Southern Railway

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The Decline and fall of The Westerham Railway A Prelude to Beeching

Ron Strutt    [Publisher:  Crecy  2018]    Hardback    208 pages

An excellent and comprehensively illustrated account of the last years of the "infamous" Westerham branch and the extensive efforts that were made to preserve it as an operating railway. The account of the efforts made is fascinating and detailed, involving a roll call of all sorts of interesting characters, some of whose names are even familiar. The images are universally good and clear and the rear section covers the state of the line today, quite a lot of which features the M25 motorway(!) Being hyper picky, I would have liked to have seen the beautiful Maurice Jarnoux images of the line blown up much bigger and the typeface seems a bit "heavy", but these are really nit picking quibbles, this is a great book and at a very reasonable price too.

The Okehampton Line

John Nicholas and George Reeve    [Publisher:  Irwell Press  2001]    Hardback    236 pages

A much enlarged edition, a comprehensive and well illustrated work of reference on the Southern Railway's route between Exeter, Tavistock and Plymouth. All eras are included right from construction of the various parts of the route, and there are some excellent early views amonst the photographs, many of which have never before been published. All locations are covered and illustrated, Meldon Quarry and Okehampton Station in particular detail, and scale track layouts and signalling diagrams are given for all installations. Another strength of this book is its illustration and explanation of the complicated arrangements of lines, depots and junctions that were built in Plymouth. With this new edition the possibility of re-opening gets an airing. If ever there was a railway that ought to be reopened, then this is it. I'd love to book through to Plymouth via Okehampton and Tavistock on a South West Trains 159 - all so obviously do-able and yet also impossible.

Post-War Southern Steam in East Sussex and Kent

Ian Drummond    [Publisher:  Holne Publishing  2014]    Softback    96 pages

This attractively produced book is an album of the photographs taken by Geofferey Bloxham from 1946 onwards, generally covering the secondary lines and selected engine sheds, including a good selection of Kent and East Sussex views. The layout and design is in the author's usual style with drop shadows and overlapping edges, but the photographs are nonetheless lovely and nicely printed.

Railways of the Isle of Wight

Marie Panter    [Publisher:  Stenlake Publishing  2013]    Softback    96 pages

Quite unlike the usual books from this publisher, this is a striking collection of interesting and well reproduced photographs of all of the railways of the Isle of wight. Produced on quality art paper and in an over A4 size format, there are some really striking images here, several reproduced over two pages. The collections drawn from are those of John Alsop, Richard Casserley and the Heywood Collection - this is a really lovely book.

Slam Doors On The Southern

Michael Welch    [Publisher:  Capital  2005]    Hardback    112 pages

Published to commemorate the withdrawal of traditional slam door stock on the Southern, this is another very well printed and pleasing all colour album of electric units. The pictures are predominantly of more modern times although there is still a strong showing for earlier periods, including some extremely good vintage shots towards the beginning of the book. A worthy addition to the library of anyone who harbours a soft spot for Southern Electrics of any era.

South and West from Waterloo

Gerry Nichols    [Publisher:  Ian Allan  2014]    Hardback    96 pages

An all colour collection of previously unpublished photographs taken by the late Mark Warburton, covering the railway routes radiating out from Waterloo towards the West Country but from Basingstoke westwards only, with the majority of pictures covering the minor lines and from page 70 onwards being Exeter and points west. This is a worthwhile addition to the many books already covering this subject, Mark was a talented photographer and the images are well composed, interesting and in many cases include a lot of peripheral detail. In common with other recent Ian Allan colour albums some of the pictures are a bit on the dark side and there's a bit of the white lettering on black background nonsense, but this is still a good book.

Southern Counties Branch Line Steam

Michael Welch    [Publisher:  Capital  2012]    Hardback    112 pages

Picture editor par excellence Michael Welch has done it again, an absolutely corking collection of pictures of Southern Region branch lines in their last decade of operation. The images are all derived from transparencies and compared to a lot of the colour work that one sees in books (even these days) they all have a fantastic quality of "well lit reality", for want of a better expression. I think my favourite shot is that on page 24 by John Beckett - a vintage shunt signal at Westerham, not a train in sight, a wonderful sky behind and a fantastic "luminescence". As John Potter (of John's Bikes and "Eridge" fame) remarked upon looking through the book, "it all looks so beautiful and so different to today - how could we all have taken it all for granted?". I believe that a lot of the credit for this is due to one Lucy Frontani who carries out all the pre production colour work, and has done for some years on all of the Capital Transport books. This coupled with the high quality of the original photography, Michael's picture editing and attention to detail in the captioning and writing have resulted in an achingly nostalgic journey back into time - an outstanding book. As a final aside, John was delighted to see the picture of Eridge on page 49 (another John Beckett shot) as it was the first picture he had ever seen showing the water tower which confirmed the accuracy of the model built for him by Ralph Burrows and its positioning on his model of the station.

Southern DEMUs

Michael Welch    [Publisher:  Capital  2005]    Hardback    96 pages

Uniform in size and style with the earlier Southern Electic Album, this is another selection of fine all colour photographs but this time of the Southern Region's distinctive DMU. After a detailed description of the different classes of unit and their service lives, the book is organised on a route by route basis. In addition to showing the units themselves the book contains some really interesting photographs of locations and infrastructure all photographs being knowledgably and intelligently captioned. The eras covered extend right up to recent times and liveries although the coverage is still predominantly "traditional" split 50/50 between Green and Blue eras.

