Wednesday 15 August 2012

Unexpected Gem

If you asked a railway enthusiast what their favourite publisher was you would get a range of responses. I'm pretty sure that the likes of Oakwood Press, Wild Swan, OPC and Ian Allan would figure prominently. Many of the smaller, more niche, book houses would also be represented; perhaps in dribs and drabs, but a predictable presence. I very much doubt though, that the non-specialist press would get a look in, certainly not the likes of WH Smith or M&S. Don't they just cynically churn out Christmas books aimed at well meaning aunties who reason that because he likes trains and because it has lots of colour pictures of steam engines it's the present to choose. Six months later and they're gathering dust on the bookshelves of a charity shop. I suppose that socks are preferable to most of them, but they may be worth a closer look. Here's one plucked from the shelves of a charity shop.

Doesn't look too promising does it. However open it up and it's better than you might expect. Sure there aren't drawings, trackplans or even exhaustive histories of specific lines (yawn ... zzzzzz). It's quite generalised, to cover the world in one hundred and twenty pages it has to be, but there are some pluses It has some cracking photography doesn't aim just at the obvious and well known. Some are like the cover, 3/4 action shots, but many/most set the railway within the landscape and make it easy to home in on the essential atmosphere of a particular scene. A few are sublime works of art. Here's my favourite, the line between Shantipur and Krishnanagar in India, taken in 1981 by John Hunt.

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