Robin Jones

Britain's bizarre railways.

This is a most interesting, but far from comprehensive, book which has been elegantly produced with a wealth of colour illustrations. There are 34 chapters, each of which extends to about four pages. Chapter 10 Wind power! is one of the best and includes not only the Spurn Head railway where the lifeboatmen used a sail-powered bogie from about 1915 until after World War II, but also a vehicle developed by Charles Easton Spooner on the Festiniog Railway. The latter was reproduced in 2005. It includes the Listowel & Ballybunion Railway which not only reproduces photographs of the original line but also a more recent rather crude reconstruction aimed at the tourist industry, but beautifully photographed in colour. Other lines include the Cambridgeshire Busway (tyre life on the buses will be interesting, not to mention the effect of ice on traction), Volk's Electric Railway, Brunel's atmospheric system and the funicular on St. Michael's Mount.

Chapter 1: A mammoth achievement Steam Elephant including replica constructed in 2005. 5
Chapter 2: The ultimate green line: Haytor Tramway. 8.
Chapter 3: What goes up: gravity working on Festiniog Railway including re-enactment in 2010. 12
Chapter 4: Victory of the narrow minded: Brunel's broad guage including Didcot replicas. 14
Chapter 5: Two heads are better than one: Fairlie locomotives as used on Festiniog Railway. 20
Chapter 6; Brunel:'s Hooverway: atmospheric railways in Devon. 25
Chapter 7: Sparks at the seaside: ship ahoy! Volk's Electric Railway in Brighton. 29
Chapter 8: The steam engines they couldn't scrap! Beattie 2-4-0WTs. 33
Chapter 9: New room at the top: Snowdon Mountain Railway using Abt system. 37
Chapter 10: Wind power! Spurn Head and Festiniog Railway. 41
Chapter 11: Nowhere to run: 4ft 6in gauge preserved locomotive of Lee Moor Tramway; also preserved metre gauge locomotive. 45
Chapter 12: The Siamese twins of steam: Listowel & Ballybunion Railway.  49
Chapter 13: Please Mr Postman; Post Office underground railway. 53
Chapter 14: Baker Street to Brill: far from the madding crowd: Aveling & Porter and other motive power used on Brill branch. 57
Chapter 15: Manx insect life: replica locomotives named Ant and Bee at Great Laxey Mine. 60
Chapter 16: A fairytale castle's deepest secret: St. Michael's Mount cable railway for taking freight up to castle from the quay, 63.
Chapter 17: Broadcasts from Bristol's forgotten underground: Clifton Rocks funicular railway. 67
Chapter 18: The car is king: use of road vehicles on railways plus Cambridgeshire Busway. 71
Chapter 19: Three island fortresses: Hoo Ness Island in Medway and Steep Holm and Flat Holm in Bristol Channel. 76
Chapter 20: We don't like to be beside the seaside!: light railway byuilt as part of Borstal institution at Freiston Shore in Lincolnshire. 82
Chapter 21: No double deckers — we're British! Bulleid electric multiple units. 86
Chapter 22: Fenland harvest time: potato and other agricultural railways in Lincolnshire. 90
Chapter 23: A bizarre railways 'theme park': Dungeness with RHDR 15in gauge line plus fishermen's railways. 94
Chapter 24: Cold War city: railway system built near Box Tunnel for munitions storage and as uclear bumker. 102
Chapter 25: The Wight place to retire: former London Transport stock on Isle of Wight and slam-door stock on Lymington branch. 107
Chapter 26: Floating on air:Tracked Hovercraft and Maglev. 112
Chapter 27: An Axe beyond Beeching: Seaton Traamway. 115
Chapter 28: Where no man has gone before: Patent GB 1,310,990: space vehicle invented by British Railways. 120
Chapter 29: Britain's smallest public railway: Wells & Walsingham Light Railway. 124
Chapter 30: Steam engines that thought they were diesels: Vale of Rheidol Railway locomotives painted in corporate BR livery. 126
Chapter 31: Steam on one rail: Monoloco on genuine monorail system. 130
Chapter 32: A garden railway bigger than the 'real one'! David Buck's Finnish 5ft gauge Pacific locomotive.  133
Chapter 33: A branch line relaid - for one day only: James May's OO gauge track laid on former Bideford branch. 137
Chapter 34: Man's mix and match misfits: Isle of Man's railways as depictd on its postage stamps. 143