16 railway books on train driver's anecdotes have been published by the Footplate Padre from 1984 to 1996. These readable and mostly handbag size books of 160 pages created in the railway reading public a growing thirst for all things railway.
What was discovered in this period of marketing through newsagents and bookshops in this 12 year period was that the largest buys were women -
Daughters buying a gift for their grand fathers and fathers / Wives buying a gift for their fathers, husbands and sons.
This research finding was not a surprise as it created an on-going purchase routine as the men folk enjoyed these railway books so much.
The stories or anecdotes related to real-life railway working and as many Australians have had a family connection with the railways the tales were recognised as being true to railway life and experiences.
For railway men, the stories in these tomes were something they could identify with and enjoy a chuckle along the way as so many of them related to what they themselves have experienced or saw first hand.
Truth is stranger than fiction is certainly true for the anecdotes contained in these books and yet when told to non-railway people the specifics are such that often the related relevance goes right over the top and many a person has simply shaken their head in dismay.
Titles of these 16 railway books
Driving Trains the Australian Way - Nat Library 0 9591102 3 2
Tales of the Footplate - Nat Library 0 9591102 5 9
Driving Trains: New Revised Edition - Nat Library 0 9592201 6 7
From the Driver's Seat - Nat Library 0 959 1102 8 3
Australian Diesel Locomotive Handbook - Nat Library 0 9591102 83
The Southern Aurora - Nat Library 0 9591102 9 1
Train Driver's Stories - Nat Library 1 875425 00 1
Railway Drama - Nat Library 1 875423 0 1
Ripping Good Railway Yarns - Nat Library 1 875432 0 2
Tales of the Footplate Revised - Nat Library 1 875432 0 3
Steam Stories - Nat Library 1 875423 04 4
All Night Sitter - Nat Library 1 875423 05 2
Steamy Old Stories - Nat Library 1 8754213 06 0
Grease Rag Yarns - Nat Library 1 875427 07 9
Railway Chronicles - Nat Library 1 875423 08 7
Footplate Yarns of Old - Nat Library 1 875423 09 5
Media comments on these books
These books received many very favourable reviews in the major press – memorable articles appeared in the Adelaide Advertiser, Sydney Daily Telegraph, The Age, Brisbane Courier Mail and the like.
The highly technical railway enthusiasts were not so generous as they were disappointed that the train driver's anecdotes focused on "stories" rather than "technical data" such as the diameter of a roods and motion nut, or the ppi of a particular boiler. These books of mine were not those types of railway publications.
The Footplate Padre received many many letters in the mail over that 12 year period from railway families and in many cases, this led to their retired train driver family members contributing to these 16 books.
It was this personal contract that gave the Footplate Padre the most joy as it led to more than just a conversation, rather towards a pastoral network. The Footplate Padre found himself a fresh and meaningful ministry.
In each book the Footplate Padre relayed one story that directly related to Christian things. This too led to conversations and more one to one ministry and family ministry.
Today, the Footplate Padre is invited to corporate, service club and church functions where he shows a video extract of a DVD of the 38 Class at high speed with the fireman at work, explaining this was his job in the late 60s. The men love to see this and then ask many questions.
Quite a remarkable niche ministry. Should anyone wish the Footplate Padre to visit your outreach or corporate function – email@example.com 0419 917 7130419 917 713 - ask for Dr Mark T.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html