Steam Railway (UK) - - Reviews - BY B.W.L. BROOKSBANK AND PETER TUFFREY W: www.fonthill­me­ ISBN: 9781781555521

A var­ied and nos­tal­gic set of pho­to­graphs. A few pic­tures un­sym­pa­thet­i­cally cropped.

All the grimy at­mos­phere of Lon­don’s post-war rail­way scene is brought back to life in this al­bum of mono­chrome pic­tures, taken by re­tired Bri­tish Med­i­cal Coun­cil re­searcher and au­thor Dr Ben Brooksbank. It does a good job of cov­er­ing its vast sub­ject, if in a ‘broad brush stroke’ way; in­deed, one’s first im­pres­sion is that it’s a book of sta­tion pic­tures, for it’s not un­til page 32 that stud­ies of lo­co­mo­tives be­gin to ap­pear in any great num­bers. That’s not so much a crit­i­cism as an ob­ser­va­tion – for they doc­u­ment some lo­ca­tions well off the beaten track as well as the fa­mous ter­mini, and their in­for­ma­tive cap­tions doc­u­ment their his­tory well. The fact that the pic­tures date from the late 1940s to the mid-1960s make for a pleas­ing va­ri­ety, both in mo­tive power (from all the ‘Big Four’) and liv­er­ies; and all are of good qual­ity for the pe­riod, ob­vi­ously hav­ing been taken with a de­cent cam­era. A hand­ful have been poorly cropped, with lo­co­mo­tives’ buf­fers chopped out of the frame, though it’s not clear whether this is a fail­ing on the part of the pho­tog­ra­pher or the pub­lisher. While there’s no one thing about it that’s par­tic­u­larly out­stand­ing, it’s a good, solid record of the gen­eral rail­way scene in the cap­i­tal, and very evoca­tive of its era.

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