Somerset & Dorset, Local Railways

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Bath Green Park to Bristol

Vic Mitchell & Keith Smith    [Publisher:  Middleton Press  1999]    Hardback    96 pages

The usual combination of large scale OS map extracts and photographs from this publisher, taking us on a journey along the Midland route from Bath. Mangotsfield junction is particularly well covered, as are the complicated arrangements in Bristol. Photographs are predominantly historic, current views show Barton Hill Depot, the waste transfer station and the preservation activities at Bitton.

Bournemouth To Evercreech Junction

Mitchell and Smith    [Publisher:  Middleton Press  1987]    Hardback    96 pages

Starting at Bournemouth West this book takes us up the previously neglected stretch of line as far as Evercreech Junction. The vast majority of photographs were previously unpublished and reveal a very different sort of S&D to the Northern Extension. Of particular interest is the volume of freight shown being handled by pick up goods at intermediate stations, especially Blandford, which remained open until 1969 for freight traffic.

Branch Lines to Clevedon and Portishead

Mitchell and Smith    [Publisher:  Middleton Press  2003]    Hardback    96 pages

An intersting collection of lines, the two "proper" branches to Clevedon and Portishead, the light railway connecting the two with Weston (the WC&P) and the myriad dock lines in Bristol that spread from Ashton Gate. Current harbourside operations are featured and there are lots of tantalising views of the complicated junctions and bridges of the harbour lines in Bristol.

Burnham To Evercreech Junction

Mitchell and Smith    [Publisher:  Middleton Press  1989]    Hardback    96 pages

The S&D's branch, including the "twigs" to Wells and Bridgwater are here surveyed in the usual style of the publisher. Highbridge Works and the wharf are well covered, with old OS map extracts and pre grouping shots being used to good effect. There is even a view of one of the Eclipse Peat Company's narrow gauge Listers crossing the SD line on the level, together with the results of a collision at this point, overall this book is a delightful record of an often overlooked piece of railway.

Coal from Camerton

Neil Macmillen And Mike Chapman    [Publisher:  Lightmoor  2014]    Softback    164 pages

A revised and very much enlarged edition of Neil Macmillen's 1990 history of Camerton's collieries, originally written to record the history of coal mining in the parish after the site of Old Pit had been secured for public use. Based on published sources but also a lot of original research, this new edition has been greatly enhanced by a large amount of material that has come to light since original publication and I'm sure Neil won't mind me saying that the production quality of the new edition is also in a different league to the original. The photographic coverage is vastly extended, covering not only the colliery but also Camerton Station and other aspects of the branch and its earlier canal. There are more of Mike Chapman's excellent plans, period sketches and reproductions of old OS maps and sketches and the story also includes early coal mining in Somerset, Reverend Skinner and the work of William Smith. This truly is a spectacularly good book at all levels - at last I have something decent to sell that covers the Camerton branch!

Locomotives Of The Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway 1854 - 1966

Tim Hillier-Graves    [Publisher:  Pen and Sword  2021]    Hardback    246 pages

An attractive publication, full of information and pictures and covering a great subject that is dear to the hearts of many. Arguably, the author has tried to cover too much I think, with the first chapter for example simply describing the line. Having read sections of the book I am also a bit inclined to disagree with the "Definitive" in the title, by the way, it isn't on the title on this website only because there is not enough space for such a long title, which is another modern malaise - too long titles, bit like this sentence... Moreover there is no tabulated information on the many and various locomotives, which leaves one prey to the S&D's habit of re-using numbers and the text also contains a lot of uneccessary editorialising. The captions are a bit overwritten and finally the photographic accreditation does nothing for understanding photographic sources and frankly got on my nerves. All that said, it does tell the story it sets out to tell and it does illustrate it well. Does it surpass Bradley and Milton? Difficult to say, it certainly forms a nice illustrated account and has much to recommend it, notwithstanding my grumbles.

The Mangotsfield to Bath Line

Colin Maggs    [Publisher:  Oakwood  2005]    Softback    176 pages

A considerably expanded edition of the 1992 editon, covering the 12 mile long Midland Railway branch line that ran from the outskirts of Bristol to a grandiose neo classical terminus in Bath. Double tracked throughout and forming the northern link to the famous Somerset and Dorset line, the variety and volume of traffic carried on this line in its heyday and up until the 1960s was staggering. Even the closure of the S&D in 1966 couldn't extinguish it, freight lingered on into the 1970s when the final customer had other arrangements made for them so that the whole could be closed. This book is a densely packed record, with good photographic coverage.

