Journal of the Railway & Canal Historical
Number 216 (March 2013)
Tim Edmonds. Not on Beeching's List. 2-6.
Allan Brackenbury. A review of the Beeching era. 7-20.
John Kennedy. Measuring the impact of the Beeching Axe. 21-32,
Michael Aufrere Williams. The Whitby-Loftus line: 'a more spectacular example of a loss-making branch would be hard to find'. Is this really the case? 33-46.
Joseph Boughey. Ughtred Kay-Shuttleworth and waterways development. 47-51.
Obituary - Eric Lomax 52
front: British Railways poster, Whitby (Michael Aufrere Williams collection) (see pages 33-46)
back: (top) the 10.08Alloa-Larbert train crosses 'the other Forth Bridge' on 27 January 1968,
the last day of passenger service on the line (Peter Cross-Rudkin) (see pages 7-20)
(bottom) an extract from Map No. 9 of 'The Reshaping of British Railways'
(the Beeching report) (see pages 3-32)
Number 217 (July 2013)
Penny Watts-Russell. Travelling steam: Pascoe Grenfell and the Great Western Railway. 10-20.
Joseph Boughey. Transport modes and conversions: a general essay.
Conversions from railways to long distance footpaths and cycleways; from tramroads to railways
John Herbert Boyes (1914-2013). 44
Railways before George Stephenson: a study of the
waggonways in the Northern coalfield 1605-1830. Les Tumbull. Oxford:
Chapman Research Publishing, 2012. 172pp, Reviewed by Michael Lewis.
Tyneside has been called the cradle of railways, and a detailed study down to 1830, fuller and more up-to-date than reviewer's Early Wooden Railways (1970) and much wider in coverage than Bennett, Clavering and Rounding's A Fighting Trade (1990), is entirely welcome. Turnbull offers an overview of the region's coal trade and the waggonways that served it, as well as valuable 'studies in depth' which unravel as much as possible ofthe complex histories of selected examples. There are many splendid reproductions in colour (sometimes garish) of contemporary maps, and nine specially-drawn maps, much the best to have appeared to date, of the whole 'system'. If one wants a detailed account of the Killingworth way, for example, or the waggonways of Blyth, this is the book to consult.
That said, however, there are serious drawbacks. There is no context. To the author, the north-east was the origin of everything of significance in early railway history, yet he makes no attempt to justify his claims by comparison with other regions. He seems unaware, for instance, that by 1830 the railway map of South Wales was arguably more impressive than that of the north-east. His statement that the iron railway developed on Tyneside can hardly be sustained. Contrary to normal practice, he reserves the term 'plateway' for flat plates laid on top of wooden rails. While this has some local justification (although here such plates were never-cast-iron as he thinks), to say that in 1808 the Wylam waggonway was relaid as a plateway is confusing. His date of 1597-8 for rails at Wollaton has long since been disproved.
For all its undoubtedly deep research, too, this is a frustrating book to use. It has no index as such, nor even a list of abbreviations. It is deplorably badly annotated, references to sources being so sporadic that information can rarely be checked or pursued. Its usefulness lies in the detail of individual waggon-ways rather than in its contribution to the regional, let alone the national, picture.
Bristol's stage coaches. Dorian Gerhold. East Knoyle, Salisbury:
Hobnob Press, 2012. 326pp, Reviewed by Peter Brown. 52.
Bristol's first recorded stage coach service to London was in 1657, taking three days for the 120 mile journey. By the mid 1750s all the services took only two days. Average journey speeds increased from about 4mph to 7mph between then and 1780, then stayed reasonably constant until the 1820, when they started to increase again, reaching about 8½ mph by the mid 1830s, enabling the journey to be achieved in 13 to 15 hours. The growth in the frequency of service also stagnated between 1780 and 1820. Although Bristol's first regional coach was recorded in 1701, the network really started developing in the last third of the 18th century, and continued to grow steadily in the first third of the 19th century. By the end of the period, speeds equalled those of the London coaches.
