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Miniature Railway Publications

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Joined: October 30th, 2007, 10:37 pm

January 31st, 2008, 8:45 pm #1



Miniature Railway Publications - Past and Present

By Colin Peake


1992… The Oakwood Press publish Seaside Miniature Railways by D J Croft. At the age of 14, this was one the first miniature railway books I owned, and was perhaps a fundamental step in developing my interest in the subject. It was certainly the catalyst for the first (of many) trips to the Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway.

Back then of course I was unaware of the inaccuracies contained within the text, but it did provide one thing that proved an excellent basis for future research. A bibliography listing other miniature railway books…



Before long, I was down at the library filling out request cards for some of those titles, and to the credit of the Nottinghamshire library service, they managed to locate most of them for me to read. At around the same time some of the titles were available to buy from as remaindered books and I steadily started to build up my collection on the bookshelf. Eventually, with some secondhand purchases at model railway exhibitions I had about 90% of the books listed in that bibliography, plus a whole host of other titles.

Miniature railway books come in all shapes, sizes and formats and tend to either take a broad brush look at the subject or specialise in one particular aspect, be it a line, class of loco or loco builder. They vary from glossy volumes from major publishing houses such as Ian Allan to self-published leaflets. What amazes me, looking along my bookshelf, is the sheer variety of subjects covered over the last 50 years, but in historical terms, perhaps the surface has only been scratched, miniature railways are a complex subject of their own and as touched upon last month, a lot of events, lines and equipment have gone unrecorded.

Every enthusiast will have their favourite books, a lot of that choice will be down to their particular interests. Simon Townsend, of the Rhyl miniature railway, lists and describes his favourites on his webpages for books in print, out of print and abc’s – which is a pretty comprehensive list of publications through the years. No doubt we could all go through a similar process…



Another early purchase, which really influenced my thinking during those impressionable teenage years was John Tidmarsh's The Sutton Coldfield Fifteen Inch Gauge Railway (Plateway Press 1990) which I can actually recall buying at a model railway exhibition in Lincoln. This book certainly set the standard to follow for line histories, comprehensive text, track diagrams, a wealth of photos and line drawings of the key items of stock. As with many of my books of the period, its condition is now best described as well worn, but to me that just indicates well read. One gala weekend I must take it to Cleethorpes and ask the author to sign it, perhaps with a quick nudge to do a second, updated edition?



Another influential work, again (in my opinion) in need of an updated edition, is David Mosley and Peter van Zeller's Fifteen Inch Gauge Railways Their History, Equipment and Operation (David & Charles 1986). This book undoubtedly boosted my interest in 15" gauge railways and includes a tantalising few lines about the short lived Britannia Park railway, which proved to be a catalyst to further research and eventual publication of an article in The Narrow Gauge in 1997. The book makes you feel the real buzz that must have been around these lines in the 1980s, developments at Lightwater Valley, steam at Southport, the Liverpool Garden Festival and all sorts of new developments on the gauge after a period of consolidation.



Sorry, yet another 15" gauge subject, but Robin Butterell and John Milner's The Little Giant Story is certainly one of the cornerstones of my book collection. Certainly an expensive purchase but worth every penny in content with its drawings and historic photographs, many previously unpublished. Along with Milner's Rails Through The Sand and Smithers' Sir Arthur Heywood and the Fifteen Inch Gauge Railway, this is one of those books that took miniature railway publishing to a higher level and took the subject onto a level playing field with other railway subjects.



A staple of the railway scene for half a decade has been the publication of guides to railways and attractions. From Ian Allan's 1961 abc guides to miniature and narrow gauge lines, through the popular Railways Restored series, the most recent entrants to the scene have been Marksman Publications Little Puffers and Tiny Trains, first published in 2005 and 2007 respectively. A collection of these books over the years builds into a quick reference of lines and equipment, and it is always good to find an old book full of interesting information on a market stall or similar. Steam 80, edited by Roger Crombleholme and Terry Kirtland was a recent purchase for £1 but containing lots of useful location information.



