Book reviews — December 1983
PHOTOGRAPHING HISTORIC BUILDINGS by Terry Buchanan
The 200 splendid illustrations by themselves would justify the purchase of this guide, but I suggest it should be proscribed reading for all GLIAS photographers. The principles of photographing difficult subjects to produce detailed and accurate records, which are at the same time aesthetically pleasing, are clearly and sensitively explained, particular attention being paid to lighting. The hope is expressed that experienced amateurs will be inspired by this book to contribute to the work of the National Monuments Record.
LONDON'S BRIDGES by Stephen Croad
Yet another publication on Thames bridges, but this is almost entirely of photographs from the extensive collection of the National Monumants Record. It covers 28 existing bridges from Tower Bridge to Teddington Weir (omitting only the second railway crossing at Blackfriars) and many of their predecessors also, including such a rarity as one medieval arch of old London Bridge found on the site of Adelaide House in 1921. There is a suitable variety of approach, although hardly any view is taken from the water. Recent photos do not always compare favourably with their glass-negatived forerunners in technical or artistic quality, A few minor errors appear in the text, which has however been well researched, whole the select bibliography excludes two of the most important works of reference, namely James Dredge's monumental 'Thames Bridges' of 1897 and Edward Ruddock's 'Arch Bridges & Their Builders, 1735-1835' of 1979, but this is a worthwhile and useful small book.
Another addition to this series ie FARMS IN ENGLAND - PREHISTORIC TO PRESENT by Peter Fowler. The photographs are excellent in quality and wide-ranging in subject matter, although 19th & 20th century industrial farming might have been given more coverage. Less successful, I feel, are the two recent volumes on gardens and conservatories, subjects where black & white photography is at a natural disadvantage and historically significant items might be illustrated better by contemporary line drawings.
The above books are published by the Royal Commission on Historical Monuments, HMSQ d £4,95, except Photographing Historic Buildings which is £5.95
2000 PAGES OF SOLID INFORMATION ON LONDON
At last the first of the revised volumes on London in the Buildings of England Series: LONDON SOUTH by Bridgit Cherry & Nicholas Pevsner, £11.95. There will now be 3 volumes and the larger format removes them from the 'pocket' category. There is still a bias towards ecclesiastical architecture, but GLIAS member Malcolm Tucker has put IA in the picture with a masterly introduction to IA in the capital, a number of individual entries and a summary of Thames crossings, which makes the book a must for GLIAS members. It is good value at £11.95 and cheaper than many current county volumes thanks to a sub. from the GLC (who are good for some things!) (Reviews were received from DAVE PERRETT & BOB CARR, I have amalgamated them with apologies to both. Ed.)
THE LONDON ENCYCLOPAEDIA edited by Ben Weinreb & Christopher Hibbert
Published by MacMillan 1983 at £24
It takes a volume like this to make Pevsner look small for here are 1,029 pp of solid facts; mainly historical, architectural and topographical. Everything from Lyons Corner Houses to Abbey Mills Pumping Station, water supply to NELP are given entries. There are some 5,000 individual entries, mentioning 10,000 people, illustrated with over 500 illustrations. It is a major work of reference begun some 14 years ago as a spare time hobby by Ben Weinreb the antiquarian bookseller, but brought to a conclusion by his co-author since 1979 Christopher Hibbert, a well known historian. In a work such as this there are a few eccentricities, some entries that should be there and aren't, but it is extremely accurate and errors are hard to find. The encyclopaedia will become a well-used book in any London library. Its price may put the individual off, but if you are in one of the W.H. Smith book clubs it is available at about half price - well worth joining to get. DAVE PERRETT
© GLIAS, 1983