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  • Portait of Steam - The Paintings and Photographs of George F Heiron
    George F Heiron with Michael Harris
    ISBN 086093 554X
    Price £5
    Oxford Publishing Co, an imprint of Ian Allen Publishing, Riverdene Business Park, Moseley
    Road, Hersham Surrey KT12 4RG

    In January 1965 I purchased Ian Allan's 'Railway Colour Album' for 4/6d with some of my childhood Christmas present cash expressly to obtain the colour print of Britannia at speed, painted side on by George F Heiron, together with a collection of those period lino cuts by A F Wolstenholme. This was the first railway book I ever purchased and I still treasure it. I was later surprised at G F Heiron's accreditation on so many of the 'steam in the landscape' photos published in the late lamented Trains Illustrated, so much less boring than rivet counter threequarter nearside views (without steam) which everyone seemed to think so wonderful at the time. George Heiron is one of the few artists who understands valve gear, track and the weight of cast iron, together with the ethereal nature of steam and landscape. George was born in 1929 and it's taken me 35 years to obtain the book I really wanted. His work is crammed against some excellent black & white photos and the most informed railway paintings I've ever seen. Watercolours are better than oils, they seem alive as the white paper shining behind the paint gives a live quality. There are 48 large format colour prints with those wonderful black & white images and an animated life story thrown in for free! Great value in varied image, excellent composition and some wonderfully atmospheric landscape through which trains pass. The GWR Dean 'Single' No.3040, the 'Royal Scot' climbing Beattock in moonlight and George's favourite, Combe Down Tunnel on the S&D spring instantly to mind, although they're all very good. The book also comes with a financial health warning to all aspiring railway artists: 'It was not so much a living, just a simple life, just a pleasure, I loved it, I was a free man' - if one reads between the lines!
    Michael C Shaw


  • LNER 4-6-2 Pacific Type Express Tender Loco
    (facsimile of brochure from 1924 British Empire Exhibition at Wembley)
    ISBN: 0 902372 12 2
    Price £9.95 (P&P 50p)
    Trade terms on request
    The Pleasaunce Press, 60 Clinton Lane, Kenilworth, Warwickshire CV8 1AT

    This fascinating foolscap publication is a facsimile of the one issued in 1924 to coincide with Flying Scotsman's appearance in the Palace of Engineering at the British Empire Exhibition, Wembley in 1924. The only difference from the original is the inclusion, for bibliographic reasons, of a new panel stating the current publishers, printers and the ISBN number. The work is beautifully presented containing some 24 sheets, stapled and bound, including a description of the loco, results of tests and a full set of highly detailed works drawings, most of which fold out. There is also a gradient profile of the GNR main line. Whether this facsimile is of great use to anyone building a small scale model is a moot point. Certainly, full internal detail on drawings is of no use to installers of electric motors in their locos. It could be useful to live steam builders though. That said, this is not really what this booklet is about, for it's really a reprint of a bit of history, remembering the pride, workmanship and sheer quality of construction which went into things, three quarters of a century ago, that were 'made in England'. Interestingly, the facsimile displays no contemporary price. Not knowing anything about the original, does this suggest that it was given away free to (selected) visitors to the exhibition? As will be remembered the presence of 4472, alongside the GWR 'Castle', sparked the discussion which resulted in the locomotive exchanges of 1925, where the GWR came out well on top. Knowing my partisanship, whilst accepting that fact, I cannot help but to remind lovers of things from the west how different things were in 1948! A delightful publication to have on the bookshelf and at very good value considering the quality of production.
    Tony Wright


  • On Great Western Lines
    Roy Hobbs
    ISBN 0 7110 2757 9
    Price £14.99
    Ian Allan Publishing, Riverdene Business Park, Molesey Road, Hersham, Surrey KT12 4RG

