Volume 51 (1990)
Editor: Handel Kardas. Managing Editor: Chris Leigh
Number 597 (January)
David Woodhouse. Talyllyn today. 13-17.
Notes by General Manager to celebrate forty years of preservation
Brian Wilkinson. Twilight of the County Donegal [Joint Railway]. 18-
Visit in April 1959 when he was able to see and photograph the diesel locomotive Phoenix, most of the diesel railcars and 2-6-4Ts Nos. 4 Meenglas and 2 Blanche. Colour photographs taken by E.S. Russell of railcar No. 12 and No. 2 Blanche.
Handel Kardas. London's changing termini. 1. The end of Holborn Viaduct.
Shows transition from parcels traffic, steam hauled freight ascending via Snow Hill, and the original concourse, through the demolition and preparatory work for City Thameslink (including a Richard Wild bridge on the then new link to London Bridge.
Brian Morrison. The 'Derby lightweights': a pictorial review. Part 2. 43-5.
Gil Hughes. High tech steam. 46-9.
David Wardale designed locomotives for South African railways with producer gas fireboxes as invented by L.D. Porta and Lempor exhaust systems. The two locomotives have a variety of names: Irene, Kimberley, City of Kimberley and Red Devil.
Tim Shaw. Choosing the right coal. 50-3.
Closure of Oakdale Colliery in South Wales led to this article. Author was a British Coal consultant and had worked at the Coal Research Establishment. Classification of coals suitable for locomotive boilers. Notes tests conducted by Holcroft to compare Yorkshire with South Wales coals fed to a King Arthur class locomotive, both via the mechanical coaling plant and from wagons at Nin Elms on express trains to Salisbury.
Issue Number 600 (April 1990)
Seamus Rogers. Ffestiniog upgrading the image. 209-12.
M.N.A. Heaton for Byker. Part 2. 214-17.
LNER EMUs to Metro light rail.
New books. 218.
Swindon Apprentice. A.E. Durrant. Runpast
This autobiography, chronicling the author's formative years and early employment in the GWR/BR works at Swindon just after World War 2, has a title which understates its subject. The bulk of the book covers Mr Durrant's progress from new, raw apprentice in the mid 1940s, through his years of training to employment as a fully-fledged member of the Drawing Office and his departure for a post in East Africa once it became apparent that not only had the LMS spirit assumed control of the infant BR's locomotive policy but that steam traction had little future. His stay in Africa was truncated once the USA diesel salesmen began beating a path to the doors of those railways to good effect and the main narrative of the book ends there, somewhat up in the air.
The author is one of those who became a Swindon devotee early in life (and the book tells how) and one of the much smaller number who went on to transfer his enthusiasm into actually working for the admired concern, soon finding that just as few enthusiasts actually joined the railway, so was only a small percentage of the workforce countable as enthusiasts! The slow passage through a training programme, where several years of hard experience was still felt to count for much more than a higher education and a degree in engineering with much justification is told, and makes fascinating reading, along with shrewd observation of the social climate of the day and an appreciation of how the system belonged to its time comes over to the reader.
Some chapters make fascinating asides. The one on national service is a classic. It will bring wry smiles of memory to those who also went through this postwar phenomenon: it will open the eyes of those who missed it through youth. Was the army really that incompetent in the 1950s? The author's trips abroad and observations of European practice are also most interesting.
Finally, the book ends more tidily than the main narrative with an appreciation of G.J. Churchward and his work, looking at the technical aspect of his innovations and their long term impact on UK locomotive engineering. This most interesting book is written by a real lover of the GWR and its works but while clearly partisan he avoids anything like blind prejudice. It is a fascinating look at Swindon in the years of its glory by someone who was privileged to be on the inside with his eyes open.
Steam on the Cambrian. Rex Kennedy. Ian Allan. 144pp.
