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...
Rail Centres No. 10: Shrewsbury, Book Law Publications, ISBN 1-901945-20-0.
THE British rail network was once richly populated with stations where passengers had the opportunity to swap both trains and companies.
Some, however, took on a greater significance and Shrewsbury is a fine example, lying as it does at the gateway toWales.
A regional centre since Norman times it became the crossing point of two major lines, the Great Western route between Paddington and Birkenhead and the LNWR route linking the industrial North West with the coalfields of Wales and coastal resorts of Devon and Cornwall.
First published in 1986 by Ian Allan and now reissued under the Booklaw Publications banner (£16.99), Richard K Morriss’s book remains a seminal work covering as it does the period from the mid-1840s to the 1980s.
Unfortunately, no attempt has been made to update the book and the events of the past three decades are missing from what is otherwise a comprehensive history of railways in the area.
While much of the book covers the activities centred on Shrewsbury General Station—jointly used by both the GWR/LNWR and later LMS—the role played by the Shropshire and Montgomeryshire Railway with its spartan terminus at Shrewsbury Abbey Station is not ignored.
Split into five chapters, the book covers the history of the railways in the area, the development of passenger services, stations and signalling, the development of good traffic and locomotives depots and locomotives.
There’s also a brief appendix covering locomotive allocations.
Liberally illustrated with black and white pictures reflecting the period covered by the book and with a range of track diagrams to aid the modeller, Rail Centres: Shrewsbury can be safely recommended.
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Birmingham-Derby: Portrait of a Famous Route, Runpast Publishing, ISBN 1-870754-63-8.
THE route from Birmingham to Derby, though not quite as famous as some of the lines covered in this series, is a vital link in the route linking the South West with the North East.
Its history is quite complex and author Bob Pixton covers this in the introduction to the book.
The Birmingham and Derby Junction Railway opened for traffic in August 1839 initially making use of the London & Birmingham Railway’s lines to reach its own at Whitacre.
The need for reversal at Hampton in Arden and a two hour journey time soon led it to establish its own independent direct route to Birmingham via the river Tame valley.
At the Derby end it connected with the Midland Counties Railway (Derby-Leicester) and the North Midland Railway (Derby-Leeds)—all three railways merging in 1844 to form the Midland Railway.
The continuing development of railways in and around Birmingham led to the construction of the LNWR’s New Street station.
This was in a more central location, but the congestion that resulted from its being shared by the Midland led that company to build its own station adjacent to the original one.
From 1889 all Midland trains used this and from 1896 they reached it via their own metals, thanks to an underpass of the LNWR lines and a new south tunnel.
The book splits the route into sections, each being illustrated by a range of monochrome photographs that cover both the pre-nationalisation and post-nationalisation periods.
Locomotives feature both in action and on shed and ex-North Staffs Railway 2-4-2T 1459 seen on Burton shed in LMS livery in 1934 is typical of the excellent historical images to be found in this fascinating book.
There are also images of many of the stations and structures to be found along the route, including Whitacre Junction (1906/1956), Burton-on-Trent (1910/1952/1962) and New Street (1949/1963).
A small selection of maps is included along with locomotive allocations at the principal sheds and some sample workings. The table listing regular freights through Birmingham on the Derby line (up trains September 1960 to June 1961) is sure to be of interest to modellers.
This is an eminently readable book and its photographs will reward careful study. At only £12.99 there is no excuse for not adding it to your library—even if you are not a Midland fan!
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Brunel, Ian Allan Publishing, ISBN 978-0-7110-2305-5.
ISAMBARD Kingdom Brunel, probably the most influential engineer of his day, has earned a special place in the history of railways, but his work encompassed far more than that.
Not content with overseeing the creation of the Great Western Railway, he also designed its buildings, bridges, tunnels and viaducts, and his triumphs outside of railways included the first tunnel under the Thames, the first transatlantic steamers, and the Clifton Suspension Bridge.
It is hardly surprising then that our fascination with the man continues unabated.
First published in 1994, the book provides the reader with a biography of the great man and a guide to the places where it is still possible to see items that have links with him. It is the latter that form the bulk of this informative and readable book.
Author Jonathan Falconer, examines the life and career of the great Victorian splitting his text into four sections: Brunel the Man, Brunel’s achievements, What’s left to see today and a Selection of study sources.
Illustrated throughout with many contemporary photographs and line drawings this is a book likely to appeal not just railway enthusiasts, but a wide range of readers with an interest in things Victorian.
It is a snip at £9.99 and a worthy companion to more weighty tomes on Brunel.
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Brunel: An Engineering Biography, Ian Allan Publishing, ISBN 0-7110-3078-2.
OVER the years many biographical studies of have been written about Isambard Kingdom Brunel, but Adrian Vaughan’s offering is no mere history of the man; it examines his life from an engineering perspective.
Brunel was a controversial figure in his day and many of his projects came to fruition only after a struggle, often against engineers who lacked his vision (or some might say profligacy!), impatient investors, and those charged with executing his plans.
In his re-examination of the ‘great man’ the author has delved deep into the records and Brunel’s own correspondence to piece together a picture that reflects the day to problems that beset him and how he overcame them.
Profusely illustrated with drawings and photographs the book offers the reader a critical analysis of the engineer’s achievements, his methods of work and the life of the man himself.
Understandably, much of the book is devoted to Brunel’s relationship with the Great Western Railway, but his three great ships and his bridges are also covered in detail.
In these days of specialisation it easy to lose sight of the fact that throughout his tragically short life Brunel was often engaged on several diverse projects simultaneously often some distance apart. No doubt his insistence on personal involvement led eventually to his early death at the age of 53.
The reader is guided through the complex developments of his projects through his letters and these not only expose the events and intrigues that took place but provide an intriguing insight into the engineer’s personality and approach to work.
By today’s standards he would be regarded as a perfectionist and a ‘workaholic’, though we must rely on his contemporaries’ for an appreciation of his work ethic.
Gooch, the GWR’s first locomotive engineer, said of his friend Brunel: “One feature of Mr Brunel’s character was he fancied no-one could do anything but himself.”
Adrian Vaughan’s book largely leaves the reader to make up their own mind about Brunel.
True, he clearly had problems trusting his staff and no doubt like many men of genius his vision was sometimes flawed, but the reader is left in no doubt as to his true greatness. He simply towered over his contemporaries.
This is a book that rewards careful study and though its £19.99 price tag may put off some, it will command an audience among all those with an interest in the period and the man.
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Britain’s Railways Rail Atlas 1890, Ian Allan Publishing, ISBN 0-7110-3031-6.
RAILWAYS were still in expansion mode when the 1890s dawned and a glance at this excellent atlas, compiled by Tony Dewick, provides the rail historian with a snapshot of British and Irish railways as they neared their zenith.
Based on the classic British Railways Pre-Grouping Atlas and Gazetteer (Ian Allan, 1972), the book sets out to show British railways—including the whole of Ireland and the Channel Islands—at January 1, 1890.
It includes all stations open to passengers, goods stations, viaducts tunnels and other railway features.
Each line is colour coded and its owners identified, even where they might not have operated the trains (a check in the Index to Companies indicates which lines were operated by other companies).
The gaps in some of the major trunks routes are clearly shown.
There is, for instance, no London extension of the MS&LR (the GCR), the LSWR’s independent extension into Plymouth and Cornwall had still to be constructed, the ForthBridge had yet to open, as had the GWR’s Birmingham-Cheltenham route.
