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Book reviews — June 1978

The Post Office Railway, London by Derek A. Bayliss
Turntable Publications, Sheffield 1978 £3.50 from bookshops
A full history and description, by our Croydon correspondent (a little outside his territory) of the driverless remote-controlled electric underground railway from Paddington, through the West End and the City to Whitechapel, which has carried the mails under London for more than 50 years. It also tells the story of the unsuccessful schemes of the Pneumatic Despatch Company in the 1860s and 70s. It embodies much original research and will interest anyone who has visited the Railway and wants to know more about it.

Animal Powered Engines by J. Kenneth Major
Batsford £5.95 from booksellers
The horse-gin house is still a common site on farms, even if lacking its original equipment, but Kenneth Major shows that animal power was not uncommon in industrial processes and was used for winding gins at mines, providing power for cranes, turning machinery in mills and factories; even for pumping liquor in a brewery designed by that renowned engineer John Smeaton. Of particular interest to GLIAS members will be the information that, when first opened, Rennie's Royal Mint was powered by horse engines and that even as late as 1896 Her Majesty's prisons in London - Pentonville and Wandsworth - used human powered engines to grind corn. The book contains a useful gazetteer of remaining animal-powered engines in England and Wales, plus selected examples from other parts of the world. Chris Rule

Wimbledon Windmill by Norman Plastow FRIBA
Wimbledon & Putney Common Conservators 1977 30p from Wandsworth Libraries
An excellent short history of this recently restored windmill; well-illustrated and with the best short account I have seen of how a windmill works. The first floor is open to the public as a windmill museum (but no opening times are given). Derek Bayliss

© GLIAS, 1978