The railways of Wales have a fascination all of their own, probably because, with the exception of the North and South Coast lines (and the border route from Chester to Newport, largely in England), they were mostly single-track, marginally profitable or loss making, in attractive or dramatic scenery and associated in the mind with holidays. Naturally this does not include the South Wales Coalfield lines but the rest, linking scattered rural communities, small towns and remote holiday resorts, have a natural appeal. The Cambrian Railways, formed in an amalgamation of 1864, had a network of some 300 miles that sprawled across mid Wales and led an impecuneous existence until grouped with the Great Western in 1923 and quickly took on that company's identity. All that survives now is the main line on the Cambrian Coast and across to Welshpool, east of which the CR route has been abandoned in favour of the GWR/LNWR line to Shrewsbury and, paradoxically, the three narrow gauge branches, all more or less active in private ownership. Rex Kennedy's book, largely pictorial with extended captions but including written intro- ductions to each chapter and a short history of the system and its original company, is a lovely evocation of the atmosphere of the Cambrian's lines. Inevitably nearly all the photographs date from GWR or BR days and as the CR's locomotive fleet was dispatched to Swindon in short order soon after 1923, and what was reprieved was 'Great Westernised', there is a sameness about the motive power on view. Indeed, after all those pictures of typically Swindon products pulling trains, the appearance of Ivatt Moguls and BR Standards is quite refreshing! But the locomotives are of course only part of the story and the book's pictures bring out well the delightful atmosphere of this system, with its almost exclusively single-line main lines and eccentrically-placed HQ at Oswestry, up in one corner of the system.
Pictorially, the book is a delight, with few prints not being of good quality or interesting. The lack of material from pre-grouping years is regrettable (but probably cannot be remedied) and there are some curious gaps: for instance the coast line north of Aberdovey gets rather light treatment. The cover of long lost lines makes up for this, though. I would quibble some points with the text - I would not recommend following the advice on Welsh pronunciation for instance, and the Abermule disaster is generally blamed on disgracefully sloppy working practices rather than a 'misunderstanding'. Otherwise I make few complaints. The route histories for each line are much appreciated and help bring the book to life, something some other compilers of the multitude of albums we get these days could well copy. The book is well written and the illustrations chosen with care. The book will be appreciated by anyone who knew and loved the Cambrian in days of steam and by those who, as I, missed it and wish we had not.
David N. Clough and Marten Beckett. Company freight working.
Part 2. 220-3.
Performance logs of two class 37 (Nos. 37 324 and 37 320) hauling 1728 ton iron ore train between Hunterstone and Ravenscraig (107 minutes to cover 52.5 miles) on 4 December 1987. Class 50 No. 50 149 hauling 690 tons of china clay from Burngullow to Lostwithiel.
No. 6115 Scots Guardsman. 224-5.
Centre spread photo-feature including coloured drawing of preserved rebuilt Scot.
Tim Bryan. Return to Swindon. 234-5.
Railway museum at Swindon
Philip Atkins. British Railways Standard steam locomotive
Issue Number 602 (June 1990)
Handel Kardas. Proving Heywood's point the RHDR a work.334-8.
Interview with John Snell on the operation of the diesel-hauled school trains including operation in snow.
David Jackson. The 'Wath Daisies'. 344-5.
Robinson design for 0-8-4T designed for hump marshalling yard at Wath: classified as 8H, and by LNER as S1. Constructed by Beyer Peacock in 1907/8. Excludes LNER additions and modifications...
Robin Barnes. East Midlands excursion, 1964.
Painting of 4F at Kirkby-in-Ashfield East station on 8 October 1964 when author travelled over railway to Mansfield and visited collieries in the hope of seeing odd motive power; also mentions pleasure of travel on 10.25 from Leeds over Settle and Carlisle line with lunch in the dining car.
New books. 355.
Ruston & Hornsby locomotives. Eric S. Tonks.
Industrial Railway Society. 92pp.
"book is a useful work of reference". Notes that firm disliked the use of diesel preferring "oil engine"
Colin Ganley. Rails up the Tanat Valley. 364-7.
Tanat Valley Light Railway from Blodwell Junction to Llangynog opened in 1904
Derek Harrison. Postscript on 'the Duke'. 368-9.
Skipping a maths lesson at secondary school in Birmingham to go off to Tamworth to see N0. 71000 Duke of Gloucester
Adrian Vaughan. Water troughs on the GWR. Part 2. 370-4.
Design including diagram of the tank house and valve arrangements at Ickenham, lengths, optimum speed for maximum pick up (45 mile/h), table of locations (includes Lostwithiel [sic]) and correspondence between Churchward and Whale concerning use of water by GWR 0-6-0 at Eccles troughs near Manchester. Difficulties caused by ice. Colour photograph of No. 7926 Willey Hall picking up water at Goring on 23 July 1963 (with a young child on railway land!)