In addition to the excellent maps and index of companies, there is a list of stations opened, closed or renamed during the course of 1890, and an extensive bibliography.
Priced at £16.99 this book is clearly aimed at the general railway enthusiast (historian), but is nonetheless likely to find a spot on many a modellers bookshelf.
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Profile of the Westerns, Ian Allan Publishing, ISBN 0-86093-116-1.
DELTICS are arguably the most charismatic of the BR diesels, but the Westerns must surely come close to equalling them.
There were, after all, some similarities; they both had twin engines, both had a unique body shape and both classes had relatively short life spans when compared to other BR diesels of their generation.
The class has always been popular with modellers too, so it is hardly surprising that Ian Allan chose to reissue Profile of the Westerns after its being unavailable for almost two decades.
Originally published in 1980, shortly after the withdrawal of the Westerns, this classic pictorial tribute from authors Dave Nicholas and Steve Montgomery features some 160 illustrations—all, sadly, in black and white.
In it they record the career of the class from construction at Crewe and Swindon in the early 1960s through to final workings and withdrawal in 1977.
Although intended for express passenger work, their immense tractive effort also saw class members working heavy freight trains and both these aspects of their life are covered.
If you are modelling the classic diesel period (1960-1980) and have a passion for Westerns, there is much in this book for you; at only £14.99 it is hard not to recommend it.
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Profile of the Duchesses, Oxford Publishing (an imprint of Ian Allan), ISBN: 0-86093-176-5.
FIRST published in 1982 David Jenkinson’s classic book, Profile of the Duchesses, traces the history of the class through black and white photographs and extended captions.
This new impression provides a good starting point for those who have come to know the class solely through the exploits of preserved examples of Stanier super power.
Introduced in 1937, the 38 Coronation Class locomotives earned their living on the West Coast main line, hauling the heaviest trains between London Euston and Glasgow and in direct competition with Gresley’s streamliners on the LNER.
Unlike Gresley’s A4s not all of the class were streamlined and all lost their ‘casing’, the last losing its casing in 1949 (6243 City of Lancaster). As a result there are many variations between individual members.
The book provides the modeller with a wide range of photographs for each member of the class, covering both LMS and BR days, along with details of allocations and modifications.
Unfortunately, there are no colour illustrations and the overall quality of some of the photographs leaves a little to be desired.
Nonetheless, the return of this classic book is to be welcomed as it provides a useful source of information for those detailing ready-to-run models and at £14.99 is hardly likely to break the bank.
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Locomotives in detail 3: Gresley 4-6-2 A4 Class, Ian Allan Publishing, ISBN: 0-7110-3085-5.
RAILWAY enthusiasts will always argue about what was the most impressive, most powerful or just the best looking steam locomotive ever built, but all will agree that Gresley’s A4s were certainly among the UK’s top five classes.
They were, of course, the world’s fastest steam locomotives and the LNER’s record setting exploits with 4468 ‘Mallard’ on Stoke Bank are part of railway history.
Although rendered redundant by the introduction of diesels on the East Coast Route to the north, they were among the last major pacific locos in service, and ended their days on the Glasgow Aberdeen expresses. The last six were withdrawn in 1966 and six have been preserved.
David Clarke’s excellent treatise has been written with the modeller in mind and provides a fully illustrated, comprehensive history of the class.
Split into seven chapters the book deals with Design, Construction, the Running Plate and Cab, Tenders, Liveries and Names, and the operation of the class in service and in preservation.
In addition there is an appendix containing a series of 4mm/ft scale drawings and an allocation table detailing the home sheds of each member of the class from their introduction in 1935.
The chapters on Tenders and Liveries will prove especially interesting to those modelling the LNER and wishing to detail their ready to run models.
There is a good selection of colour photographs, including some rare pre-war examples, but perhaps the moodiest is of Empress of India (number 11) pictured in August 1947 in post-war Garter Blue at Newcastle Central complete with LNER on the tender and a red backed nameplate. Magical!
At £16.99 it is recommended without reservation.
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The County Donegal railways Companion: A Handbook for Modellers and Historians, Midland Publishing (an imprint of Ian Allan), ISBN: 1-85780-205-5.
IT IS nearly 50 years since the last red steam locomotive belonging to the County Donegal Railway made its way along the rural byways of what was arguably the most famous of Ireland’s ‘narrow’ gauge railways.
Of course, by British standards three-foot track spacing is almost standard gauge, and the locomotives reflected this, the heaviest examples turning the scales at 50 tons!
The railway also pioneered the use of petrol powered railcars, the first, a four-wheeled inspection car taking to the tracks 100 years ago.
By the 1920s and 1930s the railway was operating a wide range of vehicles, some of which had been converted from road use—a popular subject among those modelling Irish railways of the period.
The books tells the story of the railway from its early days, placing it firmly in its social, economic and political context, examines its relations with neighbouring lines and draws on the recollections of those who worked on and used it.
Author Roger Cromblehome is a distinguished modeller and, as might be expected, the book looks at the railway’s rolling stock in detail, using 150 black and white photographs and scale drawings of locomotives, railcars, carriages and wagons.
There are also chapters covering the permanent way and signalling, liveries, station buildings and other structures, and a detailed look at operations on the 125-mile system.
Especially illuminating is a reflection on ‘life’ in Stranorlar works. These reminiscences by Cathal Hannigan, who worked in the carriage and wagon shop from 1944 until the railway closed in 1959, give a insight into ingenuity and dedication of the workers tasked with keeping vehicles operating.
In addition, the book provides a guide to what survives today and includes information on where to find preserved items of CDR rolling stock.
Given the growing interest in Irish railways—not just among modellers—this £14.99 softback book and line is likely to attract wide audience. Recommended.
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British Railways Past and Present (50): North Staffordshire, Past and Present Publishing, ISBN: 1-85895-204-2.
THE railways of North Staffordshire, especially around Stoke-on-Trent and the county town were always busy in the days of steam and have remained so despite the cutbacks in both services and lines.
Hugh Ballantyne’s contribution to the Past and Present series covers a small area of the county and looks at the lines of the three major pre-grouping companies that operated there—the LNWR, the North Staffordshire Railway and the GNR.
The last mentioned had but a toe hold in the area, serving a rural district east of Stafford towards Uttoxeter. It obtained access to Stafford over the NSR via Uttoxeter and then over its own tracks to Derby Friargate.
The tracks have long gone, but there are some interesting pictures in the book of an LNER D20 4-4-0 at Stafford Common and an elderlyJ3 0-6-0 at6 Uttoxeter.
As might be expected, the book follows the normal format for this series with a selection of before and after views covering a period from pre-grouping days through to today.
Two views of Stoke-on-Trent station provide one of the most interesting comparisons.
The first taken at the turn of the 19th century shows a NSR class L 0-6-2 passing the platform with a south bound goods, the second, contemporary, view features a Class 66 on a trip working heading south, yet apart from the absence of NSR trolleys on the platform and enamel signs the station remains essentially the same.
This is one of the better books in the series and features a wide range of black and white photographs, all of excellent quality and well reproduced. It costs £16.99.
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The Heyday of the Class 40s, Ian Allan Publishing, ISBN: 0-7110-3058-8.
MANY of British Rail’s first generation diesel locomotives have passed into history with hardly anyone noticing their going…the Clayton Class 17s and the North British Classes 16, 21 and 22 for instance.
However, the Class 40 had the makings of a legend and remained a favourite with enthusiasts right up to its eventual demise in 1985 (D200/40122 lingered on working ‘specials’ until it too was retired on 16 April, 1988).
