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.
There have been many books that cover and detail the history and development of the widespread and successful Southern Railway programme of electrification, built on that started by the London and South Western Railway, resulting in ‘Southern Electric’ becoming the ‘The World’s greatest suburban electrification’. Books such as GT Mooney’s Southern Electric, David Brown’s New History of Southern Electric and the South Western Circle’s The Riverside Electric by Colin Chivers, all refer to the part played the by LSWR and then SR General Manager Sir Herbert Walker and his electrical engineer Alfred Raworth.
This substantial 340 page tome, with its 25 chapters, detailing for the first time a biography of Alfred Raworth’s entire personal story and career; staring with working for his consulting engineer father John Smith Raworth, through to joining the railway, working for the LSWR and SR, the design for an electric railway, being responsible for the implementation of all its their electrification schemes, becoming Southern Railway Chief Electrical Engineer, the Southern Electric at War, the electric locomotives and Raworth’s plans for the future.
Such schemes are much more than just about rolling stock and this book also provides a look at the infrastructure required that was often hidden behind the closed walls of sub stations etc. It also looks at the business cases, innovative engineering, and politics involved in the electrification of the railways between 1918 and 1956 especially where the Southern went its own way with the use of the third rail system.
A comprehensive and informative read, that contains a wealth of previously unpublished information interspersed with a number of both black and colour photographs, illustrations and drawings. It substantially fills many gaps in the background, lifetime and work of ‘electrification genius’ Alfred Raworth. Highly recommended.
Southern Times is the new quarterly periodical, edited by my friend Kevin Robertson, for followers of the Southern Railway, British Railways Southern Region, as well as the pre group companies; LSWR, SECR, LBSCR, and SECR. It is intended to be a quarterly publication.
If this sounds familiar, it will do, as it is effectively a replacement for the long established and enjoyable ‘Southern Way’ from a different publisher (whether Southern Way might continue under a new editor we will have to wait and see).
This first issue of Southern Times, follows the previous periodicals format of 80 pages of an eclectic mix of Southern related articles and images both black and white and in colour, many of which have been previously unpublished.
The great post war image of Schools class 905 in malachite at Eastleigh on the front cover must have been a late change as according the caption is Port Line leaving Victoria on the Golden Arrow in 1954!
Highlights in this issue includes: new light on the Joint LSWR/LBSC and LSWR steam railmotors, The Southern from the air, Stephen Townroe’s colour archive, David McKenna Chairman and General Manager, a photo feature on EMUs, Treasures from the Bluebell Railway Museum and more to dip into. If you were an ardent collector of the Southern Way then this latest incarnation Southern Times will be a sure winner.
The model railway world and mainly Southern Railway meanderings of Graham 'Muz' Muspratt