Published 12th November 2012
Publisher: David & Charles
Pages and dimensions: Hardback. 256 pages. 220mm X 285mm approx
Cover price: £25
Available from: David & Charles.
Paul Atterbury is a well known broadcaster and author who has enjoyed railways all his life This latest book from him is described as an evocative celebration of the glory days of Britain’s railways and looks at the main lines and their feeder routes which formed the backbone of the once extensive network.
It is an eclectic book with a huge amount of subjects covered mainly using pictures with extended informative captions. Many potential readers will recognise locations, features or trains featured by the photographs or advertisements reproduced to illustrate the various subjects covered.
Much of the content is made up using railway memorabilia interlinked with photographs grouped by geographical areas plus a miscellaneous section. The latter itself looks at 15 subject areas such as streamlined trains, restaurant cars, timetables, luggage and ancillary activities such as motorail and rail-air services spanning 150 years of railway history.
The subject areas will prompt memories for all ages and probably provide new information for many as well. The railways have generally reflected society in so far as how rail travel could be undertaken and the selection of advertising supported by good use of pictures demonstrates this aspect well.
The author has divided the UK into 7 geographical areas and each area follows the same format of looking at the railways in that area in several sub sections. General train scenes, stations, famous locations, infrastructure such as notable tunnels and bridges, goods trains, sheds and Works are all explained for each area.
Whether the reader can decide which era reflected and was the glory time is another matter and be a subject for debate amongst rail enthusiasts. This book will provide much information for this debate. The effects of Beeching half a century ago are looked at in the final section of the book in the Lost Main Lines chapter. Many of the illustrations have not been seen before and these are used to good effect, especially for the more historic aspects of our railways.
This is a good book but the reviewer thinks that it perhaps tries to convey too much information and is therefore a little crammed for his taste. Nevertheless, will make a safe bet for a present this Christmas for anyone with an interest in our railways and how they developed and it contains a wealth of information covering all interests.