English Narrow Gauge Album Volume 1


This album is the first of two volumes covering the extraordinary breadth and individuality of narrow gauge railways in England, ranging from the diminutive 18ins gauge serving the L&NWR's famous Crewe Works to the Colonial-style Leek & Manifold 2ft 6ins gauge line in Derbyshire. The theme of these books also consider the overall development of narrow gauge railways in England, within the political, legal, economic and social frameworks of the 19th and 20th centuries. Narrow gauge railways in England were largely built for three different purposes: industrial, military or as common carriers connecting communities left out of the railway mania construction struction of the 19th century. Within this framework, local entrepreneurs and several innovators, such as John Barraclough Fell, Magnus Volk, Richard Rapier and E.R. Calthrop, pushed out the barriers of the narrow gauge.

By the outbreak of the First World War there were ominous warnings that road transport might provide a better bet than the narrow gauge railway. This war largely stopped any further significant advancement of the narrow gauge and the public lines in Britain began to struggle financially. The Second World War pushed many of these enterprises into bankruptcy as labour and materials were diverted to the war effort. During and immediately after the war, the majority of the remaining lines closed.

For the railway enthusiast, however, English narrow gauge railways were to prove welcome news, as each developed its own idiosyncratic character as well as being operated by a wide range of different and largely attractive steam locomotives and rolling stock, enduring them to history if not commerce.

What is nice about this book is the prevalence of genuine archive photographs, some well known, some not, but all interesting.

Hardback, 200 pages, black & white and colour illustrations