This section contains the full reviews of books featured in the Trains On-line magazine and referred to in the specific review pages on this site...

Modelling Aspects of the Coal Industry, Book Law Publications. ISBN: 1 899624 43 0.

GIVEN that coal not only provided the principal energy source for Britain’s railways, but also a major source of freight income, it is surprising that there have been so few modelling books devoted to it.

Most modellers—especially those recreating the BR or pre-BR steam eras—will have coal wagons running on their layout, but with few exceptions (on the exhibition circuit at least) it is rare to see a coal mine as a key feature of a layout.

There may well be good reasons for this. After all, modelling a coalmine requires a lot of space doesn’t it?

Having read Rob Johnson’s new book, Modelling Aspects of the Coal Industry I am now not so sure, for he makes a convincing argument for including one in a corner of a layout ...and if you have to feature an industry why not a coal mine, or the pit head gear at least.

The truth is the visible parts of a coal mine varied enormously in size and in some areas, such as Somerset and Bristol and the Forest of Dean, they were often of quite modest proportions.

And, if you can’t find space for the pit, why not include the customer’s facilities, which ranged from huge dockside coaling plants to humble staithes catering for two or three wagons.

There are five sections—the collieries, industrial locomotives, coal traffic (trains and wagons), exporting the coal, and the customers—and all are exceptionally well illustrated, albeit in black and white.

The illustrations themselves range from the late 1800s to the 1950s and 1960s, when coal was still a major, if dwindling, element of the British railway scene.

Their content is fascinating; chronicling an age and a technology that has now been largely forgotten…a time when ships not only conveyed coal but were also powered by it, when open-cabbed locos were common in industry and wooden bodied wagons were the rule not the exception.

There are also detailed picture captions and explanations of what the principal pit structures were and the roles that they played in what used to be one of the country’s biggest industries.

If that were not enough to inspire the modeller, the author has included a comprehensive modelling guide complete with 4mm/ft scale drawings of the key buildings and hints on both kit bashing and scratch building.

At a penny short of £20 this is a book that ought to be on every modeller’s bookshelf. Excellent!

Back to top

Britain’s Historic Railway Buildings: An Oxford Gazetteer of Structures and Sites, Oxford University Press. ISBN: 1 3579108642.

BRITAIN is well blessed with historic buildings, examples of most styles stretching back to Saxon times can be found if you know where to look, and while railway buildings do not have such an ancient pedigree, examples exist that have their origins right at the beginnings of rail transport.

Of course, knowing where to find them is the tricky bit, but the task has been made a lot easier, thanks to the efforts of Gordon Biddle, author of Britain’s Historic Railway Buildings.

This gazetteer of structures and sites examines and catalogues the railway legacy left to us by the Victorians and their predecessors…and what a rich and fascinating one it has proved to be.

Of course, ‘modernisation’ has swept away some important structures, such as William Parson’s Classical structure for the Midland Counties Railway in Campbell Street, Leicester, replaced in 1895 by Trubshaw’s London Road station.

In more recent times the ‘modernisers’ have turned their attention to other fine buildings and structures, such as the Doric arch at Euston and the former GWR station in Birmingham, Snow Hill.

Despite this onslaught, many buildings and structures have survived to be ‘listed’ or given a new lease of life, and it is these that form the core of this fascinating ‘armchair’ tour of Britain’s railways, past and present.

The introductory pages include a section that takes a look at the nature of railway buildings; stations, bridges, viaducts, tunnels, stations, signal boxes, houses, hotels, goods sheds, engine sheds and the materials from which they were constructed.

If you have read any of Pevsner’s guides the format to this gazetteer will be familiar, with the country divided up into 11 sections and the counties within each being covered alphabetically.

Key structures—some no longer with us—are identified and described and there are illustrations (all black and white) were appropriate.

This book lays no claims to being a modeller’s book, but anyone with an interest in the general railway scene—past and present—will find this an intriguing reference work.

Back to top

Rail Liveries: Privatisation 1995-2000, Ian Allan Publishing Ltd. ISBN: 0 7110 2783 8.

BRITAIN’S rail industry has undergone many changes over the years.

The 1990s politically inspired ‘privatisation’ is the latest and while many rail users have not welcomed the change, the range of new liveries it spawned has been an undoubted ‘plus’ for modellers.

Keeping track of the changes has, however, not been easy, so Colin Boocock’s book Railway Liveries: Privatisation 1995-2000 is a good starting point for anyone modelling the current era.

That is not to say the book will meet all your needs; after all the original 25 train operating companies have gradually been reduced in number, while the liveries continue to evolve.

Rail Liveries, however, is not simply a catalogue of colour pictures, but looks at the reasons for a ‘brand’ image, and includes a useful chapter on ‘how it is done’.

There’s also an interesting appendix section that covers experimental and unofficial liveries, departmental stock, advertising liveries, and colour definitions using standard or manufacturer’s paint identification codes.

All the principal main line and regional passenger operators are covered, as are the parcel and freight operators, though the most recent stock variations are obviously not included.

Illustrated throughout with excellent colour photographs and supported by an authoritative text this is a useful book for modellers, though at £19.99 some may think it a little expensive.

Back to top

British Railways Past and Present: Manchester and South Lancashire, Past & Present Publishing. ISBN: 1 85895 197 6

THIS volume covering an area centred on Manchester and the routes radiating from it, takes in some 90 locations and features more than 250 photographs in the usual format.

A complex and extensively worked area of the network, it was once home to dozens of competing lines, a myriad of branches, and served a range of heavy industries.

The inevitable rationalisation that followed the Beeching Report (1963) saw the closure of a number of main line stations, including Manchester Central (adapted for use as the G-Mex exhibition hall) and Bolton Great Moor Street.

Despite this, rail remains a vibrant part of the local transport system and authors Paul Shannon and John Hillmer’s Manchester and South Lancashire P&P demonstrates this well.

Many of the photographs in the book date from the 1950s when the railway network was largely intact, though there are interesting examples from earlier periods, such as an LNER K3 (202 is clearly visible on its buffer beam) approaching Guide Bridge in September 1945.

Steam and early BR diesels dominate the motive power pictured, but examples of more modern power in the shape of Voyagers, Class 66s and Metro-Link trams can also be found.

As might be expected of an area that featured a wide range of pre-grouping companies, there is a wealth of pictorial inspiration for modellers (signal boxes, station buildings, etc.); the pictures really deserve close scrutiny.

At £15.99 it is a shade expensive for a small soft back book, but nevertheless is recommended.

Back to top

West Country Engine Sheds, Ian Allan. ISBN: 0-7110-2904-0

MANY rail enthusiasts will be familiar with the term ‘shed bunking’—the unofficial visiting of railway engine sheds—and many, no doubt succumbed to the lure of such forbidden places.