Philip Atkins. British Railways Standard steam locomotive boilers. 501-3
Number 605 (September 1990)
Joan Jackson. 'A4' seasons a year with No. 4498. 525-9.
Organization of Sir Nigel Gresley during its main line use on trains from Marylebone to Stratford and on other routes.
Alan Trickett and Alan Wild. Speedy departures from Bournemouth.
An examination of very fast running between Bournemouth and Brockenhurst notably a run behind Type 2-6-4T No. 80146 which managed to run the 15.2 miles start-to-stop in 14 minutes 20 seconds. This time was eventually achieved and betterd with the introduction of the second generation of electric multiple units. Driver Sid Fagg drove No. 80146 on 8 July 1965.
V.R. Webster. The 'Ports to Ports Express'. 534-7.
Via Banbury and the Great Central line: the extremeties were Swansea and Newcastle: other destinations included Barry, and for a time through carriages for Yarmouth and Lowestoft were conveyed. 43XX and Manor classes were used west of Banbury..
New books. 538
British railway carriages of the 20th century, Vol.
2 .David Jenkinson. Patrick Stephens. 288pp. Reviewed by MLH [Michael
We reviewed Vol 1 of this title enthusiastically and welcome its companion equally warmly. This deals with passenger stock, including self-propelled diesel, petrol and electric units, produced between 1923 and 1953. However its coverage excludes BR Standard stock, which will be dealt with in the third volume. Coaching vehicles to the designs of the Big Four companies overlapped the introduction of the all-steel BR stock and the last built were GWR-design coaches, turned out in 1954. The care taken by Mr Jenkinson in tracing the evolution of Big Four designs from pre-Grouping practice sets the picture admirably. Similarly excellent is the survey of constructional methods, something that has not been attempted previously on such a scale. Beyond praise is the use of illustrative material, bringing to the printed page for the first time a host of interesting vehicles, both from official files and from private photographers. These are supplemented by a rich selection of official diagrams and more detailed drawings. The reviewer though possibly in a minority liked the frequent use of tables showing the numbers of vehicles of each type produced by each company. It provides a reminder of the relatively small quantities of some more specialised stock. The author is right to draw attention to the marginal profitablity of some on-train services but perhaps he might have reminded us of the often wasteful diagramming of catering vehicles, at least by current BR standards.
Rather than quibble, and the reviewer has few other than matters of opinion, a number of points deserve comment. The GWR's major restocking in Edwardian days had some influence on the company's rather limited range of post-1923 construction. It would have been useful to highlight the effect of the Depression in leading to a halt in construction by the Big Four (which effectively happened in 1931-33) or to playing safe with cheap and conservative designs. This saw the use of some tacky and cost-saving materials such as the millboard (glorified cardboard) used by the LNER. The bucket seats that the author so disliked in LNER open stock were a tragic fire fisk and a conflagration in one vehicle saw their replacement, except, surprisingly, in the articulated Tyneside EMUs.
One or two innovations seem to have been overlooked, such as the trials with cast and sheet aluminium by the LNER and that company's employment of pressure ventilation. Also the case for and against all-steel construction provides an interesting comment on British practice compared with overseas.
Finally, two small points. The GE section in LNER days did use 61ft 6in coaches from 1924 on boat trains, although the 52ft 6in vehicles were de rigeur for general use. The Tavern Cars which possibly inspired the Berni brothers to make a fortune with Olde Worlde steak bars were rebuilt from 1959 and so ended their days as more conventional buffet/kitchen cars. The Bulleid corridor stock which the author rightly admires was a curious mixture of old and new in construction terms and proved (and still. do) expensive to maintain.
All round, though, Vol 2 of the Jenkinson trilogy is a truly splendid effort which adds considerably to the coaching stock literature in and out of print.
Lost Railways of Holderness. Peter Price. Hutton Press. 84pp.
To the east of Hull is a large, low-lying area now almost totally devoid of railways, in its day it was served by quite a good network. Local enthusiast Peter Price recalled these lines through a collection of old photographs. In some ways it disappoints, for many of the photographs have not reproduced well. Some are too grey, others have been copied from copies with loss of clarity and some lack sharpness. However, they repay study, as a record of a series of lost lines. Some historical notes are included they are rather on the brief side to bring the best out of the available material.
The Talyllyn Railway. David Potter. David and Charles. 240pp.
