Book reviews — October 1987
THE BP BOOK OF INDUSTRIAL ARCHAEOLOGY. By Neil Cossons
2nd Edition, 1987. pp. 334, Price £14.95
Those among us who have taught IA classes will undoubtedly have recommended the earlier (1975) edition of Neil Cossons' book to our classes and since some 45,000 copies were sold many must have listened, but the book has not been available recently.
Twelve years' later the book appears in a new edition with a large page size: out fewer pages, and of course an increased price. The basic text of the main topic chapters has been little changed except where demolition and preservation have caused changes on the ground. There is though a new introduction and a basically new conclusion detailing the changes in the IA scene, the approach to the subject, and the future. The outline gazetteer is improved and more detailed. The directory of societies and related organisations is very comprehensive as is the bibliography (although I note that the IA of SE London is missing from the London listings). The increase in page size has allowed many more photographs to be included and most of these are of excellent quality both in composition (taken in the main by the author) and reproduction.
This is still the best book giving a general introduction to the subject and BP are to be congratulated in continuing to support it. DAVID PERRETT
ALMSHOUSES OF LONDON, by Clive Berridge
Ashford Press Publishing. Southampton, 1987 £9.95
I picked up this new book pleased that at last I could find out more about a little researched topic. However, a few minutes with the appropriate volume of Pevsner told me far more. Pevsner was not mentioned in the bibliography. There was no definition of 'London': I took it to be the old L.C.C. boundaries which explains the omission, of some important institutions like the Whitgift Almshouses in Croydon.
There was little consistency of approach — some being dealt with historically and some architecturally — but few adequately. Little or no care had been taken in the sub-editing: one does not expect to read something like the following:
'Today the 14 Almshouses contain collection of furniture, paintings and household items from previous centuries on display in the old almshouses which have been converted into period rooms.'The black and white illustrations were interesting, but few were really clear. The colour plates were numbered in the index but not on the appropriate page and finding out what was what was difficult — a shame as some of the plates were outstanding. All in all a disappointing book and at the price worth borrowing from the library to see how many howlers you can find. SUE HAYTON
© GLIAS, 1987