Sometimes, if they happened to have a camera with them, there would be selection of photographs to add to their trawl of loco numbers.

Author Maurice Dart was among this band of ‘adventurers’ and visited and photographed many engine sheds, often with the permission denied so many of his contemporaries.

 Living in the West Country he travelled widely, visiting all the engine sheds—both of Southern and GWR origin—in the area to capture scenes that have long receded into history.

Drawing on his own extensive collection and those of other photographers, such as R.C.Riley, Mike Daly, R.J.Buckley and others, he has compiled a fascinating pictorial tribute to the sheds that once supplied the locos for the region.

Given the dominance of the Great Western, and the Western Region (BR) it is hardly surprising that the ex-Southern sheds take up only a third of the books 96 pages, though there is also a small selection of industrial shed scenes.

Each shed in the area, from 72A Exmouth to 83G Penzance, is covered along with many of the associated sub-sheds, such as Helston, Padstow, Ashburton and Kingsbridge.

Many of the photographs are in monochrome, but there are plenty of colour images and all are of excellent quality.

West Country Engine Sheds (£16.99) is a great book for rail enthusiasts and is especially useful for anyone planning to include a shed scene on their layout.

Back to top

British Railways Past and Present: Surrey and West Sussex, Past and Present Publishing. ISBN:  1 85895 002 3.

As always with this series there’s a selection of pairs of photographs offering the reader a ‘past and present’ comparison, with the more recent pictures taken at, or near, the location of the original.

Surrey and West Sussex, compiled by Terry Gough, contains more than 200 photographs and covers an area that includes Woking, Guildford, Dorking, East Grinstead, Horsham, Chichester and Littlehampton.

It takes in sections of the former LSWR main line, the former LBSC main line and the SouthCoast line, the ex-SE&CR Guildford-Tonbridge line and a number of branch lines.

In all there are more than 85 locations, each of which is listed in a handy index at the rear of the book. Many of the ‘past’scenes feature stations and their associated structures, such as footbridges and signal boxes.

The photographs include a good selection of steam locomotives, many of pre-BR origins, such as classes E4, Q, M7, N and U1, together with a selection of third rail stock, including ex-Southern 4-COR, 2-BIL and 2-HAL EMUs.

While the core lines remain, there are some sad comparisons. Petworth station, though still standing is without trains, while the stations at Midhurst, Bramber, and Elstead have been replaced by housing, new roads and industrial development respectively.

If you model the Southern, you will undoubtedly find much here to interest you and will think the £14.99 well spent.

Back to top

Diesels in the Midlands, Ian Allan Publishing. ISBN: 0-7110-3017-0.

THE Midlands has long been the focus of railway activity and was once the home to many non-BR railway equipment manufacturers, including Brush at Loughborough and the Birmingham Railway and Carriage & Wagon Company.

Former Midland Railway, LNWR, GWR, GCR, GNR and a number of other pre-grouping companies had main lines running through the area.

Suburban services around Birmingham were as complex and intensive as any anywhere and were among the first to be converted to DMU operation.

Author Derek Huntriss has drawn together a fascinating collection of photographs taken during the late 1950s and 1960s, using images captured on film by a number of notable photographers of the period.

These include Hugh Ballantyne, John Whiteley M. Mensing and Gavin Morrison.

The 85, or so, colour photographs show diesel traction across the region during the period and alongside the inevitable pictures of Classes 25/31/40/45/47 are some unusual and rare images.

The Blue Pullmans, introduced on the Wolverhampton-Paddington route in 1959 are featured  (pages 3/27), as is the pioneering LMS locomotive 10001, pictured at Nuneaton in May 1963.

There’s also an unusual picture of former ex-GWR railcar W22W in carmine and cream livery hauling a non-corridor third at Leamington Spa in1955.

The pictures, however, also reflect a changing scene.

A number of the routes have now disappeared, or been rationalised, while many of the locomotives themselves were scrapped long ago. Stations and lineside buildings, too, have not escaped the march of time and a detailed look at the content of the photographs can be rewarding.

Lost stations include ‘old’ Snow Hill, Dudley, Nottingham Victoria, while others such as Rugby (Midland) have changed beyond recognition.

At £14.99 this collection of ‘green-diesel era’ photographs is worth every penny and well worth adding to the rail modellers collection.

 Back to top

Past and Present: Dorset, a second selection. Past and Present Publishing. ISBN: 1-85895-219-0.

IT’S eight years since authors Terry Gough and David Mitchell put together a selection of pictures for Past and Present’s first Dorset volume (number 29).

This, their second volume (number 44), features more than 230 photographs, which, wherever possible, show locations not previously visited.

Inevitably, they have included some stations shown in the previous book, but with different views, and where possible reflecting the changes that have taken place since 1996.

This book, while following the same format as the rest in the series, is better balanced than some previous volumes and has a good mixture of steam and diesel locomotive hauled trains and multiple units.

The principal lines covered include Weymouth-Dorset, Upwey-Abbotsbury, Weymouth-Christchurch, the Swanage line and the Weymouth Tramway.

As always with the P&P series, there is much in the images to interest the modeller—signal boxes, footbridges, road bridges, tunnel mouths, station buildings and signal gantries (there’s a fine one at Yeovil Junction—p117).

In addition, there are a number of photographs from the early 1900s, including Abbotsbury, West Bay and Yetminster stations.

The price of this series of books continues to rise and at £15.99 they are in danger of becoming a luxury for those who are not committed to collecting the whole series. Nonetheless, recommended.

Back to top

Rail Atlas of Great Britain and Ireland, Ian Allan Publishing. ISBN: 0-86093-576-D

THERE is something about an atlas that makes it compulsive reading and Stuart K Baker’s Rail Atlas of Great Britain and Ireland is no exception.

This latest version (the tenth—it was first published in1977) comes some four years after its predecessor…and what a lot has happened since then.

Recent additions to the rail network in this latest edition include the first section of the country’s first purpose-built high-speed line, linking London to the Channel Tunnel and additions to the West Coast Main line.

Newly electrified routes, such as that from Crewe to Stoke, feature, as do the virtually complete Light Rail schemes for Dublin and Nottingham.

There is an extensive index of locations, together with a list of locomotive and multiple unit stabling points, carriage depots and railways works.

Fascinating, and rightly regarded as an essential work of reference, this is a must have book and at only £14.99 is a snip.

Back to top 

London, Brighton and South Coast Railway Miscellany, Oxford Publishing Co. ISBN: 0-86093-583-3

IF YOU are fan of the pre-grouping scene then the books in the Miscellany series, with their wide coverage of the railway scene, have a lot to commend them.

This new book by Kevin Robertson is no exception and offers the Southern enthusiast a fresh insight into the operation of this largely self-contained railway system.

