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Quainton News Archive - Quainton News No. 66 - Winter 1989 / 90

Book Review

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Bill Simpson

Pub: Oxford Publishing Co. £12.95 [Note 1]

It is a particular pleasure to review a book not only of local interest but moreover one written by a member of QRS. What, I wondered could possible warrant a whole book about this short (6m 7f 66y), straight ("once you had turned the corner of the line at Cheddington you looked straight at Aylesbury over the smokebox front") and level (gradients in four figures - see the museum exhibit at QRS) branch line deep in the Vale of Aylesbury? Bill Simpson reveals all in this fascinating saga of the line, opened 150 years ago, which through the farsightedness of a group of local entrepreneurs became the first railway to link Aylesbury to London, via a junction with the L & B at Cheddington. Gradiose plans to extend to Oxford were stillborn, and the line doomed to remain a branch when first the GWR and the the Met. arrived at Aylesbury. The vicissitudes and inevitable sad decline of a typical branch line are documented here.

Unlike many other books of its genre, this is not solely concerned with the minutiae of railways - although there is ample detail to satisfy the most fastidious enthusiast - but reviews the development of the line in the full economic and social context of the Aylesbury area.

The presentation and layout of the book are of the highest quality, with art paper used throughout, and the proof reading is faultless. The text is profusely illustrated with tables, diagrams and quality black & white photographs, all of great historical interest. One can only marvel at the extent and diligence of the research that has gone into this book.

My quibbles are very minor: the map on p47 is indecipherable, as is the plan of Marston Gate on p59, and more cross referencing between text and figures would have been useful.

This book is scholarly, rich in railway detail, and is written in a lucid and lively style. I cannot recommend it too highly. Buy it!

1 - This book is now out of print and therefore cannot be obtained at this price. Second Hand copies are sometimes available online at Amazon, Ebay, Abebooks, from your local second hand bookshop, or indeed from the second hand bookstall at Quainton.

The text in this Quainton Railway Society publication was written in 1989 and so does not reflect events in the 25+ years since publication. The text and photographs are repeated verbatim from the original publication, with only a few minor grammar changes but some clarifying notes are added if deemed necessary. The photos from the original publication are provided as scans in this internet version of this long out of print publication.

Book Review - Quainton News No. 66 - Winter 1989 / 90

Text © Quainton Railway Society / Photographs © Quainton Railway Society or referenced photographer
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