Book reviews — June 2013
'London's Industrial Heritage', by Geoff Marshall
Published by the History Press, 15 March 2013, 256 pages, paperback £16.99. ISBN 9780752487281. Also available more cheaply as a kindle book
This is a real achievement — the first substantial book on London's manufacturing past, principally that of the 19th century. It is pleasantly readable and provides a surprisingly comprehensive coverage of its vast subject. It fills a gap — there was no single book on the subject.
The topics appear disorganised — until one realises that within the four parts the book is divided into, the entries are arranged essentially in alphabetical order. At the next level of organisation down topics apparently appear at random and we have juxtapositions such as the Royal Mint, dog food and false teeth. The book is essentially a potpourri of interesting facts, anecdotes and poetry.
Starting with Public Utilities we next have Manufacturing, the longest section of the book, this is followed by Transport. Then to finish, we have Other Industries — this includes brewing, the building industry, the coal trade, food — and then water mills and windmills.
One warms to the book as the viewpoint of the author becomes clearer. An introduction explaining his approach, even just a rubric, would have been helpful. He goes straight into his material with electricity and then gas after only a brief preface — E comes before G.
Dr Geoffrey Marshall was born in the West Midlands. A former research chemist, he is a London Blue Badge Tourist Guide. Dr Marshall has also published London's Docklands: An Illustrated Guide (2008) and Walsall: An Illustrated History (2008). He is not to be confused with the London tube enthusiast of the same name — nor with the photographer Peter Marshall, who has a website called London's Industrial Heritage.
The book, London's Industrial Heritage, can certainly be recommended as a means of getting people interested in the subject. It is entertaining and many will find it fascinating. This is a popular book rather than a serious or academic work. It is good value, well illustrated with relevant images and there is a bibliography and usable index. The proof reading seems to have been carefully done. The title is the same as that of Aubrey Wilson's photographic book published in 1967. Bob Carr
'Of Bricks and Men: Recollections of Handley's Woodside Brickworks, Croydon, and of local historian John Gent'
Croydon Natural History and Scientific Society proceedings Vol 19, part 5. September 2012. £3.50. ISBN: 978-0-906047-27-9
The latest issue of the society's journal, containing 'My recollections of Handley's Woodside brickworks, Croydon' by Edward Handley; 'Brick-clays, brickfields and brick-making in Croydon' by Paul Sowan; and 'John Bannister Gent (1932-2011), historian of Croydon and thrice President of the Croydon Natural History and Scientific Society' by Paul Sowan.
'The London Book of Days', by Peter De Loriol
Published 18 March 2013, £9.99 Hardback. ISBN: 978-0-7524-7939-2
Peter De Loriol journeys through the year day by day with hundreds of snippets of quirky, notable or eccentric information gleaned from London's many archives. Using original research and previously unpublished material, De Loriol looks at events from different periods of history, many of which have had a major impact on the religious and political development of Britain as a whole.
© GLIAS, 2013