That is not to say its business approach was an insular one; while running powers over the neighbouring LSWR were limited, those over the SECR were numerous. Even so, with only a handful of long-distance exceptions, the company had few services that penetrated its rivals’ territories.

But, if the LBSC concentrated on its core services, it didn’t mean that it was frightened to take an innovative approach when circumstances demanded.

It was, for instance, a pioneer in overhead electrification and introduced it on part of the London suburban lines in 1909 with great success.

Looking at the pictures on pages 118-119 it looks strangely neat and tidy and reminiscent of the structures later to be found on the Woodhead route.

Passenger services understandably dominated the LBSC’s thinking, but it also had substantial goods traffic, though very different to that of its industrial northern neighbours.

Using archive photographs the book examines in some detail the stations and other buildings on the railway, but locomotives—on the road, on shed and in the shops—dominate and each of the principal classes has a section to itself.

These include the handsome moguls (K class), the various tank engines (A1, D1, E1, etc) and Marsh’s H Class Atlantics.

There are also sections devoted to rolling stock, signalling, accidents, steamers and staff.

If you have a specific interest in all things Southern then you will want to add this £19.99 book to your collection.

More discerning readers, however, will probably find the balance between structures, staff, environment and locos balanced too much in favour of the last mentioned.

Back to top 

British Railways Pictorial: First Generation DMUs, Ian Allan. ISBN: 0-7110-2970-9

IT is hard today to appreciate the impact that diesel multiple units had on the British railway scene.

Their mass introduction in the late 1950s transformed services over urban and branch line routes, at the same time proving the nemesis of the tank locos that had for so long dominated the services.

There impact was profound, saving passenger services in some less populated areas where the economics of steam train operation were too costly.

They rapidly proved popular with travellers (except when they broke down as they occasionally did in their early days), offering cleaner, lighter accommodation than they were used to.

The MU was not an entirely new idea; the LMS experimented with them, while the GWR had a significant number in operation from the 1930s onwards.

Author Kevin Robertson provides the reader with a potted history and outlines how the concept came of age under the 1955 Modernisation Plan.

Pressed for time and short of capacity, BR used outside builders as well as its own resources and a wide range of styles and types evolved over the next decade, though all possessed a family resemblance.

As the title ‘First Generation DMUs’ suggests, this book concentrates on the first generation of units and lists all of the classes, their manufacturers, their latter classification and their original regional allocations.

The book is well illustrated with black and white photographs and supporting captions and will no doubt be of particular interest to anyone modelling that transitional steam to diesel period. At £12.99 is not an expensive book and can be safely recommended.

Back to top 

Diesels in Wessex, Ian Allan Publishing. ISBN: 0-710-3010-3.

DIESELS in Wessex is unusual in that none of the pictures it contains has been published before. Even more unusual is the fact that they all belong to one photographer, Tony Molyneaux.

Compiled by co-author Kevin Robertson they tell a story of gradual change from steam to diesel, the switch from diesel-hydraulics to diesel-electrics and the ‘green era’ to blue.

The Wessex area covers much of England to the south of the ThamesValley, bounded by the Great Western main line to the north and the English Channel to the south.

Naturally, the Great Western Railway and the London & South Western Railway, and, subsequently Western and Southern Regions of BR, dominated the area, and the pictures reflect this.

The early demise of steam on the Western led to an influx of Hymeks, Warships and Westerns, and the pictures show a variety of these in action on both passenger and goods workings, sometimes on inter-regional workings.

However, the situation on the Southern was different and steam survived until 1967 and the book contains a number of photographs showing steam and diesel double-headed.

Southern Region DEMUs feature in all-over green livery (naturally) in no less than eleven pictures, but there’s a wealth of interest in all the pictures, especially if you have an interest in ‘Green period’ liveries.

Saddest picture of the lot, however, is ex-GWR diesel railcar W21W awaiting the cutter’s torch at Swindon in 1963, still wearing its red and carmine livery, never having been repainted in BR green.

At £14.99 it is modestly priced for a book of colour photographs and recommended.

Back to top 

British Rail Main Line Electric Locomotives, Oxford Publishing. ISBN: 0-86093-599-0

YOU could be excused for thinking that BR main line electric locomotives were introduced in the 1960s, but the history of electric traction can be traced back much farther than that.

The honour of being first goes to the North Eastern Railway’s North Tyneside lines…in 1904!

The pioneering locomotives belonged to Class ES1, built by Brush in 1905, and remained in operation until displaced by diesel locomotives in 1964.

They were joined in 1914 by additional locos to Class EB1 (built at Darlington) and in 1922 by the solitary member of class EE1.

These and the many designs that followed are detailed in Colin Marsden and Graham B Fenn’s excellent book British Rail Main Line Electric Locomotives, which has been revised to include Class 92 and the Eurotunnel Bo-Bo-Bos.

As with the authors’ companion volume devoted to diesels, this book boasts 4mm/foot drawings—more than 130 in total—of each of the classes described, together with a brief history. Detailed modifications are listed for each type, along with livery variations and comprehensive technical specifications.

Exceptionally well illustrated (270 photographs), and good value for its £19.99 price tag, it is an essential reference work for those interested in the development of electric traction.

The absence of colour photographs is the book’s only disappointment and it remains a seminal work. Recommended.

Back to top 

British Railways Past and Present: South Wales Part 3, Past and Present Publishing Ltd. ISBN 1 85895 162 3.

This Nostalgia Collection series of books has much to interest the modeller and has over the years covered most of the British Isles. The review volume completes the coverage of South Wales lines and concentrates on West Glamorgan and the Brecknock and Camarthen county boundaries.

Past views are mainly from the BR era, which author Terry Gough matches with more recent images of the same spot.

The book paints a picture of an area that has suffered considerable decline in its branch services...some sections of trackbed being buried beneath dual carriageways, with little to show a busy railway once passed by.

This slim volume makes an essential companion to the earlier volumes and has much to offer the modeller and railway historian.

Back to top

Introducing TRAX: Wiring the Layout, KRB Publications. ISBN: 0 9542035 5 0

The mystical art of wiring model railways has defied the efforts of many a modeller and good texts on how to do it have been thin on the ground. And not without can be fiendishly complicated on a large layout.!

This book, written by Jeff Geary, a man who knows his capacitors from his resistors, aims to make life easier, but apart from covering some of the basics—including an explanation of what electricity is—it is not an easy read.

Nor is it an ideal starter for those new to the subject. It contains some pretty advanced (by the average modeller’s standards) electrical circuits for the DIY enthusiast, but for those making their own track and points it might be an essential read.

Accompanying the book on CD ROM is the computer programme TRAX, which enables you to create a virtual model of your layout and test its electrics.

The learning curve to use it is not too steep, but beware there is no undo or go back facility so it best to keep saving after each  action you take. That way you won’t have to keep starting again!

Back to top

An Illustrated History of Southern Coaches, OPC.  ISBN: 0 86093 570 1.

