Late George Ottley: bibliographer of railway literaure
It would be extremely ungenerous of KPJ not to record that his Steam locomotive development (and one of the backbones os steamindex.com) began life as a Library Association Fellowship Thesis and that George was the Supervisor of a somewhat wayward candidate who kept on being diverted by the arrival of "yet another daughter" and who was critical of KPJ's style which tended to be too blunt in its appraisals. Ottley must be rated as one of the greatest of traditional bibliographers on any subject, although like Medieval scribes, electronic information is tending to make bibling as such redundant. Amongst other things KPJ discovered that the old British Library (the one located in the British Museum) was far more akin to other libraries than he had expected. There were vast areas of the hidden stacks which housed nothing but railway literature: lucky George. It was the cause of great sorrow to George that his superb index to the Bibliography was not sufficiently recognized by the wayward Society of Indexers. .
George Ottley died on 1 July 2006 and Grahame Boyes has contributed an obituary to J. Rly Canal Hist. Soc., 2006, 35, 436-7: from which the following has been taken. George was born on 13 December 1916. From 1934 he worked in the library of University College, London. In 1937 he became a member of the Religeous Society of Friends and joined the Friends Ambulance Unit, but in 1941 joined the RAF. In 1951 he joined the Department of Printed Books at the British Museum where he began work on his Bibliography. In 1967 he moved to Leicester University Library
Bibliography of British railway history. London: HMSO, 1966
A bibliography of British railway history. 2nd ed. London: HMSO, 1983.
A bibliography of British railway history: supplement: 7951 - 12956. London: HMSO, 1988.
The first volume of George Ottley's majisterial Bibliography of British railway history was published in 1966 and this was followed by a Supplement in 1988 and another Supplement in 1998 (which is considered separately (below). The first two volumes were published by Her Majesty's Stationary Office. The 1988 Supplement contains a Foreword from the late Professor Jack Simmons which lucidly states the significance of Ottley's efforts: "Some bibliographies are records, no more. Their compilers hold their cards close to their chests, revealing nothing at all of themselves. One wonders what impulses took them to the subjects they chose. George Ottley is not one of them. He gave his attention to railways because he had always liked them, and he makes that quite clear. His affection shines through." The individual volumes have very extensive introductions. The acknowledgements (pages 25 to 28) should be of inestimable value to the collectors of rare works as Ottley names many who assisted him in his researches. Each entry in the bibliography is allotted an individual number and the whole work is presented under a classification scheme, which is outlined on the end-papers. The Supplement includes a list of corrigenda, an addenda to the main work, and a very comprehensive index which covers both volumes (the main numerical sequence is followed in the supplement). Simmons indicates the comprehensive nature of the work by pointing towards entry No. 10440 where the composition of Fenman is shown to be five members of the Cambridge University Railway Club which included John Coiley: similarly entry 8345 shows how A.J. Powell initially wrote under the pseudonym of 45671..
Ottley's bibliography of British railway history. Second supplement
12957-19605. books, parts of books, pamphlets and academic theses on the
history and description of public transport in the British Isles published
up to the end of 1995, with corrigenda and addenda to the entries in the
previous volumes, compiled by Grahame Boyes, Matthew Searle and Donald
Steggles. preface by George Ottley. foreword by Andrew Scott. National Railway
Museum with Railway and Canal Historical Society, 1998.
The Railway & Canal Historical Society attempts to record further literature in a supplement to its Journal: the latest part was published in November 2004 and covers the year 2003 (it includes some periodical literature and employs the Ottley classification).
Not in Ottley
The Railway & Canal Historical Society has started a series "Not in Ottley". These are appended below. Sadly KPJ has also found material which does not appear to have been found by George, and if these are refound he will add them. It should be noted that George operated within set boundaries, some of which KPJ has increasingly transgressed as he appreciates that even steam locomotion has wider affinities than usually appreciated by George.
Humm, Robert. Not in Ottley 1;: Philip Phillips and the Forth
Bridge. J. Rly Canal Hist. Soc.,
2009, 36, 166-72.
Notes that Philip Phillips was the son of Joseph Phillips, a contractor, to the Forth Railway Bridge and the subject of an excellent biography by Mike Chrimes in Chrimes (not cited by Humm): sadly Mike probably made a mistake by calling the son "Peter". ..
Reynolds, Paul. Not in Ottley 2: Thomas Phillips and the Humours
of the iron road. J. Rly Canal Hist.
Soc., 2009, 36, 173-7.
Memoirs of a Welsh ticket collector who worked at Carmarthen station. Initial edition had a Welsh title: Difyrion y ffordd haearn..., but there were also editions with English titles which did not appear to reach the British Musuem/British Library.
As Kevin gets older he is fairly certain that George had hoped that Kevin would follow a more thorough bibliographical approach to locomotive literature which steams off in several directions. Thus there are books about steam engineering which include some reference to steam locomotives, and even more books on electric traction where electrified railways obly form part of a bigger picture. Some of these are absent from Ottley's study.
Locomotive compounding and superheating. Charles Griffin & Co., 1907
Not in Ottley, but in BLPC: review Locomotive Mag., 1907, 13, 74.