The author doesn't only describe what happened; he explains why it happened, and compares the Bristol and national experiences. Thus we learn of the inter-relation between road improvements as a result ofturnpiking, lighter coaches with the development of metal springs, and the breeding of horses for speed as much as strength. Everything is grounded in the economics of coaching, particularly the optimum deployment of horses, the provender for which accounted for about half of all costs. This strongly influenced how the businesses were financed and managed.
Inevitably there is some duplication with the author's previous 'RCHS Book of the Year', Carriers and Coachmasters: trade and travel before the turnpikes, but the new book continues the story through the turnpike era to the coming of the railways. The text is clearly written with sources referenced, and there is an index. The book is excellent value for money, and is of much wider interest than its title might imply. It is an important addition to the history of passenger transport.
William Dean: the greatest of them all. Jeremy
Clements. Corhampton, Southampton: Noodle Books, 2012. 228pp, Reviewed
by Kevin Jones. 53
Dean was in charge of locomotives on the Great Western during the transition from the broad gauge, when the design for which was limited to that convertible to standard gauge. The introductory material makes it clear that the book began as an appreciation of the Dean Goods 0-6-0 and was extended to become a more general study of Dean and his locomotive designs. The Dean Goods were certainly excellent locomotives. The story of how the Ivatt Class 2 2-6-0 failed to perform as well as the Dean Goods is a long-standing legend which was succinctly related in John G Gibson's Great Western locomotive design: a critical appreciation (not listed in the bibliography); Clements's account is less clear.
Nevertheless, it is a very dubious claim that Dean was 'the greatest of them all' as there were several skeletons in his cupboard, most of which are unearthed by Clements. Too many designs were prone to derailment. On the other hand Dean was well aware of the need to study materials, and Clements in this respect does withstand scrutiny against the superb Early railway chemistry and its legacy by Russell and Hudson.
It is a pity that more space is not given to the Achilles class of 4-2-2 locomotives as these were capable of very fast running with light trains. Rather more attention is paid to the Duke class of 4-4-0, the boilers of which soldiered on into British Railways days with Bulldog frames.
Most of the photographs are beautifully reproduced, but there is insufficient linkage between text and illustrations. Ellis's Twenty Locomotive Men (1958) is a serious omission from the bibliography, and it is suspected that some published material on Dean's experimental designs had not been consulted. Some illustrations are of questionable relationship to the central theme: pictures of ambulance cars and Belgian freight locomotives, for instance. A book of this length demanded an index.
Jeremy Clements was co-author with Michael McMahon of the excellent history of locomotives of the Great Southern Railway (2008): sadly this work falls short of that standard.
Derby days: memories of a Midland railwayman.
John Weston. Usk: Oakwood Press, 2012. 208pp, Reviewed by William
Many autobiographical accounts by railwaymen are just that: the story of their life on the railways. This is not a major criticism of such books, but it is one of the real strengths of the work under review that it is a true autobiography - from first memories at the age of three to his 2007 cab ride to celebrate the 70th anniversary of his start on the railway, the whole of this nonagenarian's life is described, fluently and lucidly.
There is, nevertheless, a strong core to the book, and a substantial theme, a moral philosophy, running through it. The core, the focus of 23 of the 31 short chapters, is the author's progressive railway education from Cleaner to Driver. The theme, present from first days as an agricultural labourer, is the perpetual conflict between management/owner and worker/unionist. A steadfast Christian, Mr Walker sees faults on both sides, and, although an involved ASLEF member and advocate for many years, experienced no difficulty in becoming part of the management team in the latter part of his career. There are few criticisms: the author perhaps rushes through his driving career rather too cursorily; there are many interesting and well produced illustrations but some lack specific connection to the author, and there seems little reason why the comment on the Midland Compounds has been relegated to the single appendix. These comments do not detract from an enjoyable and interesting book. Many other books have been devoted to Derby Works and its products but much less to the important depots at Derby and the men who worked there - a gap which this book will go some way to fill.