This book looks set to become a classic in the Oxford Publishing tradition and benefits from being well written, beautifully illustrated and thoroughly researched.

Author Mike King is well known for his love of all things Southern and this book covers the full range of passenger and non-passenger carriage stock produced for the SR.

The pictures are complemented by a range of 4mm/ft scale drawings, which are ideal for those wishing to scratch build a particular vehicle or super detail an existing model. However, this book is not simply a collection of pictures, but a well written history of the various phases of coach building undertaken by the company.

There are chapters devoted to the Maunsell years (1926-37), the impact of Bullied, liveries and much, much more. This isn’t a cheap book, but it makes an excellent companion to previous OPC books on GWR coaches.

Back to top

British Railways Past and Present: Worcestershire, Past and Present Publishing. ISBN: 1 85895 161 5.

REVIEW page regulars will know that the editor has a weakness for this style of presentation, and this book which is a 2003 reprint of the 1999 Roger Siviter original is similar to others in the Past and Present series.

As always there is a degree of sameness about some of the pictures, but the author has included some of his own very early shots in the region and these, despite their graininess add to the overall value of the book.

There is too, a selection of pre-nationalisation photographs. These include a 1930s’ shot of a GWR 0-4-2 on an auto-train at Honeybourne station and a superb early 1920s’ three-quarter rear view of Lickey banker ‘Big Bertha’ in immaculate Midland Railway livery.

Worcestershire’s railways have not been as heavily cut back as other regions and the book looks at both the rural and industrial areas of the county at some 40 locations. These include Worcester, Stourbridge, Evesham, Halesowen and the Lickey incline.

A wide range of engine types (both ex-LMS and ex-GWR steam, and BR diesel) and multiple units can be seen in action on both branch and main line.

Back to top

Great Western Branch Lines 2—Rural Wales, Runpast Publishing. ISBN: 1-870754-57-3

MICHAEL S. Welch’s latest book for Runpast Publishing offer readers a nostalgic steam photographic trip across Wales that has much to offer the modeller.

s might be expected many of the scenes feature Great Western locomotives, including Dukedogs, the occasional Dean Goods, Manors and the ubiquitous Pannier tanks that could be found all over the Western Region.

However, the GWR power stud was joined in later BR years by Ivatt Moguls, Standard Class 3MT tank engines and 4/5MT 4-6-0 tender engines and all are represented.

Many of the routes covered in this slim volume had only a handful of trains a day and economics eventually saw them closed, but some, including the Tenby Branch have clung on tenaciously, seasonal traffic helping keep them afloat.

Some might query the inclusion of the former Cambrian Main Line in this ‘branch’ line book, but its character has always been rural and the pictures are always of interest.

However, of greatest interest to modellers will be pictures taken on the less well know branches, for these often portray stations that had not seen a painter since GWR days, their light and dark stone paint schemes still intact.

The picture (p66) of Henllan on the Newcastle Emlyn branch is a lovely example, though the brickwork patterns of the buildings would test a 4mm scale painter’s patience! The view of the terminus at Newcastle Emlyn (p65) displays a panorama that includes goods yard sidings, cattle dock and station buildings—both truly inspiring.

Excellent photographic reproduction, coupled with a wide range of subjects, make this a book worth adding to any GWR or Welsh modeller’s book shelf.

Back to top

British Railways Past and Present (40): Cheshire, Past and Present Publishing Ltd. ISBN: 1 85895 232 8.

FOR the railway modeller wanting to run as many different types of loco as possible, a layout based in Cheshire provides an almost ideal setting, with not just LMS and GWR lines running through the county, but also those of the LNER (courtesy of the Cheshire Lines Committee).

Cheshire, one of the more recent additions to the Past and Present series (Volume 40), features a wealth of pictures reflecting the mixed parentage of lines in the area and the varied locos and stock that worked over them.

Many of the lines have survived the cull that followed the Beeching Report, thanks in part to the concentration of chemical and heavy industries around Ellesmere Port.

The area—and the book—is dominated by Chester, and given its importance that’s hardly surprising, but there is a good selection of photographs from around the county, that features both BR and pre-nationalisation steam at work.

The choice of photographs and their reproduction is, as always with this series, excellent—in all an interesting and memory stirring little book from the pens of Paul Shannon and John Hillmer.

Back to top

Britannia Pacifics, Ian Allan Publishing, ISBN: 0 7110 2920-2.

LOVE them or hate them, the Britannia Class Pacifics marked a turning point in the design of British main line steam locomotives.

They were the first truly 'standard' locomotives to grace the nation's rails and although only 55 in number had a considerable impact on services in East Anglia and elsewhere on the network.

The first, Britannia, was completed in January 1951, and gave its name to the class.

It marked the start of the BR Standards building programme, which eventually led to the construction of no less than 999 engines encompassing freight, passenger, and mixed traffic designs.

Authors Gavin Morrison and Peter Swinger (who sadly died before the book was complete) have put together a fascinating portrait of the class that is both well researched and eminently readable.

There's a short history of the class, together with brief history of its members, each one being illustrated with a black and white print. The latter part of the book consists of more than 45 colour shots of Britannias in action across the regions.

Not loved by all on the railways (especially among some die-hard Western Region drivers) and often in unkempt condition in their later years, they nevertheless made a useful contribution to express working.

That they had such relatively short working careers was a tragic waste of a fine resource.

This excellent little book, with is range of photographs, provides an admirable reminder of their true worth and is a useful reference for modellers. Recommended.

Back to top

British Railways Past and Present: West Wales, Past and Present Publishing Ltd. ISBN: 1 85895 175 5.

ALTHOUGH not so richly served by railway lines as the valley regions, south west Wales had its fair share, a fact amply illustrated in Past and Present: West Wales (volume 38) by Terry Gough.

The book features more than 200 photographs and 55 locations, including Pembroke, Fishguard, Whitland, Cardigan, Carmarthen, and Milford Haven.

As is usual with this series ‘present’ views are married up with ‘past’ ones to provide interesting, if on occasions, sad contrasts—such as at NeylandExcellent photographic, where the visitor would be hard pushed to find any evidence that the area once boasted a full range of railway facilities, including station, extensive sidings and engine shed.

Again, there is much in this tome to interest and inspire the modeller, especially one interested in this neglected corner of the UK.

Back to top

Lost Lines: Western. Ian Allan Publishing. ISBN: 0 7110 2278 X.

NIGEL Welbourn’s book Lost Lines: Western was first published in 1994 and was reprinted earlier this year in a fourth impression.

With a railway system as extensive as the GWR’s and the ‘adopted’ Southern routes, any book looking at the Western Region of BR is bound to be selective in its approach, but that is not always a bad thing.

