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on 25 November 2017
Its a good book, though either I need better reading glasses or its got very small writing!
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on 25 July 2017
Good book
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on 11 January 2018
Again a happy choice.
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on 15 October 2017
well written book ,but more for the bikers and walkers ,not for me as I am a more serious railway fan.
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on 4 October 2017
Well researched and interesting read.
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on 2 November 2013
In Exploring Britain's Lost Railways, Julian Holland undertakes a nostalgic trip along some fifty long-closed railway lines. Each of the included lines (such as Stafford to Wellington, Bewdley to Tenbury Wells and Durham to Bishop Auckland) are described in detail, both as they were while in service and what would be seen by visitors today, and illustrated with an excellent selection of historic and contemporary photographs and maps. Exploring Britain's Lost Railway is a great journey back to the golden age of railway travel in Britain as well as an excellent tool for planning walking/cycling routes through the countryside today. I would highly recommend this book to railway fans as well as to those who enjoy exploring the quieter, often overlooked, history and landscape of Britain. I also love the bonus included "Travel by Train" leaflet that details the passenger facilities that could be enjoyed in 1951 on one side while the other features a map of the passenger network in 1950.
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on 11 February 2014
Ordered this in there lightning deals for my father in law. Really surprised how quick it arrived considering I selected free delivery. The book was fantastic. So much detail and lovely pictures. Highly recommend for any rail fan.
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on 17 November 2013
A glorious wallow in British railway nostalgia via line diagrams set over old Ordnance Survey map extracts enhanced with excellent archive photographs and a pertinent historical text/commentary on exploring the "lost" line today.
Heartily recommended to both railway enthusiasts and walkers (who enjoy level terrain!) plus the scores of Uncles/Aunts/Grandparents who, I am sure, would appreciate the memories brought back through Julian's quality volume.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 30 July 2015
This book was first published (hardback) in 2013, and this time Julian Holland’s linking motif is the conversion of old railway solum to suitable use for ramblers and cyclists. Holland seems familiar with no fewer than 50 such, I am prepared to take on trust that he is speaking from personal experience of all 50, and I am not disposed to challenge the selection he has made. The criterion for present purposes is not obscurity: it is about providing a handy work of reference reporting the state of a large subset of Britain’s abandoned lines as they were in 2013. I hope this is how they are likely to remain for quite some time to come, as ownership of the trackbeds has in many cases been taken by Sustrans and other ramblers’ associations. One endearing touch is the news that several abandoned tunnels have become sanctuaries for protected species of bats. Makes a change from belfries I suppose, although I saw on p207 that one goods shed has ‘a new life as a Roman catholic church.’

As well as being a semi-catalogue the book is of course another nostalgic wallow. Each lost line is given a thumbnail history, there are some superb photographs, and I had to admire the economical brevity with which Holland manages to convey quite a lot of information. The print is rather small, especially when superimposed on colour images, but it’s worth any effort this involves. The proof-reading and subediting have been carried out with high professionalism, although the section on Brightlingsea refers to trains in the main spread – I see no trains. I was also slightly puzzled by the remarks on the line going south from Prestatyn: unless I am gravely mistaken this once carried on all the way through Denbigh to where it joined the GWR at Corwen. Something else that might be worth including in a reprint is the fact that the S & D line between Bristol and Bath did not use Temple Meads at the Bristol end but instead had its own scruffy little buffer-stop named St Philip’s. Also for anyone interested in the Sett Valley Trail between New Mills and Hayfield, I used to know this well in my days as a long-distance and marathon runner, and the site of Birch Vale station – as devoid of railway remains as I have ever known – was at the point where the track crossed the road using a long-lost bridge, the only indication of its former use being the wider space round the path.

Regarding Hayfield, hopeful enquiries and sundry bits of tourist literature have never got it clear for me where the standard-gauge tracks went to after crossing the road from the ‘terminus’ station, and whether there was actually a narrow-gauge line going up Kinder during the construction of the dam. I suppose it would be a little unreasonable to ask the author for clarification of stories that might be simply untrue. I have in mind the legend that the line between Boxmoor and Heath Park Halt had been fouled by a high-sided vehicle where it crossed the main road, and do I recall that there was once a fire on the Langstone viaduct leading to Hayling Island?

Right at the outset Holland invokes the Voldemort of railway preservation, Dr Beeching. I was and am out of sympathy with his report (always mentioned between inverted commas) too, but to be fair it was not politically motivated, it was a familiar kind of business strategy, however myopic. To me, the issue was that Britain’s rural railways were part of Britain’s culture and heritage in a way that was true of no other country. Not only that, they were integral to the rural economy, and the evasion that they could be substituted by bus services was sheer nonsense – bus services were going to be just as uneconomic, as of course has been proved in practice or lack of practice. It would not have been easy to ask for taxpayer support for railways that were little patronised by the communities they purported to serve, but with some imagination, planning and government encouragement that might have worked out better. It would have been a very superior kind of business strategy that might have been brave enough to say that reliance on roads and internal combustion motors was not going to be the answer for evermore and at least mothballed the lines instead of putting them beyond recovery, but as we were going to the moon around that time it should not have been asking for the said moon to require that the case for retention of country lines should not have been prejudiced by loading on to them the entire costs of their junctions with main lines.

As it happens, I have personal reasons for an annual visit to Dr Beeching’s own home town of East Grinstead, where the restored steam railway to the south has at last been connected to the busy commuter line into London. This book mentions restored lines as appropriate, but rightly it regards them as a separate topic. However it manages to provide some new information that even the keenest anoraks and nostalgists will not have known, including the identification of one 3-mile stretch that closed as early as the 1860’s. Myself, my own favourite discovery was that I must have travelled on what was nearly the last trip of the Devon Belle to Ilfracombe.
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#1 HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERon 16 November 2013
There was a time, not long ago, when authors wrote books about old railways, reminiscing about what used to be and leaving it there. Increasingly, the emphasis has shifted to writing about what survives for people to see now as well as how things used to be. This book is yet another of the latter type, and very impressive it is.

Here is another selection of old railways with maps, pictures and descriptions that explain why each railway was built, what traffic it carried, why it eventually closed, what could be seen at the time the book was being prepared and (where applicable) what might happen in the near future.

Having done this sort of book before, the author nevertheless still had plenty of old railways to choose from. Among them is the Chippenham to Calne line, which I walked with three other schoolboys within a year or two of its closure. I wonder what happened to them.

Apart from the Calne branch, the west country is well represented with Tavistock, Ilfracombe and the Midland line from Bristol to Bath all featured. Not far from the latter line, there used to be a Midland line from Stonehouse to Stroud that I never knew about, but it's here.

While most of the featured routes, like those above, are rural, there are urban routes in West Hartlepool, Edinburgh. Elsewhere in Scotland, the Deeside region is well-represented, and not before time.

The nearest route to Leicester is the one from Market Harborough to Northampton. I would like Leicestershire to have been represented, but I expect its turn will come eventually.

Wales and other parts of England are represented too, especially the Isle of Wight, but I'll just say that this is another excellent book about lost British railways.
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