Despite the sentiment of the title, a situation that I think is true of most modellers, over the festive season I’ve managed to acquire three books that I convinced myself I couldn’t be without. And yes, I know it’s March already…
First up is an obvious ‘reference purchase’ for someone with my background, the latest in David Larkin’s series for Kestrel Books. As the title suggests, Civil Engineers Wagons Volume 1 – British Railways: 1948-1967 deals (in more depth than anything has previously), with the departmental wagon fleet. It follows the usual pattern set by previous books and those he did for Santona, in having several illustrations of each type combined with information on number series, and allocations from a time when the fleet was rather more fragmented and parochial. A particularly nice touch is the headings giving the biological derivations of the ‘Fishkind’ names. Also included is an insight into some of the ex-traffic wagons transferred into use by the engineers, although given the variety of types involved, this obviously can’t be as comprehensive as the purpose-built types.
Next, Ian Allan’s First Generation Diesel Railbuses. I was initially sceptical when I saw this announced, partly because I doubted there was actually enough material on 22 vehicles with a ten-year life to fill a book, and partly because the author’s writings in Hornby Magazine are not usually associated with unimpeachable authenticity. It has to be said though that Evan has brought together some intersting and not commonly known information – it’s a sobering thought that some of the early withdrawals could have been bought for the price of a 4mm scale loco! I do wonder therefore if the old bogey of working to deadlines is what differentiates the magazine writings from this work.
As well as the expected chapters grouped by manufacturer, there are also separate summations of operation by Region, together with one on decline and withdrawal. If I have a criticism (apart from the high cover price), it’s that many of the photos are not the clearest, although as is often the case, the interest factor does tend to outweigh this. Particular faves are the Park Royal having hit a landslide, passengers on the ballast and generally wondering ‘what’s to be done’, and the WR halt which is scarcely bigger than the pram occupying it.
Also now available in the same series is a volume on the early Derby Lightweight DMUs, which I’ve not yet obtained but may well at some future point. The choice of subject for these two may well have been to tie in with current RTR releases.
Lastly is something that was a bit of a surprise when I saw it lying on the counter of my local model shop, Bellcode’s Steam Age Diesels across Yorkshire. I was familiar with this publisher, already having their volume on the railways around Selby and Goole, and as is often the case with such outfits, it combines an original approach with production values second to none.
The title sums up what it’s about – those elusive few years where diesels were following much the same working patterns as the steam locos they’d replaced – and the compilers have done exceptionally well in pulling together so many scenes of departed locations, traction and traffics. Of obvious local interest to me were some unpublished shots of D95xx type 1s and the Beverley – York line, but there are many other gems including Metrovicks in Leeds and various early shunters. In fact other than in size, I’d actually say that this is a Yorkshire equivalent to George O’Hara’s Scottish volume reviewed in an earlier post, and I really can’t recommend it enough.