Based on Mr Welbourn’s travels by train in the 1960s—he eventually covered all but a handful of passenger line across BR’s six regions—the book skilfully combines an eminently readable text, with a selection of pictures that might have been taken with modellers in mind.

They include a range of railway structures, including bridges, wayside halts (complete with ‘pagoda’), city (Bath Green Park and Moor Street, Birmingham) and branch line termini (Abingdon and West Bay) and some poignant shots of Birmingham Snow Hill before its recent revival.

Some reprints disappoint, but this is a book that justifiably deserves a place on every modeller’s bookshelf. Well recommended.

Back to top

A Professional's Guide to Railway Photography, Silver Link Publishing, ISBN: 1-85794-185-9

Roger Siviter's photographs have graced many a railway journal over the years, so a book by him describing the techniques needed to create good pictures ought to make a welcome addition to any modeller's library.

Photographs, whether your own or those of someone else, provide modellers with a rich source of information, so it makes sense to learn a few tips from an expert.

The book, in the Nostalgia Collection, is divided into nine sections covering everything from the choice of equipment to style, composition and techniques. As might be expected it is well illustrated.

There's also a useful general section with a list of 'Dos' an 'Don'ts' and a glossary of the most common photographic terms.

Worth considering if you can afford it and want to improve your techniques.

Back to top

British Main Line Diesel Locomotives, Oxford Publishing Company. ISBN: 0 86093 544 2.

THE history of Britain's main line diesel locomotives is complex and has its roots not in the 1950s' modernisation plan, but in the decade that preceded it.

The Great Western Railway, having pioneered the widespread use of diesel railcars, ordered its first. albeit a gas turbine (18000). in 1940, though this was not delivered until 1949.

The LMS, meanwhile, already making use of diesel powered shunting locomotives, had plans of its own and in November 1947 unveiled Britain's first true main line diesel locomotive (10000).

The history of these two pioneer designs, and the others of Southern origin that followed, is chronicled in British Rail Main Line Diesel Locomotives, along with the more familiar first and second-generation locomotives modellers are familiar with.

Authors Colin J Marsden and Graham B Fenn, have, in this revised edition, brought together facts, pictures and plans for all of the classes of locomotive that have graced BR metals, including more recent classes such as 66 and 67.

Of especial value to modellers are the 250 or so drawings in 4mm to 1ft scale, illustrating the wide range of modifications made to each class; no less than 15 drawings for the Class 47 alone.

These are backed up by specifications for each class and a wide range of photographs illustrating both detail variations and class members in action.

Many of the early Modernisation Plan locomotives had a relatively short active life; others found new homes in industry, while some such as the Class 45/46, 25 and 20 enjoyed considerable success.

If you are interested in the post-1955 period of BR, whether as a modeller or rail enthusiast, this book is essential reading, and at £29.99 it is worth every penny.

Back to top

Historical Railway Modelling, Pendragon, ISBN: 1 899816 10 0.

THERE'S more than a hint of a personal philosophy (and autobiography) about David Jenkinson's book Historical Railway Modelling, though that's not to say it is excessively self-indulgent.

The author is well known in modelling and railway circles through his work at the National Railway Museum and makes no attempt to disguise his love of all things historical.

He has never modelled the contemporary scene, preferring to concentrate on the LMS and its constituents.

Consistency is a key theme within the book and the author urges modellers to strive for high levels of authenticity, both in setting the scene and in the operation of the model railway itself.

This is not a 'how to' book, though the author uses his own layouts (and those of other selected modellers) to illustrate his take on the subject and to show how basic ideas may be developed to produce prototypically correct models, that lend themselves to prototypical operation.

In fact, it leaves readers questioning their own standards and their overall approach to railway modelling.

Split for convenience into two sections (though these are inextricably linked), the author firstly looks at 'establishing a modelling strategy' and then 'getting down to practicalities'.

In the first section he explores the value of discrimination, setting objectives and isolating essentials, compromise, and research. Train formations and stock planning, operation and control, and general thoughts on layout design are dealt with in part two.

There is a great deal of interest in this volume; it is well illustrated with both pictures and layout diagrams, but it somehow fails to impress. At £25 it is not especially cheap and falls just short of that 'must have' category.

Back to top

West Country Branch Lines: A Colour Portfolio, Ian Allan Publishing Ltd. ISBN 0 7110 2950 4.

FANS of West Country branch lines will find much to interest them in this latest collection of photographs from Peter W. Gray, which this time begins a little farther to the east in Gloucestershire before travelling through Somerset to Devon and Cornwall.

The photographer began recording the railway scene on colour slides in 1957 and it is through these images that the last great flowering of steam railways in the west can be enjoyed.

There’s a huge range of locations among the 80, or so, pictures—station and landscape scenes predominate, covering many of the branch lines so popular with modeller.

These include the Looe, Sutton Harbour, Fowey, Kingswear and Kingsbridge branches.

Coverage is not limited to the former GWR branches and there are also pictures of ex-Southern Railway locations, Plymouth Friary, Exmouth and Padstow.

However, the penultimate shot in the book has a particular relevance, for it features the 10.55am St Ives to St Erth local hauled by ex-GWR small prairie 4566—one of the BR liveried locos Bachmann has modelled. (See review page 13).

This book is a must for West Country modellers—put it on your shopping list.

Back to top

Great Western Lines & Landscape: Business, Pleasure, Heritage and Landscape, Runpast Publishing.

IF your interest in railways is limited to moving trains, or pictures of same, then this book is not for you. However, if you are after a greater understanding of what is needed to ensure that railways attract business and how railways—the GWR in this case—promote themselves then you will not be disappointed.

Rather academic in tone, but filled with the results of considerable research, Alan Bennett’s book attempts to set the GWR’s promotional works into a contemporary context—social, economic political and cultural.

Not a book, perhaps, for the casual reader, but one which delves into the way the company saw itself and the way it hoped others would see it. It looks at the marketing tools used by the company, not just to promote itself, but also the nation to the ‘English speaking peoples of the world’.

How successful the company was in that you must judge for yourself, and the author concentrates on six principal areas: Imagery and Enterprise; The Ocean Coast; Selling to America; Western Wonderlands; Industrial Interests, and the Holiday Line—Post War Perspectives.

Book illustration takes a back seat to the text, but there are a number of posters (some in full colour), leaflets and black and white photographs to brighten things up.

Back to top

Designs for Urban Layouts, Atlantic Publishers. ISBN: 1 902877 08 2.

EASILY the best book to come our way this month, Iain Rice’s exposition on urban layouts is at once inspiring and challenging…and a convincing argument for devoting more time to modelling the ‘town railway scene’, warts and all.

Setting out to capture that special atmosphere of the cluttered, heavily built-up area, the author provides the reader with a range of solutions encompassing both the small (the Mini-MPD) and the grandiose (Bankdam Mills, L& Y).