A long-serving active member of the TRPS, David Potter wrote this new history of the line to celebrate the 125th anniversary year and the 40th anniversary of the formation of the Society. It is recommended to all those interested in preservation. It having been written for a wider audience than just the enthusiast, an informed reader will find the first and last sections of less interest, even boring in places, for they tread the well-worn paths of the line's life in the pre-preservation era, its route and its stock at the present day. Other readers, of course, might find this the most interesting part of the book, and these chapters are certainly written with the non-committed reader in mind. This is a hard job for an enthusiast writer to do but David Potter has done it well. Tried out on a mildly curious relative, the reviewer found that it went down well.
Where this book is really superb from the preservationist's point of view is in its central section. This tells the history of the Railway from the Society's aspect and is a splendid, no-holds-barred, warts-and-all account of the saving of the line, its difficult first years and steady growth. Anyone who has read Rolt's Railway Adventure should read this and be prepared for a shock! Boardroom battles, Rolt's table-banging threats to resign, the row about the new rule book which referred to non- existent signalling systems, why the old paid staff walked out the cat is taken out of the bag and swung round a few times for good measure. Not that it is scandal-mongering; it is simply telling the previously-untold story of the problems encountered the first time a disparate group of enthusiasts got together to run a railway.
The book also contains a biography of Tom Rolt, definitely worth while. It gave the reviewer a greater understanding of the driving force behind this man who, more than any other, gave the world the preservation movement. The book is worth reading for that alone.
In a series with D&C's Severn Valley Railway published last year, the book repeats the same high standards of presenting preserved railway history. We look forward to seeing more of the same.
The Isle of Man by tram, train and foot. Stan Basnett and David
Freke. Leading Edge Press and Publishing. 128pp. Reviewed by HM.
With their own individual characters, Britain's offshore islands have much to offer the holidaymaker. The Isle of Man has of course been a popular holiday destination for more than a century, but is often thought of simply as a venue for the traditional beach holiday, its breathtaking scenery and rural landscape frequently being overlooked. As any railway-minded person knows, the island possesses a marvellously varied and comprehensive transport infrastructure, with the survival of the Douglas-Port Erin line of the Isle of Man Railway, the Manx Electric Railway from Douglas to Ramsey, the Douglas Horse Tramway, the picturesque Groudle Glen Railway and the Snaefell Mountain Railway, the latter running from Laxey to the 2,036ft summit of the island's highest peak. Making full use of the island's railways and bus services, this book guides the reader through a series of routes which will enable the walker to become familiar with the very essence of the Isle of Man and observe a great deal of railway interest in the process. Introductory summaries of Manx history, its industrial heritage and railway history are followed by four town trails detailing Douglas, Peel, Castletown and Rarnsey, a series of short walks and finally a number of longer routes, including the Heritage Trail, which follows the trackbed of the closed Douglas-Peel line. Informed comment on the island's industrial archaeology and natural history is peppered with references to the remains of former railways such as the Douglas Marine Head Tramway, the 7ft-gauge Port Erin breakwater line, the 19in-gauge lines serving the Laxey lead mines at one time the home of Lewin locomotives Ant and Bee and even the ancient wagonway used to haul slate from Contrary Head on the west coast appears as part of the Peel-Port Erin walk. Compass bearings are given for the longer walks across wilder terrain, and the walks are helpfully cross-referenced. It is probably best to use the book in conjunction with one of the reasonably-priced Isle of Man Transport Rover tickets; having tried just two of the walks your reviewer can report that you will not be disappointed. Thoroughly recommended don't go there without it.
Michael Harris. 30 years on: the East Coast electrification plan of
1959 described and why it was shelved. Part 2. 554-7.
In retrospect it seemed to lack clear geographical objectives. Whilst electrified freight spurs for Nottingham and Sheffield (with conversion of Woodhead for ac) were envisaged there was less clarity on its northern limits: Edinburgh was excluded, but electrification might have ended at York. Class 309 EMUs were enviaged for the West Rifding services. A George Heiron painting shows an AL6 class locomotive, a class 309 EMU and a 9F (on a freight to East Anglia) at Grantham.
