William Rixon Bucknall

Born Lisbon 11 March 1894. Died 29 April 1984. Career army officer, served both world wars. Black Watch, RFC. WW2 commanded 1st Battalion Worcestershire Regiment, retired from army 6 April 1948.
Interested in railways and ships, spent a lot of time and money in the 1950 designing and having built, what looked like a typical 1930s open sports car, which concealed chassis, suspension and tripple carb. engine, Al2l specially supplied by Jaguar. A real wolf in sheeps clothing, with could leave anything standing at traffic lights! He seems to have had a large collectuin of paintings of railway and shipping subjects. Family seem to have connections with the Folkestone area, and his father knew Sir Edward Watkin. Colonel Ian Allan Driven by steam: was a half colonel in the Guards, spoke with a very large plum in hrs mouth and produced a series of books on railways. He was a very amiable chap and we ultimately acquired his photographic collection and his publishing rights. My memory fails me and I do not know quite what happened to him but he was a good friend and supporter. All the records of our negotiations with him seem to have disappeared, perhaps in one of those Craven House bonfires.


Boat trains and Channel packets: the English short sea routes.  London: Vincent Stuart, 1957.  xi, 218pp. colour frontispiece,  46 plates with 108 illustrations plus maps & diagrams in text. bibliography
Ottley 724: Stuart Rankim sent KPJ the following note: "I  have a copy of this, which on the basis of two letters slipped in, once belonged to Cuthbert Grasemann, John Elliot's successor as PRO of the southern railway. This was published by a firm new to me, Vincent Stuart Limited, and is rather a curious design. The half-tone illustrations are concentrated in an art paper signature, right at the end of the book. This might be thought of as making them easy to refer to from the text, but unfortunately the font used in the captions is so minuscule that a magnifyer is essential. Some of the illustrations are something of a disappointment. A note in the acknowledgements in a book of this period, expressing thanks for the loan of blocks sounds a warning! The pictures have appeared in print at least once before, they may be quite worn, and if they were not properly cleaned and stored after last use, may be lackiing in definition, The text itself gives some cause for concern. English Channel packet boats, 1939 by Cuthbert Grasemann and G.W.P. MacLachlan is not nentioned in the bibliography of "boat trains" but there are whole paragrahs of the latter which read curiuosly lije paraphrases of sections of the former, There are signs of carelessnes too, either in not checking "remembered" dates or in proof checking we are told that Harry Wainwright retired in 1915, and that Maunsell then ordered new locos from Borsig of Berlin, and that grouping took place in 1925. If you get hold of a copy of this it needs treating with caution. There are other better sources.

Our railway history. 2nd edition. 1945.
First published 1944. A series of short historical sketches of pre-1923 main lines. Notes on pre-1914 1iveries. Tabulted statistics. Bibliography. coloured folding map. 122 illustrations. Rutherford made an extensive quotation concerning LNWR (reproduced in precis Backtrack, 10, 622): the two sics may be a warning concerning liveries!. Have always assumed that Rixon Bucknall captured the spirtit of the pre-grouping railways. Ottley 5601. See also

Railway memories with Tice F. Budden. London: Authors, 1947.
Includes 204 Budden photographs which are marvels



As a very small boy the writer longed to be an engine driver. His mother wanted him to be a soldier, but his father sponsored the railway instinct, for he remarked as Kipling had done before, that 'transport is civilization '; and then added that it was a useful thing to know how all the wheels of the world went round. We travelled quite a lot, and the small boy was always required to know not only where he was going, but also from where the train had come, together with the name of the railway company and the general direction of the route. Then, if the journey ended at a terminus there was invariably a visit to look at the engine, with a final reminder of always to touch one's cap and say' thank you for a nice run ' to the driver, even if that worthy did not often notice! Those were spacious days when it did not matter delaying a growler or an hansom for a few moments; and later on those delays returned a very good dividend.
One began to perceive as well as to learn. First colour and then shape emerged with unfolding interest: Claud Hamilton differed from Cardean, even if both were blue; and Henry Oakley was obviously not the same as Quentin Durward, [footnote: *In response to a number of queries, this formerly well known Great Western' Atlantic' was built at Swindon in 1905. Originally, and for a short time, it bore the name of Magnet] even if both did happen to be green 'Atlantics '. Soon designers were distinguished with enthusiasm: Whale varied from Webb, and Drummond from Adams; every company opened out a new interest and every train a new problem: where had it come from; who, or what, was it carrying; whither was it going; who had designed the engine; and where had it been built? Since railways served the ports and since railways also ran their own steamers, shipping became an allied interest. Then ships took one to the ports 'on the other side', where there were more railways and more industries and more interests, each and all of them different from our own. And so, quite unconsciously, and with a little experience, coupled with many books and pictures, the small boy found that when he went to school he knew already his geography; and in spite of the fact that he had never seen it, he could tell the master quite a lot about the Zambesi Bridge, besides marking it upon the map. Philadelphia, too, was the natural home of Baldwin's, and then the greater part of Europe was the sphere of Wagon Lits.
In the fullness of time, design, metallurgy, construction, operation and traffic control, followed naturally; and on such a background strategical communications became second nature. Here was the exploitation of romance to open the door to practical utility, and with such an angle of approach the pulse of industry was a never ending source of interest. From personal experience in war and in peace it can be emphasized that' transport is civilization', while one of the greatest attractions in this modern world can be the method by which all the wheels of industry rotate.