For those wanting a more frequent fix of miniature railway information than books allow, there are several magazines covering the subject. Of the mainstream magazines available on the high street, only The Railway Magazine contains a regular column of miniature railway news, in the January, April, July and October editions. Available from some miniature lines and by direct subscription Miniature Railway magazine is the latest entrant on the scene, with a balanced content covering lines down to 5” gauge and including practical elements such as the publishers own railway adventure! For those with an interest in the smaller gauges The Narrow Gauge Railway Society publishes Narrow Gauge News bi-monthly and The Narrow Gauge 4 times a year. Miniature content is included however the editors are fully reliant on the society members to supply that content, so if you are a member please do submit news or a feature article. Available by subscription to non-members is the Heywood Journal from the Heywood Society. This twice a year thud on the doormat is a welcome dose of miniature railway news, history and photographs and comes well recommended.

Of course, the Digest can only scrape the surface of miniature railway publications over the years. Everyone will have their favourites and no two bookshelves will be exactly the same.



By Colin Peake

MRW webmaster Peter Bryant asked the other day if I’d be going through Robin’s Small World columns in order of publication. To be honest the thought had never crossed my mind, my thinking being to go back to a month that corresponded with the Digest. However, common sense has prevailed in the end, so this month we look at Robin's February 1992 writings.



After a brief mention of Robins early involvement with miniature lines at Llandudno and Bridlington, he introduced the private 7 1/4" gauge railway of Brian Rodgers, his partner in that those ventures. With an obvious love for the gauge, Robin had subsequently visited the line at Weston Park, which at the time retained much equipment from its predecessor the Hilton Valley Railway. Travelling south, he visited the Gorse Blossom railway, reporting on a new extension with "extensive earthworks and an impressive viaduct over a ravine." Nearby a visit to the 10 1/4" railway at Trago Mills missed the last train but gained access to the sheds to see a treasure trove of historic locos. Today a repeat trip would be very different, sadly despite the impressive setting Gorse Blossom closed several years ago. However the Trago Mills line has recently been extended and remodelled to run from a new terminus station.

Another interesting trip reported upon was to Higham House in Kent, one time home of Count Louis Zborowski. Finding no trace of the railway once located here Robin described research as "a fascinating but more often than not, frustrating occupation" – with which many will no doubt agree! Other visits Robin reported included Rhyl, Cleethorpes, Scarborough and Lightwater Valley. Whilst the latter location now has less to offer the enthusiast, the other three locations have recently seen big improvements and changes to what they have to offer.

Do you have a favourite miniature railway book? What makes it special to you? Miniature Railway World Forum members may respond to this Digest article. All responses will be checked by a moderator before appearing.
Miniature Railway World Digest
Edited by Colin Peake
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peterbryant
Director
Joined: August 14th, 2006, 5:59 pm

January 31st, 2008, 8:55 pm #2

Great digest Colin. I have quite a few of the books and magazines you mention, and they are very valuable to me.

The book which got me really interested was the 1998 edition of ABC MRs which I got in a WH Smith at Londons King Cross!
Since then, I've been lucky to meet with the three authors of this ABC book, and have got it signed by them, which makes it a special book for me, even if it in a very battered state now, after much use!

Thanks
Peter
Peter Bryant
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MTA
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MTA
Operations Manager
Joined: August 16th, 2006, 5:02 pm

January 31st, 2008, 8:57 pm #3

Off the top of my head I cannot recall the title, but a friend whom I am helping build a layout for has a library of books covering all aspects from Canals to Standard Gauge railways and has a small collection of miniature railway books within it. The reason I like the book (I will hopefully be able to come back with the title on Tuesday eve) is that it has pictures of the Oakhill Manor Railway, and that it has a picture my favourite miniature engine of all time taking up one page just inside the cover. 10 1/4 inch gauge Guest 'Black 5' LMS 4-6-0 No. 5156 'Ayrshire Yeomanry'. Maybe members who have this book may be able to identify it for me?
"If the fascination engendered by locomotion at the present day is so intense, the attractive powers of locomotion in miniature must of necessity be greater still"

W.J. Bassett-Lowke. August 1911
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PUASHP
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PUASHP
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Joined: December 13th, 2007, 11:28 am

January 31st, 2008, 9:47 pm #4

Dear All,

Personally I felt inspired by after seeing photos in a miniature railway book many years ago (sorry can't remember what the book was called). I remember at the time being bowled over by the size and impressive nature of the railway.

