Lost Railway Journeys

Published 24th July 2012

Author: Paul Atterbury

Publisher: David & Charles

ISBN: 13:978-1-4463-0095-4

Pages and dimensions: 176. 23mm X 22mm approx

Cover price: £15.99

Available from: The Hobby Warehouse

Review by Phil Marsh

This is the book for anyone interested in Britain’s lost railways and looks at many former railway routes and branch lines which have been long closed.

Many of these can still be enjoyed today at a more leisurely pace and can be walked on or cycled over, this book looks at some of these long closed and forgotten railway routes.

The picture selection and design is first class and accompanied with just enough text to provide information, to prompt memories and further research. For example, each chapter contains historic and recent pictures plus some railway ephemera from the route. The selection of adverts is also a social commentary as well as a railway one.

Each chapter has a map putting the route into geographical perspective, while the text includes a description of a journey along the line. This is greatly assisted with pictures of the journey illustrating the route’s history. The railway companies used to issue postcards for publicity purposes and these are well used throughout the book.

Some well-known routes and stations are in the book which has a wide geographical spread. Places such as Evercreech Junction, Aldburgh, Lynton and Barnstaple, the Wantage Tramway, Hawkhurst and the Longmoor Military Railway are featured.

Today’s remnants of each selected route are also described with suitable pictures of what to look out for if visiting the area. This book is as much a social commentary on a long lost way of life in Britain in a much slower gentler age.

The author is a well known railway author but probably better known for his appearances on television’s ‘Antiques Roadshow’. As says, the book is not about closed lines, but about the memory of them plus nostalgia and imagination.

The routes were chosen to represent the diversity of lines lost and they are described when in their heyday and in the rundown years and finally, after closure. The last phase is fascinating because the author invites readers to explore old routes and to see what remnants of the railway are still extant.

A level crossing gate here, a platform there, or maybe just a bridge over a river which today has no purpose but has survived for 50 years while nature reclaims the trackbed.

The reviewer suggests that a period timetable from the 1950s would be a great companion for Paul Atterbury’s book and this would allow those with enough time to look at the journeys possible 60 years ago over the routes covered.

A decent scale historic Ordnance Survey map of the areas chosen would also make a good companion for the book so the line can be traced – railway fans can spend days making imaginary journeys with this book, a timetable and a map!

Definitely one to buy and it will provoke conversations – guaranteed!

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