"Tell me the story of England, but do not be boring" was a request once made to the writer when sitting by the fire; and the ultimate result of the talk was a short history of England, ' a brief reminder for when you forget " a small book which carried you through all the essential phases of our island story, which missed little, which recalled all that you knew when you were young, and which left you at the end of an hour, thoroughly refreshed in memory and entertained withal.
So for the railway enthusiast, here is a similar story: a series of sketches of the old main lines, taken in the generally accepted order of magnitude of the original big companies before the grouping, in the days when trains were clean and engines shone resplendently, when each company was distinct in its own individuality, and when railways in this country were perhaps passing through the most interesting phase of their evolution.
In these present days when books about the pre-grouping era are incredibly expensive as well as hard to find, this rapid survey may suffice as an entertaining refresher to the informed, besides being a background or framework of the past for the comparatively new corner to the subject. And again, who knows but that it may even arouse a new interest in someone who has never before contemplated either such a subject or such a possibility!
In the railway world as well as in the Services, traditions die hard; and in these dark days of war we all know that it is almost a miracle that the railways continue to function as they do. Not the least reason for their successful combat with their difficulties is this tradition which they cherish as a legacy of the old days. Here then is a coup d'oeil of those old days, the essence of which is brevity with clarity: a connected narrative, as opposed to a mere presentation of data.
Upon the subject of dates historians often differ. The aim in this book has been to give the final or absolute date, cases in point being an Act, of Parliament authorizing an amalgamation which might have been ratified by the shareholders perhaps a year previously, and which again might have been agreed by the respective boards some months prior even to that: or considering another more material aspect, the brick lining of the Severn Tunnel was completed early in 1885, but the bore was not opened for regular passenger traffic until the end of the following year.
Should more comprehensive information be required, a biblio- graphy which is by no means complete will be found upon page 7, but it must be added regretfully that most if not all of these books are now almost unobtainable.
The gist of some of these chapters appeared in article form during 1941 in The Railway Observer, the journal of The Railway Correspondence and Travel Society, with whose kind concurrence they have now been expanded and reproduced. In presenting this revised and enlarged Second Edition opportunity has been taken to rectify certain minor mis-statements and to clarify a number of obscure passages which marred the authenticity of its predecessor.
Acknowledgment for the use of photographs is made under each individual picture, particular thanks in this respect being due to Doctor T.F. Budden and Mr. H. Gordon Tidey. Again, special thanks are due toMr. J.D. Goffey and Mr. A.B. MacLeod, as well as to Mr. D.J.W. Brough, Mr. N. Shepherd, and Major W.L. Sparkes for kindly loaning from their own collections a number of the photographs for reproduction. Acknowledgment also is due to , Railways' for the hire of three excellent photographic blocks which have been used in illustrating the earlier chapters. In selecting the photographs the aim has been to capture and torevive the atmosphere and the individual characteristics of the old major companies, in order as far as possible to invigorate and to amplify the text. In conclusion, the writer deeply regrets how the difficulties which have been imposed by war conditions have prevented him from replying individually to the many hundreds of enthusiastic letters which he has already received. Each one has been thoroughly appreciated; while in a number of instances he feels gratified by having made new personal friends.


71 Witley Court,
Woburn Place,
London, WC.l. 1945.