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Railway Atlas Then & Now Hardcover – 2 Aug 2012

4.4 out of 5 stars 91 customer reviews

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Hardcover, 2 Aug 2012
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Ian Allan (2 Aug. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0711036950
  • ISBN-13: 978-0711036956
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 1.5 x 29.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (91 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 317,567 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


This new book will delight historians, geographers, cartographers and railway buffs alike. At £19.99 it is a bargain, covering every section of England, Scotland and Wales with comprehensive liner notes explaining the colour coding and numbering. It is an invaluable reference for anyone touring or even staying in a single place becuase it also pinpoints all the preserved heritage lines open to the general public. --Evergreen Magazine --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Compared to every other Railway Atlas in my collection, this is by far the most useful and relevant in the modern day. For the first time ever, the left-hand page gives you the railway mapping as it existed in 1923, and facing on the right-hand page the modern 2012 railway map equivalent.

The 2012 maps use a standardised colour key to clearly identify current railway lines, closed/dismantled lines, heritage railways, walkway/cycle paths, roads realigned onto track-bed, lines in existence but mothballed for possible future reinstatement... even stations on closed lines which remain in use as perhaps a museum, tourist centre, shop or bed-and-breakfast (private houses excepted). It's a terrific insight into how the railway has been transformed since 1923, largely post-Beeching. Importantly, this "Then and Now" Atlas clearly illustrates at a glance what still exists and what doesn't.

Whilst the 1923 maps are re-drawn and based on (amended from) Ian Allan's "British Railways Pre-Grouping Atlas and Gazetteer", the maps here don't convey which lines were operated by each of the "Big Four" railway companies created at that time... but the maps do highlight the freight-only branches, and engine sheds and works as of 1948. In addition to the current railway network, heritage railways and cycle-paths/walkways, the 2012 maps also include current freight-only branches, motive power depots, broad, narrow and miniature gauge lines, tramways, track-beds now roadways, railway/heritage centres & other relevant places of interest - even proposed extensions to heritage lines. All pages include a key to specific points of interest (even usefully including web-addresses of heritage line sites), and most often a photo of interest relevant to the map in question too.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This really is an inspired idea - why didn't I think of it first? The book does precisely what it sets out to do, presenting on each left-hand page a picture of a section of the British railway system on 1 January 1923 - the day on which almost all the remaining independent railways were assimilated into the `Big Four' - the Great Western, Southern, London Midland & Scottish and London and North Eastern Railways. On the opposite right-hand page, the same area is shown as at 1 January 2012.

Great Britain is covered by 38 pairs of pages at a scale of 8 miles to the inch; several of these incorporate inserts showing major rail centres at a larger scale. At the end of this main section, a further seven paired maps at larger scales depict Greater London (East and West). Derby & Nottingham, West Yorkshire, South Wales, Glasgow and Liverpool & Manchester.

The 1923 maps identify the national network, separately identifying freight only lines. Also identified are narrow gauge and miniature passenger-carrying lines and significant standard gauge lines closed to all traffic before 1923. Slightly anachronistically, railway works and motive power depots are shown as at 1 January 1948, together with steam depots opened by BR after that date.

The 2012 maps show all of the above lines, together with lines opened subsequently. The current national network is identified, and the remainder of the lines are colour-coded to show what is happening on the trackbed today.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As an avid explorer and walker of closed lines, this is the atlas I have been waiting for! The compilers are to be congratulated for the prodigious amount of research poured in to produce this product. There is considerable additional information on each page under 'legend' such as "Heathfield. Former booking office now a shop and cafe."

However, there are issues. Another reviewer has already explained in detail the problem of the complex colour coding. For example it is almost impossible to distinguish between 'trackbeds now roads' and 'preserved lines'. There are several examples where these are contiguous such as Totnes to Ashburton, and Sheringham to Holt. Hopefully this will be addressed before the next edition.
It is unclear why 1923 has been chosen for the 'then' maps as some lines had still to be built. Thus, for example, the long closed Torrington to Halwill is shown on the 2012 map but not 1923! Also, the 1923 mapping duplicates the separately available 'Pre-Grouping Atlas'.

Given that the 2012 mapping shows all lines 'then' and 'now', it might have been more interesting and shocking to compare this alongside maps showing the much reduced network in service in 2012. Better still, why not just provide the one set of maps and expand these to a larger scale making them much more readable?

Nevertheless, the atlas is a good first attempt and recommended for anyone intrigued by or wanting to explore the rich legacy of railway infrastructure in this country.
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