BRC Website Home
Quainton Virtual Stockbook
Quainton News Archive - Quainton News No. 63 - Summer 1987
Sales Talk [Note 1]
GREAT CENTRAL TWILIGHT
I approached the review of this new book with some trepidation, as the days of the album format in railway publishing are surely drawing to a close. It was thus pleasantly agreeable to find Colin Walker's second work on the Great Central route rich in some splendidly evocative material. Subtitled Memories of a lost main line to London, it is just that - one man's photographic diary of a main line no longer with us.
The book takes up the story in 1957, the last year of A3 Pacific-hauled expresses - and chronicles the final phase of the line's existence, as well as the farewell specials and demolition. Mr. Walker was based in Leicester and the book reflects this - but, while it is a pity that more coverage is not given to areas further north or south, he has used his local knowledge to its fullest extent to produce some remarkable urban and rural landscapes.
The photographs I found most interesting were those of the loco crews, many of whom the author knew well, and the bad weather scenes. Of the latter, two views of Whetstone in winter's clutches will make the reader shiver on the warmest of summer days. One depicts Standard 5 4-6-0 No. 73000 on a local train in the snow, but the study of a 9F 2-10-0 thundering through the freezing fog with an express freight is a masterpiece. However, do not let me mislead anybody into thinking this is a book of arty photographs. It is a true record of the GC's last ten years and the fact is that railways, unlike roads, can operate in such conditions in complete safety and Colin Walker was there to record it on the GC.
Great Central Twilight covers all the main locomotive landmarks, both good and bad - and we see clean A3s on the South Yorkshireman, the BR 9Fs which brought such welcome speed to the freight services and, inevitably , the infamous Annesley Scots. Once proud machines, they were so run down by the time they got to the GC as to be almost an insult to the men who had to work them. One of these engines shed its valve gear near Quainton Road, immobilising itself so effectively that its train had to be removed and towed wrong line back to Aylesbury to continue the journey via Princes Risborough and Grendon Junction.
Of other, happier, local interest is a photo of Castle 4-6-0 No. 7029 Clun Castle coming off the Oxford - Bletchley line at Calvert with an enthusiasts special, a B1 at Aylesbury on a train of Gresley stock and a shot of our own Met No. 1 in the down yard.
Great Central Twilight is thoroughly recommended. I for one hope stocks are still available at Christmas! Dear Santa .. .
LATEST ITEMS IN THE JUNCTION RAILWAY SHOP
New items this season are our own breed of Teddy Bears. These delightful cuddly toys stand 12 inches high and come in a variety of colours - and each has its own bib carrying our logo. Costing only £3.95 each, these are high quality soft toys, conforming to British Standards.
On the non-furry side , we now have a new car sticker of Met No. 1 and also an enamel badge depicting the same locomotive.
Recent books include titles on the Somerset and Dorset Railway, Crewe Works, the LMS and the LNWR from OPC and, from David and Charles, reprints of the 1930s GWR Books for Boys of all ages.
For Thomas fans, we have numerous new items, including a new series of postcards and a money box that sorts and stacks your cash for you. Finally, competing with Thomas are a new series of Sammy the Shunter books.
GREAT CENTRAL MEMORIES
John M C Healy
To me, followers of the Great Central Railway always seem to have been ignored by railway authors - apart from the well known Dow trilogy and Colin Walker's Main Line Lament, good quality readable books about the GC have been few and far between. In the last year or so, a number of new works have appeared on the scene, but after reading them I have not really been very impressed - so it was with mixed feelings that I picked up a copy of Great Central Memories. My fears soon disappeared, however.
Mr. Healy is the museum curator and line historian at the Great Central Railway, Loughborough, and is, therefore, excellently qualified to write the book. The publishers were responsible for Metro Memories, The Final Link, etc. (whose format I feel takes a lot of beating) and this book continues in that tradition, but is superior in every way. The author deals not only with the railway itself but also the environment in which it worked and, to a large extent, created - from the very beginnings right up to the closure of the various sections of the line and beyond, into dereliction and, in two famous cases, preservation.
The photographs come from many sources and are of good quality. There is a great variety of subject matter, as one would expect, and I am very glad to see that Mr. Healy has not had to reply on the Newton collection to provide material to illustrate the early years of the railway. He must have worked very hard to find good alternative material. I cannot really find anything to criticise at this price, so I will just say that, for £10.50, there can be little else in the way of railway reading matter that comes close in giving such good value for money.
Text © Quainton Railway Society / Photographs © Quainton Railway Society or referenced photographer
Page Updated: 25 November 2017