The class had made its debut some 30 years earlier when D200, the first English Electric Type 4 diesel electric, made a demonstration run from Liverpool Street to Norwich.
Despite their heavy weight—133 tons—the first five examples were allocated to the Great Eastern lines, with the remaining members of the initial batch of ten working on Great Northern routes.
Their performance was a little disappointing (no doubt in part due to their own weight), but they could hold their own against steam on lightly loaded diagrams.
The next batch was allocated to the West Coast Main Line, though as author Gavin Morrison wryly observes in his introduction to the book “their progress (on Shap or Beatock) with trains in excess of 12 coaches could only be described as pedestrian at best, although the noise was superb!”
As more modern locos came on stream in the 1960s the Forties were displaced from express passenger work and found a home working express freights and the odd passenger turn.
Fortunately the enthusiast community ensured that seven examples were preserved, a number of which have been seen on the main line in recent times.
Their popularity has also ensured that a comprehensive photographic record of their activities exists and Gavin Morrison has selected more than 70 excellent views for this book in Ian Allan’s ‘Heyday’ series.
They encompass a wide range of locations and workings across the full range of the classes’ activities and all are of an exceptionally high standard.
A number stand out: D330 in BR green hauling a rake of maroon Mk 1s on the Settle and Carlisle; 40056 hauling five ‘first generation’ Class 76 electrics from Reddish to Rotherham for scrapping and an early 1960s shot of D242 on an empty Leeds–Appleby stock working, its train consisting entirely of ex-LNER Thompson coaches.
At £14.99 this is a ‘must have’ book, especially if bought in conjunction with the ‘Peaks’ book reviewed below.
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The Heyday of the Peaks, Ian Allan Publishing, ISBN: 0-7110-3057-X.
UNLIKE the Class 40s, the Peaks do not constitute a single class but three classes—44 (whose mountain names led to them being called Peaks), 45, and 46.
All three used the same basic bodyshell and shared many of the principal components, including the 1Co-Co1 wheel arrangement.
The story of the Peaks is briefly examined in Gavin Morrison’s new book and is illustrated with around 80 colour photographs, many of them occupying a whole page. The majority of these date from the BR Blue period, though the BR green period is well represented.
The origins of the pilot scheme Peaks (Class 44/D1-10) can be traced back to the former LMS prototype diesels, 10000 and 10001, and unlike the later versions in Class 45/46, the 44s used an A-series Sulzer LDA engine.
This gave the locos a maximum of 2,300 hp, whereas the B-series engines fitted to both the Class 45 and 46 series produced 2,500 hp. The 44s and 45 were fitted with Crompton electrical gear, whereas the Class 46 had Brush electrical equipment.
The Peaks spent most of the working life on the Midland Main Line, for many years dominating services between St Pancras and Manchester/Nottingham/Sheffield.
The advent of HSTs on the Midland saw the Peaks working on cross country services, especially those from the north east to the West Country. The last example in regular service was 45 141 (August 1988), though 45 106 was briefly reinstated, painted green and used on specials. It was withdrawn in February 1989.
Always popular with enthusiasts (the Editor has fond memories of two footplate rides between Leicester and St Pancras) it is no surprise that a number have been preserved.
The pictures have been selected to show Peaks at work across the network with a wide range of workings, though passenger workings predominate; many provide excellent reference images for modellers.
Given the period in which they worked many of the photographs portray a railway scene resplendent with manual signal boxes, semaphore signals (both upper and lower quadrant)—pure nostalgia.
Like its companion volume, it is modestly priced at £14.99, and well recommended.
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British Railway Infrastructure in Colour, for the Modeller and Historian, Midland Publishing, ISBN: 1-85780-204-7.
INFRASTRUCTURE is a pretty uninspiring word to describe ‘all that doesn’t move’ on the railway, but for the modeller it provides the substance and inspiration for all those elements that lend authenticity to a layout.
Robert Hendry’s latest offering ‘for the modeller and historian’ from Midland Publishing takes a close look at the fixed structures of the railway that are so often taken for granted.
In this well illustrated paperback the author provides an overview of those often overlooked features such as bridges, level crossings, tunnels, stations, train sheds and trackwork—much of which has now been modernised, or has disappeared.
Using the widest definition of infrastructure enables such everyday items as lineside fencing, fire devils, lamps, luggage barrows, point rodding, and water columns to be included.
Although largely devoted to main line and industrial locations, coverage includes some narrow gauge locations.
The book follows the same pattern as earlier members of the series and makes extensive use of colour photographs—many from the steam age—and detailed captions.
A dozen sections cover the formation, small and medium size stations, platform furniture, notices, tunnels, bridges, goods depots, sheds and level crossings.
Of particular interest is a series of photographs and accompanying text devoted to Glasgow Central, the author’s chosen example of a large city terminal.
These include a picture of ‘the shell’, a former World War One 15 inch artillery shell converted to a collecting box, which was a recognised meeting place for Glaswegians.
There’s no doubting the value of this book to modellers, but it also has much to offer the rail historian/enthusiast and will bring back many memories of the days when steam ruled the rails.
Modestly priced at £14.99, it is worthy of a place on any rail fans bookshelf. Recommended.
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British Railways Locomotives Combined Volume 1950, Ian Allan Publishing, ISBN: 0-7110-3106-1.
IAN Allan’s series of Locomotives guides were long considered an essential part of the ‘train spotter’s equipment’ and many modellers will have a copy or two from their schooldays.
Nostalgia aside, these books—no doubt with many ‘copped’ locos underscored with a line of pencil or biro—have acquired special significance as a record of locomotives long consigned to the scrap heap.
The occasional reissue of books from the long-lived series is always welcome and the latest—1950—is no exception, not least because it includes shed allocations for steam, diesel and electric locomotives.
As a facsimile reprint the quality of some of the photographs is a little disappointing, but they nonetheless provide a valuable record of many pre-grouping locomotive classes that have long since passed into oblivion.
Often these survivors earned a living on less glamorous duties, frequently on the more obscure parts of the network.
These include such esoteric machines as ex-Midland 2F 0-6-0s, ex-LNWR 0-6-0 saddle tanks, Webb ‘Coal Tanks’ and ex-GWR Bulldogs.
Pictures of the obscure aside, this book can lay claim to being of historical interest in its own right.
Originally published at the beginning of a period of expansion, it contains details of locomotives on order, and includes a preview of the Standards (the first did not appear until 1951) and a description of the Western Region Gas Turbine locomotives.
This is a fascinating little book and at only £10.99 it would be hard to find a reason not to buy it.
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Diesel Days Devon and Cornwall, Ian Allan Publishing, ISBN: 0-7110-3040-5.
FIFTY years ago at the dawn of the diesel age a trip to Devon or Cornwall would have rewarded the rail enthusiast with a succession of steam-hauled expresses, but in a surprisingly short time the scene changed beyond recognition.
The picture changed dramatically in the following decade. The Halls, Castles and Kings that once ruled the rails were gone by 1964 replaced by diesel hydraulics and they in turn by diesel electric locomotives.
The changing scene fascinated author John Vaughan and this volume covers a 30-year period, from October 1951 when the SR English Electric main line locos first ventured west from Waterloo until the end of 1985.
In his introduction he outlines the chronology of diesel penetration into the two counties and the types that left their mark—for better or worse—on services in the area.
The book is lavishly illustrated (though sadly all the photographs are in black and white) with the images arranged thematically; loco classes, type of train, livery weather, railway structure, etc.
