Southern England

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The Brookwood Necropolis Railway

John M Clarke    [Publisher:  Oakwood  2006]    Softback    192 pages

New edition published in 2006, an even further enlarged edition of a wonderful railway book, and the story of a truly Gothic railway service. The Necropolis Railway Company was a solution to London's problem of burying the dead, contemporary with Highgate and easily its equal in fascinating detail - it even had its own branch line. All the details are in this morbidly fascinating book, highly recommended.

The Channel Tunnel and its High Speed Links

Nicholas Comfort    [Publisher:  Oakwood  2006]    Softback    256 pages

The complicated and still evolving story of a railway system that is the complete antithesis of the meandering country routes normally featured here. Written by someone who has had a fairly close professional interest in the project, it is a well researched and referenced compendium of the Channel Tunnel's conception, construction and operation. It also explains in detail the infrastructure and operational ramifications that the tunnel has created, together with an intelligent explanation and discussion of the wider issues that more than a decade of operation have raised. It seems sad that there appears to be no celebration, in the UK at least, of the huge engineering achievement and great potential of the tunnel. We would rather squabble about the route of the high speed link and focus on our follies. Perhaps its use as part of the Olympics in 2012 will help redress the balance?

The Fawley Branch

J.R. Fairman    [Publisher:  Oakwood  2002]    Softback    128 pages

An interesting and well produced book, packed full of detail and featuring excellent photography. The subject was a very late addition to the British railway network, and unlike most such railways is still in existence today, carrying oil to and from the refinery at Fawley and military traffic to Marchwood. Marchwood still boasts a semaphore signalled installation, and whilst the line's future is not certain there remain some interesting possibilities for further development, all detailed in this informative book.

The Freshwater Yarmouth & Newport Railway

R.J. Maycock & R. Silsbury    [Publisher:  Oakwood  2003]    Softback    176 pages

This is a well put together and illustrated account and record of an impecunious railway company and the railway that it built to west Wight. The photographic coverage concentrates on the pre war years, covering all aspects of the line's infrastructure, stock and operation. Chapter 13 describes the ill fated Solent tunnel project and a further volume will cover the SR and its successors Islandwide in more detail. In summary this is an appealing book on a charming subject. This is a softback reprint with minor corrections from the 2003 hardback edition.

Harrow and Wealdstone 50 Years On

Peter Tatlow    [Publisher:  Oakwood  2002]    Softback    120 pages

An analytical and unsensational but detailed record of the immediate consequences of Britain's second worst railway accident, (the worst was at Quintinshill in 1915), and of how the emergency and railway services coped with the effects both physical and emotional. The enormity of the task was truly amazing, from the physical removal of the wrecked train through to the re-routing of other services while the lines were blocked, all related in detail in this sensitive and respectful account.

The Jersey Eastern Railway

Peter Paye    [Publisher:  Oakwood  2007]    Softback    208 pages

Given that this railway closed as long ago as 1929, this book is a remarkably comprehensive history and account of this individual line. Built to standard gauge, and employing quaint Kitson built 2-4-0 tank engines and antiquated coaches, the railway was profitable in its day before bus competition led to liquidation and final demise. This is an Oakwood reprint of the 1999 book published by the author, a fact which is strangely not mentioned in the 2007 book.

Through the Ranks on the Southern

Brian W. Aynsley    [Publisher:  Oakwood  2002]    Softback    208 pages

A highly interesting and intelligent account of a career on the "Southern". Brian started as an engine cleaner in the days of steam and retired from middle management just prior to privatisation. Working out of Nine Elms, he drove the fast final steam trains on the main line before transferring to Waterloo and mixed traction, and towards the end of his career was closely involved with he dreadful Clapham accident, the description of which is quietly moving. Overall this book gives a valuable and detailed insight into the railway out of Waterloo, and the photographs are of good quality and very relavant to the text, including several taken of and by the author himself.