A less well known member of the Great Western’s “…for boys of all ages” series of books, this sold for one shilling, and is written in the same slightly patronising style, as of an uncle, saddled with entertaining an intelligent nephew for a day, and trying to treat him like an adult… Having said that, the book is packed with information about the history and scope of the GWR’S dock and maritime activities ranging from Brentford through Fowey, Plymouth, Newquay, Fishguard and Saltney, but principally the shipping of coal from South Wales. As a result of the 1923 railway “Grouping” the GWR amalgamated with or absorbed a number of smaller railways in South Wales which had developed extensive port facilities in the area. As a result the GWR when, these had been added to its existing holdings, owned docks with a total area of 1,300 acres, and claimed to be the largest dock owning company in the world.
The book is packed with statistics of tonnages shipped, not just of coal, but also steel, tinplate and other commodities. One piece of information I had not realized was that the 1920s depression in the South Wales coal trade was caused by Britain’s former allies taking part of the reparations forced on Germany by the Treaty of Versailles in coal which previously would have been bought from the UK. Well worth reading as a “light” economic history.
PREVIEW BELOW – MAY TAKE A WHILE TO LOAD.