Most helpful critical review
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Wanted to like it
on 27 September 2013
I wanted to like this book.
I was around when Beeching was happening but too young to understand it, so I hoped this would help. A forensic accountant-cum-rail enthusiast ought to be able to shed a lot of light on the business realities underpinning the issues. And he does.
But it's still a disappointing read. Quite a lot is given over to taking issue with previous writers on the subject rather than stating his own case. Although each chapter has a theme, an intro and a summary, the content doesn't have any sense of telling a story - it's just stuff plonked down. And he spends very little time on the real test of Beeching's influence: what happened in the ensuing 50 years. This book cries out for a more skilful editor.
The photos are profuse and gratuitous - unless you carry a detailed map of the 1960 rail map in your head you'll not learn much from captions like:
"This photograph at Round Oak, close to Dudley on the GWR Stourbridge Junction to Wolverhampton line, shows a three-car Derby Class 116 suburban DMU, complete with 'white cap' over the cab roof, heading for Wolverhampton in 1962, the year in which the service was withdrawn. In the left background is what appears to be a Midland-pattern signalbox, which controls access to the adjacent factory. Although the GWR route was abandoned, the LMSR line, which made an end-on junction at Dudley and led to Bescot Curve Junction (for Bescot yard) and Darlaston Junction, near Walsall, remained open until 1993, primarily to service Round Oak steel terminal, which was opened in 1986. Access to the terminal is now from the Stourbridge Junction direction"
...and that's by no means the longest or most obscure. It's as if the publishers got cold feet about the subject matter and turned it into rail porn for the enthusiast market without changing the title.
And as a piece of book production it's a disgrace. The text is really small to make room for the photos, making it hard to read. One paragraph stops in the middle (end of page 12). Text on some of the early pages appears to have been printed out of sequence. Body text on page 124 is in a different typeface from the rest of the book. Captions refer to left when they mean right. And those are just the blunders that stick in the mind.
A sad disappointment.