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Books on Wiltshire

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Classical Building of Wiltshire & Bath

Richard Durman

Jacketed Hardbackback; 208 pages; 190 b/w photos; 2 maps

Wiltshire is a very special county for anyone interested in that refined style of classicism that we call Palladian. The 18th-century revival of Palladianism coincided with the rapid rise of Bath to the heights of fame and fashion, and it is not surprising that the majority of its buildings are Palladian. Between them, Wiltshire and Bath amassed the finest range of such buildings in England.

This book is intended to be a guide to such buildings but it requires no technical knowledge to unlock its secrets. There are grand country houses, such as Bowood, Stourhead and Wilton; the urban delights of Salisbury and Bath; the less well-known but equally charming townscapes of Bradford on Avon, Chippenham, Devizes, Marlborough, Trowbridge and Warminster; and the more elusive beauties scattered around the Wiltshire countryside.

GWR to Devizes

Rod Priddle & David Hyde

Jacketed Hardback; 270 pages; 281 b/w photos; 20 maps

The Devizes Branch was originally just a short spur off the Wiltshire, Somerset & Weymouth Railway, built in 1857. Later it enjoyed semi-main line status when the Berks & Hants Extension opened in 1862 from Hungerford to Devizes, before it reverted to being a branch line from 1900-1966. With seven stations, several bridges and the wonderfully castellated Devizes Tunnel, there was plenty of scope for research.

The book concentrates as much on the staff as on the infrastructure. The authors talked to all surviving members of staff whom they could trace and there are many anecdotes and memories of life on the line to flesh out the historical bones, supported by a vast array of photographs.

West from Salisbury

Steve Chislett & Mike Pearce

Jacketed Hardback; 160 pages; 112 b/w photos; 1 map

150 years ago, in 1859, the first train departed from the new Fisherton station in Salisbury for Gillingham on the initial stretch of the Salisbury & Yeovil Railway line. This was later incorporated into the Southern Railway, and eventually connected to Exeter. Sadly, the stations at Wilton, Dinton and Semley have all now closed but Tisbury and Gillingham remain in active use. This lavishly illustrated book celebrates the history of this section of the line, which passes though some of southern England's prettiest countryside.

There are many photographs of locomotives and railway buildings, but also numerous shots of the more intimate side of railway life. The men and women who ran the line, and often came from families with many generations of railway service, are seen here at work and play, posed and relaxed, in uniform and out. To accompany the images there are several stories written by people connected with the railway. Drivers and firemen (including the first female driver to work on British Rail), guards and signalmen, all recount personal, often humorous memories.

Wilts & Somerset: A Railway Landscape

Duncan Harper

Jacketed Hardback; 96 pages; 69 b/w photos; 8 maps 8 line drawings

The tract of Somerset countryside from the Avon valley around the Wiltshire border in the north to the Cary lands approaching the Dorset border in the south, is one of enchanting contrasts. Old colliery communities and factory towns become dairy farms and spreading meadows. Across and through them in the 19th century came the railway, marching inexorably from town to town - cross-country lines wandering dreamily to the sea; branch lines carrying away valuable minerals; fast through lines reaching to London. From Countess Waldegrave's deep, dark coal-pits to the open fields of Farmer Brown, this book celebrates and documents the railways that once abounded, how they were built, the effect they had on the landscape and its inhabitants, and finally how they died. By his remarkable visual style of writing and its close link to the wide range of illustrations in the book, Duncan Harper allows us to look, with an enquiring eye, through the evidence and documentation of the landscape, at the railways which once covered it, principally the Wilts, Somerset & Weymouth Railway. Although not a definitive railway history, the real history is very much present.

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