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Re: New Books

PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2018 9:47 am
by RichardHC
Just come across this which was published earlier in August.

Barry: It's Port and Railway before and after Woodham's Scrapyard by John Hodge, hardback, 200 pages, 279 x 216mm, Pen & Sword Transport (Publishers), ISBN 978 1 52672 383 3. £30.00

The publishers blurb says:

Many railway historians and enthusiasts only know about the railways in the Barry area, because of Woodham Brothers scrap yard, where so many locomotives were rescued for preservation. However, there is a wider story to be told of the development and history of the railway and docks and John Hodge, the author of this detailed and informative volume, provides accounts of the various aspects of railway and dock activity over the years with details and photographs of the several industries involved. The Barry story is far more than the location of a once-famous scrapyard which, by the end of the 1960s, held over two hundred condemned locomotives. This book covers the history of the railway and docks at this fascinating town, from the construction and opening of the Barry Railway and Dock in 1888/9, through to the demise of its principal traffic, coal, in the early 1970s, and on to the present day.

Re: New Books

PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2018 8:04 am
by RichardHC
The Shropshire Union Canal - from the Mersey to the Midlands and Wales - Peter Brown, hardback, 288 pages, 250 x 193mm, 110 illustrations, 19 maps, Published by the Railway & Canal Historical Society, 2018, ISBN 978 0 901461 66 7, Special price of £30 until 31st October, thereafter it will be £35.00.

Not a railway book as such but the Shropshire Union Railways and Canal Company (to give it it's full name) was eventually a subsidiary company of the LNWR and the LMS after the Grouping.

The publisher's description is as follows:
The Shropshire Union was created in the 1840s by the amalgamation of the Ellesmere & Chester, Birmingham & Liverpool Junction, Montgomeryshire and Shrewsbury Canals to form a network some 200 miles in length.
The main line went from the north-western edge of Wolverhampton, through Market Drayton, Nantwich and Chester to the Mersey at Ellesmere Port, together with a branch to Middlewich. The long ‘Welsh Branch’ ran from near Nantwich via Whitchurch, Ellesmere, Llanymynech and Welshpool to Newtown, together with a branch to Pontcysyllte and Llangollen. A further branch served Newport, Wellington and Shrewsbury. The intention when the companies merged was to convert many of their canals into railways and to build further railways. In the event, only one railway was built, from Stafford to Shrewsbury. Not long after the merger, the Shropshire Union was leased to the mighty London & North Western Railway.
This book relates the history of the constituent companies all of which were originally formed in six decades from 1770, comparing their policies and progress. It follows the Shropshire Union under railway control, examines the reasons for the decline and closures, then brings the story up to date with nationalisation, revival and restorations. To keep the length of the book manageable, Ellesmere Port, Liverpool docks and the cross-Mersey trade are considered only to the extent that they relate to the canal network.
The emphasis is on the canals as businesses and as part of local history, the economic and social aspects being stressed. As far as possible, the reasons why decisions were made is explained. The final chapter discusses the changing role of the canals and considers the lessons to be learnt from the various restoration schemes.

To order see the publisher's website contact your local bookseller

Re: New Books

PostPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2018 11:29 am
by wokmad
Something a bit different is Policing South Wales Docks: An Illustrated History, by Viv Head, Amberley 2018, £14.99. From the blurb:

"Alongside the emergence of the railways in the nineteenth century came a huge expansion of docks and shipping. Worldwide demand for Welsh steam coal also saw a population explosion in the towns of Newport, Cardiff, Penarth, Barry and Swansea. Foreign seamen, ship owners, opportunists, thieves and vagabonds all came in search of a share in the new prosperity. It resulted in hard-living overcrowded communities where drunkenness, prostitution, thieving, violence and murder flourished. Embryo Borough police forces were stretched to the limit and beyond to deal with it.
Each of these coal ports formed their own police forces to deal with the mayhem. Like needed to be met with like; it was not a job for the fainthearted. The Bute Dock Police went out on patrol armed with cutlasses; and two of its officers drowned on duty on separate occasions, one in particularly suspicious circumstances. Strikes, two world wars, organised crime and drugs were all part of the story. In 1923, the railway amalgamations meant that for the next twenty-five years it was the GWR Police who kept a grip on the docks, followed, in 1948, by the British Transport Police – the first national police force in Britain.
Following privatisation, the police were withdrawn from the docks in 1985. And so it was that after 125 years of continuous police service, the last dock copper took off his helmet, locked the police station door and went on his way. This book tells the story of the dock police in South Wales."

No sources are cited and there is no index, but there are some interesting old photos. A possible stocking filler.

Robin Simmonds

Re: New Books

PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2018 2:43 pm
by wokmad
RE-SHAPING RAIL IN SOUTH WALES: The railways of Briton Ferry and district – past, present and future, by Philip Adams and Martin Davies, Briton Ferry Books 2018. £25.00.
From the website: "Profusely illustrated with colour and black-and-white photos, maps and diagrams, the book touches on most topics. The bonding agent between them, which makes the book somewhat singular, is the people of Neath-Port Talbot and their social experiences of the area’s railways. The book covers three historical periods:
1. From the inception of the railways until the mid-twentieth century.
2. The mid-twentieth century from 1955 to 1975
3. The final decades of the twentieth century to the present day and the prospects for the future.
No reader should fail to consider the issues raised about future transport needs and how integrated transport systems, with heavy railways as their core, can contribute to the redevelopment and prosperity of regions such as Swansea Bay."
Appears to be a well-illustrated and comprehensive 288 page account of the railways in the somewhat broadly defined Briton Ferry area. The book has 8 appendices, an extensive bibliography, but no index. Two errors were noted on a quick flick through, p.274 the SWMR was not authorised as a standard gauge railway, and the PTR did not "start operating" in 1907.
Robin Simmonds

Re: New Books

PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2018 3:57 pm
by RichardHC
The full order details for the above book are:

Re-shaping Rail in South Wales – The railways of Briton Ferry: past, present & future by Philip Adams & Martin Davies, softback, A4, 288 pages, colour & b/w illustrations, Briton Ferry Books, 144 Corve Street, Ludlow, SY8 2PG, ISBN 978 0 9930671 4 3, £25.00 plus £3.50 p&p (order on-line from or by post).