It works surprisingly and helps emphasise the immense variety of types, workings and the general railway scene to be found in the counties in the period.
Today’s trains show little variety. Passenger workings are dominated by modern DMUs and ageing HSTs, whilst freight is usually in the hands of Class 60, 66 and sometimes 67 locomotives—with the odd 37 of 47 for variety.
The sixties, seventies and eighties saw a much wider range of motive power all displayed against a railway backdrop that had remained largely unchanged since Nationalisation in 1947.
Semaphore signals, ancient signal boxes, telegraph poles and sleeper-built p-way huts are much in evidence and are sure to be of interest to modellers of the period.
The locos themselves encompass all the classes found over the 30 years, including Westerns, Warships (of all types), Peaks, Classes 25, 31, 33, 37, 47 and 50.
The locations are equally varied and range from DMU operated branches including Looe, St Ives and Falmouth, to classic main line scenes such as that at Dawlish, Dainton and Exeter St. Davids.
The captions are concise and informative and the 280 images are of high quality—in short this a book that is well worth its £19.99 price tag, especially if you have a love of the period and the region. Recommended.
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London Transport in Colour 1950-1969, Ian Allan Publishing, ISBN: 0-7110-3073-1.
LONDON’S Transport system went through a major upheaval in the period covered by this book, 1950-1969.
The city’s last trams were eliminated in the summer of 1952, the trolley bus system was switched off in 1962 and the end of the sixties saw the split between LT and LondonCounty, the latter becoming part the newly created National Bus Company.
Below ground there was change too with the expansion of the Central Line to Epping and Ongar and the construction of the Victoria Line, the closure of the ActonTown branch and the modernisation of the Metropolitan line north of Baker Street.
In his latest book on London Transport—illustrated with around 80 colour photographs—Kevin McCormack provides a colourful reminder of that period of transition.
Drawing on the collections of a number of photographers, including Nick Lera, Marcus Evans, Neil Davenport and the late Mike Harries, and with the use of detailed captions, he highlights many of the changes that took place.
The demise of the Chesham stock, withdrawal of the Metropolitan electric locomotives, the introduction of the Routemasters and the last days of the trolley buses are all covered in this 80-page book.
There is no denying the quality of the photographs, but railway modellers may well find there are too many trams and buses for their taste, and at £14.99 the book only carries a qualified recommendation.
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Class 50s in Operation, Ian Allan, ISBN: 0-7110-2971-7.
OCCASIONALLY a class of locomotive strikes a chord with railway enthusiasts. The Kings and Castles, Duchesses, A3s and A4s of the steam era certainly did and in more recent times it has been the Deltic, Warship and Western diesel locomotives.
The Class 50s, which survived in main line use until the early 1990s, look destined to join that elite group with preservationist groups ensuring that a fair number survive in working order.
Remarkably, around a third of the 50 locomotives built retains a tenuous hold on life—a fact that author David Clough highlights as being ‘too many’ for the resources available.
A recognised expert on railway performance, the author has been closely involved with the Class 50s from the start and, as a member the main Class 50 preservation society, is well equipped to chronicle its history.
Drawing on his own records and photographic archives, and those of others, he has produced what must be regarded as the definitive history of the class.
The 50s owe the existence to the motive power crisis that developed in the late sixties on the as yet non-electrified West Coast line north of Crew.
The first was introduced in 1967 and for the next seven years, until the completion of electrification through to Glasgow, they dominated the route to the north.
Displaced by the electrics they found new use on the Western Region as replacements for the hydraulics, and subsequently saw out their later years on the West Country services out of Waterloo.
This book chronicles their history from gestation through to withdrawal and contains pictures of each member of the class in various guises and there is an appendix at the rear of the book that gives a history of each member of the class, including its eventual fate.
There is a chapter on the locos in private ownership and a potted history of the ‘Portuguese Class 50s’, which a great deal in common with their UK cousins.
If you are a fan of the 50s, or interested in BR diesel development, then it is likely you will not be put off by the £20 price tag. The absence of colour photographs, however, is disappointing.
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Simple Model Railway Layouts-Big Ideas for Small Spaces, Silver Link Publishing. ISBN: 1-85794-226-4.
Silver Link through its Nostalgia Collection is steadily adding to its library of railway modelling books, and Simple Model Railway Layouts is the latest in the range.
Strictly speaking, having first been published in 1987, it is not a new book, but this 2004 version has been thoroughly revised and re-illustrated and limits itself to presenting ideas for small, fairly simple layouts that are inexpensive to construct and easy to house.
Each chapter is self-contained and features a layout design idea, including not only the obligatory 00 gauge branch line terminus, but also suggestions for an N gauge American layout and railway preservation centre.
The first two chapters are devoted to a look at basic baseboard construction and track laying and experienced modellers will probably skip these.
The book isn’t credited to any particular person and consequently has a ‘committee’ feel to it—no doubt each ‘gauge expert’ wrote a chapter.
Good books on modelling—any kind of modelling—are hard to find and while the technically challenged modeller or novice might find the book helpful, those modellers beyond the elementary stage would be advised to look elsewhere.
Despite the excellent photographs, and the generally good advice it contains, this £16.99 small format book is hard to recommend to anyone other than those wanting to make the step up from train set to something better.
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Scottish Steam a tribute by Keith Verden Andersen and Brian Stephenson, Ian Allan. ISBN:0-7110-2992-X.
EVERY once in a while one comes across a book that is of such worth that its price tag becomes irrelevant. Scottish Steam featuring the impeccable photo works of the late W.J. Verden Andersen is one such book and even at £30 it is still a good buy.
Andersen was one of the most famous recorders of steam operation in Scotland and over the years his images graced the pages of many books and magazine pages to critical acclaim.
Equally at home with colour or black and white film, this book represents but a small part of the collection inherited by his family on his untimely death in 1989 at the age of 57.
Put together by his son, Keith, and photographer Brian Stephenson, Scottish Steam is a fitting tribute to the vision and photographic skill that marked his work out from that of others.
Living in Eastern Scotland he was well placed to travel throughout the country and over the years amassed a huge pictorial record of Scottish railways in a period of change.
And, for once, the publishers have not stinted on space—this is a large format book that often uses every inch of page space for a single picture!
Scotland is blessed with an unlimited supply of scenic backdrops, and there are many images that make use of this, but there are ordinary work-a-day shots too, such as an LMS 4P compound hauling a rake of coal wagons out of Perth or the J35 hauling the daily goods out of Charlestown.
The whole range of railway imagery can be found within this book’s pages; moody winter steam, scenic panoramas, shed and station scenes, and shots of record. All were taken during the period 1950-1967.
Each picture is furnished with a detailed caption and there is an index of locations and locomotive classes at the rear of the book.
Scotland’s railways have always held a fascination, not just because of the grandeur of the settings, but also because of the locos to be found north of the border—some of which worked almost until the very end of steam.
This is one of the best railways titles to be published in 2004 and no-one should let Christmas pass without, at the very least, ensuring it is on their presents list.
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British Railways Past and Present: Sussex, Past and Present Publishing. ISBN: 1-85895-239-5.
SUSSEX boasts a complex rail network even by today’s standards, but it is but a pale shade of the network that existed before the rationalisation of many of its competing north-south routes.
The omission of so many centres of population from the current network map is all the more ironic when so many of the disused station sites have become housing estates!
The closures have been inconsistent too.
The line between Eridge to Lewes was terminated at Uckfield, which is still served by trains today, while the route from Eridge to Eastbourne was severed completely.
