Tag Archives: NBL

Modern Locomotives Illustrated

Issue 197 of this periodical has now been out a short while, and deals with the North British type 2s, both diesel-electric and diesel-hydraulic, of what became classes 21, 22 and 29.  The editor says that this one has been by far the most difficult to put together, and wearing the less charitable hat that I’m known to don on occasion, I’d probably say that’s because it hasn’t been possible to rely on the padding of privatisation or preservation era material….  But cynicism aside, whilst this is a publication I’ve been known to criticise, I have to balance that by saying that this issue really is a cracker, and well reflects the effort that must have gone into it.

The diesel-hydraulic content seems stronger, but that’s not to say that that of the diesel-electrics isn’t worthwhile.  The shots that I’ve seen before do generally fall into the category of ones that I’m happy to see again (some of these being Jim Binnie’s, from his erstwhile Fotopic Diesel Image Gallery),  and there are some new GNoS area images.   The selection of class 29 rebuilds seems to include class members that are less commonly photographed, and the freight formation behind 6124 at Eastfield is characteristically fascinating.  The WR selection includes some very interesting or unusual locations and workings; Cheddar Valley, S&D demolition, Torrington, the Callington branch and the Paddington – Bude summer service seen at Halwill Junction.

Much of the text, too, makes pleasant reading.  In the uncredited introduction on Order and Design, the myth of unreliability, particularly of the diesel-hydraulic 22s, is addressed.  It’s become far too fashionable for commentators to ascribe the demise of much of BR’s Modernisation Plan fleet as due to unreliability or (that other hackneyed phrase) being ‘non-standard’.  Whilst it’s unarguable that some poor decisions and purchases were made, it’s also the case that too many locos were ordered at a time when rail traffic and trackage were being decimated; that being the case, it’s only natural that the larger or stronger classes would fare better once steam had been eliminated and surpluses identified.  Had it been the case, however, that the work had been there for the other classes, then effort would have been put into making them fit for service.  One thing that I didn’t expect to see addressed though (because it rarely is), is the generally better reputation of the 21s allocated to Kittybrewster for the GNoS section – whilst these are usually tarred with the same brush as the Eastfield contingent, it’s rare to see a photo of one in anything less than immaculate condition and anecdotal comment suggests they were looked after mechanically and performed accordingly.

All in all though, a good buy at less than a fiver and even if you only favour one class over the other, the coverage of each is good enough that you shouldn’t be disappointed.

More information on the series can be found at http://www.mli-magazine.com/index.html

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Filed under Diesel-hydraulics, Heritage diesels, Scottish railways

Capuccino for Mr O’Hara?

BR Diesel Traction in Scotland, George C O’Hara

And though my roving eyes always led me astray

Well I’m coming back home, Scotia don’t walk away

Published 2010 by Clyard Novella Ltd, 16 Garryhorn, Prestwick, Ayrshire KA9 2HU, tel. 01292 479407 or available from various booksellers on the exhibition circuit.

Almost 700 pics for £25 sounds like a bit of a bargain by any yardstick, and if this sort of subject matter interests you at all, then get your paws on a copy PDQ by whatever means possible.   I’ve never once regretted the £12.50 or so that I paid for this author’s Scottish Urban and Rural Branchlines in 1986, and that now commands very healthy prices on the secondhand market. Both of them could justifiably be subtitled George’s Big Book of Scottish Layout Ideas.  Strangely the companion Scottish Region Colour Album No 1 can be found for around a tenner; evidence perhaps that its unimaginative presentation didn’t win favours, despite the content being every bit as scintillating as the other books.

The period covered by this latest production is from the late 1950s to the 1990s, although there is a definite emphasis on the 1960s ‘green’ era; all shots apart from those on the cover are B/W.  Incidentally the front cover alone could have sold it to me, with a railbus in the commodious environs of Crieff station and an all-green class 20 coming off the ‘other’ Forth Bridge at Throsk.

There are several early treasures; the interior of Leith Central DMU depot, a 20 on the Ardrossan turntable and bizarrely, one of the SR/EE 350hp shunters on trial at Aberlour in 1958.  Personal favourites include three other Crieff-related shots showing diesels on the freight workings to Perth (which actually survived the railbus run to Gleneagles), and a nice selection of GNoS and C&O content. The latter includes some rare images of a demolition train behind an NBL type 2.

Apart from the motive power, the book is packed with other interest; period rolling stock obviously features prominently, but perhaps the book’s strongest suit is in showing the vernacular infrastructure and industry which has largely now disappeared – one particular gem is a Cravens DMU passing a Kelvinside mill at Partick. There are quite a few caption inaccuracies (such as shots being dated 1965 that show blue DMUs) and whilst that’s something that would normally irritate me (in the likes of say Modern Locomotives Illustrated), in a work as  unique and valuable as this I’m more than happy to overlook them.

Even two months after originally penning these words, I can still say that this really is a book which you can keep picking up and finding something new.  And at over 300 pages, it’s heavy – it’s not so much a coffee table book as one you could make a table from.  And there’s talk of a second volume…

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Filed under Heritage diesels, Scottish railways