Home | Membership | News | Diary | Walks | Calvocoressi Fund | Books | Links | Database | e-papers | About us

Book reviews — December 1982

Published by Avon-Anglia at £1.60 28 pages
A timely production in view of the plans for a Docklands Light Rapid Transit Railway, which were presumably announced too late for inclusion in this booklet. The title is misleading as much of the text deals with the London & Blackwall Railway main line. It is, in fact, a revised version of a booklet issued some years ago under the title of The London & Blackwall Railway and follows the same chapter headings. The early years of cable operation are dealt with at some length and there are notes on the steamer services using Brunswick Wharf, but the pre-history of the line is dismissed in a single paragraph with no mention of the earlier proposals which lead to the laying of the stoneway on Commercial Road. There follow sections on the independent years of steam locomotive operation, the Millwall Extension Railway, the years up to Grouping and the final chapter takes us up to the present. The author has produced a good potted history of the line and its branches with some interesting photographs, but a comprehensive account of the London and Blackwall Railway is still awaited. Tim Smith

26pp & map 90p incl p & p from Islington Central Library, 2 Fieldway Crescent, London N5 1PF
The cutting of the New River, forty miles long, in 1609-13 to supply the City of London with spring water from Hertfordshire was one of the most ambitious and enduring constructional works undertaken in the early 17th century. Though widened and straightened, much of the New River is in use today for its original purpose. However, the southernmost portion from Stoke Newington through Islington to New River Head was partly piped in the late 19th century and abandoned in 1946. Parts have been attractively landscaped. The history of this section including New River Head and the physical evidence of its former course are the subject of this informal and perceptive guide, while the development of the surrounding area and buildings of interest along the route are also placed in context. The author has made a refreshing choice of illustrations. Malcolm Tucker

published by the Railway & Canal Historical Society £3.85 p & p free from the Sales Officer, O. Smart, 136 Westway, Raynes Park, London SW20 9LS
In a Foreword C.R. Clinker, the doyen of railway historians writes 'The name of H.V. Borley has for many years been a hallmark of accuracy in railway history'. The proof of that statement is here. Meticulously compiled from records compiled over a lifetime's study of the subject, this is an invaluable addition to the available literature on London's Railways. The first sections are devoted to chronological details of various parts of the rail system, recorded under lines and the final section comprises an alphabetical list of stations both open and long since closed in the London Area giving opening and closing dates, owning companies and copious notes of other relevant information. Intended as a work of reference it is nevertheless a book for dipping into whilst waiting for Coronation Street to begin? it is safe to say that once you have dipped you will go ' back to The Street possessed of new knowledge.

One criticism is that nowhere is it made clear what are the geographical limits information on a number of lines goes well beyond the GLC boundary and it would be useful to have this defined. The book is important for anyone with the slightest interest in London Railways and will provide the excuse for excursions looking for the sites of long closed and almost forgotten stations. Mr. Borley is to be congratulated on a remarkable achievement. RE Kilsby

THAP Publishing, 178 Whitechapel Road, E1 £1.50 56pp. illustrated
This booklet covers some of the ground of Michael Robbin's 'The North London Railway' but in a less scholarly fashion. Jim Connor's book gives a short history of the line from Broad Street to Poplar and describes the route in detail. Tickets are also dealt with. Sadly there are no references. Probably of most interest to GLIAS readers are the photographs which are well produced. Bob Carr

A TASTE OF LONDON by Theodora Fitzgibbon
Pan £1.95 (from bookshops)
For those industrial archaeologists who enjoy cooking, or those who just like to amass cookbooks, I would commend this slim volume in which the recipes are accompanied by photographs of London from as early as 1845, taken by the great Fox-Talbot, running up to c.1916, photographer unknown. As well as potted shrimps and potted cheese one has a potted history of many parts of London, the Mixed Grill with Devilled Butter for instance is accompanied by some underground railway history. The recipes are varied and diverse in taste, ranging from Carpetbag Steak to London Particular (steak with oysters and pea soup respectively) and, dare I mention it, Yorkshire Pudding. I can't vouch for the accuracy of the historical detail or indeed for the recipes, for every time I start to cook something from the book, I get side-tracked by the photographs, historical notes and quotations and invariably end up, at the 'Chippy' with a dry pie and 'tail-end' chips. Peter Skilton

© GLIAS, 1982