Number 606 (October 1990)
A. B. MacLeod - a tribute by lan Allan. 588
I joined the Southern Railway at Waterloo in July 1939 and it was not many weeks after that I was sent up to Room 20 to rnake some modest enquiry of 'Mr MacLeod' on a matter of railway history, on which he was the acknowledged (and probably sole) expert at Waterloo. Despite the fact that he was a senior officer and I was a 17-year-old junior, he was kindness itself, perhaps sensing a kindred railway nut spirit, and he and I thereafter wasted many hours of the Company's time putting books together and creating the nucleus of lan Allan Ltd. When the idea first came to me of compiling a book on Southern Railway names and numbers, MacLeod summoned me and assisted greatly, providing nearly all the pictures for the first illustrated edition. He then told me to 'do' the LMS, but when I told him I had no knowledge of LMS locomotives he took an SR shorthand typist's notebook and within a few weeks had done the whole job, generously allowed me to put my name to it as joint author and handed over the shorthand notebook as a manuscript for press.
In gratitude for his help I agreed (much against my secret better judgement) to publish his Mclntosh Locomotives of the Caledonian Railway. I had never heard of Mclntosh and to me the Caledonian was but a remote constituent of the LMS. Amazingly the book, at the staggeringly expensive price of 3s 6d (17'12p), was an immediate success and the third title ever to be published in the lan AIIan range. He then suggested moving into casebound books and we devised a book on named expresses, but who to write it? 'Try Cecil J. Alien', he commanded, but I was very loth even to consider approaching the great 'CJ'; but I did, and it worked and Titled Trains of Great Britain duly appeared.
A. B. MacLeod was a formidable chap, well over 6ft tall and sturdy and I think his staff in the Stores Department walked into his office with some trepidation, but then he never liked the Stores Department. His career started way back in LBSCR days with apprenticeship in Locomotive and Mechanical Engineering Departments and he always felt that his zenith arrived when he was appointed Superintendent for the Isle of Wight. There he was king of his own castle, with a magnificent real train set all of his very own: the four miles of Solent isolated him completely from mainstream Southern Railway management and he was a happy man and proud of his refinement to the Island O2s' by the 'MacLeod improved bunker', which increased the coal carrying capacity of these perky ex-LSWR tanks. Then, he complained bitterly, disaster struck; the Southampton- based divisional superintendent fell out of a train and was killed and MacLeod was called to the mainland and in the late 1930s became Assistant Stores Superintendent: when his chief Col Francis retired, he took over at Waterloo and on Nationalisation he transferred to Euston as Chief Stores Superintendent of the LMR. He so often expressed his irritation at having landed in the 'Stores' part of the operation, though of course he enjoyed the status (and remuneration) of being a Chief Officer and waggling his medallion pass at ticket collectors was always a source of pride and amusement to him.
Having retired from Euston, it was but a few days before he boarded a train from Wimbledon, his home station, westward to Shepperton and took over the Ian Allan Ltd photographic library which was - like most things editorial - chaotic. With systematic patience he sorted out the whole shooting match, using his unique knowledge to identify and caption every photograph from the commonplace to the very rare. That library is still intact and a living memorial to his endeavour. Of course, having such a powerhouse of railway knowledge daily and voluntarily on the premises was of invaluable help to our editors of the day, though if anyone dared to put their noses into the library, worse still into one of the filing cabinets without his say so, the fur and the language would surely fly.
On another front he was passionately interested in model and miniature railways: a regular driver on Jack Howey's Romney Hythe & Dymchurch in the 1930s and a mainspring in John Samuel's 7¼in gauge Greywood Central Railway at Walton-on-Thames. When John Samuel died he leaned on me to find a new home for this extraordinary train set, which I duly did I'm always obedient! and it was reincarnated as the Great Cockcrow Railway (carefully retaining the 'GCR') at Chertsey. 'Uncle Mac', as he had by then become known by all and sundry, was a, if not the, leading light in the redevelopment and was even well into his 80s a regular driver on his diesel 0-6-0T shunter named Winifred after his beloved wife. After he became too old to participate in the regular operations, he was still a frequent and welcome visitor. We named a 'Hymek' locomotive A.B. MacLeod in his honour and, on the very day he died at the age of 90, another 7¼in gauge locomotive was being prepared for official naming after him the very next day.
We at lan AIIan Ltd salute the memory of this great railwayman, great enthusiast, great helper and great friend, none more so than my wife and I, who had the honour and the pleasure to know, work and play with him for 50 years. A. B. MacLeod died quietly at his home on 3 August.
Handel Kardas. Steam on the Met. 590-4.
