Why a re-design, and why now?
It’s always desirable to keep things fresh on the web – preferably one should redesign things online before they start to look dated and the need for a refresh becomes obvious. NBS got its last visual overhaul in 2013, so a change was certainly due.
However, there’s more to the timing than that. We’re now in the run-up to a period of four or five years when new build locomotives will start to move under their own steam in the greatest numbers. Many projects will run on beyond c.2021, but probably about half of the engines currently under construction are likely to steam in the next five years starting, hopefully, in late 2017.
Accordingly, NBS is ramping up its coverage, to ensure that the site does the subject justice during this exciting period.
The regular news round-ups will continue on their (more or less) bi-monthly schedule. However, we will also be publishing ‘Question and Answer’ features with each project group. These will also appear every other month, so there should be at least one new article on the site every month – although at this deliberately measured pace, it will take a few years to get through every single project. We’ve reached out to every project group to check their willingness to participate (although not all of them have got back to us yet, so if you’re in a group please ensure the appropriate inbox has been checked!).
There will also be occasional feature articles on specific topics, sometimes looking at specific aspects of new builds, and sometimes going beyond the regular scope of the site. The first is on museum replicas, and feature articles will appear roughly quarterly (though we can’t promise they’ll all be as extensive as that one!).
With more content and more variety in it, the site’s layout has been changed from its traditional blog format to a more ‘magazine’-type approach. It is still navigable using the categories listed at the end of each article, and from the drop-down menu on the right-hand side of the homepage.
The first of the new content will appear shortly after this post, with two Q+As and a news round-up, plus the feature on replicas, to kick things off. Things will settle into the pattern described after that, with one more news round-up before the end of the year.
The static pages on the site (‘About this site‘ and ‘What is new build steam?‘) have also been updated. A new page has also been added, listing all the projects covered here, with basic information and a link to the appropriate website.
The website’s scope is the same as ever: new build, standard gauge steam locomotives. For clarity, we’ve arrived at a definition of ‘new build’ as something that satisfies one or both of the following categories: it is built essentially from scratch; and/or the locomotive is of a class not represented in the UK steam fleet immediately prior to its construction. All the current projects satisfy the latter criterion, albeit not all satisfy the first; but in the event that a second new locomotive of the same class is built, it would still count under the first criterion.
Although we know it disappoints some readers, narrow gauge projects remain out of scope, for well rehearsed reasons: new build narrow gauge projects are nothing new, and there is not the clear-cut divide between narrow gauge ‘new build’ and ‘heritage’ that exists in standard gauge (the first new locos for heritage lines were built while Britain was still manufacturing narrow gauge steam locos on an industrial basis, for export). Plus covering the many new narrow gauge locomotives that get built would probably more than double the number of projects we’d have to monitor!
Broad gauge locomotives, diesels and projects outside the UK are all out of scope as well. However, they may be contenders for future one-off feature articles, and will crop up in the news round-ups when there are significant developments (and the same goes for narrow gauge).
How to access and follow New Build Steam
While you can of course simply point a browser at the website and read it in the traditional way, there are many other ways of keeping up to date with New Build Steam. You can subscribe to the site’s RSS feed, or sign up for email alerts whenever a new post is published using the box on the home page.
If you have photos of new build engines – running, or under construction – to share, you can add them to the Flickr group. Unlike the main site, the scope of this group extends beyond standard gauge UK steam, so photos from wider ‘new build’ projects are welcome – the only rule is that the photos should be of heritage projects, so no photos of freshly imported class 88s please!
In social media, you can follow us on Twitter and Facebook (the Google+ page is no more… we can reinstate it if there is clamour for it, but on past evidence we don’t expect there to be!). If you’re a user of WordPress.com, you can directly ‘follow’ this site via WordPress’s in-built functionality.
As part of the re-launch we had hoped to publish an app drawing most of the above content together for viewing on Android and Apple devices. Unfortunately our intended provider has stopped offering this service, but we may re-visit the idea if a suitable product becomes available. Thoughts or preferences about accessing the site’s content via mobile devices will be welcome in the comments or via social media. In the meantime, the new template is responsive and should display well on mobile devices.
Fantasy New Build Steam
A feature article currently being considered is a poll of what class of locomotive readers would most like to see built, that doesn’t currently exist and isn’t planned for construction.
Obviously this would just be a bit of fun – anyone who’s really keen to see a particular class revived should follow the example set by others and get cracking on it! But as a bit of amusement, a poll will be run on New Build Steam around the turn of the year.
So if you’ve got a particular favourite that you’d like to see revived – even if it’s unlikely or impractical – name it in the comments below, or via social media, and the best suggestions will go into the poll for everyone to vote on. But do check the latest news round-up when it’s published, as one or two likely candidates have recently been announced for future construction!