I later found out this out to be the Surrey Border and Camberley Railway and I have since purchased the book by Mitchell, Townsend and Shelmerdine that tells the story of this fascinating railway.

Highly recommended and I can't wait to see the garrett (ex SBCR 4012) running again soon at the Royal Victoria Railway (assuming it fits round the curves).

Cheers

Paul
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colinpeake
Director
Joined: August 15th, 2006, 6:15 pm

January 31st, 2008, 10:32 pm #5

MTA wrote: Off the top of my head I cannot recall the title... it has pictures of the Oakhill Manor Railway, and that it has a picture my favourite miniature engine of all time taking up one page just inside the cover. 10 1/4 inch gauge Guest 'Black 5' LMS 4-6-0 No. 5156 'Ayrshire Yeomanry'. Maybe members who have this book may be able to identify it for me?
Simon,

Sounds like Anthony Lambert's Miniature Railways Past & Present (David & Charles 1982). A great book, my copy is another favourite read. David & Charles actually produced quite a few miniature railway titles in the 1980s, and their NG titles usually cover miniature lines where appropriate.

Colin
Colin Peake
MRW Digest Editor

My blog: O9 Modeller
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craiggluyas
Director
Joined: October 5th, 2006, 7:03 pm

February 1st, 2008, 8:04 am #6

A great Digest there. I have all the books listed above, and many other excellent ones. What never seases to amaze me though is the amount of inaccuracies which slip through the net!! One example in the Survey of Seaside railways is the listing that Battersea Park Railway used Barlows from Porthcawl!!

Craig
Craig Gluyas

Talking to one's self is a sign of madness. I talk to my imaginary friend.
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porkchop
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Joined: May 9th, 2007, 2:40 pm

February 1st, 2008, 5:01 pm #7

craiggluyas wrote: What never seases to amaze me though is the amount of inaccuracies which slip through the net!!

Craig
What a wonderful line Craig, as written it must take the biscuit! Perhaps one should add and the spellchecker.

Best regards

Porkchop
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Bob
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Bob
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Joined: January 28th, 2008, 8:14 pm

February 1st, 2008, 5:10 pm #8

David Croft contacted me when he was writing Seaside Miniature Railways and I sent him a lot of stuff including several photographs. Unfortunately he still managed to get a lot of it wrong and made the classic error of just repeating mistakes made by others before him, ie Littlehampton's "re-gauged Bullock Locos".

This was a shame because he did a tremendous amount of work producing the book and it is worth having just for the photographs. I wonder if he would consider doing a second edition?

Regards,

Bob.
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P Scott
Engineer
P Scott
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Joined: November 24th, 2006, 2:07 pm

February 3rd, 2008, 6:55 pm #9

Researching the history of miniature railways is a complex subject with so many twists and turns in the story.

I find in researching my books, that old "trusted" and well documented facts quite often turn out to be way off mark.

My books usually take around 2 years to research and write [not full time!]. At the moment I have over 60 pages of draft for a 520 yard long 10.25" gauge railway - is that excessive I wonder?!

By the way, you could have mentioned "Minor Railways" in the digest. I know its not all miniature railways - but its now in its 20th year of publication.

Peter S.
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colinpeake
Director
Joined: August 15th, 2006, 6:15 pm

February 4th, 2008, 8:51 pm #10

P Scott wrote: By the way, you could have mentioned "Minor Railways" in the digest. I know its not all miniature railways - but its now in its 20th year of publication.

Peter S.
Hi Peter, thankyou for the insight into your research processes. I'm looking forward to the Paignton Zoo book, a line I remember from childhood.

Sorry Minor Railways didn't get a mention, as you can imagine I had to choose which titles to include, after I had posted the Digest I found another book on the shelf I really wish I had included!

Colin
Colin Peake
MRW Digest Editor

My blog: O9 Modeller
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