This leaves the Uxbridge resident with a very circuitous route to the resort! Yet the restoration of the short link to Lewes would make such a journey unnecessary.
AuthorTerry Gough highlights the problem in this Past and Present book, along with others as he takes us on a journey in pictures across the region.
Electrification hasn’t reached all parts despite the electrification of the ex-LBSCR lines in the 1930s, and the 230, or so, photographs show the steady transition of stock from the days of steam and early Southern electric units, to today’s mix of hi-tech units.
All the major routes are covered, including the main lines to Brighton andHastings, and the SouthCoast line and its branches.
As always the pictures present a mixed picture with the past and present scenes often in stark contrast.
At £15.99, however, these small format books are looking a wee bit expensive.
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Odd Corners of the GWR from the Days of Steam, Sutton Publishing. ISBN: 0-7509-3458-1.
Camping coaches, like water troughs and steam locomotive sheds, have long ago passed into memory, but thanks to books like Odd Corners of the GWR, we can at least get an idea of how things were.
Author Kevin Robertson has brought together a fascinating collection of unpublished photographs that shed new light on the history of ‘Gods Wonderful Railway’.
As always with a book of this type, the author was faced with the difficult task of deciding what to leave out rather than what to include.
Fortunately, he has chosen wisely and the book covers a diverse range of activities and subjects, and, through the selective use of text and pictures, he reveals a slice of life that has passed into history.
A glance at the contents list will tempt you into chapters on stations and yards, trackwork, water troughs, and accidents and automatic train control.
The last mentioned is an especially rewarding read. The list of 1899 accidents at the beginning of the chapter shows just how frequent accidents were in those early years, though few, fortunately, ended with serious consequences for passengers.
Not so for the driver of the through train from Birmingham to Henley-in-Arden (old station).
Having failed to stop his train as it ran down the 1 in 55 gradient, both he and his fireman jumped clear of the runaway as it passed though the platform.
The locomotive, two coaches and its passengers, continued through the stop blocks ending up in a field beyond the railway and four feet below rail level!
The passengers were shaken but uninjured.
The driver was not so lucky as his claim the ‘rails were greasy’ was dismissed and he was held to blame. Fined a loss of pay for six days and loss of bonus he no doubt subsequently took great care to test his brakes well in advance of the need to use them.
The text of the book is littered with such anecdotal stories and is the richer for it.
The photographs—all in black and white—range from staged safety shots, shed scenes and crash scenes to the more esoteric vehicles that once roamed the Western rails.
These include a collection of views depicting the rather ‘Heath Robinson’ looking weed-killing train, the innovative petrol railcar of 1912, and a series showing the evolution of the Camping Coach.
At only £12.99 it is an excellent choice for whiling away the winter nights and luxuriating in the nostalgia of the moment. Recommended.
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More Odd Corners from the GWR from the Days of Steam, Sutton Publishing. ISBN: 0-7509-3219-8
UNLIKE the author’s previous book, Odd Corners of the GWR (reviewed in the December), which had a series of themed written chapters with illustrations, this is a collection of photographs.
Apart from a brief introduction and similar economic captions, Kevin Robertson lets the pictures themselves ‘do the talking’ and very eloquently they do it too!
As a longstanding rail enthusiast he has amassed a large collection of photographs and has selected a range of images that portray both the unusual and the everyday scene.
They cover a wide period—from the late 19th century to the 1960s, with no period having precedence over any other.
Elegant Dean ‘Singles’ of the last decade of the 1800s, early Churchward designs, such as Saints and Stars, together with offerings from Collett and even BR can be found within the pages of this fascinating book.
The pictures are full of interest for modellers and all are worthy of close scrutiny. Even those from more recent times, the 1950s and 60s, record scenes that have now disappeared, and not just those of a purely railway content have much to offer the modeller.
A closer look, for instance, at the July 1960 scene (pages 124/125) featuring D600 and 4938 Liddington Hall near Bath Spa, reveals much more than a meeting of the old and the new.
The photograph also has in its foreground a motley collection of road vehicles, including the once ubiquitous Bedford van, but of the half-a-dozen cars present all but one are of pre-WW2 heritage!
This book has many such images worthy of close investigation, be it for signal box interiors, station details (branch and mainline), train consists, bridge construction and the people, who both ran and travelled on the railway.
At a penny short of £20 this is not a cheap book, but if you are interested in the GWR it is a good buy. If you plan a model based on the company it is essential reading!
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British Railways Past and Present (13): North West, West and South West London, Past and Present Publishing, ISBN: 1-85895-113-5.
THE railways of London will always hold a fascination for enthusiasts and historians because of their complex development and the fact that traditionally all railways begin in the capital.
This volume in the past and Present series restricts itself to the lines running to the North West, West and South West of the city—those routes radiating from St Pancras, Euston, Marylebone, Paddington, Victoria and Waterloo.
On the whole these lines have survived almost intact, though competition from London’s underground and tube lines has resulted in the demise of some.
Many of the past photographs are from the 1950s and come from co-author Brian Morrison’s own collection—taken when lineside passes were available to ‘bona-fide’ railway photographers. Others are from the collections of other lens-men active at the time.
While few modellers will have the space to model any of the main-line termini mentioned above, there are many locations featured in the 260 or so photographs that might be incorporated into a home layout.
As might be expected of Brian Morrison, the images of steam hold the most interest for the reader—a Class 165 DMU at South Ruislip looks lifeless compared to its companion picture featuring a Western Hall being overtaken by a classmate.
There is something in this book for most modellers, though its A5 size means that some of the illustrations (usually two to a page) are reproduced at below optimal size.
Unless it is your aim to complete the collection, you may think £16.99 is rather expensive for a book of black and white prints. Check it out before you buy.
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All in a Day’s Work: Life on the GWR, Ian Allan Publishing, ISBN: 0-7110-2964-4.
IT is difficult to imagine a time when more than a million people were employed on Britain’s railways, but at their zenith the railways were one of the country’s principal employers…and a career in the railways was often highly sought after.
The railways have been radically ‘downsized’ since the height of the railway era and many jobs, such as blacksmiths, shunters, even sailors, have now disappeared.
In this book author Tim Bryan pays tribute to the vast army of workers, who in a wide range of roles, made up the workforce of the GWR, and chronicles the activities that were ‘All in a Day’s Work’.
He stresses in his foreword that it is not the ‘definitive story’. Instead the book highlights some of the railway’s activities and working practices, shows some of its high and lows, and the good and bad of railway life.
Drawing on the extensive archive on the GWR now housed at STEAM: The Museum of the Great Western at Swindon, he creates a vivid portrait of ordinary railway workers in the age of steam.
It is an evocation of the days when safety issues (for staff at least) were poorly regulated, conditions, especially for shed staff and loco crews, were harsh and dirty and expectations were limited.
It is tempting to see the footplate men’s lives as glamorous, but this nostalgic view is misplaced. Few cleaners/firemen ever reached ‘top link’ status—the jobs were limited after all—and at an age when they could enjoy its status.
The book is divided into seven chapters looking at Goods and Traffic departments, the Engine Shed, On the Footplate, Inside Swindon Works, At War and Miscellaneous Occupations.
It draws on a variety of sources, including written accounts and oral history archives, together with material gleaned from interviews of former employees and company literature.
The text is simply written and illustrated, where appropriate, with black and white photographs, many of which will be new to readers.
Books such as this prove a valuable source of information for the modeller planning to run a layout on ‘prototypical’ lines, and as such complement the more obvious sources of information.
