Book Reviews

Model railway product reviews can be found here.

As They Were, Book 1, Southern England
The Book of the T9 4-4-0s, Richard Derry
The Crystal Palace High Level Railway, John Gale
Illustrated History of the North Cornwall Railway, 2nd Edition
Maunsell Locos, by John Scott-Morgan
Original Bulleid Pacifics, John Scott-Morgan
Ramblings of a Railwayman, Geoff Burch
Southern Electric Album, by Michael Welch
Southern Region Engineman, by Jim Lester
Southern Way Special Nº8, Kevin Robertson
Views of a Changing Railway: Edward Hopper - Railwayman from 1925 to 1968, by Maurice Hopper
Waterloo West, by Roger Siviter
Britains Lost Railways, by John Minnis

Waterloo West WATERLOO WEST: Waterloo to Barnstaple
Roger Siviter, Great Bear Publishing, h/b, 80pp, £14.99
ISBN 0 9541150 1 5

Roger Siviter has deservedly acquired a reputation for coming up with little gems of self-published archive photo albums from time to time, and this is one of the best.

It covers the 'classic diesel era' on the LSWR main line, from the demise of steam until the early 1990s, and features a veritable feast of stunning portraits and landscapes portraying Class 42 Warships, Class 33 Cromptons, Class 37s, 47s and 50s plus the occasional DEMU or first generation DMU at the zenith of their careers along the route.

Virtually every livery carried by these diesels is represented, although the emphasis is in the Rail Blue years.

It is difficult to find a shot taken in less than near-perfect lighting conditions, let alone on a dull day.

This is easily one of, if not the best modern traction volumes to have come our way in many a month and it fails in only one respect - it does not disappoint.

Reproduced from Heritage Railway, with permission, 23 January 2003

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John Scott-Morgan, Ian Allan, h/b, 80pp, £14.99

Produced in the regular Ian Allan inexpensive all-colour format, this book will delight both Southern enthusiasts and Maunsell Locomotive Society members.

Known for his examples of good, no-nonsense engineering practice, REL Maunsell was one of the best locomotive and rolling stock engineers of his generation. Trained at Inchicore works in his native Dublin, it is as CME of the last years of the SECR and as the first CME of the SR between 1923 and retirement in the late 1930s that heis best known.

Relatively little has been written on Maunsell locomotive designs; although covered by the late Brian Haresnape in Maunsell Locomotives, the various designs constructed between 1914 and 1922 have tended to be overshadowed by the more recent Bulleid classes.

We start with some of his early work in Ireland such as the J4 0-6-0 goods - sporting features that, with modification, developed into the designs later found on the SECR and SR. The L, N and N1 classes lead us to further rebuilds of 1919-22 including the ex-Wainwright E class to E1 and D to D1.

Once on the SR Maunsell gave the Urie N15s and S15s the same treatment and came into his own from 1926 when the range that includes the now Maunsell Society-owned Bluebell fleet became his trademarks.

Rarities include pictures of Nº15201 - one of his class of just three 0-6-0 diesel-electric shunters and concludes with a section on Southern EMUs in which he was heavily involved alongside th SR's electrical engineers before retiring. Apart from one of the latter's captions stating the location as Three Bidges when it is patently Horsham, the 85 photographs are well captioned and informative

Reproduced from Bluebell News, with permission, 23 January 2003

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Michael Welch, Capital Transport Publishing, h/b,
ISBN: 1-75414-270-4, 96 pages, 130 colour photographs, £16.95.

The latest offering from Michael Welch follows on from his successful 'Steam In' series but this time it is a hardback book with a larger (9" x 10" approx.) format. The subject matter is one of those 'too often sadly neglected' aspects of the Southern and this book certainly takes it out of that category.

Within the SEmG there has been demand for high quality colour photographs of SR EMUs and Electric locomotives and this is what is provided. The colour reproduction is excellent throughout and the variety of rolling stock types and locations portrayed is commendable. From wooden bodied 4-Subs to brand new 4-Reps and 4-Veps, along with a few later photographs from the blue and grey era. Locations depicted are from Waterloo to Weymouth/Portsmouth, the Central Division and the South Eastern along with various inner and outer suburban lines.