There is even an updated version of the Cyril J Freezer’s legendary Minories—Harestone—which has a more suburban air, though retaining a similar sized site to the original (6ft 6in long by approximately 1ft 3in wide). This draws its inspiration from Caterham, terminus of the short ex-SER branch from Purley.

Each design is drawn out in typical Rice style with both sketch representations and track layout. Some of the designs are obviously meant for home construction, though most can easily be adapted for exhibition use.

The writing style is light and informative—‘towns and railways go together like pie and gravy’—and will undoubtedly entertain and educate at the same time.

The author begins his exposition with a look at what elements make a landscape urban, considers some of the practical aspects of scale and gauge, and then some of the solutions available to the modeller.

Designs for Urban Layouts is excellently illustrated throughout, with just the right balance of prototype photographs, sketches and diagrams.

It is hard not to be inspired by a book like this and at only £14.99 it is a snip.

Back to top

Working Steam: Collett Granges & Manors. Ian Allan Publishing. ISBN: 0 7110 2973 3.

I HAD forgotten just how handsome Collett’s Grange class of locomotives were, particularly when wearing fully lined out BR late livery. Roy Hobbs’ book gives the reader plenty of opportunity to enjoy such visions of Granges, either in ex-works condition or lightly grimed from their labours.

My favourite shot is on page 62 and features 6858 Woolston Grange easing its way out of Stratford on a Class H freight for Honeybourne in 1961. Looking at this picture it’s hard to understand why they were never as loved as the bigger wheeled Halls, or the lighter Manors, which share the title and pages with them. It is a shame none survived the cutter’s torch.

The book pictures Granges and Manors in a range of locations—urban, rural, on shed and goods yards—and all the photographs are well reproduced, as you would expect of this series.

If the rumoured Hornby Grange materialises, this book will prove indispensable to those who enjoy detailing their latest purchases.

Back to top

Railway Stations From the Air, Ian Allan Publishing Ltd. ISBN: 0 7110 2980 6.

THE third, in what looks to be a developing series of aerial views from the extensive Aerofilms collections, concentrates on stations and excludes any photographs reproduced in the earlier volumes.

This book was obviously conceived with railway modellers in mind with photographs selected on the basis of those that would most likely form the basis of a layout. As a result there is a bias towards branch line termini and smaller country stations, though the selection is unusual and covers the whole of the British Isles.

Each station occupies a double page spread and is supported by both an OS map extract and ground level views.

Among the more unusual locations are: Cowes, Hadleigh, Kirkcudbright, Lanark, and Wigan (GCR). There are also views of more popular stations, including Lambourn, Calne, Tenterden and Kidderminster.

This book is a useful addition to the modellers library, even allowing for the variable quality of some of the early photographs, dating from more than 60 years ago.

Back to top

Modellers’ Guide to the Great Western Railway. Silver Link Publishing Ltd. ISBN: 1 85794 204 3.

FIRST published in 1990, this book rapidly became a classic and much sought after. This new version, updated and re-illustrated, brings the story up to date, while remaining essential true to the text of the original.

A brief history of the company is followed by a description of locomotives, rolling stock, liveries and detailing hints. There are also chapters on buildings and structures, signalling and the permanent way, and road vehicles.

The final chapter offers some general advice on modelling the Great Western and includes a selection of typical plans for terminus and passing stations.

The book is generously illustrated with both models and prototypes, and includes a number of line drawings of typical GWR structures.

The chapter on locomotive and coach liveries ought to be essential reading for all manufacturers of ready to run models, as they might then avoid some of the more obvious errors still seen on r2r stock.

Despite its slightly dated look this guide still has much to commend it, especially to those contemplating a GWR layout for the first time.

Back to top

Past and Present Companion: The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway—Snow Hill to Cheltenham. Past & Present Publishing. ISBN: 1 85895 208 5.

PAST and Present books have a growing audience and the introduction of the ‘companion’ series, to complement the existing, and surely near complete original series, is a natural extension of the concept.

This book from Roger Siviter, features the line from Birmingham Moor Street/Snow Hill via Stratford on Avon and Honeybourne to Cheltenham (St James), with an integral look at the preserved section operated by the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway.

Most of the ‘past’ pictures feature steam or diesel pictures from the mid-50s to mid-60s, with a couple of pre-nationalisation shots included for good measure. All are acceptably well reproduced.

If you are planning to model the North Warwickshire line and want some general reference pictures of GWR structures then you will find plenty here, but there may be too many shots of DMUs (old and new) and preserved steam for some tastes.

Back to top

The Power of Castles, Oxford Publishing Company, ISBN: 0 86093 587 6

If you are a fan of Great Western Castles—and authors R. C. Riley and Peter Waller undoubtedly are—you will find much in The Power of the Castles to enjoy.

Beginning with a five-page general introduction to the class, the authors outline how they evolved from Churchward’s Star Class and the impact the first of the breed had when introduced into traffic in 1923/24.

The book is richly illustrated, but those wanting pre-war photographs will be disappointed, for their GWR years are restricted to 25 pages, the remainder of the book covering their career in BR days.

Each loco from 100A Lloyds to the last, 7033 Hartlebury Castle, is captured either in action (most), or ex-works/on shed in ascending order.

Given that many people coming to this book will see it as ‘the’ book on Castles, I have to add a rider to my otherwise fulsome praise for it.

While the pictures are all interesting and, as one would expect from OPC, excellently reproduced (all in monochrome), the captions do not, in many cases, do them justice.

I appreciate that captioning a picture taken 60 or so years ago is not easy, but I think knowledgeable readers deserve more than a generalised “Looking superb in excellent external condition”, etc…even if it is true of the loco on page 21.

But what about the Concertina coach behind it, or the private owner wagons and LMS liveried brake van in the background—all the kind of detail that modellers want.

Moreover, much of the detail in the captions relating to shed allocation and modifications, can be found in other books.

Despite this, the pictures themselves speak loudly of an age that is now little more than a memory…and as a spur to such memories the book is worth commending.

Back to top

Southern Railway Miscellany, Oxford Publishing Company, ISBN: 0 86093 582 5.

The trouble with ‘miscellany’ books is that they are just that—and with all the limitations that brings in terms of quality and interest.

There’s no denying the quality of the pictures reproduced in Kevin Robertson’s Southern Railway Miscellany for OPC, but some are a little dull and one can’t help thinking that they are in this book because they had no obvious place elsewhere.

The book has its share of ‘arty’ interpretations, the offbeat and the downright unusual (especially among the section on signalboxes, which contains a dream of a box for pre-grouping modellers).

The 250 or so photographs compiled by the author show a railway scene that is both varied and, in the case of steam, long-lived despite the Southern’s fondness for Third-rail electric operation.

There’s a decent spread of pictures covering both the Southern and BR periods, including a number of pre-grouping shots (those showing the accident at Vauxhall in 1912 include detail of LSWR loco tender lining and the paint schemes used on coaches).

