Round the Works of Our Great Railways, by various authors. Edward Arnold, 1893 [ebook]


Round the Works of Our Great Railways, by various authors. Edward Arnold, 1893.

Hardcover book, blue cloth with black sketch of railway lines and telegraph poles, 7.5” X 5.75”, PP.232, plus adverts.


This rather a strange book, the chapters being of very uneven quality, possibly because the material originated as magazine articles, and was then edited into book form by “Anon ”.

The status of the nominal contributors is varied too. I do not believe for one moment that the “Arch-Delegator”, Wilson Worsdell wrote, dictated or even read the article attributed to him. It refers to “Mr. Worsdell ” in the third person,  fails to distinguish  in the photo captions which works is depicted (Gateshead, Darlington and York locomotive works are mentioned in the text, so is York Carriage Works).  A large portion of the text is taken up with irrelevant if mildly interesting detail for example the port if Hartlepool was a major exporter of eggs, and the total number of passenger tickets issued by the NER in a year weighed 39 tons. What? Who in earth asked for such a statistic to be compiled? Why? How was it done?

The chapter reads as if written by someone with restricted knowledge, who was instructed to write a given number of words and who filled in with any bits of information he could get hold of. The completed work was then shown to Worsdell, who being anxious to return to his perusal of the latest catalogue from Hardy’s of Alnwick and arranging his next Norwegian holiday, gave it merely a glance before having it sent off.

Those chapters written by more junior loco dept. officials with reputations to make or maintain are much better. (Crewe, Derby and  Stratford).  Quite why a member of the Surveyor’s Dept. of the GNR should have been tasked with the chapter on Doncaster is not clear but apart for a digression into the traffic arrangements for Doncaster Race Week, and the town’s reputation for butterscotch, it is a good description of The Plant towards the end of the Stirling regime.

Rev. Alfred H. Malan (1852–1928), was another of those late Victorian/Edwardian ecclesiastical “Railwayacs” who cultivated the friendship of senior railway officials belonged to the same clubs, and moved in the same social circles. Malan was certainly persona grata at Paddington and Swindon, and was granted unprecedented access to record the twilight of the broad gauge in his superb photographs. Few better choices could have been made for a writer  to describe Swindon at the start of a new era.

I have been unable to discover anything about Mr. Lockyer who contributed a workmanlike account of the North British Railway Works at Cowlairs.



There are no reviews yet.

Only logged in customers who have purchased this product may leave a review.

You may also like…