Book reviews - June 2002
'Civil Engineering Heritage: London and the Thames Valley', edited by Denis Smith
320 pages (September 2000). Institution of Civil Engineers; ISBN: 0727728768
In 1971 the Institution of Civil Engineers formed the Panel for Historical Engineering Works, its object being to identify, assess and record details of important sites, aims common with many aspects of IA. In part to achieve this a series of regional volumes were commissioned in the late 1970s. This volume is the sixth to be published and covers Greater London plus extensions as far north as Banbury and as far west as Newbury. There are nine chapters with coverage ranging from engineering associated Thames to roads and notable buildings.
There are some 220 entries in the book. A typical entry occupies a page with an authoritative description plus NGR and HEW numbers of the structure and its history plus a few of the most relevant references often to contemporary sources. Nearly half the sites are illustrated either with photographs or drawings. Denis himself must be credited with the majority of the entries although they are unattributed and in addition a number of the photographs are from his collection although others were specially commissioned from Wendie Teppett. The standard of reproduction of the photographs is very good. Site entries in the Thames valley (Chapter 9) are credited to Brian Powell. There are also very useful appendices listing a few additional sites and memorials in London to famous civil engineers. There are comprehensive name and site indices.
A few entries in the book might be questioned by some. Are the M25 or the Thames Barrier really today's engineering heritage? There are also a few areas where the proof reading could have been improved plus there are some rather disconcerting empty pages at the end of many of the chapters - I am sure some extra photographs could have been included to take up these blanks. The biggest criticism though lies with the publisher. Why should a reference work such as this be a paperback book? The earliest volumes were hardback and the rather flimsy cover of my copy of the new volume is already damaged. Finally the price is high for a softback and this will put off many impulse purchasers.
This is an important new book since it is really the first illustrated IA type gazetteer of our region even though it only covers major engineering sites. It should be in the collection of all GLIAS members. David Perrett
'Industrial Archaeology Review'
AIA members will have recently received Issue 1 of volume XXIV of the Review and found two articles of GLIAS interest. Jonathan Clarke of English Heritage's London Division has converted his very detailed report on Mumford's Flour Mill at Deptford into an excellent Journal article. Many members will have seen Mumford's Mill on GLIAS walks around Deptford in 1990. This site, with its massive structure silo of 1897 by Ashton Webb and the smaller East Mill of c1817, stands on Deptford Creek. (NB Progress in the latest attempt to convert the Silo to flats once again seems to ground to a halt.)
Ken Catford, longstanding GLIAS member but now a country member living in Liverpool, has written a detailed article on coal mining. The surprise is that the coalmines in question are on Spitsbergen just 1,200km from the North Pole. The mining remains include superb aerial ropeways although why the AIA shows them only in micro photographs I do not understand. We know that GLIAS's influence extends north of Watford but to the Arctic Circle is really pushing it! Congratulations, Ken. David Perrett
'The Railways of Camden', by Keith A Scholey
Softback, 52 pp, 25 illustrations, price £6.95 plus £l p&p from CHS Publications, Flat 13, 13 Tavistock Place, London WC1H 9SH. Tel: 020 7388 9889
This Camden History Society occasional paper deals authoritatively with the history of all surface and underground lines, as well as the associated goods depots and locomotive sheds, that cross what is now the London Borough of Camden, from their inauguration in the 1830s to the present day.
Steam locomotives first appeared at the terminus of the London and Birmingham Railway at Chalk Farm; within a few decades three major termini of mainline rail companies had appeared almost cheek by jowl along the Euston Road. The book traces the history of 'grouping' competing companies into four major conglomerates, the forced amalgamation into British Rail and the subsequent fragmentation in recent years.
Meanwhile a separate set of competing companies dug underground lines beneath the streets of the borough, beginning with the sub-surface Metropolitan Railway and continuing with American Yerkes-financed private 'Tube' lines, all of which were also later combined into the London Underground system of criss-crossing lines.
The story of how the surface as well as underground lines started to serve suburban districts and in turn stimulated their development is told here with a wealth of illustrations, many provided by the author's own collection of picture postcards as well as from local archives.
'London's Disused Underground Stations', by J E Connor
ISBN: 1-85414-250-X hardback. Capital Transport Publishing: 128pp. £19.95 + p&p from Capital Transport Publishing, 38 Long Elmes, Harrow Weald
This is a revised and enlarged edition of the author's book published in 1999. It describes the history and current state of abandoned stations on the London Underground railway system (surface stations as well as those below ground).
The subsurface stations are Aldwych, British Museum, Brompton Road, Charing Cross (Jubilee Line), City Road, Dover Street, Down Street, King William Street, Lords (St John's Wood Road), North End (Bull & Bush), St Mary's (Whitechapel Road), South Kentish Town, Wood Lane, and York Road.
The book is illustrated with contemporary and modern photographs, station plans, etc. Paul Sowan
'The Waterloo & City Railway', by John C Gillham
ISBN: 0-85361-544-6 hardback. Oakwood Press: Oakwood Library of Railway History. 464pp. £35
This is a large volume in small print, chronicling every aspect of the planning, construction, and subsequent history of this 1©-mile underground railway (a standard-gauge railway entirely isolated from the rest of the national rail network - rolling stock being transferred to or from the Waterloo & City by a vertical hoist.)
There are numerous contemporary black-and-white photographs, line drawings, and sketch maps and plans, although the latter are rather small and difficult to read. A larger and clearer map of the Waterloo end of the line would have been welcome, showing more clearly the relative locations of the main line stations and lines, and the Waterloo & City tunnel, station, carriage sidings, power station and carriage lift.
Tunnel construction is described and the line's relationship to the Bakerloo, Central, and mainline railways. There are full accounts of the line's own generating station, equipment, and rolling stock. A never-implemented scheme to extend the line to connect with the East London Line at Shoreditch is described. Paul Sowan
© GLIAS, 2002