A Quite Impossible Proposal - how not to build a railway


Many histories of Britain's railways, and Scottish railways in particular, mention in passing that, around the end of the nineteenth century there were  a number of proposals for railways into the far north-west of the Scottish Higlands, and indeed on Skye and Lewis. The proposals are usually, and incorrectly, linked to Lord Leverhulme and it is suggested they were not serious. The real story is rather different as recounted in this often entertaining and highly detailed book.

The first and most serious proposal was for a line from Garve on the Highland Railway's Kyle of Lochalsh line, which would have run northwestwards to Ullapool, nowadays the ferry port for Stornaway and the north of Lewis. This actually had its Act passed in parliament, but nothing happened, despite four government commissions being sent to investigate the whole question of rails to the far noth-west. Why?

The answer(s) are in the 308 larger format pages of this paperback - it is a story of government incompetence and indecision, of vastly wealthy owners of vast estates in the area concerned, not many of whom emerge with much in the way of credit, of big money against the impoverished local inhabitants, not forgetting railways, municipal councils and the like. 

So this is a railway book without any railway, apart from some plans and 12 pages of B&W illustrations including some maps and photos of some of the personages involved. It is also an eye-opening and recommended read.