London Transport No. 1 0-4-4T; Class 4 2-6-4T No. 80050; and 0-6-0PT No. 9466 provided the steam due to indisposition of Sarah Siddons battery electric locomotive BEL L44 provided the brake power for EMU 303 315 off the Tilbury line. 26 July 1990 was one of the days on which services ran
David Chough. Class 91 ~ the early days: Modern Traction Performance.
The introduction of Class 91 electric locomotives in place of one of the power cars in an HST set produced a potent combination used between King's Cross and Leeds in the autumn of 1989.
Rex Christiansen. The Chester & Birkenhead Joint ~ 150 years of
a Wirral line. 600-4
GWR and LNWR (later LMS) joint railway which terminated at Birkenhead Woodside which was a difficult station to work and connected with the Mersey Railway at Rock Ferry. At Hooton there was a junction with brances to Helsby and to West Kirby: the latter closed inn 1956 and is now a feature of the Wirral Coiuntry Park. Maps.
Jim Palm, Titfield recalled. 617-19.
Interview with Tibby Clarke in April 1987 about writing the screenplay for The Titfield Thunderbolt which featured No. 1401 and Lion.
Richard Edmondson. Irish adventure. 620-1.
Former UTA/NCC 2-6-4T No. 4 on RPSI tour of Southern Ireland, including the photogenic Carrick-on-Suir, Tipperary and Limerick aon 12/13 May 1990.
Handel Kardas. London's changing termini. 3. Reshaping Waterloo.
Preparatory works for Waterlloo International and quip about what Network SouthEast will do with it should the Channel Tunnel project fail.
Experiments with steam: landmarks in unusual British
locomotive design, 1846·1959 Charles Fryer. Patrick Stephens
Ltd. Reviewed Rodney Weaver 631
I do not know whether author or publisher was responsible for the title of this book, but frankly it is rather misleading. Dr Fryer [KPJ: author was Doctor of Divinity or similar] deals with no fewer than 21 subjects, ranging from Crarnptons to Crostis, but while some are genuine one-off experiments that can justifiably be called landmarks, there are others neither experi- mental nor outstanding. Nor, given such multiplicity of subjects, has it been possible to delve as deeply as might have been done into the really interesting ones.
Subjects covered include a number of true eccentricities like Sturrock's steam tenders, Drummond's double-singles, Holden's Decapod, the Paget locomotive, Fury, 'Turbornotive', Bulleid's 'Leader' and the same designer's turf-burner. Those which are single subjects are covered in fair detail, which cannot be said of nebulous ones like Worsdell - von Borries compounds or steam railmotors, while anyone who has read the late R. E. Charlewood's regular accounts of Webb 0-6-0s exceeding 70mph on express duties will wonder what Dr Fryer finds so unusual about Stroudley's 0-4-2s or Bulleid's 'Ql'.
To include a chapter on the Webb compounds which simply regurgitates a lot of the spiteful nonsense written by previous generations does the author no credit at all and in the current state of knowledge about LNWR matters is courting disaster. For example, his 'first hand' account of Webb's final breakdown is not the only one of its kind and it is another, quite different account that happens to fit certain basic historical facts ascertainable by spending an hour or so in Crewe library. Perhaps the author's problem is that he has confined his own researches to more recent subjects.
Over-reliance upon earlier writings tends to devalue the book, for it means that certain near-misses such as the Paget locomotive or Maunsell's 'Rivers' cannot be reassessed in the light of more recent knowledge. Unfortunately,. however, the author displays at times a curious unfamiliarity with types of engine and boiler other than the classic Booth-Stephenson pat- tern. Far from being 'easily digestible' as portrayed by the publisher's blurb, some of his technical descriptions are suprisingly laboured, even naive - for example that of the Sentinel patent lorry engine - leading one to suspect that the author is uncertain of his subject. It does not help that his English is at times rather strange and in places really jarring. I can accept wheels '6ft across' but not as in this book '6ft wide': width is a specific attribute of railway wheels and in no sense synonymous with diameter.