At £19.99 it is a wee bit expensive, but GWR modellers will no doubt think it worth every penny.
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British Railways Past and Present (12): East Anglia, Past and Present Publishing, ISBN: 1-85895-056-2.
THE railways of East Anglia—essentially those of the Great Eastern Railway and the Midland and Great Northern Joint—were hit especially hard by rationalisation in the aftermath of Beeching and his followers.
Always a sparsely populated area with little indigenous industry (apart from agriculture) it is easy to see why the railways of Norfolk, Suffolk and East Cambridgeshire took such a bashing.
A map, handily placed at the beginning of the book, demonstrates the gaps in the system.
Some 70 locations are covered, including Norwich, Ipswich, Melton Constable, March, Ely and Fakenham.
Using the established ‘then and now’ formula this volume consists of 180 photographs featuring the Chelmsford-Norwich main line, East Suffolk line and branches, Kings Lynn and North East Cambridgeshire, the MGNR Joint lines, the GER rural byways and the areas preserved lines.
The pictures, taken largely in the 1950s and 60s, show a wealth of stations, signal boxes and lineside features that have been swept aside to make way for housing estates, or at its worst wasteland.
Many of the locomotives featured have a long ancestry (E4, J15, D1, J17, D16); more recent stock includes Britannias, Ivatt moguls and early DMUs—all now passed into history.
As always with these P and P books, there is something to interest the modeller on most pages, especially if you have a passion for all things Eastern—if you don’t the £16.99 price tag might seem a tad on the high side.
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Oxford, Worcester and Wolverhampton—Portrait of a Famous Route. Part Two: Worcester to Wolverhampton, Runpast Publishing, ISBN1-870754-60-3
THE Oxford, Worcester and Wolverhampton Railway (OWWR), long known by its detractors as the ‘Old Worse and Worse’, linked London with the West Midlands by a rather circuitous route.
The Oxford to Worcester section’s story was told in Part One (regular readers will recall that it was reviewed last year) and author Bob Pixton picks up the narrative at Worcester and takes the reader on the remaining 33 miles of the journey to Wolverhampton.
There the GWR and OWW shared a station (Low Level—opened 1854) with the Shrewsbury and Birmingham Railway, the latter having amalgamated with the GWR in 1854.
The OWW (as the West Midland Railway) was itself amalgamated with the GWR in August 1863
As in the earlier volume, the story is told through pictures, many of which are in sharp contrast to those in part one, for the line passes through the heavily industrialised areas of the Black Country.
The first section covered, from Worcester to Hagley remains relatively rural, but once Kidderminster station, with its distinctive mock timber framing, is passed the journey to Stourbridge takes on a distinctly urban feel.
Stourbridge has an industrial history that predates the railways and the junction station was at the tip of the most densely developed urban area in the country.
The steam shed here remained busy right up to its closure in 1966, providing both locos for local passenger services and the freight trains that serviced the Black Country’s many foundries and steel works.
Beyond Stourbridge the OWW made its way north through Dudley’s joint station (shared with the LMS), past the steelworks at Bilston West and joined the GWR main line at Priestfield.
Wolverhampton Low Level station was but a short haul from there and was approached through a short tunnel.
The pictures themselves cover a wide range of subjects and periods, many taken during the 1950s. They include not only early OWW and GWR locomotives, but also GWR owned ‘omnibuses’, diesel railcars of 1930s vintage and pictures of proudly posed staff.
Little remains now of the closed section between Wolverhampton and Dudley, though traffic still uses the sections to the south, and Priestfield see regular trams (on the ex-GWR main line) on their way from Wolverhampton Town centre to Birmingham Snow Hill.
Fortunately, much of the infrastructure remains in place from Dudley to Stourbridge and the line from Stourbridge remains busy.
If you have the first volume of this pictorial history you will definitely want the follow-up, though Part Two stands on its own.
Strongly recommended for both modellers and rail enthusiasts.
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Past and Present: West, East and North Lancashire (43), Past and Present Publishing, ISBN: 1-85895-237-9.
One of the most recent books in the series, this nostalgic and comparative look at railways in the North-West has clearly defined sections: Southport and West Lancashire, East Lancashire, The Fylde, around Lancaster, and Furness.
Authors John Hillmer and Paul Shannon, categorise the railways of area as West Coast Main Line (WCML), secondary inter-urban routes and rural branches.
Using more than 220 black and white images, they show the different fates each has been meted out.
The WCML modernised and upgraded, though losing most of its passing stations (Preston and Lancaster remain), is largely intact; the inter-urban routes while simplified, still serve towns such a Blackpool, Blackburn and Southport, though the rural network is virtually extinct.
To the east the network has been heavily pruned, though the principal artery (Preston to Colne) remains, albeit with its stations largely downgraded to unstaffed halts.
Each of the sections is prefaced by a brief history and the illustrations range right through the early days of steam and electric to the present day.
A number of pictures are of special interest.
One shows a ‘coppernob type’ 0-6-0 tender engine at Clitheroe in the mid 1800s, another features an elderly Midland 2-4-0 on shed at Carnforth, while the before and after views of Blackpool Central (taken from the nearby Tower) reveal a totally changed scene—where excursion trains once stood is a sea of cars!
This is one of the better books in this series and contains much of interest for the modeller.
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British Railway Past and Present: Kent and East Sussex (20), Past and Present Publishing. ISBN: 1-85895-044-9 and British Railway Past and Present: Kent (46), Past and Present Publishing. ISBN: 1-85895-238-7.
THE south east corner of Britain has always been blessed with a high density of railway lines, the bulk of them lying in Kent and East Sussex in a triangle that has at its extremities Margate, Chiselhurst and Brighton.
These two books Kent and East Sussex (Volume 20, 1994, 2004/£16.99) and Kent (Volume 46, £15.99) make excellent companions and though there is some duplication of locations covered, it is of little consequence.
The earlier volume by authors Brian Morrison and Brian Beer features more than 260 photographs covering some 125 locations, including the major centres of population—Brighton, Lewes, Maidstone, Canterbury, Margate, Ramsgate and Dover.
As might be expected of a region that held on to steam until almost its end on BR there is an excellent selection of begrimed locos at work.
These images include examples of some truly venerable types including Wainwright D Class 4-4-0s, a Billinton E5 0-6-2 in post-war Southern livery (pictured in 1950), C and O1 Class 0-6-0s and H Class 0-4-4Ts.
More modern steam is to be found, too, in the shape of Bullied Pacifics, the odd Britannia Pacific, Schools and Q1s, and Standard 5s.
Some of the ‘now’ pictures have acquired historic status in themselves, with the demise of the SR diesel classes (24, 33) and electro-diesels (73); many of the then new multiple units have also become extinct.
The detail in the station and shed scenes is particularly revealing for modellers; the overview of Brighton shed (75A) on page 115 is well worth lingering over.
Terry Gough stays faithful to the pattern set in the earlier volume, but concentrates on the county of Kent itself in the latest volume in the series.
More than 80 locations are covered using 230, or so, photographs.
Steam power dominates the ‘before’ shots, the balance being made up of extinct diesel classes, 4-CEP/CAP, 2-HAP and other early first generation BR multiple units.
The present scenes, however, sees the appearance of diesel Classes 59/66/67 and the arrival of new multiple units such as Classes 365/375 and the Eurostars.
While many of the original North-South lines, such as Whitstable-Folkestone, have been subjected to a degree of rationalisation, the main lines between the coast and London remain intact and have flourished with the addition of the Channel Tunnel lines.
