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Books Wh - Z

by C.S. Thomas
A narrow gauge steam locomotive with its train moves slowly along, passengers look out from open-sided coaches across grasslands populated by axis deer and nilgai. To one side is a water hole where several barasingha are cooling off in the summer heat, to the other side a group of blackbuck glance up before moving on their way. This must be somewhere in Asia, India perhaps? Not at all, this is the Great Whipsnade Railway at Whipsnade Wild Animal Park. Up until now the line has been virtually ignored by writers and historians, it can hardly be said to have remained undiscovered all this time, passenger figures of 100,000 a year or thereabouts testify to the popularity of this railway which offers something probably unique with its historic narrow gauge equipment and a journey shared for almost its full length with wild animals from across the world. A5 format, 144 pages of text, which includes a map of the system and two trackplans. Also included are plans of the locomotives Chevallier, Excelsior, Conqueror and Superior. There are 64 photographs reproduced on 32 pages of art paper, with a full colour card cover.

ISBN 0 85361 478 4
ISBN 978 0 85361 478 4

£ 9.95

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by L. J. Dalby
The Wilts & Berks Canal linked Abingdon on the River Thames to Semington on the Kennet  & Avon Canal and as such provided a useful link from Oxford and the South Midlands to Bristol  and Somerset. There were branches off the main route of the canal which gave access to Calne and also Chippenham. The North Wilts branch of the canal linked it with the Thames & Severn Canal near Cricklade. This book was first published in 1971, and a revised edition became available in 1986. The late Jack Dalby has been acknowledged as the authority on this subject and in the long years since his book was last available the interest in this canal has grown dramatically due to the work of the Wilts & Berks Canal Amenity Group.

Since the last edition of book was published, a dramatic change of policy by the Amenity Group has had a profound effect on the fortunes of the canal.

From just trying to preserve what remained of the old canal, the group decided that full restoration, using as much of the old line and infrastructure as possible was practical. They had no doubt of the magnitude of the task before them, but were confident that a restored Wilts & Berks Canal was essential to the Wessex Waterway Network, forming, as it does, the central section. In the succeeding years nearly 10 per cent of the canal, at several different sites has been restored and a number of structures have been either restored or rebuilt. Doug Small of the Canal Amenity Group has written a new chapter, ‘Into the 21st Century’, which brings the story of the restoration up to date.

The book is to A5 format and consists of 144 pages and is published on art paper throughout, the photographic content has been expanded and now includes more than 40 pictures along with numerous maps. A pull-out map 200mm x 600mm of the route is also included. The book has a full colour laminated card with a square-backed spine.


ISBN 0 85361 562 4
ISBN 978 0 85361 562 0

£ 8.95

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WINDSOR TO SLOUGH: A Royal Branch Line
by C.R. Potts
Windsor to Slough a mere 2¾ miles long but what a history this short line has! After the branch was built it was used regularly by Queen Victoria. When she died her body was taken by train to Windsor for burial a tradition since followed three times up to 1952. Naturally the royal use of the line is comprehensively covered, and an appendix lists all royal trains used by the monarch on the line which an intensive search of archives has produced. We are fortunate in that two of Windsor’s station masters left detailed diaries which the author has drawn on to give a unique picture of the line. Within the 288 pages of art paper, there are 98 photographs, 20 maps, plans, documents and timetables. There is also large fold-out map which shows a survey of the line in 1880 when the route was still broad gauge. The book is to A5 format and has printed endpapers. Casebound with an attractive gold laminated and full-colour jacket.
‘an excellent book, well printed and laid out . . . thoroughly recommended’

ISBN 0 85361 442 3
ISBN 978 0 85361 442 5

£ 18.50

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by R. W. Miller
The longest and most individual of several short branch lines operated by the Cheshire Lines Committee was that from Cuddington to Winsford and Over, slightly more than six miles in length.  Opened in 1870 it enjoyed a distinctly chequered career.  Passengers were originally considered a nuisance as they interfered with the real purpose of the line, to serve the numerous salt works on the west bank of the River Weaver.  Twice the branch was closed to passengers but services were  reinstated after a few years, the second time only after the CLC had been taken to the Royal Courts of Justice.  The third and final withdrawal occurred in 1931 and again the CLC was taken to court, but this time it won its case and the branch reverted to goods traffic only until complete closure in 1967.  Most of the route was single line but at one time the final mile into Winsford was double track with the curiosity that all passenger trains used only the up line.  
Today, much of the trackbed has been purchased by the County Council and converted into a public footpath and bridleway, with a visitor centre established at the one intermediate station at Whitegate.  A5 format, 108 pages, 89 photos, maps, plans.