The book contains a number of errors, some serious and others not. Running down my list of the really bad ones, there were other British Crampton locomotives besides those mentioned, Fire Queen of the Padarn Railway having fortunately survived in original condition (p19); there was no difficulty in producing high-strength steels in 1853, only of producing them in quantity - the Huntsman crucible process was the only method then available (p21); Francis Holt did not invent power sanding, he drew Johnson's attention to something already tried by Sir Arthur Heywood (p73); Holden's Decapod was not the first British example of a full-width firebox, having been preceded by the imported Lovatt Eames (p84); the majority of steam railmotors had vertical boilers (p93); the Willans engine had piston, not rotary, valves (p104) and Paget's engine had rotary, not sleeve, valves (p106); Stumpf did not 'solve' the problem of double- acting uniftow cylinders, the design of which was well known 50 years earlier, but was simply the most persistent advocate of their use on locomotives (p121); the description of the 'Leader' vacuum brake system (pI87) confuses cylinders with reservoirs and the photograph below it shows the valve gear crankshaft, not the crank axle.
Stylistic weaknesses apart, the really disappointing thing about this book is that one suspects the same amount of research concen- trated on no more than eight of the subjects could have produced something much better. Given the uneven choice of subject and at times rather superficial coverage thereof, I cannot commend it to the serious enquirer after historical and technical knowledge.
Steam's silver lining Joe Cassells 'The Syndicate' (of RPSI members) 76pp
illus, softbound £4.95
The Railway Preservation Society of Ireland celebrates its Silver Jubilee this year. This splendid organisation is quite unique in preser- vation in a number of ways, notably the scale of its operations on the national systems of Northern and the Republic of Ireland. Doubt- less this is in large part due to the relatively small size of the two systems, allowing a more compact executive and shorter chains of command but sheer unstuffy friendliness and a willingness to work together must play a part. This book introduces the RPSI and its fine collection and gives a comprehensive account of the society'S activities over the main lines since the 1960s. The 21-year history of the famous two-day tours is recounted, along with a full listing of all other movements on the main line. The sheer size of the gazetteer is remarkable! The photographic cover is excellent, giving a really good overview of the Irish system with added steam, although some pictures are of disappointing quality. Readers who have not yet had the pleasure of seeing an RPSI tour will most probably decide that it is high time to rectify this omission - the reviewer certainly has.
Over the Lickey! Donald J. M. Smith and Derek Harrison Peter Watts Led 80pp
illus, hardbound £13.95
The Lickey Bank has long held its own fascination; that long vicious climb which brought the Midland's line from the southwest into Birmingham is quite unlike anything else on the British system and it built up its own lore. With a fleet of banking engines shedded at Bromsgrove, the famous 'Big Bertha' built especially for work on Lickey, trains with up to four 'Jinties' valliantly pushing at the rear, it was quite a sight in the days of steam and even the modern era sees it as something of a challenge, although modern multiple unit stock gets up unassisted.
This book celebrates the Bank's 150-year history. With a good range of photographs which capture its atmosphere and a well-written text in Derek Harrison's buoyant style, it is enjoyable as well as informative, redolent with memories of the days when the Bank was the regular scene of man and machine struggling against the force of gravity.
The design of the book could be criticised - why does it change part-way from an unsatisfactory three-column layout to a worse, over- wide, single column, for instance? And some of the pictures have printed less than clearly. But this should not detract too much from the enjoyment of a pleasing tribute to a fascinating section of line.
BREL (Life and Time series) Colin Marsden ope 160pp illus, hardbound £14.95
Again, the title seems' slightly wrong - what has 'life and times' to do with a survey of BR's workshops? That is what this is, and if you overlook the title it is an interesting survey, produced by a well-known writer/photographer who has written several books on a 'BR workshop' theme.
This book literally takes the reader on a tour round the works operated by BREL from its formation as a separate division of BR in 1970 to its privatisation in 1989. Two things are striking - how many works there actually were in 1970 and how many were closed over the next 18 years. Certainly, there must have been chronic duplication of facilities, as the plans and gazetteers of the various sites show. Had the Railway Executive been braver, and been given proper funding, in 1950, it would surely have made good sense to shut the lot and open a brand new, vast complex somewhere central, say Leamington Spa or Nuneaton. It might have avoided a lot of pain and rivalry over the next 40 years!
The scale of the workshop operation is impressive and the photographs, which take up the bulk of the book, bring this point out, although a certain monotony shows through; a Class 47 being stripped down at Crewe looks rather like a Class 47 being reassembled at Derby, after all. Workshops do not make claims to scenic originality.
The book is a useful pictorial guide to the scale and scope of the work of our railways' engineering centres, made all the more useful by the fact that most of what it covers has gone. Again, the unanswered question - how and why did it survive for so long?