Victorian Preston and the Whittingham Hospital
Railway. David Hindle. Stroud: Amberley Publishing, 2012. 128pp.
Reviewed by Richard Coulthurst
This book was published to mark the 2012 Preston Guild festivities which are held every 20 years. It commences with a brief examination of the social, cultural and economic aspects of the city in the latter part of the 19th century, before moving on to the history of the Preston and Longridge Railway (P&LR) which became a joint line ofthe LNWR and L&YR. However, the majority of the book is taken up with the Whittingham Hospital Railway which joined the P&LR at Grimsargh.
Whittingham Hospital was one of a number of very large 'asylums' in this part of Lancashire, and accommodated over 3,000 patients at its peak as well as providing work for hundreds of staff. The railway, which opened in 1889, was needed for the transport of coal and other supplies to the hospital in the days before the motor lorry as well as conveying staff and visitors. A notable feature of the line was that it was free of charge to all passengers. The shuttle service to Grimsargh continued until the line's closure in 1957 although the P&LR passenger service had ceased in 1930.
The author, who worked at the hospital for a time, has written a very readable and entertaining account ofthe line. The book is well illustrated and includes some reminiscences of people who remembered the line in operation. There is a short bibliography but no index.
The GWR Bristol to Taunton Line. Colin G. Maggs. Stroud: Amberley
Publishing, 2013. 192pp, Reviewed by Peter Brown.
The main line of the Bristol & Exeter Railway was opened to Bridgwater in 1841 and to Taunton the following year. Initially leased to the GWR, in 1849 it assumed full control of its own affairs. It amalgamated with the GWR in 1876. After a brief introduction to the Bristol & Exeter's promotion and construction, the history of the line is described in detail, starting with the complex development of Temple Meads Station at Bristol, and then working south-west. Of particular interest are the original branch to Weston-super-Mare with its horse-drawn passenger service, the abortive proposal for a branch to a harbour at Brean Down, the short Dunball Wharf Branch, the floods in the Somerset levels, and the successive rebuilding of Taunton station. The subjects of the following chapters include locomotives, sheds, train services, track and signalling, staff, and accidents and mishaps. A final chapter describes a daring mail robbery in 1849.
Despite its title (and despite the cover picture of an LMS-designed locomotive at Yatton) this book concentrates on the 19th century, particularly on the Bristol & Exeter days. Indeed, a special strength is the number and range of Broad Gauge era photographs, including two of an accident in 1852. Regrettably, the quality of reproduction is not as good as some other publishers achieve.
Pleasure steamers. Andrew Gladwell. Botley, Oxford: Shire
Publications, 2013. 64pp, Reviewed by Joseph Boughey.
This short book describes the development of pleasure steamer services on estuaries, coastal seas and Scottish lochs. It does not cover English lakes, canals or inland rivers, bar the River Dart. There must be overlap with the history of commercial passenger services, but there is little about this, while there is less focus on the kinds and construction of the vessels themselves. Those limitations aside, this is a well-produced account of pleasure steamers. Coverage begins in the early 19th century on the Clyde, follows general development through the Edwardian heyday and then on to the period of decline after the 1950s, shown by the last major vessel launch in 1953. The transition to preservation, with the very small number of surviving steamers like Waverley and Balmoral and their services, is usefully discussed. As with other Shire publications, the text is succinct but does not directly cite sources, bar a bibliography. The illustrations are generally welJ-produced; these include tickets, posters, brochures and onboard views, which provide strong impressions of excur- sionist experience. Many photographs seem to be in monochrome that has been hand-coloured, which look somewhat glazed but convey the period; more recent views are less frequent. Overall, this provides an excelJent summary of history readable and concise.
