A Steamy Romance

STEAM DREAMS

INSPIRED: The Cathedrals Express leaves Salisbury

You don't need to know a bogie from a driving wheel to feel the romantic tug of the age of steam-train travel. A day spent aboard England's Cathedrals Express, chuffing from London to spired cities like Salisbury, Canterbury or Bath and back, is a mighty whiff of postwar nostalgia — and a glimpse into the obsessive otherworld of the trainspotters, who track locomotives the way some folks watch birds.

The service is run by the tiny Steam Dreams company with the aid of volunteers who maintain vintage locomotives like the 1945-built Bodmin. Its 1960s cars are wood-paneled, the...

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