Published by friends at Pen and Sword Transport “Seventy Years of the South Western – A Railway Journey Through Time” is Colin Boocock’s romp through the South Western railways on which he grew up and later worked on. With yesterday, July 9th, marking 55 years since the end of the steam on the Southern Region a review of this recently published book seems apt.
This comprehensive 240 glossy page book covers through its 24 chapters: the Southern main lines to the west of England and the ‘Withered arm’, the Direct Line to Portsmouth, Waterloo, Clapham Junction, the suburban network and the Isle of Wight. Five chapters provide more details on the ‘Railway hubs’ of Southampton, Eastleigh, Bournemouth, Salisbury and Exeter. Other chapters look at the railways through the Counties of Somerset, Dorset, Devon and Hampshire, and finally the book takes a look at the Hampshire Diesels, electrification, news trains, Franchisees and onwards to the future.
Colin started his career at Eastleigh in the 1950s before returning in a management role in the 1960s. Being part of the senior management at the time of privatisation Colin is able to write with authority on the processes and outcomes at that time. Many of the photographs used to accompany the researched text throughout the book are Colin’s own and therefore are refreshingly new, although post 1950s, and demonstrate how much he travelled across the South Western with a knack for capturing what then would have been mundane but now provides interesting reference.
Owing to its broad South Western topic the book is not, unsurprisingly, as detailed as some of the more line specific publications, it does however provide a good overview and introduction of the whole of the South Western network throughout the ages, with a balance of historical information, diagrams and photographs that will be of interest to railway historians and modellers alike; especially those looking for a broad starting point for gaining an understanding into the history and intricacies of the South Western network.