29th April 2011
It’s that time of year when thoughts turn to holidays, then what to take to read on them. Whilst always trying to ‘switch off’, inevitable the suitcase contains a few steam or transport works. A number of us were recently discussing this when the idea of a ‘Top 10’ came about, so for what it is worth, here is mine, though I have restricted myself to volumes of mainly text rather than some of the superb picture albums around (maybe that is a separate Top 10!)…
Below: This book is of great value not just because of the historical development outlined, but the fascinating section that describes the everyday life of steam roller drivers and those who worked on road maintenance. Some great photos too and a real ‘dip into’ book is the result.
Below: Really this book represents all of Tom Rolt’s books – the Landscape Trilogy and the Victorian Engineers titles are equally interesting. I would also use this to refer to a book titled ‘The Railway Navvies’ on a similar theme and of equal fascination.
Below: The trials and tribulations of running the ‘big’ railway – totally absorbing and what shines through on every page is the professionalism of railwaymen in running the railways and just how hard some worked to make the modernisation plan work, however flawed some of the roots underlying it.
Below: Not just a great read, but so beautifully written! Bennett describes a World far removed from our own, but anyone who likes to create interesting engines from bits of others (like our Steam Mule!) will find this fascinating as well as totally beguiling in it’s style.
Below: The classic, and for good reason! Again a book that takes a momentous period of a railway’s history and combines it with considered and artful writing qualities – need I add any more, this is the one book all enthusiasts should have!
Below: Another absolute classic, a must have and a book that inspires hard work and energy! This outlines the development of Bressingham as a nursery as well as the collection of engines and what comes across is that Alan Bloom achieved what he did through sheer hard effort. Yet another book that makes best use of the language and one that has inspired me to begin ‘Steam Engines at Beamish’ for possible future publication…
Below: A contemporary volume, the Londonderry Railway really did start with nothing, not event a decent set of tools, yet under Hardy’s guidance it came to be able to build its own locomotives in a very short time. Totally absorbing and inspirational of what hard work can accomplish.
Below: Maybe a rather left-field subject, but wonderfully dealt with and the inspiration of this September’s Power from the Past theme. Comprehensive but readable and full of wonderful photographs. See also this author’s latest book ‘North Pier by Tram’ published by ‘Train Crazy’.
Below: A well thumbed book, this one really does explain things in a way which is readily understood – one I am sure many of us refer to more often than we would care to admit!
Below: Finally, a mega five volume series, surely the most comprehensive on any transport undertaking. Amazingly comprehensive, with endless interesting avenues explored. Great writing, stunning images and printed to the highest standards – the only downside is that all five volumes would probably equal the baggage allowance on a flight!
Note – many of the above are out of print nowadays, but Amazon and other sites do frequently list them on the second hand market, so if you want something interesting to pass the hours by the pool, you should be able to obtain copies fairly easily and at modest cost.