Saturday, 28 September 2013

Middle of the road

Amongst modellers and enthusiasts trams get a bit of a mixed reception. Some enjoy pretty much anything that travels on rails, for others the fact that they are almost always single self contained units diminishes their train-ness and therefore the attraction. I like rails in the road, from the most basic of level crossings to dockside networks set in cobbles, there's something incongruous about them, they hold the promise of rail borne locomotion appearing in a mundane setting. Visiting Hay on Wye earlier this week I was pleased to find this gem for £1.49 in an Oxfam shop.

At first sight it's not hugely promising. The better railway books usually focus tightly on their subject, whether that be line, rolling stock or region; this one gives a general overview of tramways in the British Isles and Eire. However the writing is clear, interesting and authoritative; the pictures absolutely fascinate. There are absolutely no fillers just there to make up the weight, each image illustrates a feature of the tramways, each one tells a unique story, each one is visually attractive in its own right. My favourite is this one of a cable gripper car in London. To my mind it cries out to be modelled. Though this is the one that gets my motor running, the rest of the illustrations are similarly inspiring.


Anonymous said...

Although I've always had a superficial interest in trams, it's only been in the last year that I've actually done any modelling of them......I think you saw the tram kits I picked up from the exhibition at Machynlleth (thanks for an excellent show by the way!).
At the moment wherever I go I seem to come across a tram book or two.....not got this one (yet!) although I have several similar volumes that are about trams on general rather than specific histories (mind you I have several of those as well!).

I don't know whether its because I know very little about trams but I seem to get more inspiration from books like this at the moment than from the more specialised volumes....whereas the reverse tends to be true of railway books. Rails set in the road have a sort of intimacy with their surroundings that you just don't get with a "normal" railway line.

Perhaps a model of a tramway set in a particular era might have more period detail in it than on a railway model.....after all many railway stations didn't really change much over quite a long period of time whereas the average high street probably did......especially things like vehicles, shop fronts etc.

All good fun.......and I am currently taking a break from cutting out the windows in a card low-relief hotel kit that would form a nice centre-piece in a 1930s High Street!

See you in another year or so,

Phil Parker said...

I agree with Siomn. A lot of very specific books can be almost unreadable as they cram so much information in to to few pages. A more general book is often a pleasure to read as well as being informative.

The photo range can be wider too and yet thay often turn up the odd gem that you don't find anywhere else.

And personally, I love trams and think there is a huge opportunity for some really top-notch and well presented tram layouts on the circuit. Those that exists are normally (there are a tiny number of exceptions) like model railways from the 1970s. No curtain, set on tables, dodgy modelling, no lights etc.

Liddy.Lydford said...

Ah, the Oxfam bookshop in Hay on Wye is a veritable treasure chest. I bet there are similar books waiting to be unearthed particularly as a long-serving shop manager was the ex-stationmaster of Hay.
Talking tramways for me it is the 'casual' nature of the lines that most appeals to me, tracks appearing out of nowhere, crossing a minor road and disappearing into some undergrowth making the quarry elusive, almost secretive.