Some of the photographs I can only describe as 'stunning' and the photograph of Lovers Walk Depot, Brighton, that it featured on page 49, I (and others) have studied intensely (ok so I know I used to work there!). Blue Vep, Green Cig, Green Bil, Blue and Grey Big, Blue Cors, Blue Haps, Green (Tin Hal type) motor coach and Bel within the depot yard and then all the freight and parcels vehicles in 'Top Yard' behind. In addition one of the 2-Bils at the end of 7-road was 'standing foul' and the 4-Big (exiting 5-road) had just struck it a glancing blow and knocked all its door and commode handles off, until it came to a stop!

Each photograph is, as usual, accompanied by one of Michael's thoroughly researched, comprehensive and informative commentaries, for which he is well known.

In my view a very much needed book to plug, what was, the 'chasm of the world of colour SR electrics in print' and I thoroughly recommend it. I never thought I would see a colour photograph on an HA (class 71) with its pantograph raised and 'under the wire' but I have been proved wrong!

Glen Woods, Brighton

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As They Were AS THEY WERE, Book 1 Southern England
Railways on OS maps in 1950s, h/b, 176pp, £30.00

The first thing to say about this book is it isn't cheap - but you do get a lot for your money. The book consists of reproductions of the 6th (New Popular) Series OS 1 inch to the mile maps that were published circa 1947, so therefore shows all the railways by their pre-nationalization names.

The maps are slightly reduced in size from the original so that they are an effective scale of 0.94 inches per mile, though this doesn't really show if the book is compared with an original map. Joins in the maps are quite apparent in places and one slightly annoying thing is that maps on adjacent pages do not often match up vertically. Ringwood, for example, is a third of the way down the righthand side of page 58, but three quarters of the way down the lefthand side of page 59.

The book sets out to cover the railways of southern England south of a line from Bristol to Gravesend, which makes it a very useful publication for anyone interested in matters Southern and, because hardly any town was far from a railway, it also covers virtually all of southern England per se so is useful to anyone with an interest in maps of fifty years ago. It does not, of course, include any railways (e.g. Lynton & Barnstaple) that were closed prior to the publishing dates of the maps.

To put the price into context, sixth series OS maps can be found quite easily in bookshops and usually cost in the region of £5.00. For the price of six maps you can have a virtually complete set for southern England, all nicely presented in a hardback book and with an index to stations thrown in for free!

I would have just two real criticisms of the book - the pages dealing with the London area would be far better if a larger scale had been used - and the maps on the front cover! The top one is a seventh series map showing the railway at Steyning whilst the lower is a later Landranger map showing how part of the railway line has been turned into the A283 road. The former because it is a far clearer map than the sixth series and may lead people to think that is what is to be found between the covers and the latter as the book has no "then and now" comparisons inside. Notwithstanding these, I think it is a very good addition to my bookshelf and know it will be well used - and not just for the railway content. Seeing how roads have changed in fifty years can also be quite interesting!

PJR, 2 December 2004

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North Cornwall 2nd Edition AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY OF THE NORTH CORNWALL RAILWAY, 2nd edition, Irwell Press, h/b,
ISBN-10: 1-903266-89-0, ISBN-13: 978-1-903266-89-2
406pp, station plans, signalling diagrams, locomotive duties, timetables and more than 500 photos plus other illustrations. £29.95

In 1995 Irwell Press published the late David Wroe's book, "An Illustrated History of the NORTH CORNWALL RAILWAY". This 152 page, fully illustrated book soon established itself as the principal work of reference for the line and was much in demand. Unfortunately for many, there were only 2,500 copies printed and the book soon sold out, leaving it to the secondhand book market to try and fill the demand which resulted in prices many times the cover price of £18.95 being paid by those desperate for their own copy. Irwell Press received many pleas for a reprint but nothing happened. Now, though, in 2008 Irwell has published not just a reprint but a much enlarged second edition which remains completely faithful to the original whilst adding many more items of interest that could not be included first time.

As well as David's well-researched text there are additions to some of the chapters as well as additional chapters (largely produced with the assistance of SEmG members) including working timetables, carriage working notices, locomotive diagrams, Maunsell "P" set coach details and the North Cornwall Railway as it is today.

For anyone with the slightest interest in the history of this line, which ran through sparsely populated country and at times endured the worst that Atlantic gales could throw at it, especially on the exposed sections beyond Otterham, there is no better choice of book. Although at first glance the book may seem a bit "pricey", to obtain this amount of information about a single line would normally require the purchase of several books, making this "all between two covers" one very good value for money.

