All Change!: Visiting the Byways of Britain's Railway Network Hardcover – 31 Mar 2009
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About the Author
Paul Atterbury is the author of The Dictionary of Minton, the coauthor ofThe Bulfinch Anatomy of Antique Furniture, and a long-standing member of the team of experts on BBC TV's Antiques Roadshow.
Top customer reviews
I've just bought this myself because I found it very heavily discounted (at the time of writing, June 2011) in a high street book clearance chain. But even if you have to pay the cover price or something near to it, you are unlikely to regret buying it.
As a rail (especially steam) enthusiast I would say that this (and Paul's similar books) are aimed not only at the railway history enthusiast, but also at the nostalgia market - somehow, we all ache for a semi-mythical lost Britain where people were polite, everyone knew what they were doing and where they were going, and above all, the trains ran on time and stations were neatly tended by dedicated staff. Nothing embodies that lost age like our lost railway network, and I suspect that many of us have, at some point, wished we could take a holiday in 1908 or in the mid to late 1930s to visit some of these old lines and stations before they were swept away in the early 1960s.
This book shows that it isn't all bad news, though. Some of the lines featured here are actually still extant, albeit in much 'rationalised' form.
In the case of one line featured in the book, namely the Weardale line from Bishop Auckland to Stanhope, the situation has actually improved. When my edition of the book was printed the Weardale line was, as the book states, disconnected from the main railway network near Bishop Auckland. It has since been reconnected and is back in regular use: One of the rare, welcome cases where 'All Change' actually means a change for the better.
'All Change!' is more of a pick-and-mix volume than some of Paul's other books which initially tended to be more strongly aligned on a single theme - here we have a wide variety of rail nostalgia themed articles, still with the emphasis on railway lines and their surviving infrastructure but interwoven with items about trainspotters, about vintage model train sets, about railway themed cigarette cards and so on and so forth.
All in all, a very decent book, and even if you don't feel you are a railway history buff, if you're the sort of person who loves looking at old enamel advertising signs and other similarly evocative antiques then this book is also definitely for you.
Basically, buying this book has convinced me to gradually buy all his other books!
The Gunnislake branch also featured in Memories of Steam. Tom Quinn, but neither book offers any explanation for the line's survival in its present form. I did some research and it appears that the railway offers a more direct route to Plymouth because it bridges a river and there isn't an equivalent road bridge, or at least there wasn't when the decision was taken to keep the line open. History is littered with apparently strange decisions upon which lines to retain and which to close, some but not all of which make sense. Not that this book is concerned with such detail, as the author prefers to allow the pictures to do most of the talking. His comments are always interesting, but anybody looking for serious analysis of the issues should look elsewhere. I sometimes do just that, but the serious books (which generally contain few pictures) don't replace books like this.
The author's earlier series contained special features and this book does likewise. Here, those features include narrow-gauge, miniature, model and toy railways. Again, what you find here is really just a few teasers, though it is interesting to see examples of early models and toys. There's also a scrapbook feature, which rounds up pictures that don't fit anywhere else.
If you're familiar with any of Paul's four-book series for David and Charles, you'll know what to expect this book to be like. If this is the first of Paul's railway nostalgia books that you read, it might tempt you to investigate that earlier series. I don't know how many more similar books Paul has material for, but I'll happily continue to buy them as long as he doesn't repeat himself.
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Most recent customer reviews
An excellent book - well up to the high standard expected of Paul Atterbury.
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