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Branch Lines

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Branch Lines
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The Alcester Branch

Stanley C. Jenkins and Roger Carpenter    100 pages    Softback    2005

A delightful portrait of the six mile branch that connected the Midland's cross country line at Alcester with the Great Western's route to Stratford Upon Avon at Bearley. Originating in the 1860s the line wasn't built until over a decae later when the two companies at either end of the route agreed an uneasy truce to allow its operation. This was one of those minor routes that was shut down in both World Wars as an economy measure but somehow managed to survive for freight until 1951, with a couple of miles surviving into 1960 for wagon storage. Not quite as exhaustively comprehensive in its photographic coverage as some books owing to the obscurity of the subject, this book nonetheless allows more than a glimpse of a charming rural railway.

The Banbury and Cheltenham Railway Volume 1

William Hemmings    200 pages    Hardback    2004

The Banbury and Cheltenham Railway Volume 2

William Hemings, Paul Karau and Chris Turner    170 pages    Hardback    2004

The Bishops Waltham Branch

Roger Simmonds and Kevin Robertson    92 pages    Softback    1986

Running from Botley on the Eastleigh to Fareham line, this little known LSWR branch survived in freight only guise until 1962, latterly becoming the haunt of Ivatt tank locomotives. This book provides comprehensive photographic coverage of the line including fascinating views of repairing a landslide in 1936.

The Bridport Branch

Gerry Beale    154 pages    Hardback    2016

An intimate portrayal of a late surviving Great Western branch line, from its inception through to the early diesel era. Gerry knew the line well, having been introduced to it early in life through his father's interest, and this book is the culmination of years of interest and study. The photographic coverage is extensive, covering the line itself, stations, rolling stock and the various branch operations over the years, including a good number of shots of the DMUs when they were first introduced. A beautiful book depicting a most attractive branch line railway in its heyday, the level of service offered and evident order and continuity marking a stark contrast to today's World in Bridport and elsewhere.

Country Branch Line Volume 1

Paul Karau & Chris Turner    240 pages    Hardback    1998

Subtitled "The Story Of The Line From 1872 To 1961", this has got to be the ultimate branch line history book of all time. The Watlington Branch is Paul Karau's favourite branch line, and he has amassed a truly staggering collection of photographs, plans and facts about it. The book is a beautifully crafted piece of work, and as you will by now expect from this publisher, the story and presentation encompasses much more than just the railway. The characters, countryside and customers are all included in this lovely book.

The Elham Valley Railway

Brian Hart    300 pages    Hardback    2015

A much enlarged edition of an early Wild Swan title, Brian's usual delightful mix of social and railway history, recounting the fascinating story of a by now obscure line that was built as a main route along the battle lines between two warring Victorian railway companies. Subsequently settling down into a single track existence it then burned bright in the last World War (literally) before closing in 1946. Beautifully illustrated and containing extraordinary detail at this great remove in time, this lovely book is a real "tour de force" even by Brian's high standards.

The Forest of Dean Branch Vol 2

Ian Pope and Paul Karau    200 pages    Hardback    1997

Continuing on from volume 1, this beautiful book covers the Great Western's routes north of Bilson and the Churchway and the Whimsey branches. Extensively illustrated with a wide range of photographs, it includes comprehensive coverage of the coal mining and other industries which led to so much railway development in this small area. There are comprehensive plans and maps, including full signalling diagrams of stations and sidings.

The Hythe & Sandgate Railway

Brian Hart    168 pages    Hardback    1987

A beautifuly written and produced book on one of the shortest branches on the South Eastern Railway. Built with double track and Continental aspirations, it was latterly truncated and singled and closed as early as 1951. Comprehensive photographs, track plans and scale drawings are included and there is a fascinating "bonus section" covering the Hythe and Sandgate Tramway and its travails.

The Liskeard and Looe Branch

Gerry Beale    220 pages    Hardback    2000

A comprehensive and fully illustrated history of this delightful branch line, mainly as developed and operated under the auspices of the Great Western and British Railways. Being a picturesque line in a popular holiday area, the branch has attracted the attentions of various photographers over the years and this book is consequently very well illustrated. The earlier years and mineral workings north of Moorswater are also touched upon and illustrated, as are the various items of rolling stock used over the line. There are also a number of useful scale drawings together with detailed maps and track plans of use to modellers.

The Malmesbury Branch

Mike Fenton    258 pages    Hardback    1990

This magnificent book is the result of years of research by the author, including interviews with many railwaymen and their families. Apart from being complete in every railway detail, it is an excellent account of life and times as they once were in rural Wiltshire. This was the line which was cut back from Dauntsey to Great Somerford in a most unusual way prior to closure, owing to the late development of the Great Western's direct route to South Wales coupled with an early recognition of the need for economy. I have had a new dust jacket printed and so the unjacketed copies I found when I acquired Wild Swan have now become available again.

The Marlow Branch

Paul Karau & Chris Turner    216 pages    Hardback    1987

A comprehensive and beautifully produced history of a the short branch line running from Marlow to Bourne End, complete in every respect including scale drawings, timetables, locomotive allocations and signalling details Unusually for a Wild Swan book this last section extends into the contemporary period, as signalling of sorts survives on the line in its present form. Auto trains ruled in the latter steam period and are very well illustrated, as are all other aspects of this line and its operation. An appendix also details the sawmill and its siding installed during World War 2 in glorious detail.

Severn & Wye Railway Volume 1

Ian Pope, Bob How & Paul Karau    158 pages    Softback    1983

Reprinted as a softback in 2003, this first part of only two volumes published so far covers the history of the Severn and Wye from early tramroad days up until 1947. The photographic coverage extends into the 1960s but does not cover the later (diesel) years. The line from Lydney Junction to Parkend is explored in great detail and the book concludes with a useful selection of scale architectural drawings. Throughout there are numerous scale and signalling track diagrams and maps which explain the complicated developments of both main line and industrial railways. Industries and collieries along the route are well featured, including Norchard Colliery where the current day preservationists have established their base.

Severn & Wye Railway Volume 2

Ian Pope, Bob How & Paul Karau    200 pages    Softback    1985

This second volume continues the photographic exploration of the first volume onwards from Parkend to Cinderford and includes all the minor branches and industries along the way. The collieries are particularly well explored, with photographs taken underground complementing the extensive coverage of the surface works and their railways. Scenes of heavy industy contrast with their rural setting and the charming narrow gauge Bicslade's tramroad. Although this book covers a very specific area it is one of the best available photographic references for the interaction between coal mining and other rural industries with the railways and tramways that served them.

Severn & Wye Railway Volume 4

Ian Pope and Paul Karau    174 pages    Hardback    2009

After a very long wait, coverage of the mineral loop - a delightfully obscure piece of freight railway linking Drybrook Road in the north with Tufts Junction in the south. Largely disused from 1940, collieries along the line loom large with extensive photographs showing their features and operation well, less so for the more obscure ones but the whole is nonetheless a great record of a railway backwater from a lost age.