Lambert's railway miscellany.

Anthony Lambert

On Kelling Heath there is a cottage next to a level crossing on the North Norfolk Railway which if it was offered for rental during the bleak Norfolk winter when few if any trains are run then Lambert's railway miscellany might be useful to keep the occupants sane. This is less than an anthology and more than a dictionary of quotations: as Lambert does not cite his sources it could not really be either as the entries (items) rarely exceed three paragraphs and many are but a few lines, Some are in boxes. It is intended for the general reader and mirrors Readers' Digest and similar material associated with dentists' waiting rooms. It has a bibliography (list of assorted books rather like the Book Hive in Norwich): this lacks David St John Thomas, but includes two works by John Thomas; two by Bryan Morgan (who was rather good at this sort of thing), but no Hamilton Ellis, and only one O.S. Nock (presumably compiler is too young to have been moulded by their oeuvre). The book is divided into ten chapters which helps to bring things together and has a fairly good index (it is well constructed, but failed to provide rapid navigation to the questions set out in Martin Barnes review in J. Rly Canal Hist. Soc., 2011 (211), 60). Acknowledgements include many who are compulsive letter writers (Michael Dunn and Ann Glen, for instance). One major fault is that the sources are not identified.

Kevin does not like the vague line drawings, nor the arty headings, but he is difficult to please. There is so much more of interest on the Internet: one can browse nineteenth century newspapers, one can explore thr minutae of railway accident reports (via the wonderful Railway Archive website: who needs Lambert's railway miscellany? Martin Barnes was far more generous: receiving a free review copy may have helped: Kevin had to pay 55 pence for the transfer of one of Norfolk County Library's copies to Sheringham so that he could have a more thorough inspection than that provided on the shelves of Bertram Watt's excellent Sheringham bookshop. It is very meagre fare compared with Bryan Morgan's Railway lover's companion. Sadly, it is not something he would buy and questions whether it was worth 55 pence.

©Kevin P. Jones

Christopher Chart's The worlds's greatest railways

Claims to contain over 600 illustrations, many of which are in colour. The text is set in small type in four columns on landscape format pages which also contain the captions (set in larger type) to the illustrations. There seems to be no linkage between text and illustrations: further, the latter may not even be appropriate to one of the seven sections into which this weighty and difficult to handle book is divided. Errors abound in the captions: the LNER Beyer Garratt is "hauling" a passenger train up the Lickey Incline, There are extraordinary juxtapositions: the two pictures of the U1 are accompanied by assorted American Mallet articulated locomotives. A very good colour photograph of Glasgow trams is accompanied by a caption that they were "arriving and departing" from Glasgow Central station and on the facing page there are two pictures of Hong Kong's double deck trams. Both scenes are stuck in KPJ's personal memory, but forty years separate those images! Some of the "historical" images come from cigarette cards: a poor choice in that many uncluttered images are available. It is tempting to wonder how it would all look on a reading tablet which would be far more mangeable.