A Southern Electric Album

Michael Welch    [Publisher:  Capital  2003]    Hardback    96 pages

This is another book that I really like. Although like the author my preference is for steam traction, having lived around and travelled on the Southern Electric I find the subject entirely fascinating. The choice of colour coupled with the avoidance of anything post blue and grey, with the balance tipped slightly in favour towards the historic "green" era, make this book absolutely perfect in my opinion. The author has a good eye for a photograph and has obviously got some good connections judging from the variety and quality of images assembled in this book. Subjects include views inside maintenance depots, electric locomotives, the pullman units and much railway infrastructure at a time of interesting change and modernisation. One very slight complaint is a slight lack of South Western suburban (no Hampton Court!), but this is a very minor qualm. This is a great book, stylishly presented and well printed and if the subject holds any apeal for you then you are going to be sorely tempted.

Southern Infrastructure 1922 - 1934

Kevin Robertson and David Wallace    [Publisher:  Crecy  2013]    Softback    120 pages

A rare glimpse back into the Southern Railway scene between the wars, afforded to us by means of the photography of Edward Wallis, much of which was done whilst working for the railway in the signalling and telegraph department. The resulting collection of images is really unusual, predominantly covering stations, signalling and trackwork it shows astonishing detail of numerous locations and installations and because of their relatively early date he has recorded much of the pre Southern scene that would change significantly before the days of the much photographed "Southern Region". Gems include a lift bridge at Deptford, an unusual view of Branksome locomotive shed, Eastry station on the East Kent Light Railway, a wonderful sequence at Ramsgate Harbour, Devils Dyke and Fullerton Junction. Signal boxes are very well recorded and many of the photographs were taken from the top of signals and therefore give unusual and informative views. This book is a real goldmine of pre grouping detail for the Southern enthusiast, quite wonderful.

Southern Infrastructure A Second Selection

Kevin Robertson    [Publisher:  Crecy  2014]    Softback    120 pages

Well I thought the first selection was good, and the Great Western volume a delight, but this second and final selection of Southern images from the Wallis collection has exceeded my expectations. There are no "dud" images in this book, every one is interesting, all recording the signalling, trackwork and infrastructure across the Southern Railway over a period of change and development. Antiquated equipment and structures from an earlier railway age such as Peasmarsh Junction (closed in 1926) and the old Seaton Station and Junction are set alongside new works in freshly cast concrete, including Seaton Junction. The "Withered Arm" is well covered including three really delightful views of Wenford Bridge, Boscarne and Dunmere Junctions and Okehampton. Further east and the London area is represented, including a terrific series of photographs showing development and change at Waddon Marsh and possibly best of all for delightful obscurity, "Lines Brothers" ground frame near Merton Park. I love the "Southern" and signalling and the structures around railways and on that basis superlatives are failing me, I could say so much more - this is an utterly wonderful book.

Southern Steam The Railway Photographs of Ron Buckley

Brian J. Dickson    [Publisher:  History Press  2016]    Softback    96 pages

Not the usual format for History Press, this is a pleasing large format pictorial book of good quality pictures, taken from Southern Railway days onwards and featuring a

The Story of the Lyme Regis Branch

Martin Smith and George Reeve    [Publisher:  Irwell Press  2003]    Softback    60 pages

A large format and well printed "Railway Bylines Centenary Special" covering this photogenic Devon Branch line. An ideal reference for would be modellers, there are large scale OS map extracts of all stations, signalling diagrams and very clear and well printed photographs of the rolling stock used and much detail around the line. The text is informative and includes timetables for all periods of the line's operation. All in all this is a very pleasing record of an interesting railway line, which perhaps shouldn't ever have closed.

Sussex Steam. All new hardback edition

Michael Welch    [Publisher:  Capital  2015]    Hardback    112 pages

Uniform with the earlier "Devon Steam" by the same author and publisher, this is another well selected, well captioned and beautifully presented collection of images of the steam age. Both black and white images are featured and there are some real gems amongst them, some of the most poignant and striking being the colour shots of centenary celebrations at Steyning in 1961. This is a superlatively good collection of images, together with accurate and informative captions, and without straying into politics or economics it does make one wonder just what we have done to our country over the last 50 years or so.

The Twilight Of Southern Steam The Untold Story

Don Benn    [Publisher:  Pen and Sword  2017]    Hardback    320 pages

Fifty years after the spectacular finale of steam out of Waterloo, this is a gloriously detailed and knowledgable account of the last two years of Southern main line steam working. Although written from an enthusiast's point of view the author and group of young men who feature in this book became involved with the traincrew and operations, made extensive notes and logged actual train timings, all of which yields a truly comprehensive record of what was achieved. Although the book doesn't set out to be a photographic record, the pictures are nonetheless excellent and appropriate and the whole book is a fine tribute to the enginemen who performed near miracles with doomed and run down locomotives on the very different railway of the mid 1960s.

Vintage Bluebell The Early Years In Colour

Michael S Welch    [Publisher:  Runpast  2005]    Softback    72 pages

A fascinating look back across the early years of Britain's first preserved standard gauge line, featuring both pre and post preservation views along the whole line from Lewes to East Grinstead, but concentrating on the stretch first preserved. The Bluebell has some fascinating stock, much of it illustrated in this book in varying states of "preservation" but infrastructure is not forgotten nor the changes to track plans over the years or the fascinating steam powered demolition trains.