ISBN 0 85361 546 2
ISBN 978 0 85361 546 0


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by Howard Sprenger

Desperate to reach Manchester, but thwarted by political wrangling with the London & North Western Railway north of Ambergate, the Midland Railway opened its branch to Wirksworth in October 1867, with the intention of extending to Rowsley and beyond, if necessary. The extension, however, was never needed, and although the line struggled to justify its existence in terms of passenger numbers, the amount of milk and limestone that was transported was enough to warrant the building of the line on its own.

Passenger services ceased in 1947, and the milk traffic declined from this time too, but stone trains continued to run until 1989, when production at the quarries stopped. Throughout all this, the line was a natural testing ground for new stock built at. Derby, and was also used to test locomotives that had undergone overhaul at the works. Additionally, if a quiet place was needed for an official photograph, the branch was one of the first places people thought of. The result
was an amazing variety of rolling stock seen over the years, from MR steam railmotors, to main line locomotives, dmus and even the Midland Pullman.
What was conceived as part of a major trunk route from London to Scotland looked set to end its days as little more than a long, picturesque siding, until in the mid-1990s, a determined bunch of local businessmen formed Wyvern Rail Ltd to return a passenger service to the valley using dmus to provide a commuter service during the week, but with steam trains providing a tourist attraction at weekends. The beginning of this new chapter in the line's history coincides with the publication of this book in September 2004, when the first passenger trains for nearly 60 years departs from the station at Wirksworth.

A5 format, with a square-backed spine, the book consists of 216 pages which include 200 illustrations and it is printed on art paper throughout.

ISBN 0 85361 625 6
ISBN 978 0 85361 625 2

£ 14.95

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by Stanley C. Jenkins & John M. Strange
The Wrexham & Ellesmere line was opened in 1895 and was worked by the Cambrian Railways and, for a few years at least, this single track branch formed part of a tenuous cross country link between Manchester and Liverpool and the districts served by the Cambrian system. The 1922-1923 Grouping ensured that the line passed into Great Western hands and it treated the route as an ordinary country branch line, and in the 1920s and 1930s this 12 mile single track route would have been very similar to scores of other rural lines.

In World War II the route carried extra traffic to and from a large ordnance factory that had been established at Marchwiel, and in post-war years the site of this factory became an industrial estate that continued to provide freight traffic for the railway. Sadly, the Wrexham & Ellesmere line did not survive the anti-railway purges of the 1960s, and its passenger services were withdrawn in 1962. Freight traffic continued to operate over the northern end of the line until the 1980s.

There has not, hitherto, been a history of the line, and very few articles have been written; neither has the route received much attention from casual photographers. This present volume therefore fills a small but significant gap in the railway history of the Welsh border region.

A5 format, 144 pages, with more than 120 photos, maps, etc. It has a full colour laminated cover with a square-backed spine.


ISBN 0 85361 617 5
ISBN 978 0 85361 617 7

£ 10.95

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by J.I.C. Boyd
416 pages of text, A5 format made up of 352 text pages and 64 pages of 120 photos, printed on quality art paper. 80 specially prepared maps. Colour page of original tickets. Pull-out large map. Printed end-papers. Full working timetable included plus engineering drawings, ephemera. Casebound, gold blocked with two-colour glossy jacket.

‘a lavish provision of maps supplement the text . . .
This is a major work showing new light on an interesting railway’


ISBN 0 85361 417 2
ISBN 978 0 85361 417 3

£ 25.00

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Colin G. Maggs


The Wrington Vale lies approximately midway between Bristol and Weston-super-Mare, snuggling under the north-western slopes of the Mendip Hills. The railway was built and operated by the Great Western Railway and opened in 1901.

For reasons of economy the Wrington Vale line was one of the first in southern England to see steam railmotor services. The Great Western made another ambitious attempt to improve economy when it built a pioneering oil-burning 0-4-0T for the line. Due to technical problems No. 101 never left the vicinity of the GWR's Swindon Works. )

The railway was to carry passengers for 30 years with freight on part of the line continuing for another 30 years. The author is well-known for his railway histories in and around Bristol and South-West England. As well as appealing to local and railway historians, this book will hold great appeal to railway modellers as it depicts a simple line with interesting features.

A5 format, 120 pages, 130 illustrations, including plans of the station buildings, maps, documents etc. It is printed on art paper with a square-backed perfect-bound full colour card cover.

