“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”
— Mark Twain

The Chinese Emperor’s Train in Suffolk? Yes, Sebald was pulling our leg

Posted: May 1st, 2014 | 1 Comment »

Back in July 2011 I blogged about the writer WG Sebald, who in his masterpiece of travel writing The Rings of Saturn tells of a train, once belonging to the Guangxu emperor, that had been brought home and ran on a small line in Suffolk – the full story from Sebald here and some film of the old train concerned here. Well, apparently it’s a bogus tale. A regular China Rhymer contacted me to inform that Ransome and Rapiers, the manufacturers of the train, never exported any trains to China and that they never made any trains that would fit Chinese rail gauges – so that’s that lovely tale blown out of the water. Ho hum….

But here anyway is an undated picture of the Chinese Imperial train all decked out and running on the small line that followed the Tartar Wall around Peking (which I’ve blogged about here, way back in 2008)


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One Comment on “The Chinese Emperor’s Train in Suffolk? Yes, Sebald was pulling our leg”

  1. 1 Peter Crush said at 5:58 pm on May 3rd, 2014:


    Before you drop yourself into more hot water with untrue Chinese myths about an Emperor’s train ending up in Suffolk, England………….

    You should perhaps borrow (or perhaps buy ?) a copy of my recent publication “Imperial Railways of North China” available in snooty Chinese bookshops. It explains much about the locomotive depicted on the colour-tinted postcard you have just added to your web site. It had little connection with the Peking Round-City which didn’t open until 1915.

    The “station” building you identify as Hatamen station was in fact only a signal box. The Hatamen gate lay approximately half way between the railway terminus at Cheng Yang Men ( Zhengyangmen) and Tung Pien Men ( Dongbianmen) station. Sorry to destroy another Chinese railway myth.

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