Sandy Mullay (Alexander J. Mullay)

Edinburgh is an excellent location for authorship with its superb libraries and its National archives and its train service to London is probably better than that from West Runton. Sandy seems to make the most of these facilities and appears to be a professional writer who contributes books of a topographical nature and (mainly Scottish) railway history.

His Scottish Region: a history, 1948-1973 (Tempus, 2006) is obviously of extreme interest to KPJ as his father was a PR man in Glasgow during the ten years: 1956-1965, and whilst KPJ was still living at home was aware of some of the problems of being a railway officer serving James Ness, the General Manager, who disappointingly emerges as a shadowy figure: Mullay is reliant upon Gourvish for his one really sharp observation about him and places a great deal of reliance on Gourvish for his overall assessment of British Railways at that time.

His criticism of the lack of investment in Scottish motive power is questionable. The apparent investment on the Southern Region had mainly taken place in pre-nationalization days, and in retrospect a similar cheap system might have been more appropriate for Glasgow provided that it had been done earlier. He makes much of the "failure" to electrify the Central Low Level line, but at that period fresh investment could only be justified if "duplicate services" were eliminated. The Settle and Carlisle should have closed to compensate for the Crewe to Glasgow electrification. He fails to mention that consideration had been given to making a new connection at Bridgeton between the northern and southern routes across Glasgow.

So far as KPJ is aware the class 29 debacle was due to the Scottish Region failing to ensure that the output from NBL was fit for its employment on the Eastern Region and in consequence they were sent back where they were a constant source of problems. It was fortunate that the Western Region did not adopt a similar policy for its NBL assets. The failure to electrify the Edinburgh to Glasgow line is an extraordinary tale of woe, especially as some preliminary work was done in the tunnel out of Queen Street and possibly also at Falkirk. The Inter-City DMUs were significant and were a typical example of where inertia in the state railway system failed to develop the concept into something capable of higher speeds, better ride and greater comfort, in spite of the excellent overall concept.

Mullay has an obsession with the A4 class (KPJ probably rightly so!). although he is correct to query why the state concern did not attempt to exploit its total motive power assets. The Aberdeen to Glasgow high speed service was a late defiant swing in this direction. He fails to emphasise the brief corresponding Gresley Pacific enhancement of the Glasgow to Leeds service. No mention is made of the wasteful routine use of double-heading on many Scottish routes. For a time there was the remarkable spectacle of a 2P assisting an A3 out of St Enoch for its climb up Neilston bank (nobody had told the local motive power people how Gresley Pacifics had flattened Hemerdon over thirty years earlier).

He is very good on railway closures, although he fails to note the particular problems of the Waverley route, notably the sharp curvature as well as the lack of population along the two most difficult stretches. He no more than hints that a service to the Border towns via Peebles might have been more viable. This was a case of where nobody would consider a coherent transport policy, and this is still the case: new runways will continue to be constructed until our Parliamentarians have to seek a new home on higher ground.

In places text seems to have been lost, or the author has failed to provide sufficient links (this is probably a failure by the publisher to ensure that the manuscript was read, or has such activity ceased?). Thus the introduction of the Caledonian Princess on the Stranrear Larne route (see Frank page) is not mentioned, although KPJ remembers that it caused his father considerable effort (and interest) at the time. It now seems impossible to believe that my father was aghast to find that the police in Northern Ireland went around armed: he had visited there in connection with the introduction of the new vessel. The illustrations are poor and fail to illustrate the Glasgow electrics or the Inter City multiple units (and consider the former significance of that brand name) in their prime. A few good illustrations would have been better than what is little better than "some old photographs out of a drawer".

London's Scottish railways received a glowing review in Backtrack at the hands of either Peter Tatlow or Peter Treloar, but this is hardly justified as his appreciation of locomotive history is open to question. In particular he fails to understand the significance of overnight sleeper traffic and fast freight (especially meat and fish) on locomotive policy. In the case of the LNER this led to Gresley's P2 and V2 classes, and had been a major influence on the original Pacifics. On the LMS the Stanier Pacifics were a great contributor to the successful haulage of heavy overnight sleeper trains, and prior to that the Royal Scot class must have a made a brave attempt, but the major southern constituents were far more tolerant of double-heading in spite of Stamp's quest for economy. Although Mullay mentions Stanier's original intension to produce a small 4-6-0 for the Oban line he fails to mention the Gresley three-cylinder 2-6-0 which was especially developed for the West Highland line.

Like many writers he fails to note McKillop's major study of ASLEF (The Lighted flame) which makes it very clear that the General Strike was a disaster for the trade unions: his chapter is entitled The Great Humiliation. His description of the volunteer workforce is espcially damning as individuals who merely wished to play at running trains, noting that there were no volunteer miners to hue coal.

