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Mapping Britain's Lost Branch Lines: A nostalgic look at Britain's branch lines in old maps and photographs [Hardcover]

Paul Atterbury
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
RRP: £25.00
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Book Description

27 Sep 2013
Today there is a nostalgia in Britain for the golden age of the railways, a period usually defined as the first half of the 20th century. Steam was king, and Britain still enjoyed a remarkably comprehensive railway network, a network whose tentacles connected towns, villages and even hamlets across the entire country.
At its heart were rural routes and branch lines, the latter often the creation of small companies driven by local needs and local finance. Firmly at the centre of British life, these lines were, for so many remote areas, a social and economic lifeline.
Today, branch lines are part of a lost world, an era when railway maps of Britain showed lines crisscrossing every county – many of which had distinctive, but also lost, names. By bringing together old maps, images of old branch lines and modern photographs of relics that can be discovered today, this book celebrates a Britain of fond memories.

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Frequently Bought Together

Mapping Britain's Lost Branch Lines: A nostalgic look at Britain's branch lines in old maps and photographs + Exploring Britain's Lost Railways: A nostalgic journey along 50 long-lost railway lines + Paul Atterbury's Favourite Railway Journeys
Price For All Three: £52.28

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: David & Charles (27 Sep 2013)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 1446302830
  • ISBN-13: 978-1446302835
  • Product Dimensions: 26.2 x 24.2 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 24,790 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

About the Author

Paul Atterbury is a long-time expert on BBC TV’s Antiques Roadshow, and has written on railways, Victorian culture and arts, as well as many other topics. He is also the author of Along Country Lines, Branch Line Britain, Along Lost Lines, Life Along the Line, Paul Atterbury's Railway Collection and Paul Atterbury's Wonder Book of Trains. Paul lives in Weymouth.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "Mapping"? 30 April 2014
I have generally been a fan of Paul Atterbury's pleasant railway pictorials, though I have often thought they would have benefited from better maps.

So when I came across this title on Amazon, I thought "Oh, good! He (or his publisher) has heard enough muttering about maps, and decided to do a book that corrects the shortcoming!"

I wasn't silly enough to believe that the book would actually be about "mapping" - that was surely a marketing choice, with no particular interest in accuracy.

But I did expect some samples of different maps, an interesting level of detail.


Between the author and the publisher, they found one old map, with no other apparent redeeming factor beyond being out of copyright so they could use it for free. They then proceeded to cut that aesthetically unappealing scrap into regional chunks, color code the lines, blow them up larger than the scant detail justified, and go to press. While surely congratulating themselves on having met the expectations of undiscerning book buyers.

Discerning map lovers should look elsewhere. I suggest various Times/Collins books by Julian Holland - access to the Bartholemew mapping, and generous inclusion, places them a world above what is found here.

Other than that, is a pleasant enough hodgepodge of interesting pictures and trivia - failing perhaps in any sense of completeness due to having too narrowly defined what qualifies for selection, while still including so many that those included are merely glossed over, before moving on to the next.

I pick it up, look through it casually until something intrigues me, then put it down to go to a better book - or Wikipedia - to find more and better information, or more gratifying entertainment.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another fine book about British branch lines 27 Oct 2013
By Peter Durward Harris #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER
For this book, the author covers every branch line in England, Scotland and Wales, according to the following definition :-

A passenger-carrying railway, generally not more than 25 miles long, running from a mainline junction to a village, town or city terminus. Minor lines that connect places on mainlines are excluded, as are branches created as a result of partial closure of interconnecting or through routes. Freight-only lines are covered in a special features section.

All of that means that some lines that we might consider to branch lines are excluded. but given the volume of material already published by the author on secondary routes, I doubt if there is any such line in mainland Britain that he hasn't covered at least once. If there is, I suspect somebody will alert the author and he will do something about it at the next available opportunity :-)

As expected, there are various features throughout the book, interspersed between the pictures and articles about the branch lines, notably one about the lost line legacy of signs and other surviving relics. Those signs (or their replacements) for Station Road are likely to be around for many generations to come :-)

This book provides us with another excelleent selection of railway nostalgia, well up to the standard expected of the author.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mapping the past 25 Oct 2013
Books about old branch lines will always evoke certain memories amongst some. You don't have to have been around at the time they existed even, but have seen or read about them in various television programmes or films and books such as The Railway Children or The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Their existence was fundamental to modern Britain and Ireland.

This book centres on Britain and it is well researched and put together by the ever resourceful and helpful Paul Atterbury.

One aspect which has always been lacking in these types of books about old and lost railway lines was Maps. Yes, the maps really make the difference here. Its great to be able to find out exactly where the line in question is, in relation to everything else and will help people to be able to trace it even easier in person, should they wish to. Even if you do not wish to visit the remnants in person, seeing them on maps is such a great help. They are interesting in themselves to look at, with various lines numbered, enabling you to locate them easily and then read more about them in their relevant section in the chapter following, along with pictures of past and sometimes near present. Mr. Atterbury also provides us with what became of the various scenes, be they stations or crossings, etc.

The book is quite large and very good value. The pictures are clear and the text very interesting. It combines all the things I like about tracing lost lines and am appreciative to Mr. Atterbury for putting his time into such a thoughtful publication.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mapping Britain's Lost Branch Lines 24 Jan 2014
This book is well presented, has a fascinating collection of pictures, 25 handy maps, and some interesting (if sometimes brief) notes on 260 or so 'lost' British branch lines. It's fine either for browsing or for 'on the ground' exploration. So far so good. But what's not to like? Well, a number of the supposedly 'lost' lines are still very much with us, and are even electrified - eg the Seaford branch and Watford-St Albans. Why devote space to these when other, genuinely 'lost', lines such as the Ventnor West branch or the Lynton & Barnstaple could have been covered instead? Also, the author's somewhat artificial exclusion of routes connecting two junctions rules out a vast number of lines - Chichester-Midhurst or the Bure Valley line, for example - which share all the characteristics of branch lines. We need another volume to deal with these! Finally, some of the maps are slightly misleading - it looks like the Clevedon branch, for example, joined up with the Weston, Clevedon & Portishead. But it didn't! So, a very good product but, for me, it doesn't quite get top marks.
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