The 1896 Light Railways Act - the law that made heritage railways possible

The 1896 Light Railways Act – the law that made heritage railways possible explores the enduring impact of the 1896 Light Railways Act which was designed to speed up the official procedures for gaining approval to construct a railway line. Originally intended to lapse in 1901, it was extended instead, and somehow stayed on the statute books long after is use had ceased. Then, in the 1960s, groups of steam railway enthusiasts recognised it as a possible means of gaining approval to re-open stretches of railway lines which had been closed by Dr. Beeching and keep the steam dream alive. More than half a century later, some of these restored lines have already celebrated their golden jubilees, and their popularity continues to grow. Thanks to the unintended consequence of that 1896 Act, each new generation since Beeching has had – and will continue to have – the opportunity to enjoy the magic of steam trains. 


The 96-page book, illustrated in colour throughout with a mixture of modern photography and Edwardian images, published in softback by Amberley Publishing price £14.99.



The Victorian Photographs of Dr. Thomas Keith and John Forbes White is still available from John Hannavy Publishing, the remaining hardback copies now reduced to half price, just £10.00 + P&P

To order a copy, use the Contacts page.


The Governor – controlling the power of steam machines will be published in hardback and e-book on 30 November 2021 by Pen & Sword Transport Books. The hardback will be priced at £30. Click on the book cover, below to log on to where you can see all of my currently available books. 

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All images and text © John Hannavy