I don't have any criticism of this book, though have to say that it is an addition to the original, not a replacement, on my bookshelf. I understand that there have been just 2,000 copies of the second edition printed - so if you don't want to miss out you'd better have your order in sooner rather than later!

Furthermore, I understand from George Reeve of Irwell Press that any SEmG member ordering from the Irwell web site will get a 10% discount - they would simply need to say in the "What was your reason for buying" box that they are members of SEmG.

PJR, 15 September 2008

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LCDR BRITISH PRE-GROUPING RAILWAYS, Part 1, London Chatham and Dover Railway, 1854-1898
Mike Williams, s/b, 74pp, £8.50 Plus p&p.

Back in 1979, the R.C.T.S. published a book by D.L. Bradley on the locomotives of the London, Chatham and Dover Railway, being a much enlarged and revised version of a considerably slimmer volume that saw the light of day 19 years earlier. The writer considers himself fortunate in having both, since a few recent searches for second hand examples on the net revealed that none is to be had. Mike Williams has produced this slim book, which is purely a reference work, the information being presented in an almost shorthand tabular form; it is not a "read", unlike either of the books by Bradley and it should be noted that it does not contain any photographs. From the writer's point of view, it is a pity that it does not contain basic details of each class in the well-known "abc" format and other details such as grate areas etc., but to do so would probably be a matter of trying to squeeze a gallon into the proverbial pint pot. To balance this, however, renumberings and dates of building and withdrawal are shown.

Your reviewer only checked a sample of the dates given in the tables and found them accurate according to the gospel of Bradley, and found only a few "glitches" elsewhere, which the author will no doubt remedy prior to publication.

The writer thinks that this book could be useful to anyone who is interested in the engines of this railway (which suffered from a continuous credit crunch in its early years and even after was never exactly awash with cash) and who is unable to locate a copy of the later Bradley book. Copies are available from the author at 30, Carisbrooke Court, Romsey SO51 7JQ (e-mail:- ) price £8.50 plus £1.40 postage and packing.

BA, 10 December 2008

Other Southern books in this series are:

Nº2. South Eastern Railway (Details all Locomotives), 139pp, price £9.95 plus £1.40 p & p.
Nº3. South Eastern & Chatham Railway (Details all Locomotives), 107pp, price £9.50 plus £1.50 p & p.
Nº4. London & South Western Railway, 60pp, price £7.95 plus £1.40 p & p.
Nº5. London Brighton & South Coast Railway, 78pp, price £8.50 plus £1.40 p & p.
Nº6. Southern Railway, 53pp, price £7.95 plus £1.30 p & p.
Nº30. The Somerset & Dorset Railway (Details all Locomotives), 37pp, price £6.95 plus £1.10 p & p.
(Other railways account for the numbers between 6 and 30).
Prices as at 10th December 2008. Postage may be reduced for multiple orders, please contact Mike Williams.

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Southern Region EnginemanSOUTHERN REGION ENGINEMAN, Jim Lester, published by Noodle Books, s/b,
ISBN-10: 978-1-906419-27-1
88pp, reflections on a career on Southern Region steam from 1957to 1966. £11.95

There are a number of books around these days where people relate their stories of working on the railways, some indifferent, some interesting and some a very good read, and this book definitely falls into the last mentioned category as Jim obviously had a great passion for the job and took great pride in doing it well. He followed the usual course of starting as a Cleaner and progressing up to be a Passed Cleaner, a Fireman and finally a Passed Fireman. He then moved on to electric traction, but that, of course, is outside the scope of this book.

Jim was obviously an avid note-taker, which served him well when it came to writing about experiences on a particular engine on a particular date, all of which adds depth to the many anecdotes. One of his proudest moments was when he was chosen to fire Sir Winston Churchill's funeral train, with a whole chapter being given over to this. There is also extensive coverage of the day a Schools class rescued the 13 coach ACE, with Jim on the footplate, as featured within the pages of the SEmG website.

Elsewhere there are many reminiscences, some serious but most light-hearted, together with some useful tit-bits of information. For example, the reason why Windsor Signalbox was painted all green and the perils of working with a ventriloquist on the footplate beside him!

This is a well-written book with many photographs (some in colour) and diagrams making for an enjoyable read and the only slight criticism I would make is that the proof reading could have been a little more thorough. It would make an ideal Christmas present for any Southern steam buff.

PJR, 29 September 2009

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This page was last updated 28 February 2012

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