    For those readers who might believe the Great Western to be a well, totally dry, this pleasant little picture book will come as a nice surprise. It begins with a short concise one page introduction including a bibliography and acknowledgement followed by a page map of the complete Great Western Railway system, which shows 'pester' power can work, even on Ian Allan! There follows 75 colour images of the less well visited parts of the former GWR system. We begin outside Paddington, then the lines and branches in the West Country and around Bristol, also those running through the Chilterns, South and West Midlands, Welsh Borders, South Wales and lines via Birmingham and Shrewsbury to Wrexham with many unusual subjects and locations. Image quality and colour reproduction is fine; most are steam in the landscape threequarter front elevational stuff, not too severely cropped. These will no doubt please modellers and enthusiasts, but also the historian. They are all taken on BR(W) and LMR lines, the earliest around 1957 (although 58XX Class 0-4-2T No.5813 still displays GWR on her tanks on May 28 1957) until 1969 with almost exclusively ex-GW steam - not the Great Western at all! I was particularly taken by the view on page 73 of streamline AEC railcar No.W8W at Swan Village, and also the coverage of Welsh Valley lines which had such fine landscape and varied interesting operation so rarely recorded in the late steam era, especially in colour. Packed with visual detail and well captioned it is a fair quality hardback, and at a penny under £15.00 reasonable value too.
    Michael C Shaw


  • An Illustrated History of Great Northern Railway Signalling
    Michael A Vanns
    ISBN 0 86093 545 0
    Price £19.99
    Oxford Publishing Co, an imprint of Ian Allan Publishing, Riverdene Business Park, Molesey Road, Hersham, Surrey KT12 4RG

    It is amazing to reflect that almost 30 years have elapsed since the first serious work on a railway company's signalling history appeared when in 1972 the then infant OPC produced L G Warburton's 'A Pictorial Record of LMS Signals'. The volume presently under review, if one counts the closely related tome 'The Signalbox', is their seventh work on the subject. Without doubt the present author Michael Vanns has done his homework and has produced a high quality work covering the complete history of Great Northern Railway signalling from the company's inception in 1946 to the 1923 Grouping and beyond. The book is neatly divided into nine chapters. These commence with a look at the organisation of the company, then follows detailed accounts of the line's signal boxes, signals, block instruments and block working, etc. Each chapter is profusely illustrated with numerous high quality photographs, official drawings, extracts from contractors' catalogues or, where appropriate, by copies of relevant pages from original official operating instructions.
    Some very careful research has gone into the choice of photographs and these, in most cases, are dated exactly to the day. Also, when known, additional non-signalling information is included. Practically every illustration is a gem in itself but, as far as your present reviewer is concerned, the late 1880s pictures of the Gullet Junction stirrup frame and signalling stage stand out as exceptional. Never before have I seen such pin sharp views of this or similar early equipment which, even by the standards of the late '80s, was pre-historic.
    I am also pleased that Michael has not fallen into the trap of most modern authors, that of attempting to change £/s/d into today's decimal money. Equalling 6/- to 30p without the relevant inflation factor is a completely meaningless statement. Likewise, and quite rightly too, he has kept to Imperial measure throughout. The old companies worked in feet and inches, so why try to make yet another meaningless conversion? Seven different designs of signal box ranging from an early 'Policeman's hut' of c.1860 to the company's final 20th century design are illustrated by means of scale drawings, dimensioned sketches and numerous photographs. Signals in their many forms are photographically more than well depicted but only earn themselves three scale drawings, two of these are of the well known 'Somersault' arms, while the other details an early semaphore of 1855. Despite the omission of drawings of bracket signals or similar, one should have little difficulty in constructing accurate models, the book provides ample pictorial details.
    On a personal note, for completeness I would have liked to have seen included a list of all known signalbox opening and closing dates, and also a copy of the railway's block regulations. Undoubtedly space, or more correctly, the lack of it, and other commercial considerations deemed their inclusion impractical. Even so, all is not lost, and many of the illustrations include a detailed history of the signal box, or indeed, in some instances the signals shown. This is only a small niggle and one that, in most cases, will not really affect the railway modeller. This too is not the end of the world and the information can readily be had from elsewhere.
    If you model the Great Northern Railway, either past or present-day, this book if one intends to portray the signalling with the same accuracy as one's locomotives, rolling stock or lineside buildings is a must and one highly recommended. I am presently involved with the signalling of a large exhibition layout depicting the approaches to London King's Cross in the 1930s, and, undoubtedly, the tome presently under review will, from now on, be my main source of reference.
    Mick Nicholson