The captions are factual (obviously well researched) rather than ‘descriptive’, and all the better for it.

This miscellany is better than most and, if you are a modeller with an interest in all things Southern, there certainly plenty in it to inspire and inform. Recommended.

Back to top

Oxford Worcester & Wolverhampton, Portrait of a Famous Route—Part One: Oxford to Worcester, Runpast Publishing, ISBN : 1 870754 59 X.

The Oxford to Wolverhampton route via Worcester never attracted the attention that the direct route via Birmingham did, but it provided a vital link between the West Midlands industrial heartland—the Black Country—and the South and South West.

As a Black Countryman by birth I have a special interest in anything relating to the area—and its railways in particular! After all, I could see the trains on the OWW from my childhood bedroom and my primary school stood cheek by jowl with the embankment that carried it towards Dudley and the South.

Bob Pixton’s first offering on this railway (Oxford Worcester and Wolverhampton—Portrait of a Famous Route, Part One: Oxford to Worcester) is a fascinating and well-researched book.

Wisely, he has opted to split the route into two parts; the second will cover the remaining 33½-mile section between the cathedral city and Wolverhampton.

This first part explores the line as it passed through a rich rural landscape. The story is largely told through extended picture captions, broken occasionally by larger text sections covering specific areas of interest.

These include GWR promotional and marketing campaigns, the Cotswolds, Oxford, Worcester and the branch to Cheltenham.

Beginning at Oxford the 57-mile route is traced via Kingham, Moreton-in-Marsh, Honeybourne and Evesham to Worcester, photographs illustrating all the key points on the route and aided where necessary by maps, timetables and Clearing House junction diagrams.

The strength of this book, however, lies not simply in its undoubtedly well-selected photographs, but the information contained in the captions themselves. Together they provide the modeller—and rail historian—with a rich source of inspiration, for buildings, trainloads and much more.

For example, there are tables showing the duties for banking and shunting engines based at Honeybourne in 1955/56, a list of signal boxes with their opening times and extracts from service tables.

This is a fine book and I look forward to Part Two, which will look at the totally different environment of the line north from Worcester.

Back to top

The Heyday of the Westerns, Ian Allan Publishing Ltd, ISBN: 0 7110 2981 4

Few modern locomotives have captured the imagination of rail fans more than the Westerns though their introduction in 1962/63 produced a less than warm response—hardly surprising since their arrival signalled the end for the ex-GWR King Class.

They also had a nasty habit of breaking down and it was not uncommon to find a Castle on a Western Wolverhampton-Paddington turn, though both were subsequently displaced by Brush type 4s (Class 47).

It’s a fact alluded to by Derek Huntriss in Heyday of the Westerns, a colour tribute to the class published by Ian Allan, though as the 75 or so pictures confirm the class were ‘made good’ and throughout the late ‘60s and ‘70s could be seen on a variety of passenger and freight turns.

From a purely modelling point of view these pictures are excellent. All the livery variations—and there were a few—are covered, with some locos in less than pristine condition.

There are plenty of shots of work-stained BR blue locos in their later years, but my favourites show maroon examples (they always seemed ‘dusty’) with matching Mk 1s.

There are also a number of shots of the Desert Sand liveried Western Enterprise (D1000), though the colour seems to have mellowed since I first saw it on the main line near Wolverhampton! An interesting, nostalgic, read.

Back to top

The Diesel Shunter, Oxford Publishing Co. ISBN: 0 86093 579 5.

EVERY so often a book comes along that appeals to both the modeller and the railway historian.

Colin J Marsden’s latest offering, The Diesel Shunter, is one such book and is crammed with facts about this undeservedly neglected type of locomotive.

While a number of diesel railcars made their debut in service before World War 2, the impact they had on railways was slow to be felt.

Diesel shunters, on the other hand, very quickly demonstrated their suitability for their role; more than 100 were in service before 1950, and in the years that followed several thousand could be found hard at work on Britain’s railways.

The wide variety of BR classes was eventually whittled down to just three, all 0-6-0, Classes 03, 08 and 09, though many designs can still be found working in an industrial setting, and some of the lesser known types still exist in preservation.

Colin Marsden’s book traces the development of shunting locomotives from their early beginnings on the LMS of the 1930s, through the mass of types running during the 1950s and 60s, to the rationalisation and standardisation of the last two decades of the last century.

Shunter development is followed in a roughly chronological/class order and is not confined to the big 0-6-0 types.

It also includes the unusual, such as the unique Hibberd 4-wheel diesel mechanical (number 11104), which resembled a bogie with a cab, and the numerous departmental locomotives.

At the start of each section is a brief history of the type together with a technical table containing much detail.

This, together with simple line drawings of each class and their principal dimensions, adds considerable value to this book for modellers.

The ubiquitous Class 08 is a case in point, and the differences (and there are many) between 08s and 09s are displayed in tabular form.

Of course there are often many variations within a class and where relevant these are highlighted in both text and captions. They include changes in livery and modifications made during the life of the type.

Lavishly illustrated—though sadly there are no colour prints—and supported by concise, informative captions this is a book that deservedly merits our Book of the Month award.

At £35 it is not cheap, but still represents an excellent investment…highly recommended.

Back to top

British Railway Goods Wagons in Colour 1960–2003, Midland Publishing. ISBN: 1 85780 170 9.

THIS book is a sequel to the author’s earlier book on British Railway wagons and as such concentrates on the period following the first, 1960 to the present day.

Its many colour illustrations, on average two to a page, its authoritatively written captions and author Robert Hendry’s undoubted understanding of how the modern freight operation works, make for a fascinating read.

Sensibly, he restricts his coverage to the more common types of products carried, such as coal, sand, cement, steel and iron ore, and the wagon types used to carry them.

This allows him to give a detailed insight into the development and operation of the commonest types of wagon to be found on the system, both in Britain and in Ireland.

Quite a bit of the stock portrayed can be purchased in RTR form, or converted from current models, but there are also vehicles (including nuclear flask wagons and narrow gauge stock) to challenge the scratch builder!

Books in this ‘British Railway’ series are specifically aimed at the modeller and historian, but it is perhaps the modeller who will find the contents most rewarding, especially for detailing and weathering work.

The last three pages of the book contain an explanation of the TOPS codes, a ‘freight family tree’ and a glossary with explanations of some of the common (and not so common) terms in use today.

At only £14.99 this is not an expensive book and if you have been collecting the other books in this series, you will certainly want to add this to them.

Back to top

British Railway Pictorial: Black Country, Ian Allan Publishing. ISBN: 0-7110-2969-5

A PICTURE it is said is worth a thousand words, but for the reviewer the contents of this book evoked more than a thousand memories.