The TUBE: station to station on the London Underground. Oliver
Green. Botley, Oxford: Shire Publications, 2013. 120pp, Reviewed
by Warwick Burton
This handsome and well illustrated little book is in two parts. The first is a succinct but comprehensive history of the lines which make up the London Underground: the Metropolitan and Metropolitan District's beginnings in the 1860s and the former's extensions into 'Metroland; the City & South London's tube line, followed by six more by 1907; the bringing together of these disparate lines by London Transport in 1933; the extensions further into the suburbs, including taking over some main line suburban railways after World War II; and bringing the story right up to date with the Victoria, Jubilee and Docklands lines. A series of maps show the development of the system and of the current Underground map. There are plenty of photographs of examples of the best of Victorian, inter-war and modem stations, as welJ as historic posters. The second half of the book is a description of journeys on a seven selected lines of particular historic interest; there is a brief history and then a description of each line station by station, picking out the best architectural examples with suitable illustrations. This book will appeal to anybody who wants a short and highly readable guide to the Underground network, whether they be railway historians, visitors or Londoners themselves. Highly recommended.
The steam locomotive: an engineering history. Ken
Gibb. Stroud: Amberley, 2012. 256pp. Reviewed by Kevin Jones. 60
The author served an apprenticeship at Swindon Works and has been associated with locomotive preservation. It is stated that the material had been gathered from previously published material which appeared in magazines, but the sources are not cited. The content is very varied. There is much useful information of a practical nature which includes the casting of cylinders and other locomotive components. There are sections on braking systems, on the Swindon stationary test plant, on manufacturing locomotive wheels, axleboxes, valve gears, frame types, pressure gauges, limiting factors, materials, and on safety valves, including the Ross pop type, not much used at Swindon. Somewhat surprisingly, there is a brief pictorial survey of North American steam designs. The trouble is that the compilation is utterly lacking in comprehensive/comprehensible navigation. There is no index and only a weak contents listing. Picture quality is variable between adequate and poor: some of the photographs of Swindon Works have a Dickensian quality which one suspects was not intended. There are some errors in the text, most seriously 'Crompton' rather than 'Crampton' in one place. Given some extra navigation it could have been a useful reference book.
Hassop 150. Glynn Waite. Dronfield : Pynot Publishing, 2012.
50pp. Reviewed by William Featherstone
This book was published by the Rowsley Association to mark the 150th anniversary of the opening of Hassop station, situated on the Midland Railway main line through the Peak District, on 1 August 1862. Since the station closed to passengers under the blackout of wartime just 80 years later (the goods yard survived until 1964), few will know more than its being the site of a range of lineside topiary which also survived into the 1960s. In this thorough and well researched book, aided by the many rare and interesting illustrations, the author shows that this remote and lonely outpost has much more to tell the reader. For nearly two years it was a terminus station with four through trains to London in each direction. If that was the zenith of its life, the opening of the more convenient Grindleford station, on the Dore and Chinley line in 1894, marked the start of its decline. Detailed service and traffic information adds to this comprehensive treatment, but it is the exhaustive and informative listing of station and lineside staff which will prove a lasting research resource. The turnover and mobility of even the most junior 'machine youth' comes as a surprise. This is a useful and competitively priced contribution to railway history.
Along different lines. Geoff Body and Bill Parker. Stroud:
Amberley Publishing, 2012. 144pp, Reviewed by Veronica Edmonds
This book is a collection of 70 stories about the experiences of professional railwaymen. In addition to the book's two authors there are a further 27 contributors. The stories are an eclectic mix of reminiscences from the contributors' careers, and cover a wide range of subject matter from the 1940s on towards the present day. Each story is preceded by a brief summary of its content and so the book can easily be dipped into or read from cover to cover. The stories are well written and engage the reader but some could have been enhanced by the inclusion of dates to put them in context. Almost half the stories are illustrated which adds further interest, particularly as the photos relate directly to the content and many were taken by the contributor. There is a useful glossary of terms for those not familiar with railway terminology, but there is no index. The book is attractively produced though the font is rather small. This is not a difficulty if you use the Kindle digital edition of the book. Overall this book makes an interesting, nostalgic and enjoyable read and sheds some light on the realities of running a railway.