For those who live locally and who want to save postage copies are available from:
Mike’s Newsagents, 173–175 Neath Road, Briton Ferry, SA11 2BX

Re: New Books

PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2018 5:30 pm
by dwrathan
Gazetteer of the Mines of South Wales. R A Cooke. Lightmoor Press.

When I ordered this book I had no idea what to expect. I was not disappointed. It is the result of a huge amount of research. We have about 240 photographs of mines arranged alphabetically (none of them taken underground), and 21 fine maps. In addition there is a CD of further information. For me the book is a supplement to Tony Cooke's series of GWR/WR layouts and his wonderful GWR atlas which, used in conjunction with the Scottish National Library's on-line OS maps, paint a wonderful picture of the coalfield during the reign of King Coal.
Whether you want this book or not depends on your approach to the railways of Wales, but if like me you are fascinated by the pre-Beeching railways of Wales and the communities they served you will have hours of pleasure just dipping into it. My one small complaint is the title of the book. Surely no-one still believes that Monmouthshire is not in Wales.
The book is published in Lydney and it would be good if a similar (but smaller) book could be produced about the Forest of Dean coalfield.


Re: New Books

PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2018 6:26 pm
by dwrathan
Since I sent my previous note it has occurred to me that such a book may be available. If anyone knows of one please leave a note.
I have found this map on the web:, which has all the coal and iron mines in the Forest of Dean circa 1889 as well as the railways and tramroads.


Re: New Books

PostPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2019 10:17 am
by RichardHC
I have just come across two recently published books that may be of interest to WRRC members. The descriptions have been provided by the publishers.

The Croesor Tramway – A History of the Tramways and Quarries of Cwm Croesor, Dave Southern and Adrian Barrell, Card covers, 120 pages, 297 x 210mm, Welsh Highland Railway Heritage Group, ISBN 978 0 9930821 6 0, £18.00

In the nineteenth century the slate quarries of Gwynedd in North Wales not only constituted the most important industry of the region, making a dramatic contribution to both the economy of North West Wales and its landscape, but they also supplied the bulk of the world’s roofing slate and architectural slate slabs.

This is the story of the Croesor Tramway and the slate quarries of the remote Croesor valley, that supplied some of that slate. The tramway, was conceived as a direct connection to the harbour at Porthmadog for its quarry customers. Unlike the pioneering Festiniog Railway, its close contemporary and neighbour, the tramway was horse worked throughout its life.
Built to the order of Hugh Beaver Roberts a successful solicitor and business man, from Bangor, no parliamentary powers were needed to build the tramway, as Roberts owned much of the land. Over four miles long and including two steep cable worked inclines it opened in 1864 to goods and mineral traffic and continued to carry slate along the valley until 1944, when the last wagons were sent down the Rhosydd incline. In the early 1920s, the lower part of the tramway became part of the now re-opened Welsh Highland Railway.

Based on significant original research, the building, operation and the route are described as well as the key personalities involved such as Hugh Beaver Roberts, Charles Spooner and Moses Kellow, the entrepreneurial Croesor quarry manager. The book includes interviews with some of the people who latterly worked on the tramway and inclines.
Significant parts of the tramway and the above ground parts of some of the quarries are still accessible to the well-equipped and sure footed walker. This book will therefore be of interest both to casual readers of social and industrial history as well as those wanting more detailed information on what can still be seen in the Croesor valley.

The book comprises 120 pages of text and is well illustrated with maps and photographs in colour and black and white including several published for the first time.

The Transformation of the Western Region, 2010 – 2018, London to Cardiff and Associated Projects, Paul Stanford, Card covers, 128 pages, 238 x 172mm, Silver Link Publishing, ISBN 978 1 85794 544 7, £20.00

This book illustrates the work of Network Rail over the past eight years to transform the Western Region from a diesel-only railway, with track layouts from the 1960s and '70s, to a modern electrified railway on the core Paddington to Cardiff and Newbury section, with enhanced capability, new signalling systems, and widespread equipment renewal, including the new station and flyovers at Reading. Using never before published photographs of the upgrade and renewal work both under way and completed, it gives an insight into the work involved. The book does not just encompass the core section of upgrade work, but also extends into Wales, Devon and Cornwall, emphasising the widespread nature of the work. Lavishly illustrated, it also includes track diagrams of new layouts, the campaign diagrams utilised during the big blockade works, and tables showing key stages of the works and milestones attained.

Re: New Books

PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2019 1:46 pm
by RichardHC
Another new book recently published. Although not about railways specifically WRRC members will find it of interest.

Newport Transporter Bridge and Industry Along the River, Jan Preece, Card covers, 96 pages, 234 x 165mm, b/w illustrations, Amberley Publishing, ISBN 978 1 4456 7785 9, £14.99

The Newport Transporter Bridge was built to meet the needs of Industry which had grown to include the east bank of the Usk. Here, Jan Preece illustrates the history of this iconic local landmark from conception to the present day, looking at its unusual design, with only four five others like it in the world, and the impact it had on industry in the area. The stretch of the River Usk close to the bridge has its own rich industrial heritage, from cottage industries of tin makers to shipping and the railways. With a wealth of rare and previously unpublished images, Jan Preece tells these two interconnected stories that form crucial parts of Newport's history.