Maritime Activities of the Somerset and Dorset Railway

Chris Handley    [Publisher:  Millstream  2001]    Softback    160 pages

I found this a very enyoyable read, the story is highly interesting and puts some real "flesh" onto the bones of the Somerset and Dorset Railway's earlier history. Optimisim dogged by numerous setbacks and diluted by continual financial crises eventually produced a highly successful operation at Highbridge Wharf, which contributed to the railway's fortunes over a long period of time. This book is the result of years of interest and research, and contains a real wealth of detail, including an astonishing number of highly relevant photographs, especially given the relative antiquity of much of the subject matter. I find myself left with a real appetite to know more about the rest of the railway's operations over this interesting period and a distinct feeling that the "British Railways" era was just a minor postscript to a magnificent story about which we know too little.

On the Trail of The Titfield Thunderbolt

Simon Castens    [Publisher:  Thunderbolt Books  2018]    Softback    56 pages

A new expanded and updated edition of a book I published back in 1999, a guide to the locations used in the making of The Titfield Thunderbolt. Detailed information on all of the locations used together with film facts and anecdotes, biographical details of key players and maps showing the locations. The original book brought together various pieces of published information with original research in one place for the first time, and this new edition is a vastly improved piece of work. It contains very many more photographs, which are all beautifully reproduced on art paper throughout the text, and the information and anecdotes have been variously corrected, updated or added to throughout.

Radstock Coal and Steam (Vol 2)

Chris Handley    [Publisher:  Millstream  1992]    Hardback    160 pages

Volume 2 concentrates on the locomotives, train workings, track plans and signalling of the S&D in Radstock. I was not sure that there was much else to show or say after volume 1, but this book proves that there was. Full scale drawings of all structures and staggeringly detailed photographs make this completion of Chris Handley's labour of love ideal for modellers.

Radstock Coal and Steam (Vol 1)

Chris Handley    [Publisher:  Millstream  1991]    Hardback    160 pages

An extremely comprehensive history of the Somerset and Dorset in Radstock which includes the line out to Shoscombe and Single Hill Halt and all of the collieries in the area. This is a beautiful book which has been meticulously researched by Chris Handley providing fascinating details and maps of a Radstock which is alas no more.

Sabotaged And Defeated: A Final Glimpse Part Two

Jefferey Grayer    [Publisher:  Crecy  2012]    Hardback    128 pages

Comments as for the first part of this new two volume S&D essay, this second book benefits from the inclusion of views of extended post closure operations at Blandford, Bason Bridge and the line to Wimborne, in addition to the attenuated operations at Templecombe. The branch has reasonable coverage, including the late remaining significant remains at Glastonbury and Fisons narrow gauge operations at Ashcott which outlasted the standard gauge by many years. This is a fascinating look back at the less well frequented parts of what must arguably be the most photographed line in the land.

The Somerset and Dorset Railway 1935-1966

Mike Arlett and David Lockett    [Publisher:  Lightmoor  2008]    Hardback    192 pages

Norman Lockett, an accomplished photographer in his own right, was a friend of Ivo Peters and often accompanied him on his photographic expeditions. On this basis I was afraid that this might have been rather a "familiar" collection, but in fact rather the opposite is the case. There are two principal reasons for this; firstly Norman started photographing the S&D from 1935 and (apart from the war) photographed the line extensively before 1950 and secondly he visited quite a few "non Ivo" locations. Both of these aspects of Norman's photography have been fully exploited in this book and the authors have also gone back to the original glass plate negatives for reproduction, often using the full uncropped image to good effect. The result is very pleasing, a good reference for modelling detail and a terrific record of a couple of more obscure parts of the S&D - most especially the "branch" between the GWR main line and Church Street in Highbridge. There is also a rare shot showing Downside ground frame very clearly - all in all this is a very worthwhile addition to any S&D library.

Somerset and Dorset Swansong

Bob Bunyar    [Publisher:  Wild Swan  2016]    Softback    96 pages

The first of a new format of book from Wild Swan, the same size as the old "Bradford Barton" books, but produced as a sewn softback and printed to high standards by Amadeus. This first is a recollection of the last weekend over the Somerset and Dorset by Bob Bunyar, which includes a chapter on the years leading up to the end and selected events following the closure. Copiously illustrated in both black and white and in colour, and featuring many views that have not been published before.

Westbury to Bath

Vic Mitchell & Keith Smith    [Publisher:  Middleton Press  1995]    Hardback    96 pages

A comprehensive photographic survey of a relatively short stretch of railway, with good photographic coverage of Limpley Stoke station. My little business even gets a mention, although the contemporary shots were unfortunately taken before we put up the new running-in board. All periods are covered and this book also has the best photographic coverage of Bath that I have recently seen together in one book.

Wilts & Somerset. A Railway Landscape

Duncan Harper    [Publisher:  Millstream  1987]    Hardback    112 pages

Something quite different; a personal, well researched and unique cameo of railway history in the Somerset and Wiltshire counties. Artistically put together but not at the expense of accuracy, this is a beautiful book which has appeal both to and beyond the railway fraternity.