Britain’s Declining Secondary Railways Through the 1960s – The Blake Paterson Collection

By Kevin McCormack and Martin Jenkins, (hardback, Pen & Sword Transport, 168pp, £25,
ISBN 1473860296).

This magnificent volume starts at simply evocative, and goes up from there.

It is based around the collection of Blake Paterson who spent 45 years capturing the end of the steam age and the changeover years to diesel and electric before the Beeching Axe fell on cross-country lines which were judged to “double up” on better patronised routes.

Each picture tells its own story, and the large square format makes the most of the wonderful array of colour transparencies of scenes that can never be repeated.

Green DMUs and railcars on the ‘Withered Arm’ including the Bude branch, Bulleid Pacifics heading for Barnstaple, ‘Jinties’ on the Somerset & Dorset at Radstock, panniers and prairies over the spectacular Crumlin viaduct, green DEMUs on the New Romney branch, an Adams O2 approaching Ryde Esplanade, schoolchildren inspecting the finer point of an H class 0-4-4T… there is not one dull or uninspiring page in the entire collection.

Not only is the length and breadth of the British mainland covered, but the final section includes Blake’s visits to Northern Ireland.

It is now more than half a century since most of these routes were lost, and here is a wonderful way to experience them again if not for the first time.


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