Among the lines featured are Tonbridge to Edenbridge, Ashford to Ramsgate, Faversham to Dover and branches to Allhallows, Sheerness, Hawkhurst and Westerham.
Either of these books would be worth buying on its own, but together they make a fascinating pictorial record of one of Britain’s busiest railway corners.
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British Railway Steam Locomotives 1948-1968, Oxford Publishing Co, ISBN:0-86093-593-0.
IF YOU have ever wondered how and when your favourite locomotive met its end, or when and where a specific example of a particular class was built, then your prayers have at last been answered.
You no longer have to wade through a whole series of reference books; you simply pick up a copy of Hugh Longworth’s British Steam Railway Locomotives 1948-1968 and it is sure to be there.
Make no mistake this is a major work. It is based on years of research and gives an account of each and every locomotive operated by the nationalised railways during those two final decades of steam.
All the classes inherited by BR in 1948 are included, as well as those built post-nationalisation.
The book contains full technical details for each class, a short potted history and an indication of the variations within the class, such as changes in cabs, boilers, and rebuilds.
Details of each locomotive’s introduction, BR renumbering, any name it might have, carried and the date of its scrapping are listed in table form.
The bulk of the information is arranged into five main sections (GWR, SR, LMS, LNER and BR) rather like the Ian Allan ABCs that inspired the author, but is supplemented by nine highly detailed appendices.
The appendices deserve special attention. There’s a list of all named locomotives, chronological lists of additions to stock and withdrawals, details of youngest and oldest locomotives at time of withdrawal and a chronological list of classes.
There is even an appendix indicating which locomotives survived for more than a year after withdrawal before scrapping.
The book is fairly generously illustrated, black and white photographs portraying many of the classes, though it is not a ‘picture book’.
Given its comprehensive coverage, its undoubted attention to detail and accuracy, British Railways Steam Locomotives looks set to join the ranks of ‘standard reference works’...and deservedly so.
At £35 it is not a cheap book, but given the work involved in its production, it seems a fair price. Every railway historian, amateur or professional, should have copy!
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Railways Restored 2005, Ian Allan Publishing, ISBN: 0-7110.
THE railway heritage movement has grown considerably over the past 25 years and with it the enthusiasts need for easily accessible information about the museums, railways and preservation centres that are to be found across the UK and Ireland.
For many years Railways Restored has been the de facto guide for visitors and the latest edition, the 26th, contains more pages and entries than its predecessor.
As always its comprehensive coverage, content and clarity makes it an extremely useful tool for those seeking the locations of the ever-increasing numbers of steam and diesel locomotives saved from the scrap yard.
This new edition has been fully updated, includes a new selection of photographs and a 32-page national timetable of scheduled heritage services.
The book is simply laid out with each heritage site having a section devoted to basic information on what is on offer and a list of its stock.
For the modeller looking to locate an example of a particular class this kind of information is invaluable, especially as stock listings being the as up to date as is possible given the current practice loco-swapping between railways.
In addition to the information on sites, the book also contains a full list of the members of the Heritage Railway Association (HRA) along with addresses and contacts were available.
Railways Restored is not a book that the reader will read from cover to cover at one sitting, but if you are planning a number of visits to heritage sites it will prove invaluable. At only £13.99 it’s a snip.
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50 Classics—Railways, The Francis Frith Collection, ISBN: 1-85937-903-6.
RAILWAY enthusiasts—and historians—have good cause to be grateful to the Victorian photographic pioneer, Francis Frith, for the collection of photographs he created gives a rare insight into a time that has passed.
The collection continued to grow after his death in 1898. By 1970 it contained more than a third of a million images showing 7,000 British towns and villages.
This pocket book, 50 Classics—Railways, is one of a series of anthologies of subjects and themes from British life, history and heritage.
Spanning more than a century—the earliest photograph dates from 1887—its cover a wide range of scenes, including stations, bridges, viaducts and tunnels.
Many of the images capture scenes that have long disappeared and as such are a wonderful source of inspiration for modellers—just look at the picture of York (above) with its wealth of platform detail.
Also of special interest are scenes of Corby Steelworks (c1953), a permanent way team at work in Clandon station (1907) and a 1906 shot of a train on the promenade at Bideford (the Westward Ho! and Appledore line closed in 1917).
The book, which is postcard sized, costs only £4.99 and includes a voucher for a free A4 mounted print from the book (post and packing £2.25). Simply excellent!
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Model Railway Detailing Manual: A Source Book Of Period Photographs From The Age Of Steam, Haynes Publishing, ISBN: 1-84425-201-9
BOOKS that set themselves the task of being ‘source books’ invariably make a rod for their own backs, for it is virtually impossible to produce within the confines of a single volume all that may be required to fulfil that bold definition.
Author Alan Postelthwaite has subtitled his book ‘A source book of period Photographs from the Steam Age’, though its coverage is limited to a period between 1958 and 1967.
As an experienced modeller he is well placed to judge what photographs might be of interest, and has selected more than 300 from his own collection to create a useful library of illustrations.
They are arranged in 70, or so, two page ‘mini-chapters’ and cover subjects such as Tunnel approaches, Riverside settings, Loading the goods, Country stations and Brick bridges.
As might be expected of the period covered, the age of the subject matter varies from the pre-Grouping era right through to BR and encompasses the whole range of items that contribute to the railway scene.
Like so many black and white photographs of the sixties they reward careful study and while a handful are of doubtful merit, most have something to offer the modeller and enthusiast.
The range of locations, however, is limited in the main to the southern half of the UK and those looking for inspiration for Scottish, North Western or North Eastern layouts will have to elsewhere.
Unlike many ‘so called’ source books this boasts a useful index, a list of references to aid further study and a list of abbreviations.
Although this hardback book has its limitations, it only costs £16.99 and as such can be recommended.
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Railway Operation for the Modeller, Midland Publishing. ISBN: 1 85780 168 7.
LIKE so many organisations a railway is invariably greater than the sum of its parts.
All too often, however, enthusiasts concentrate on what moves; the infrastructure that supports the trains, and the practices that control their operation, are largely ignored.
Model railways are no different in that respect with layouts populated by trains and structures that betray the owner/operators’ preferences, but frequently fail to represent the reality of the everyday operation.
Bob Essery’s book Railway Operation for the Modeller goes some way towards correcting the situation and steers the reader towards the real railway for their inspiration.
It is a theme that is oft repeated—with reason—throughout the pages of this interesting and thought-provoking book.
He begins by inviting discussion on what constitutes ‘operation’ and takes a look at the limitations imposed by space before briefly examining the basic elements of model railway operation and the legislation that governs the prototype.
So much for the first 20 pages…
The bulk of the book is devoted to those elements that make the railway work: track formations, signalling practice, traffic, stations, engine sheds, shunting, lamps and signs, and train movement.
Richly illustrated with both photographs and diagrams, including a series of passenger station ‘movement exercises’ taken straight from the LMS training manual, the author steers the modeller away from some of the more basic operating errors.
The book contains much that is of interest to the rail modeller and enthusiast alike, providing a basic introduction to working practices of the steam railway.
If the book has a weakness it is that it is solely devoted to steam operation and has a distinct LMS bias, though given the author’s pedigree that is hardly surprising.
Modern era modellers might find it wanting, but at only £14.99 there is no reason for any modeller not to add it to their library of reference books. For steam era fans it should be regarded as a must!