Paul Collins’ Black Country, a British Railway Pictorial album, covers the area in which the editor grew up and where his love (some uncharitable folk might say obsession) for the Great Western Railway was kindled.

Although, as the author suggests, there is some debate as to what actually constitutes the Black Country it is generally accepted to be the area that lies between Wolverhampton, south West to Stourbridge, taking in such exotic places as Bilston, Wednesbury, Walsall, Dudley, Old Hill and Tipton.

It was in this area that the lines of the Oxford, Worcester and Wolverhampton (OWW) and the Great Western (which absorbed the OWW) dominated and were in continual competition with the ex-LNWR/Midland lines.

The author’s choice of photographs is at times quite inspired and includes images of such early locos as the Shutt End Railway’s Agenoria, which played a leading role in the opening of that railway in 1829.

It subsequently found a home at the Science Museum, arriving there in 1884, though its tender was cut up because it took up too much space!

This early railway, and the Pensnett Railway which took it over, are the focus of the first chapter in the book, Beginnings, and set the tone for what follows—an informative, illustrated tour across the area using photographs, detailed captions and supporting text.

One of the pivotal junctions in the area was at Stourbridge and this merits a chapter of its own.

Dipping into this one finds a wealth of information for the modeller, including a series of photographs taken around the engine shed complex.

Here the modeller can find detail of shed interiors (empty), stationary boilers, water cranes, coaling stage and even the DMU fuelling stage introduced when such units began operating in 1957.

A salutary series of pictures illustrate the ‘railway smash at Stourbridge’ in April 1905, while other pre-grouping pictures show a Dean Single storming through Wednesbury, an ex-West Midland 2-4-0, and a number of GWR 0-4-2 auto-tanks in action in the early 1900s.

More modern motive power is captured too, including Halls, Castles, Prairie tanks, Black Fives,8Fs and a few early DMUs—there is even an HST.

The role of canals is not ignored and there are pictures of a number of transhipment sheds linked to that earlier form of transport, including those at Wolverhampton, Stourbridge and Bromley Basin.

This is a book that rewards repeated dips into its pages, oozing as it does a heady blend of history and nostalgia. At £12.99 it is worth every penny—even if you are not a Black Countryman.

Back to top

The Great Northern Railway: An Irish Pictorial, Midland Publishing. ISBN:1-85780-169-5

THE railways of Ireland have a character all of their own (as anyone who has had the pleasure of travelling on them will admit), but their history will not be known to many outside of that island.

Tom Ferris’ book on The Great Northern Railway goes some way to correcting that and focuses on what was Ireland’s second largest railway.

The author is no stranger to writing books about Irish railways and here concentrates on the years between 1945 and 1965.

This is the period that saw the ailing GNR(I) of 1950 stave of bankruptcy only through the loss of its independence, first through joint purchase by the governments of the North and South, and eventually by division and nationalisation.

This was, however, a major railway system which at its peak operated over 600 route miles, linked the key cities of Dublin and Belfast and served a large part of the north-west of the island.

The pictures convey an image of a bustling railway system operated by in the main aging, but well cared fleet of 4-4-0 and 0-6-0 steam locomotives, hauling equally old coaches, and railcars.

Stations (large and small), rural scenes, engine sheds, signals and other line side structures are also covered and provide a rich source of information for the modeller.

Much of this once much loved rail system has like its rural counterparts in Britain fallen victim to progress and economic reality, but thanks to books such this we have the chance to see the railway in its heyday.

At only £14.99 it would be hard not to add it to one’s bookshelf.

Back to top

Branches and Byways: Southwest Scotland and the Border Counties, OPC, ISBN: 0-86093-575-2.

IT IS difficult to define what makes the ideal book for a modeller, but with some books it is immediately obvious that its contents are just what the modeller ordered.

Robert Robotham’s addition to the Branches and Byways series, Southwest Scotland and the Border Counties, is one of those rare books that include not just pictures and words, but layout diagrams, timetables, maps and even gradient profiles.

True, some of the pictures are a little lacklustre and all are monochrome, true some of the tables betray their aged origins, but the book transcends such criticisms.

It earns its place on the modeller’s—and rail enthusiast’s—bookshelf because it reveals the beginnings, history and eventual decline of one the forgotten areas of the railway network.

Southwest Scotland, and the border counties on the shoulder of England, were never especially well populated. Despite this they were home to a network of lines that criss-crossed the border at no less than six places (it only does so in two places today).

The author outlines the key routes in a summary and then devotes the following 14 chapters to covering each of them in detail—each section richly illustrated with photographs showing a wide range of motive power.

While the majority of the lines covered survived into the age of Nationalisation, there can have been little doubt that once the accountants took an objective view at the books their fate was sealed.

 Some survived until the end of steam, albeit as freight only lines, but many succumbed in the early Fifties. The Fountainhall to Lauder line actually lost its passenger service as long ago as 1932!

They include the Port Line, the Peebles Loop, Alnmouth to Alnwick, Galashiels to Selkirk, and the Border Counties and Wansbeck Valley.

As might be expected in this area a mixture of ex-LMS (including pre-grouping locos), ex-LNER and BR standard types dominate, though the odd DMU and diesel (Claytons, double-headed of course) can also be found.

Picture size and content varies, but there is much here to interest the modeller looking for the unusual, such as the former GNR Royal Saloon used as a church at Gatehouse of Fleet!

The combination of track diagrams and branch line studies—historical perspective, passenger traffic, freight services and timetables—provide the modeller with a wealth of inspiration and information for branch line layouts.

At £35 this is not a cheap book, but its period (Post-war British Railways) is obviously well researched, and it makes a commendable addition to the series.

Back to top

London’s Underground, Ian Allan Publishing, ISBN: 0-7110-2935-0.

LONDON’S Underground is one of those books that can be hard to put down, especially if you are one of the lucky ones not having to use this particular network on a regular basis.

The book first appeared in 1951 when the underground, still recovering from the effects of the Second World War, was a far different place.

This, the 10th edition, and now under the authorship of John Glover brings the story up to date. Much has happened in the four years that have followed the previous edition—in both political and railway terms.

While principally a record of the Underground’s development (there is an excellent chronology at the rear of the book), the pictorial contributions show that there was more to the tube’s history than trains and track.

There are pictures to remind the reader that this collection of London Transport lines was not City confined but at one time also served some fairly rural locations; moreover, some of the tunnel bores (such as that between Leytonstone and Newbury Park) doubled up as factories during the war years!

Admittedly, this is more of a rail historian’s book than one for modellers, but given the growing interest in modelling the Underground system, it could well be a suitable starting point for research.

There is no shortage of action shorts—steam and electric—as well as views of buildings and line side structures, plus a handful of track diagrams and drawings.

At £19.99 it is not overly expensive and if you don’t have an earlier edition and have a yen to go underground (so to speak) it could prove money well spent.

Back to top