ISBN 0 85361 620 5
ISBN 978 0 85361 620 7

£ 8.95

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THE WYE VALLEY RAILWAY and the Coleford Branch
by B. M. Handley & R. Dingwall                           Reprinted 2012

The Wye Valley Railway linked Monmouth with Chepstow, and ran through the idyllic countryside along the Monmouthshire and Gloucestershire border. It is an area rich in industrial archeology. The coming of the railway vastly increased the popularity of the region with day trippers, giving much easier access for those who came to appreciate this area of outstanding natural beauty. The most popular trains during the line's history were those organised as special excursions to see Tintern Abbey on the night of the harvest moon. Each September crowds of between 1,000 and 1,300 people came by train from Gloucester, Cheltenham, Newport and Cardiff to glimpse the full moon shining through the abbey's rose window. In the 1950s the quiet routine of the railway was interrupted by the rare excitement of a twice-yearly double-headed, seven-coach excursion from London. This certainly enlivened the serenity of a peaceful Monmouth Sunday afternoon.

The Source
Communication Cords
Promotion and Construction
Struggle and .Takeover
Decline and Closure
Signalling, Stations and Halts
Motive Power
The Wireworks Branch (Tintern Railway)
The Coleford Branch
The Monmouth Tramroad
Coleford, Monmouth, Usk & Pontypool
Ross and Monmouth Railway
Acknowledgements and Bibliography
Sources and Bibliography

Oakwood Press first published a history of the line in 1982. A second enlarged edition was published in 1998 and this saw the addition of a series of fond memories and reminiscences of a number of people which captured the atmosphere of this delightful country railway backwater. The Wye Valley Railway and the Coleford Branch has been expanded, enlarged and updated once again for this, the third, edition with more reminiscences and the inclusion of some interesting new photographs that have come to light.

Passsenger trains on the Coleford branch, which fed into the Wye Valley Railway were short-lived, but part of this branch managed to survive into the diesel era. The story of this line, and its forerunner, the Monmouth Tramroad are also included, as well as that of the short branch across the river at Tintern for the Wireworks traffic.

A5 format, the book has a full colour glossy jacket. 220 photographs, maps and plans illustrate the 176 pages.

ISBN 978 0 85361 665 8


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by Colin G. Maggs
This Midland Railway branch was originally built to serve iron ore workings and also provide a passenger service. While the line's passenger trains have long since gone, the branch still provides a link to Tytherington Quarry for stone traffic to this day. Read the line's story up until closure in 1966. In its last few years it became very busy with 'Presflo' trains in connection with building the M5 motorway, then discover the branch's renaissance with new investment and re-opening in 1972 to Tytherington.

The author is well-known for his railway histories in and around the Bristol area and South-West England. Colin Maggs' put his local knowledge to good use to add colour, with stories of life on the railway from some of the line's railway staff.

The book is to A5 format, 144 pages, 180 illustrations, including plans of the station buildings at Yate, Iron Acton, Tytherington and Thornbury, maps, documents etc. It is printed on art paper with a square backed-backed perfect-bound full colour card cover.

ISBN 0 85361 585 3
ISBN 978 0 85361 585 9

£ 10.95

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YESTERDAYS PAPERS: Life in Victorian England: From the pages of the Isle of Wight County Press
by Alan Stroud

This book is not an academic work. It is not a history lesson or a sociology lecture. If it has any intention at all, it is simply to prove amusing and diverting for a short while without reaching any serious conclusions but if it helps show the Victorians in a new light and challenges a few modern stereotypes, then that will be a bonus.

Other than that, it is not meant to have any serious intent or any particular educational merit; it is simply a collection of articles drawn from the Victorian editions of the Isle of Wight County Press that seemed too good to stay hidden away in the archives; no more, no less.

The articles have been chosen for a variety of reasons, the majority of them  purely and simply for their historical interest. Others were selected because they were amusing and a few were chosen because they were horrifying; on some occasions they manage to be both at the same time. Finally, some deserved inclusion just for being plain quirky or curious, or for showing the Victorians in an unexpected light.

The one thing that they all have in common is that they open a contemporary window onto a way of life that has all but gone in just three or four generations.

They are first hand accounts of the day to day life of Victorians, written with surprisingly few inhibitions and often in the smallest and most revealing detail, a form of history not found in textbooks. This is the Victorians writing about themselves, and quite intimately on occasions. They wrote uncluttered by modern attitudes and opinions and with no other agenda than to provide a straightforward account of the week’s news. The columns of the County Press are pure and undiluted history, untainted by the stereotypes and reputations the period has since been branded with.

A5 format, 176 pages, 47 illustrations.

