Castle at Starcross by Mike Jeffries

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An image of a painting of about 25 years ago depicting a Castle class 4.6.0 approaching Starcross with an Up express for Paddington. Starcross was the site of one of the pumping stations for Brunel’s ill-fated atmospheric railway which was an attempt to replace locomotive hauled trains with a system using a vacumn in a central pipe to propel a train along the rails. Needless to say this brave experiment was a failure and abandoned after a few years but a few of the buildings that housed the machinery have survived, the one at Starcross being a museum now.

Painted in oils on canvas ten or more years ago a painting like this would cost about £2500.

You may download any image for personal or non-commercial use only.

Please remember this image is protected by International copyright law.

Prints of this image are available from:

Ex footplateman, soldier, lorry driver, bus driver who lives in the past.

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  • F.A. Moore
    F.A. Mooreover 2 years ago

    Gorgeous. You are a meticulous painter, Mike. The beauty and clarity of your work is fabulous.

  • Thank you Frannie, you are such a loyal fan of my efforts.

    – Mike Jeffries

  • Aggpup
    Aggpupover 2 years ago

    Nice image of an historic location. I wonder if Brunel would have been more successful with today’s materials to form the vacuum.

  • Thanks Dave, I think you have a point, it was a good concept but the engineering of the 1850s just wasn’t up to the job, it did work and perhaps there could be a future for it, who knows.

    – Mike Jeffries

  • Robin Monroe
    Robin Monroeover 2 years ago

    cool capture:)

  • Robin Monroe
    Robin Monroeover 2 years ago

    oops, I see this is a painting…fantastic painting it is so realistic:)

  • Thank you Robin, I love your work it is such fun and honest with a joie de vivre that reflects your sunny personality.

    – Mike Jeffries

  • F.A. Moore
    F.A. Mooreover 2 years ago

    I am an absolute fan, Mike.

    (It is my goal to own an original one day.)

  • Which one would you like, perhaps we can do a deal!

    – Mike Jeffries

  • Edward Denyer
    Edward Denyerover 2 years ago

    Excellent as usual Mike. – Ted

  • Beatrice Cloake
  • Garterblue
    Garterblueover 2 years ago

    A beautiful painting but, ahem! Why was Brunel’s project “needless to say” a failure?

    This is a modern trend which fails to recognise that all technical progress is a step into the unknown and success and failure go hand in hand. The Victorians were completely at home with this and that included the press. This modern trend for belittling ventures which don’t succeed is modern media run alongside the low standing accorded to engineering at large. And we wonder why engineering attracts insufficient numbers of talented individuals these days?


  • In terms of being a practical solution AT THE TIME it was a failure, I have not belittled Brunel’s brave experiment by stated that historical fact. That the atmospheric system proved after a trial period not to be the answer and to those of us who are familar with its failure the term "needless to say " is used in that context. I hold no truck with what you term any modern trend, in fact I despair at the antics of the present day media who cater in the main to the lowest common denominator.

    – Mike Jeffries

  • 2cimage
    2cimageover 2 years ago

    HI Steve,

    Brunel’s first practical application of the Brunel’s ill-fated atmospheric railway was on the Dublin and Kingstown Railway’s in Ireland. This 1.75-mile (2.82 km) line was built by Vignoles and operated between 1844 and 1854 before & outlasting the the South Devon, London & Croydon systems. The railway operated on Vacuum power via a 15-inch (380 mm) pipe was used for the ascent to Dalkey, speeds of up to 40 mph (64 km/h) being achieved, and the return journey was by means of gravity. One of the main reasons and possibly the same as the the south Devon sections failure was leather seals on the pipes due to rats. The local rat population took a liking to devouring the greased leather seals on the pipes and continually sabotaged the pressure by letting air leak in and destroy the pressure, thus hampering the operation. In truth running steam was more practical over these sections.

  • heatherfriedman
    heatherfriedmanover 2 years ago

    You are EXTREMELY talented…….

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