Far too much emphasis is placed upon the alleged cartel to limit train speeds and on the very brief period of high speed trains. Pullman car operation is ignored: it had been a major feature on the Caledonian. No mention is made of public relations or even of publicity. The bibliography is largely well arranged, but it is quite unjust to castigate Ottley for his "failure" to incorporate archival material. On the credit side he appears to have learned how to cite periodical articles.Well received by Geoffrey Hughes: J. Rly Canal Hist. Soc., 2006, 35, 451.

For the King's service: railway ships at war. Easingwold: Pendragon, 2008. 127pp.
Contains some errors: on page 4 the Talisman is clearly not the LNER diesel electric paddler which survived WW2, but an earlier NBR vessel. Both text and illustrations are interesting.

London's Scottish railways: LMS & LNER. Stroud: Tempus, 157pp.
Adds considerably to the transition period from the pre-grouping compaies to the post-1923 pair. Chapter 7 describes locomotive policy, but only moderately effectively. The LNER K4 class does not appear to be mentioned, nor does the transfer of K2 class 2-6-0s to the West Highland line. Such judgements are not assisted by the absence of an index, and the fairly haphazard presentation of the visuaul materail. The book is conceptually interesting, but there are many gaps in coverage, notably press relations and advertising. There are also some surprising inclusions, notably quite extensive coverage of the Forth Bridge Company (the LMS had inherited the Midland Railway's moiety and the LNER combined the stakes held by the GNR, NER and NBR). Anglo-Scottish passenger services receive considerable attention in two chapters..

Non-stop! : London to Scotland steam. Gloucester : Sutton, 1989. 120 pp.
Ottley 18174

Rails across the Border. Stroud : Tempus, 2006. or Wellingborough: Stephens, 1990.  
Makes relatively few references to locomotives, but there are one or two howlers: notably the "former Raven 'Pacific' tank engine No. 2160 (LNER numbering) now converted to a 4-4-4T and stationed at Duns'. RCTS Locomotives of the LNER confirms that H1 4-4-4T No. 2160 was stationed at Duns in the early 1930s prior to its coversion to a 4-6-2T. Mullay suggested that that its was necessary to measure the coal bunker to tell the difference between the V1 and V3 classes: one merely needed to look at the pressure gauge. In his chapter on the Solway Viaduct: Solway Junction Railway there is an infuriating reference to "one writer's insistance" that Neilson supplied WN 1388/9 and 1217/18 (0-6-0 and 0-4-2) to the railway and that these became CR 542/3 and 540/1. In this same section there is a vague reference to A. Earnshaw for the precise location of the viaduct On page 101 there is a reference to the "Herald" of January 1948: was this the Daily Herald or the Glasgow Herald?. It is not clear whether KPJ's notes refer to one or other or both editions.

Streamlined steam: Britain's 1930s luxury expresses. Newton Abbot: David & Charles. 1994. 128pp. landscape format
A serious examination of the LNER and LMS streamliners in spite of landscape format which suits most of the pictorial materal which sadly lacked colour.

Through Scotland with the Caledonian Railway. Stenlake
Copy seen was one of the two books borrowed from the excellent Isle of Arran Library during a fortnight's holiday on the Island in May 2012. This was fortunate as such books are unlikely to be seen in Norfolk. Through Scotland with the Caledonian Railway is an extraordinary jumble even judged by the standards of being a pictorial work. It consists mainly of images from picture postcards, without captions, reliance in most cases being left to the original two to three words on the pictorial side of the cards. The coloured cards are reproduced separately in the middle of the book, and like most such images do not reproduce well, unlike the black and white ones which are excellently reproduced.
There are some texts (note the plural), but these are difficult to find.due to a lack of structure, both within the individual texts, and the failure by the publisher to provide a layout which differentiates them from the pictures which as noted remain uncaptioned. The book appears to be divided into the following sections:
Introduction (one page)
Building the Main Lines
Mergers and Takeovers
Caledonian Railway Stations — I:
Very interesting as it includes a proposed Lothian Road station in Edinburgh of 1848
Locomotives to 1894
Water schemes (railways built to connect Caledonian Railway to reservoirs, nothing to do with CR per se)
Underground and overground
Suburban railways in Glasgow and Edinburgh
Callander & Oban
Locomotives 1894-1922
Racing days
1888, 1895 and 1901
Caledonian Railway Stations — II
Obviously Quintishill, but also accident on Alloa Swing Bridge
Passenger carriages
The End of the Caledonian Railway
Books Consulted
There is an index to the many stations illustrated.

Other sections not listed in the contents include North and Central Lanarkshire Lines (pp. 74-80)
Dunbartonshire Renfrewshire & Ayrshire (pp. 115 et seq)
From Perth to Aberdeen (pp. 135 et seq)

Sadly the book utterly fails to capture the essence of the industries which the railway served and brought its dividends; namely, coal mining, iron & steel, shipbuilding and a vast range of engineering industries, the most notable being locomotive building

Alternative assessment by NF in Backtrack, 2011, 25, 702.