Norman Johnston & Colourpoint

Norman Johnston was not only a major historian of Irish locomotive history, but is also a gifted designer of railway books who had been capable of maximizing the pictorial quality of some early colour images. His colophon reproduced above would appear to indicate that he is also a cat lover. That he was a polio victim is indicated in a Backtrack article. His publications attracted excellent reviews.

Clements, Jeremy and McMahon, Michael. Locomotives of the GSR. Newtownards: Colourpoint, 2008. 384pp.
"This work deserves to be the standard work on the steam locomotives of Southern Ireland in the inter-wars. ... A superb work indeed!". DWM in Backtrack, 2009, 23, 638. KPJ agrees with the general sentiment, but has a few reservations, including one major one: the lack of an index which should make steamindex more valuable. The lack of any line drawings is to be regretted, especially as many must be available. Some of the sections are excellent: notably the description of the unreliable Watson 400 class, which appeared to make the Claughton class look highly succesful, and the excellent "Maunsell" moguls. Both these sections reflect upon British locomotive design in general, and make this a significant contribution to the history of British locomotive development. It should also be noted that the section on McDonnell and his Irish success makes his failure at Gateshead to be even more of a mystery. The authors do not appear to be aware of the Minutes of the Association of Railway Locomotive Engineers as prepared by Geoffrey Hughes. Morton was a member of this select body prior to Bazin being proposed by Gresley. The authors explain  that the 101 Class receives little attention as it has been covered in depth elsewhere. To the non-Irish reader it might have been helpful if a little more had been included on the corporate nature of the Great Southern Railways, and on the influence of the young State. The damage inflicted by the Civil War and the Emergency (WW2 everywhere else on earth) and in particular the fuel shortage are recorded, however. There must also have been difficulties in the supply of spare parts for locomotives from war-torn Great Britain. One locomotive was sent north to assist the devastated BCDR.. .

Johnston, Norman. Locomotives of the GNR(I). Newtownards: Colourpoint, 1999, 208pp.
Colourpoint has become well-known as the publisher of excellently received books, especially those containing colour photographs. The Author was the creator of the publishing business, and this book must be its masterpiece.

Scott, William. Locomotives of the LMS NCC and its predecessors. Newtownards: Colourpoint, 2008. 192pp. Bibliog.
Richly illustrated. Includes some very interesting photographs of Royal Train used by the Duke and Duchess of York in July 1924 and by HM the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh in her Coronation year: the latter is reproduced on the end papers. The Festival is also illustrated. Locomotive weight distribution diagrams of more recent classes.

White, Ron with Norman Johnston
LNER locomotives in colour 1936-1948. Newtownards: Colourpoint, 2002.
Ron White is the creator of ColourRail, the major commercial archive of colour transparencies relating to transport. Many of the originals for this book came from H.M. Lane and many were taken at Wakefield Westgate. See letter from J.T. van Riemsdijk in BackTrack, 18, 188. Magnificent, but did nobody capture the P2 class in colour? From a personal standpoint one of the most exciting pictures is of a wartime freight travelling north between Potters Bar and Brookmans Park taken from the footpath above the mainline (this was a favourite location for KPJ in about 1941).

Observations from a hospital bed. [of GNR (I) trains]. Norman Johnston. Backtrack, 2000, 14, 6-11.
Author was a child polio victim in 1957 and had to spend nineteen weeks in bed at the Musgrave Park Hospital in Belfast, from which he could see the GNR (I) trains to Dublin and a variety of lesser services. In May he was taken by his father to Scotland where he encountered the A4 class and was even given the treat of a journey to Newcastle and back (on the return journey the train engine was an A4 Silver King).

2015-05-30