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Waltham Keith (UK)

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British Railways Steam Locomotives 1948 - 1968
British Railways Steam Locomotives 1948 - 1968
by Hugh Longworth
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £29.25

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An essential reference, 5 Jan. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I noticed this book by accident and took a punt on it with some Christmas gift money. I’m glad I did. Opening it at random, I immediately got the impression that it is both a labour of love and a work of art.
The book is well laid out. Each page is quite colourful and easy on the eye, given the density of information. Every class ever owned by British Railways is included. The entry for each class includes mechanical details, a brief, but readable, history followed by the number, name, building, withdrawal and scrapping dates for each loco. A population history for each class, from the end of 1947, yearly, up to the end of1967 is also included. At the end of 1968 there were of course no steam locos except for the three V. of R. narrow gauge engines.
Best of all are the illustrations. Each class has a side elevation of the loco, pointing left, to a constant scale of 2mm the foot and to a uniform graphical quality. Something like 98% are taken from the official diagrams. Usually I tend to find official engine diagrams irritating, with lots of lines, weights and dimensions. Here the extraneous data have been removed and the drawing filled in a single half-tone grey shade with the necessary line detail. This brings back the feel and weight of the locos.
The constant diagram scale also allows, for the first time in one volume I think, comparisons between classes. You can see immediately that a Corris loco would fit inside the tender of a Duchess, or in the front water tank of a Garrett - and that you would have to be bordering on the insane to try and model a Corris loco in 2mm scale!
There are some interesting statistical appendices that re-present the information in various ways. For example, the oldest survivor made it to almost exactly 93 years, while the shortest lived was the SR Leader, at one year and five months.
There are only ten monochrome photographs (plus the two colour ones on the cover) but that is entirely sufficient. There are literally thousands of photo books out there, more than enough to cause brain damage. If you want a single volume with a photo of each BR steam class (and no diesels) you could do worse than source a copy of HC Casserley & LL Asher’s book Locomotives of British Railways (1961). It is long out of print but still obtainable for a reasonable price on various famous online sites.
For those ‘50s and ‘60s spotters who, in addition, want a diesel equivalent to this book, Colin Marsden’s The Complete UK Modern Locomotive Traction Directory forms an ideal companion volume. It is even the same size and thickness, but unfortunately is bound in landscape format rather than portrait. It does include a photo of each class but it doesn’t have those wonderful diagrams that allow size comparisons and bind the whole volume together.
A tremendous amount of effort and thought obviously went into this book. Are there any errors or typos? – in a work of this magnitude and information content, probably, almost certainly. Do I care? – No! I will knock a star off for potential errors, but since I was going to give it 6 anyway, that brings it back to 5 stars.
Thank you, Mr Longworth, for creating this book.

A Brief Guide to the Great Equations (Brief Histories)
A Brief Guide to the Great Equations (Brief Histories)
by Robert Crease
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Restorative, 5 Mar. 2010
As a teenager, you hear music for the first time. The excitement and revelation of new musical inventions is fantastic, a real `high' in life. Then over the years you get used to it all and although some of the music is still enjoyable, you can't `hear it for the first time' anymore. But, very occasionally, you hear something new that brings back some of that original excitement , some of that thrilling bafflement and intrigue.

This book has it in abundance. If you think everything in science is pretty much solved, understood and in fact fairly boring, I would recommend The Great Equations. By following, in some depth, the original journeys, the original struggles and blind alleys, Robert Crease captures the excitement and, in fact, the mystery of all these equations. This is not a straightforward analytical look at the known products, instead it is probably as close as you can get to following the paths of creation through the protagonists' eyes and thoughts. Philosophical issues are here, as they should be (scientists who try to dismiss these aspects are missing something) but the central stories are the personal stories.

At first sight The Great Equations looks like just another popular science book (and there is nothing wrong with that - there are a lot of good ones out there) but I think it is more. It goes deeper than the run of the mill popular science and is so much more rewarding for it. Having said that, it is very well written -I found I was carried along - and apart from chapter headings, equations are largely absent.

I learned a lot from this book, for every equation covered in fact. Some of the equations are quite familiar to me but it is like seeing them for the first time. The fact that they are not given laws of nature in the form written by God, but are contingent on how our minds perceive reality, is really brought home. Of course they have some deep connection with reality, but to me, the fact that there is still a mystery as to what that connection could be, restores the excitement.

Einstein's journey from the first inkling that mass should depend on the motion of the observer to the final famous form of his equation is well covered. It hadn't occurred to me before that the key bit of maths in the derivation of special relativity is the Pythagorean theorem! To mention another chapter where I was learning throughout - Heisenberg's uncertainty principle. I thought I knew the stories but I had little idea of the intense arguments over the approaches to quantum mechanics in Europe in the `20s. Again, this chapter was a bit of a revelation. I felt, after all these years, that I had a fresh insight into quantum mechanics after my struggles with it as an enthusiastic undergrad. It makes me want to have another go at some serious maths (another good book for rekindling excitement is The Art of the Infinite by R & E Kaplan.)

Finally, this book has the best system for looking up chapter notes I have seen. Highly recommended.

Oh, and Cameron Diaz has gone up no end in my estimation! (Robert Crease quotes something from The Biography of an Equation by David Bodanis - another cracking good read).

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