on 18 September 2003
If you (like me) want an overview of where to see the remains of Britain's enormous industrial past, this is a fantastic book. It helps if you've seen Fred Dibnah on television before, because he writes the way he speaks and that can take a bit of getting used to.
In places this book is more a collection of disconnected personal memories than facts, but we can be charitable and agree that that just adds to the charm. In some places, however, it would have been nice to have a bit more explanation behind the technical terms used.
At the end of the book there's the Gazetteer, an overview of Britain with maps and places to see. Places mentioned in the book that are also in the Gazetteer are printed in bold - sadly though there's no indication of where so you end up hunting through the Gazetteer to find the correct page. The index isn't much help here, since it's fairly incomplete and almost randomly organised.
Yet, despite all this, this is a fascinating book. I hope there will be a second edition that expands on the first, and corrects these minor niggles, and that'll be worth 5 stars.
on 15 November 2013
Fred starts by relating how as a youngster he first became aware of the industrial activity around his home town of Bolton, and how saddened he was to see decay and disuse set in as industrial sites were closed and abandoned.
He then takes us through a series of themed chapters, complete with locations where you might see examples of the machinery in question. The chapters are: Wind water and steam: Mills and factories: Iron and Steel: Mining: Railways: Steam ships and steam engines, and finally there is a gazetteer and maps.
Do bear in mind though that this book was published in 1999, so the gazetteer may be a little out of date now.
A warning! This book was repubished with the same text and photographs( but as far as I can tell, not updated) by the BBC in 2010 as "Foundries and Rolling Mills", so you may already own the book! This 1999 book is printed on better quality paper than the 2010 version mentioned, and also has the images placed throughout the text, rather than gathered in one block.
Thoroughly enjoyable, and Fred's considerable knowledge and passion for anything mechanical comes over well.
So sad that he is no longer with us.