Number 218 (November 2013)
Michael Messenger. Light railways before 1896.
Lists all lines in England & Wales with their engineers; including some not actually built. All have closed except Liskeard & Looe.
Carl Shillito. Sir John Fowler: portrait of an
Excellent short biography and critical list of bibliographical sources, including an assessment of Fowler's contribution to locomotive engineering as well as to his highly rated contributions to civil engineering.
The Caledonian Railway, Scotland's Imperial Railway:
a history David Ross. Catrine: Stenlake Publishing, 2013. 252pp.
Reviewed by Keith Fenwick
The Caledonian was one of the two main pre-grouping companies in Scotland. Its main lines completed the West Coast route to Scotland and ran from Carlisle to Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. It employed 29,000 staff at its peak and ran stylish passenger trains hauled by distinctive blue engines, but its bread and butter was the mineral traffic of Glasgow and Lanarkshire. Although there have been numerous books about smaller companies this is the first time for many years that the history of one of the larger pre-grouping railway companies has been published. In undertaking this major project, the author decided to present the story in chronological order so one gets a very good idea of the complexity of managing such a large organisation. It is hard to see what else he could have done but it does make following particular threads more difficult.
Of the sixteen chapters, fourteen are devoted to the development ofthe Company, from its gestation to the grouping. Chapter 15 reviews how the staff were treated. The last chapter gives a potted history of locomotive development; this seems out of place to your reviewer. A timeline shows major events over the years. There is a bibliography, references and an index.
The author has worked assiduously through original sources, including minute books and newspaper reports. His style is simple and direct. Each paragraph is packed with details; little seems to have been missed. Extensions to the system, abortive proposals for lines and the shady financial dealings of the early years are all described. But we do not find out much about the Company's commercial development and its relations with other railway companies and customers; the author recognises this in his Foreword, acknowledging that a book oftwice the size would have been needed.
The way the publisher has laid out the book does it no favours. The single column text is difficult to read, subheadings and captions and page titles are all in the same font. Several of photographs are from poor originals and not directly related to the text. But overall, this is a significant and substantial work which deserves to be on the shelf of anyone interested in Scottish railways or in the larger pre-grouping companies
Paddington Station: its history and architecture - Step hen Brindle 183pp,
A4, 174 illustrations, maps & drawings (many in colour), paperback, English
Heritage, Fire Fly Avenue, Swindon SN2 2EH, 2013, ISBN 9781 848020894, £25
Reviewed by Gordon Biddle
This second edition of Step hen Brindle's book is in a larger format than the first, reviewed in the March 2005 number of the Journal, and is much the better for it, with a more legible print size. The text has been revised and updated to include the recent refurbish- ment of the 1913-14 roof span at Paddington, achieved only after defeating controversial propo- sals to demolish it; the tricky job of rebuilding Bishops Road Bridge; and the forthcoming Crossrail platforms on the Eastbourne Terrace side of the station which will involve a redesigned entrance. There is also an account of the virtual last-minute discovery of a cast iron canal bridge designed by Brunei in Bishops Bridge Road, hitherto concealed by brickwork until it was about to be demolished in connection with the main bridgeworks. The author has played a leading role in its identification, dismantling and planned re-erection further along the canal.
The numerous illustrations, a number of which are new, are excellently reproduced. Most ofthem have considerable historical value, which together with original drawings and plans, many in colour, combine to form an attractive book. Is it too much to hope for a similar authoritative survey of another early London terminus - say Waterloo, which may lack the charisma of Paddington but has an interesting history unrecorded in any detail? GORDON BIDDLE