  • Railway Liveries, BR Traction 1948-1999
    Colin Boocock.
    ISBN 07 110 2737 4
    Price £19.99
    Ian Allan Publishing, Riverdene Business Park, Molesey Road, Hersham, Surrey KT12 4RG

    Colin Boocock has a long history of writing books about British Railway liveries since 1948 and I admit to owning most of them. They are all well illustrated in colour, sensibly captioned and this publication follows in this form. The text is clear and precise and not long winded. The book gives some real sense to this subject and will, I am sure, become a standard reference for non-steam traction enthusiasts. This is a fine picture book too and will be of great help to historians and modellers of this hectic period of transition for many years to come. The picture quality is generally good as is the composition, the layout clear and at a penny under £20.00, I feel you will be getting pretty good value. For those of a technical mind, it covers the early BR period, modernisation plan types, 'Corporate Image', PTE liveries and two phases of BR businesses from 1984-1993, plus the run up to Privatisation until 1995 and so much more.
    Michael C Shaw



  • Narrow Gauge Branch Lines - Kent Narrow Gauge
    Vic Mitchell and Keith Smith
    ISBN 1 901706 45 1
    Price £13.95
    Middleton Press, Easebourne Lane, Midhurst, West Sussex GU29 9AZ

    Mention narrow gauge railways and I am sure many readers will immediately think of the 'Great Little Trains of Wales' with quaint little relics of the Victorian age chugging gracefully through the picturesque hillsides of Wales. Although perhaps not as well known the county of Kent has, over the last century or so, also played its own important part in the narrow gauge history of this country and now features in the latest addition to the excellent list of railway titles published by Middleton Press. Illustrated by some 120 clear black & white photographs and 24 maps this fascinating 96 page hardback edition gives a brief introduction to no less than 23 sites of narrow gauge interest that ran or still run through the Garden of England. In the first of four sections, some of the more obscure Kentish industrial railways such as the Guildford Tramway at Sandwich and the Dungeness fish railways rub shoulders with old favourites like the extensive narrow gauge network operated by Bowaters at Sittingbourne and the BICC Belvedere Works that employed a trio of diminutive Bagnalls. Bringing the industrial story up-to-date is a collection of unusual underground and surface views taken on the largest narrow gauge system Kent has ever seen, that serving the construction of the Channel Tunnel. Understandably with MoD restrictions preventing widespread photography, the section devoted to Military railways is a bit thin however this is more than compensated for by a very comprehensive selection of photographs devoted to pleasure railways past and present. I was particularly pleased to see the private Bredgar & Wormshill line featured having enjoyed a pleasant day there last year (public opening is on the first Sunday of the month in summer). Finally, although arguably not true narrow gauge, a chapter about Kent's famous main line in miniature, the Romney Hythe & Dymchurch Railway brings the album to a close with a host of nostalgic views of the line taken during the 73 years since it opened. With such a wealth of narrow gauge history photographically recorded in its pages, this volume is without doubt a very inspiring modeller's reference and will make a commendable addition to any narrow gauge enthusiast's library.
    Paul Bason


  • An Illustrated History of LNWR Engines
    Edward Talbot
    ISBN 0 86093 209 5
    Price £29.99
    Oxford Publishing Co, an imprint of Ian Allan Publishing, Riverdene Business Park, Molesey Road, Hersham, Surrey KT12 4RG

    First published in 1985, Edward Talbot's book on the engines of the London & North Western Railway is now available again in the reprinted OPC back catalogue. It quickly became a recognised classic in its field and remains an indispensable reference work for students of the LNWR, being the result of many years research into the 6,000 engines owned by the 'Premier Line' in its 75 year existence. Each class is described in turn with photographs chosen to illustrate its detailed history stage by stage throughout its entire life, plus diagrams. Tenders, footplate work, painting methods and nameplates are all covered in separate appendices. For anyone who appreciates the products of Crewe works and missed out on the first edition of this book, this is an absolute must.
    John Emerson