John Marshall

John Marshall's Biographical dictionary has been used extenively on this website for checking basic biographical data (dates of birth and death). It is a superb book as is his history of the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway. His Guinness book of rail facts and feats should have been used by the compilers of the Oxford Companion, but is not cited. This arrogant pair might have learned much about how to structure a major reference work to make it lucid to the user: they would also have seen that even the clearest of such structures requires an index and that illustrations can be useful. Even the quester after information about railways in literature and fine art may find it useful to examine Marshall's book as well as the Oxford Companion.

John Marshall died on 12 November 2008 at the age of 86. J. Rly Canal Hist. Soc., 2009, 36, 56 contains an obituary by someone who had first encountered him as a schoolboy in the woodwork room at Canon Slade Grammar School in Bolton where "Sir" was requested to form a school railway society. John was born in Nottingham on 1 May 1922, and like many deeply rooted railway enthusiasts shared a passion for music, playing the flute, but also extending to harpsichord building. He took early retirement in 1982 to live in Bewdley to be near the Severn Valley Railway. A letter to J. Rly Canal Hist. Soc., 2003, 34, 330-1 showed his care for historical detail where he questioned an alleged friendship between Bruckner and Golsdorf and showed it to be based upon a sophisticated April Fool's Day hoax. He was an excellent reviewer of books as is shown by his demolition of Chackfield's poor "literary" style in his biography of Collett....

Biographical dictionary of railway engineers. 2nd ed. London: Railway & Canal Historical Society, 2003. [Originally published Newton Abbot: David & Charles, 1978]. 206pp.
Includes both Civil & Mechanical engineers, and European and North American engineers. Some omissions were noted in the Introduction to the first edition, but this is not repeated. Some errors (mainly literals) have been found. A key point is his quest for birth/death and marriage dates. Inevitably, much of the biographical section on this website made use of the first edition. It is intended to verify the data on the website against this new edition. There are (still) some strange omissions, notably James Milne, educated as engineer at Swindon under Churchward, and people like James Clayton and Tom Coleman (that is the senior draughtsman, who were much more than draughtsman, and in the case of Clayton contributed a substantial literature. The first edition was criticised by Simmons for not always being accurate (more of kettles calling pots). The second edition is now out-of-print. Copies should be found in the libraries of all unitary authorities, places calling themselves "cities", etc.. Reviewed by Bob Miller in J. Rly Canal Hist. Soc., 2003, 34, 382: includes specific omissions. Further major omissions: William John Macquorn Rankine: of the Rankine Cycle, and Basil Mott and Sir Charles Edward Inglis.

The Guinness book of railway facts and feats. London: Guinness Superlatives, 1971. 255pp.
Several more recent editions. The jacket contains an illustration of the compiler. First edition contains notes on Geoghegan patent locomotives for Guinness brewery in Dublin..

Guinness book of rail facts & figures 3rd ed. London: Guinness Superlatives, 1979.

Balkwill, Richard with John Marshall. 6th ed. of above Guinness book..

Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway. Newton Abbot: David & Charles. 1969-72. 3v.
A good historical survey which is strong on biographical material. Obituarist noted that the Author did not like this major work to be described as "definitive" which says much about his quest for veracity..

See also letter in Br. Rly J., 1986, 2, 173 which gives some indication of his working methods and thoroughness