British Railway Modelling (BRM)
WEST WALES RAILWAYS WHITLAND TO PEMBROKE DOCK, by John Hodge. Pen and Sword. PRICE: £25.00
As usual, there are several new books from Pen and Sword this month (there is no more prolific a publisher), including a wonderful volume on world bridges, a study of York as a railway centre, Railways in The Black Country and the one I’m reviewing this time – the ex-GWR railway from Whitland to Pembroke Dock.
This is (I assume) the penultimate volume of this highly-regarded series by the author – the third published by
Pen and Sword. Prior to that, the works were from Wild Swan. The books started from the ‘Welsh’ end of the Severn Tunnel, then followed the main line westwards, finally (in the next book) through to the ends of the main line in West Wales. This latest work follows the now-familiar format of mainly-pictorial presentation (with accurate and informative captions), illustrating the stations and principal features along the line described, including Whitland, Whiland engine shed, Narbeth, Templeton, Kilgetty, Saundersfoot, Tenby, Penally, Lydstep Halt, Manorbier, Beavers Hill Halt, Lamphey, Pembroke and Pembroke Dock. Most of the photographs are in monochrome, mainly showing the route in BR, WR steam days. The colour images show the line (in the main) in more-recent times. The majority, apart from the weird colour cast on page 82, has reproduced very well. In my view, the line would make an excellent subject for a model railway. It’s mainly single track, but a main line to boot, with even a named train – ‘The Pembroke Coast Express’. One of the photographers has captured this train on the same day in 1963 at different locations, which suggests a fast car and/or a slow train! Motive power is mainly light-weight – a ‘Manor’ being the largest, until a ‘King’ appears in preservation days – someone must have recalculated the weight restrictions in more-recent times. As I’ve alluded to, anyone contemplating building a model of any part of the route described will find this work invaluable. In fact, modellers everywhere will find it of great use. As always with works of this type, I’m always aware of a sense of great loss – a loss of interesting infrastructure, mechanical signalling and more-complex trackwork. Regarding the last-mentioned, there’s just one single road now at Pembroke Dock Station. Fortunately, the splendid station building survives, in use as a pub. For those averse to making working semaphore signals, there’s a lovely ‘painted-on-a-board’ distant on page 127. Well worth acquiring and exceptional value for money.