Railway Top Spots

Published 12th November 2012

Author: Julian Holland

Publisher: David & Charles

Pages and dimensions: Hardback. 192 pages. 235mm X 220mm approx

Cover price: £22.99

Available from: David & Charles

Review by Phil Marsh

Julian Holland is a self-confessed lifelong railway enthusiast and has written, edited or contributed to many railway books. This is very evident in the way this book is presented which he shares his childhood train-spotting memories with the reader.

If the truth be told, many will now be rueing the day they lost their trainspotting books, notes and pictures as they grew up. For whatever reason they no longer have any of their childhood railway memorabilia, this book will to a degree recreate that collection.

Railway Top Spots is a journey across the UK’s railways illustrated by a very well selected set of photographs taken in the last decade of steam traction. This was a time when diesels and some electric trains were also being introduced and by and large, ignored by ‘spotters’.

The pictures will remind many readers of their youth and what now, seems a long lost way of life. They will also bring back wistful memories of how life in general used to be when you could go out without worrying about what might happen to you, unlike today’s perception of things.

The author immediately says in the introduction “Some very rude things were said about trainspotters and I’m not having it!” The reality was that it was a social and harmless activity that could assist one’s education. For example, locomotive names were researched offering a snapsot of history and the geography of the World.

A few people have managed to keep their notes taken on spotting excursions such are described in this book, and some of these are reproduced along with examples of Ian Allen spotting books such as Locoshed books and Combined Volumes for example. Railway Top Spots will effortlessly transport those people back to those what are now seen as halcyon and innocent days.

One clever departure from the usual type of book is the inclusion of shed passes and letters of introduction which show how it was possible to visit sheds and Railway Works, the latter usually notoriously difficult to get round without being apprehended. Indeed, the reviewer was once arrested in Doncaster works in 1976, so can attest to this personally!

The author has joined up different information sources extremely cleverly and made the book flow seamlessly across the six geographical regions on the railways at this time providing a superb look at how the railways were 50 years ago.

Long lost stations and railways are depicted with informative photo captions showing locations across the UK in colour and black and white ranging from the 1950s to the 1980s. The background to a given route or shed is given with interesting supplementary notes adding to the general ambience of the publication.

Places like Crewe and Doncaster are given several pages looking at the station and the Works, both a huge magnet for enthusiasts at this time. Some might consider other places like Basingstoke and Oxford not to be of much interest but are included as locations where many different types of locomotives could be seen on cross-country services.

Barry scrapyard is allocated a double page spread and tells the story behind this marvellous place which meant the UK steam movement could thrive 50 years after the end of steam.

A great book which should solve many Christmas present problems! Highly recommended indeed!

External Links


Have your say...

Please note: you have to be logged into the site before you can leave a comment

Liverpool street station in the UK at rush hour

Help and advice with train travel in the UK

Train travel in the UK should be a pleasure, not a headache. So if you’re taking a train on the UK railway, start your journey here. We’ve lots of hints, tips and advice to help you find your way around, travel smoothly and arrive in style by train.

Read more

eurostars passing at 375mph from the drivers seat in france


Welcome to our #railchat page. Our #railchat discussions take place over on Twitter, with our resident expert Phil Marsh. If you would like to get involved, please do join us, and use the dedicated hashtag #railchat. See our previous discussions below:

Read more

Old steam train in Shanty Town Museum

Locomotives & Engines

Our rail network would be nothing without them. From Stephenson's Rocket to British Rail Class 92 and beyond, explore the facts, information and anecdotes behind the steam, diesel and electric locomotives that built the age of the train.

Read more


Latest Tweets


Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh to London Kings Cross by Train

Book in advance with redspottedhanky.com and save 85% advanced bookings.

From £21.00

Buy now

Millenium Dome, London

Birmingham New Street to London Euston by Train

Book in advance with redspottedhanky.com and save 92% on advance bookings.

From £6

Buy now

You may also like...



Follow us on Twitter and become part of our rail community!



redspottedhanky.com is the easy way to buy cheap train tickets online.



Control your business fuel costs with a supermarket fuel card – free to apply, no ongoing account charges and no monthly minimum spend.