ISBN 978 0 85361 671 9

£ 11.95

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YESTERDAYS PAPERS - Vol 2: Life in Edwardian England 1901 - 1918:  From the pages of the Isle of Wight County Press
by Alan Stroud

The County Press archive is and always will be one of the best sources of Island history. It is only newspapers that can afford the luxury of reporting life in all its day-to-day detail and the back issues of the County Press are full of the facts, events and miscellany of everyday life that goes unrecorded elsewhere. Happily, every single edition of the County Press still exists today in a collection of bound volumes held in the County Press offices. They contain over 120 years of social history recorded in minute detail and they have also been preserved forever on a more accessible microfilm archive.

Like the previous volume this book dips into that archive, this time to present a selection of cuttings from 1901 to 1918 that give a flavour of life on the Island during those eventful years.

By their very nature all the items have historical interest. Some of them are amusing while some of them are not so amusing; on occasions they have a foot in both camps at the same time.

They are first hand accounts of life in the first two decades of the 20th century, often in the smallest and most revealing detail. The articles were only ever intended to have a life of seven days but with the passing of time they have taken on a new life and become an important resource for historians. Quite simply, they are one of the best forms of local history, easily outperforming shelves of conventional history books.

The items are all introduced by some background information which will hopefully help put them in historical context but ultimately they stand or fall on their own merit.

The County Press reporters wrote with only one agenda and that was to provide a straightforward account of the week’s news, plain and simple. They did so with surprisingly few inhibitions, and no politics or campaigning were ever allowed to intrude into the local news reports.

The columns of the County Press are pure and undiluted history in every sense; Island news, told every seven days, as it happened.

Some readers may well have grandparents who grew up during these years. Perhaps these accounts will shed some light on their upbringing.

A5 format, 208 pages, 37 illustrations.


ISBN 978 0 85361 684 9

£ 12.95

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YESTERDAYS PAPERS - Vol 3:   Life in England between the wars 1918 - 1938 From the pages of the Isle of Wight County Press
by Alan Stroud

The County Press has been reporting the highs and lows of Island life for nearly 125 years and during that time well over 6,000 weekly editions have been produced. Happily, a copy of every  issue has been preserved for posterity and now sit, bound in large volumes, in a strong room in the County Press offices, available today through the more accessible means of microfilm.

The archive is a vast and largely unmined repository of stories and reports of every aspect of Island life recorded with a thoroughness that only local newspapers can afford. It is a fascinating assortment of minutiae that conventional history sources cannot begin to compare with and is probably unmatched as a local history source.

Like the previous volumes in this series this is a dip into that archive, this time for the years 1918 to 1934, to give a view of events and attitudes of those times from a contemporary perspective – an unvarnished version of the truth free from modern day judgements.

It would be unrealistic to suggest that a small book of brief extracts can give a definitive account of how life was all those years ago. To fit 16 years of history into just over 200 pages and provide a rounded portrait of such a large period is a tall order but hopefully this selection has captured some of the flavour of everyday life in the 1920s and 1930s.

While the owners of some provincial newspapers  regarded their publications as a personal mouthpiece, the brief for the County Press was only ever to provide an impartial account of Island news every seven days. If they ever did have any thoughts on the stories they reported, they kept them firmly to themselves and virtually nowhere in the local news pages do politics or opinions ever intrude. Only in the reporting of national events did the County Press allow itself the privilege of speaking its mind.

Without exception the articles are well written and easily stand the test of time. They are written in a confident and commanding style not unlike today’s broadsheets and as for being well-informed, they have the matchless virtue of being a contemporary voice, a series of eye-witness accounts written by those who actually lived through the period in question. As the years have passed, what was only ever intended to have a life of seven days has been transformed into an important body of work for local historians.

Hopefully some readers will be lucky enough to find accounts of their relatives in these pages and will learn a little more about where they themselves have come from.

A5 format, 224 pages, 63 illustrations.


ISBN 978 0 85361 693 1

£ 13.95

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Volume 22 - Midland & South Western Junction Railway  (£6)
Andoversford to Red Post Junction (Andover) and the Tidworth Branch
ISBN 1-904318-01-0

Volume 24 - SR Lines in West Sussex  (£7)
Chichester (Excl). to Shoreham Junction (Excl): Littlehampton and Bognor Lines: Christ's Hospital to Arundel Junction: Hardham Jcn - Midhurst - Lavant: Christ's Hospital to Peasmarsh Junction (Excl).
ISBN 1-904318-04-5

Volume 25 - GWR: The Swindon Area (£7)
Didcot (Foxhall Jcn.) to Swindon West, Stonehouse to Swindon, Cirencester Branch, Faringdon Branch, Highworth Branch.
ISBN 1-904318-05-3

Volume 26 - SR Lines Reading, Staines and Windsor  (£7.50)
Reading to South Wokingham, Wokingham to Staines, Ash Vale to Ascot, Addlestone Junction to Virginia Water, Windsor Branch.
ISBN 1-904318-06-1