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Mainlines in Modest Spaces, Atlantic Publishers, ISBN: 1 902827 11 2.
ONE of the most stimulating, certainly challenging, pastimes that modellers indulge in is layout design.
However, when fitting that design into the ‘available’ space, the popular expression referring to ‘quarts and pint pots’ springs readily to mind.
The dilemma becomes even more acute when trying to model a main line situation in a restricted space, though as Iain Rice demonstrates in his book Mainlines in Modest Spaces, it by no means impossible.
The book is the second in the layout design series by the author and looks at the practicalities of scale and its limitations, the compromises necessary to produce a convincing representation of a main line, and the planning and presentation of the layout.
Beginning with a discussion of what constitutes a ‘main line’ and its ambience, the reader is led to the conclusion (obvious?) that an oval or ellipse provides the most efficient use of a given space, for both continuous, or end-to-end running.
Having established the principles, the author provides 14 ‘modest main line’ plans that cover the commonest locations—spare room, garden shed, garage, and loft space.
Some are inspired by real locations, such as Luxulyan and Bodmin Road, while others such as Rutford Market are fictional.
On the whole this is a competent sequel to the author’s similar book on Urban Layouts.
It is not without (minor) irritations, though: a caption reference to a three-coach train when four are clearly visible in the picture is sloppy proof reading and there are other ‘errors’ in a similar vein.
However, given that ‘railway modelling’ books are in short supply and that it costs only £16.50, there seems little reason not to add it to your library.
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Constructing and Operating Semaphore Signals, Booklaw Publications, ISBN: 1-901945-31-6.
NOT a new title but one that has been given a new lease of life, this is the first in a series of books entitled Mainline Modelling from Booklaw Publications.
Author Mike Nicholson is a self-confessed ‘signal buff’ and has been fascinated by signalling for close on fifty years.
Aimed at laying the foundations for a correctly signalled model layout, he takes the reader on a brief tour of how the prototype railway signals trains between signal boxes.
Having read the first three chapters modellers should be in no doubt about where to place signals and what form they should take. The remainder of the book takes a look at how to research and construct different types of signal.
Profusely illustrated with photographs and line drawings the book contains signalling layout plans and photographs of prototype and model signals.
Where appropriate scale drawings are included, though care is needed when using these as a check with a scale rule reveals many are incorrect!
Books on signalling are not common, but this £9.99 softback can only be given a qualified recommendation and is perhaps more suited to those with considerable scratch building experience.
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abc Signalling in the Age of Steam, Ian Allan Publishing, ISBN: 0-7110-2350-6.
RAILWAY signalling is something of a mystic art for many enthusiasts, whose knowledge is usually limited to observing its operation from afar.
Of course, modernisation of the railway industry has swept away much of the traditional signalling scene, but some conventional signal boxes survive and still control semaphore signals.
This reprint of the classic Ian Allan abc provides a simply written history of the traditional methods and mechanisms used to control movements on the railway, including block working, interlocking, lever frames and signals.
Author Michael Vanns’ traces the evolution of signalling in the UK and does much to dispel the mystery that surrounded the secret world of the steam age signal box and explains how trains were kept running safely.
Fully illustrated with photographs and line drawings the book forms an essential guide to this vital aspect of the railway industry.
At only £8.99 there’s no reason not to add it to your library of railway books.
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Industrial Steam in the ‘50s & ‘60s, Sutton Publishing, ISBN: 0-7509-3646-0.
INDUSTRIAL steam locomotives have never enjoyed the same appeal as their main line counterparts, even though it was industry that spawned the use of steam power and continued to use it long after BR had abandoned it.
Yet a rich range of styles, gauges, and locations could be found across the UK and offered the photographer a wide selection of subjects.
Eric Sawford was one of a small band of enthusiasts with an interest in both main line and industrial steam and this collection of black and white photographs illustrates how diverse Britain’s industrial railways were.
The majority of the photographs are in classic portrait style, featuring locos at rest rather than straining to move their usually heavy loads, but nonetheless form a valuable record.
Within the books 148 pages can be seen examples of some of Britain’s most famous builders including Hunslet, Pecket, Hawthorn, Leslie and Co., Andrew Barclay, Manning Wardle, and Kitson.
Early examples include a 1877 built Manning Wardle 0-6-0 (number 641) still at work in 1956 and boasting large wooden buffers, small saddle tank and polished safety valve cover. This classic period piece can now be found preserved on the Bluebell Railway.
A handful of former BR locomotives eked out their twilight years in industrial service too, and included a 1902 built Caledonian Railway Pug (Corby steelworks)!
The book is arranged into three sections—Four Coupled – Standard Gauge, All the Sixes – Standard Gauge and Other Gauges—with one, or two, pictures to a page. Captions are brief, but adequate.
Modellers with a keen interest in industrial, or narrow gauge, locations will find this book particularly valuable and the photographs will provide much information on detailing (both locos and the scenery).
However, its £19.99 price tag might make it a tad less appealing to those with more mainstream interests.
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An Illustrated History of Southern Wagons, Volume Two: LBSCR and minor companies, OPC. ISBN: 0 86093 220 6.
EVERY now and again a book comes along that has ‘for modellers use’ stamped over it and the classic OPC four-book series on Southern wagons was obviously conceived with modellers in mind.
Volumes One and Two, which is the subject of this review, were reprinted last year and the remaining two volumes will join them later this year.
An Illustrated History of Southern Wagons, Volume Two is devoted to the LBSCR and minor companies, and as such includes the Isle of White, Lynton and Barnstaple and Plymouth, Devonport and South Western Junction Railway.
The authors (G Bixley, A Blackburn, R Chorley and M King) have brought together a wealth of information about the design and manufacture of these wagons, many of which were remained ‘old fashioned’ to the end of their days and had little impact on Southern design.
As might be expected, the book is well illustrated and has 4mm/ft scale drawings of most of the wagons described providing a ready source of inspiration for modellers.
Narrow gauge fans will find the section on the Lynton and Barnstaple especially useful.
Despite its £19.99 price tag, this book (and its companion volumes) is an essential for any true Southern fan.
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London & South Western Railway Miscellany, Oxford Publishing Company. ISBN: 0 86093 584 1.
THE appeal of books that include the word ‘miscellany’ in their title depends entirely on the quality and content of the photographs they include.
Fortunately, John Scott-Morgan’s London and South Western Railway Miscellany contains period photographs that have much to commend them.
The largest of the three companies that made up the Southern Railway, the LSWR, was blessed with its fair share of eccentrics and eccentricities and some—such as the ill-conceived Drummond F13 4-6-0—can be found within the pages of this book.
The introduction provides the reader with a pocket history of the LSWR and its role in the rebuilding of Waterloo and the development of the electrified third-rail system.
However, the railway’s day-to-day life is revealed through a series of photographs covering the early days (1838-1880), through the elegance of the Edwardian era (1901-1910) to its eventual absorption into the Southern.
Pre-grouping layouts are rare, even today, but books such as this are likely to win the period a fair number of converts to the genre.
With its handsome Drummond and Adams locos and attractive coach liveries the LSWR has much to commend it…if only those early photographers had been able to enjoy the use of colour films!
At a penny short of £20 this hardback isn’t cheap, but if you have ‘Southern tendencies’ then it is certainly worth considering. Recommended.
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Historical Railway Modelling, Pendragon, ISBN: 1 899816 10 0.
THERE'S more than a hint of a personal philosophy (and auto-biography) 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 NationalRailwayMuseum 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.
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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.
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