Journal of the Railway & Canal Historical
Volume 38 Part 4
Number 222 (March 2015)
'The Great Railway Guy for 1849'. Drawing by John Leach in Punch,
November 1849. front cover
(© Mary Evans Picture Library). See pp. 227-234
Brian J Goggin. Steam, the Shannon and the Great British breakfast (Clinker Memorial Lecture). 214
David Hodgkins. Two railway rhymes: 'The Board' by Tom Young: 'George Hudson' by W.E. Gladstone. 227-34.
Brian Lewis. The Oldham family of railway contractors. 235-41.
John van Laun. John Cooke Bourne (1814-1896), lithographer: drawings of the London & Birmingham Railway (1836-1838). Chapter 4. Engineering Kilsby Tunnel. 242-51.
Robert Humm. Memorials to railway and canaal individuals.
Lord Aberconway at Baker Street station (also Robert H. Selbie and W. Willox); Sir William Arrol (Woodside Cemetery, Paisley); John G,. Axon (NRM); Matthias Baldwin statue; Andrew Barclay offices; Peter Beames (stained glass window formerly in Christ Church Crewe);Harry Beck, Thomas Brassey, G.J. Churchward, Zerah Colburn, Terence Cuneo, G.R.S. Darroch, David Davies, John Dobson, Captain Fryatt, Benjamin Gimbert GC, Jay Gould, Gresley. R.G. Jarvis,, Marples, Donald Matheson, John Meikle VC, James Nightall GC, Frank Pick, George Pullman
Paul Braithwaite. Notes on the British Newspaper Archive. 256-7
Victoria Owens. The private property debate. 258-9.
Duke of Bridgewater failed in his attempt to remove the statutory protection that the 1766 trent and Mersey Canal Act had afforded Sir Richard Brooke and his home at Norton Priory.
The North British Railway: a history. David
Ross. Catrine: Stenlake Publishing, 287pp. Reviewed by David
This is an example of the genre of what I have described in a previous review as 'modem histories' . A large format provides plentiful pictures, the captions of which, to a greater or lesser extent, add to the actual text. The otherwise excellent index, however, has missed recording information contained in these captions.
Detailed area maps are extremely clear, and most places mentioned in the text are traceable on them (not, unfortunately, a universal attribute of railway histories).
Chronological chapters take the reader through the whole existence of the company, with illustrative statistics at regular intervals. A very short chapter sums up the general ethos and image of the company (mainly parsimonious). The final chapter covers locomotives and rolling stock, eschewing technical detail ('available elsewhere') and concentrating on the statistical. Two appendices give a snapshot of staff in 1901, and details of all company-operated ships. There is no family tree of the company, but a detailed timeline. The author's industry is shown in the extensive footnotes and a bibliography covering every imaginable source.
The content appears to cover every major or not-so-major issue affecting the company throughout its existence. It would help concentration on the major details in the narrative if the extensive footnotes contained not only references but more minor details which were of interest mainly to specialised readers. The book does lack the human face which would make it more attractive to the generally interested reader. It provides instead pithy summaries, an example of which is 'If Lord Tweeddale had a particular expertise, it was in the mechanism of the stock market rather than in the operational details of railway management, but Wieland was the prime architect of the North British stock conversion scheme'.
Having said all that, the book is a treasure trove of historical information. Reading it, two examples arose, for example, in relation to my own research interests.
The published details of the Wigtownshire Railway say that Thomas Wheatley, the former locomotive superintendent who virtually saved the company, arrived from the North British under some sort of cloud. This book explains it.
Again, I have long tried to decipher what went on at the NBR goods station above the Caledonian suburban station at Stobcross, to the west of Glasgow centre. Personal information told me of a steep connecting line to the Caledonian, but no published details showed any connection there between the two systems. The references given in this book to the construction of that line would quite possibly lead to a resolution of this question.
This book should therefore be high on the list of any interested member of the Society.
Michael Aufrere Williams. The importance of fieldwork in researching railway
The Whitby to Loftus line had been constructed along the coast and involved several tunnels and viaducts as well as steep gradients and severe curves
How railways changed Britain: a new social and economic
history. David St John Thomas (Editor) 232 pp, 43 illustrations, 3 maps,
1 graph, hardback, Railway & Canal Historical Society, 2015, Reviewed
by Roy Edwards
This is a good introduction to railway history and a fitting final publishing venture from David St John Thomas. The stated object of the editor as described by David Joy in his forward is to provide an introduction to British railway history. The contents of the volume are relatively even, no mean feat given the variety of backgrounds and expertise of the authors. However, given this, it would have been useful to have had a summary that contextualised each section within the overall narrative theme of the book.
The editor was well known for his aversion to referencing, but this has been tempered a little so there are guides to further reading, although of varying length and quality. Many of the academic references are a little dated though the works have stood the test of time. The work of John Quail on railway management, Charles Loft on Beeching and Mark Casson on the development of the railway network were notable omissions that do unfortunately detract from the usefulness of the volume as a guide to novices.
The structure of the book follows a broadly chronological order beginning with early railways followed by a summary of railway development in the 19th century. These were both excellent although it would have been useful to have had more on the commercial aspects of railway management during this early period. Chapter 3 examines the financial aspects of railway development, and covers a great deal of ground on both how railways utilised the financial system and how in so doing they changed financial institutions in their wider context. The increased movement of people caused by decreased cost of transport is described in Chapter 4 as a leisure revolution, a not unreasonable claim that sheds light on both the product of rail haulage and the impact on people. The effect of haulage is further examined in the chapter on railways and towns, with special emphasis on Peterborough. This builds on the early work of Kellett and others on urban transformation shaped by railways. Similarly Chapter 7 explores the role of railways as employers, although at only eleven pages this is a little too short to constitute a significant contribution.
Chapters 6 and 9 examine the regulation of railways and their role as business enterprises respectively. It is refreshing to have in the former details relating to Irish railways considered along with the mainland network and the importance of light railways, also often neglected. Chapter 8 places rail transport within the rural community, including the gradual abandonment of lines through the late 20th century. To a novice this volume constitutes a sound introduction to the importance of railways, and the reader would hopefully be encouraged to follow up on the further reading, and perhaps their own investigation of transport history.
Shannon Commissioners' crane at Portumna. rear cover (upper);
The pierhead at Killaloe, the base for the nineteenth century Shannon steamers
. rear cover (lower)
(© Brian J. Goggin). See pp. 214-226