Beyond '68

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2018 saw the 50th anniversary of what many regard as the end of steam haulage on British Railways but, of course it wasn't any such thing as one BR line remained exclusively steam worked for the next 20 years - the 1'11.5" gauge Vale of Rheidol line running 12 miles due east from Aberystwyth.

This truly stunning book has been produced to mark the 30th anniversary, also in 2018, of the last trains on this line under British Railways management. There are 104 pages 292mm x 273mm containing 85 monochrome photographs (virtually all one to a page) duotone printed on 170 gsm satin paper. And it is hardback.

For reasons explained in the text, there are 10 pages of photographs of European working narrow gauge steam, all the rest being dedicated to the Vale of Rheidol. A few date from 1977, but the vast majority were taken in the 1980s up to 4th November 1988, the last day under BR control. Each of the three Davies & Metcalfe 2-6-2 tanks has a section devoted to it, mainly in chronological order, following it at work up the valley to Devil's Bridge.

Bill Jamieson's photography is of the highest order, and this book has been printed to a very high standard. As you may gather, I am very impressed by it. The VoR only had three virtually identical locomotives during its life, the coaches were very similar, the line having been a pure passenger hauler since before WW11, and the line is difficult of access. As a result some may find a number of the photographs slightly repetitive at first glance. At a second and more leisurely glance, this impression goes; engines change liveries, the seasons change as do details, so that this is a book to look at time after time. And the captions, both with the photographs, but also much enlarged at the end of the book, are highly informative.

A lovely book, which you should treat yourself to!