Summer Reading

One effect of lockdown was to send me online in search of second hand books. The result is that I have a great selection of summer reading. Some I’ve read already, others I’ve dipped into.

The Eskdale Railway is sub-titled ‘A pictorial History’ and I’d expected a pictue book but in fact there’s an interesting history of the line covering the original railway, the granite mines and the preserved 15 inch line. Unsurprisingly, there are lots of pictures, including one from 1924 with some very well dressed ladies riding in Theakston granite wagons. You wouldn’t see that today!

Locomotives of the RH&DR is a very good read with detailed chapters on the original locos, running and performance and overhauling locos. There’s even a chapter on ‘Superheating on the RHDR’ – perhaps not a good topic for a hot summer day. The pictures are well chosen too. From the original locos under construction at Davey Paxman; through photos of machined axle boxes, cylinders and bogies; to an absolutely georgeous picture of the newly delivered ‘Canadian’ pacific No.9 with Vanderbilt tender (wow!).

I’ve seen some criticism of Miniature Railways Volume 1 -15 inch Gauge on miniature railway sites. I spotted one or two errors in the text (perhaps this is why people criticise it) but it’s redemption must be the pictures. There are images of ‘Little Giant’ being built in 1905; a lovely manufaturer’s catalogue shot of a Bassett-Lowke four wheel passenger coach with canopy; and an image of the derelict Little Giant ‘King George the Fifth’ loco in 1965. (Fear not dear reader, it was restored).

The surprise of the pack is Miniature Railways by Robin Butterell. Published in 1966 it has a short a description of each of the miniature railways that existed in the UK at that time. There are lines run by local authorities and even a line run by a bus company. Many of the lines have been lost but equally interesting is that a number of railways have emerged after the book was published (WWLR, KLR, BVR…) showing the miniature railway scene is dynamic and constantly changing. I enjoyed seeing photos of lines I’ve visited and realising how much they’ve changed. Plus there are photos of Riter Mite under construction for the R&ER, and a lovely photo of the new electric railcar ‘Amber Arrow’ at Longleat. There’s even a publicity shot from TV series ‘The Avengers’ with Diana Rigg being rescued by Patrick Macnee on the Stapleford Miniature Railway – classic!

Summer’s a time for relaxing and enjoying yourself. With these books I’m doing both.

5 comments

  1. Not sure if you already knew about this WW2 story about the RH&DR. German fighter pilot thought loco was further away so dived in too low to attack only to be hit my the exploding boiler.

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  2. Did the same as you last week got this lot of books on order or already arrived:
    A Source Book Of Miniature & Narrow Gauge Railways
    On The British Narrow Gauge
    Middleton Press Sussex Narrow Gauge
    Light & Narrow Gauge Locomotives Oakwood Light Railways Handbook
    Welsh Narrow Gauge In The 1980s
    Britain’s Heritage: Narrow Gauge Locomotives By Anthony Coulls (2018,
    Lost Lines: British Narrow Gauge,
    The Davington Light Railway: A World War I Narrow Gauge Railway
    Middleton Press Surrey Narrow Gauge Including South London
    Middleton Press Branch Line To Upwell (The Wisbech & Upwell Tramway)
    The Wisbech & Upwell Tramway – Oakwood Press
    The Davington light railway very interesting a narrow gauge in Kent near Whitstable 1300 people used the line on a working day. traveling from Davington to the gunpowder site.
    Both the Wisbech to Upwell books are excellent.

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    • Hi Roger, Wow, that’s quite a list, it sound keep you reading for some time! I’ve never heard of the Davington light railway, 1300 passengers a day is a very respectable total for a light railway! One to look into in more depth. All the best Steve

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      • Hello Steve Just to let you know The Source Book of Miniature & Narrow Gauge Railways very good wonderful pictures of miniature railways, Bressingham, Hastings, Fairbourne, R & ER, RH & DR got pictures of the Welsh narrow gauge as well. The other book On The British Narrow Gauge also has a good set of pictures, only disadvantage is all pictures in both books black & white. Do you know how to get in touch with Pepper7 Avalon Line the website says it is open but I cannot contact, buy anything by site email and the telephone number is not working? I wanted to buy one of his coaches.

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      • Hi Roger, Thanks for the tip about the Source Book. I’m enjoying looking at pics of miniature railways and soaking up the atmosphere at the moment. I will buy that book. Re Pepper7 / Avalon Lines, Howard and Steve who run this and make the models have both been ill for some time and this has affected their ability to supply models. I have some contact details that I’ll send in a separate email. Cheers, Steve

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