Another book review: The Southwold Railway, 1879-1929.
I love books about obscure and characterful railways, especially narrow gauge lines, and the Southwold ticks all of those boxes so perhaps it's no surprise that I enjoyed this book. It's a classic book of the type too, a good quality hardback with an attractive dust jacket, and covers the history of the railway including the various proposals, building, operating, the route and stations, and the locos and rolling stock, so it is everything you would expect.
There are three authors listed: David Lee, Alan Taylor, and Rob Shoreland-Ball, and the introduction sets out how their work has come together. Rob is the main author, building on and including the work of David and Alan. This can mean there is a little repetition in places where the subjects of different chapters overlap, but the book is logically structured and presented, and easy to follow, with a consistent style.
Actually the text is well written and easy to read, and a good balance is struck of interesting detail without becoming dry. The photos are well reproduced and captioned, and clearly referenced in the text - a nice touch. There are plenty of maps, diagrams, and drawings too - including of course locomotives, stock, and some buildings. There's even a chapter on operation which describes train consists, and how shunting took place, a topic that could easily become dull yet does not. So there is plenty of detail for modellers and enthusiasts, but the story of the railway told in a way that even non-enthusiasts would find easy to follow.
Although a good friend of mine has modelled the Southwold Railway it is a line I knew little about, this book has introduced me to the railway with enthusiasm, and I have to say the love the authors have for the line, and keeping the memory of it alive, shows through. The book finishes with a summary of the Southwold Railway Trust, what they have achieved and their plans for the future.
So if like me you enjoy reading about long forgotten railways, you will like this book. It manages to be a historical record while remaining engaging to read and showing warmth for it's subject.