BIRMINGHAM - BRISTOL
Part Two - Cheltenham to Bristol and Bath
STEPHEN MOURTON & BOB PIXTON
RUNPAST PUBLISHING
96pp SOFTBACK - £14.99
ISBN 1 870754581

Similar in title to the other recently reviewed book (Gloucester to Bristol by Middleton Press) this book has a couple of significant differences.  Firstly Runpast Publishing have not (to the best of my knowledge) produced anything before on the Bristol to Bath area, and secondly this book also covers the the Mangotsfield to Bath line, which is not covered in the  above named Middleton book as they have already produced an excellent Bristol to Bath Green Park volume.

This softback, almost A4 sized publication, is the second volume on the Midland main line from Birmingham to Bristol and, as the title states, covers the southern section from Cheltenham to Bristol and (more importantly as far as this review is concerned) the branch to Bath.  The book starts with an introduction that details the history and building of the line - this section also has maps, distances between stations, timetable information, a traffic survey, gradient profiles and details of freight trains that used the line.

The bulk of the book consists of mainly photographes, virtually all of which are given reasonable captions of 3-4 lines or more of text, often with interesting information contained within this.  With a couple of slightly blurred exceptions the photographs are of excellent quality and show the wide variety of motive power that this long distance cross-country route carried.  There are several fabulous pictures dating back to Midland Railway days, and some equally fabulous pictures of more recent times (i.e. 1950's and 60's).  The list of locomotives depicted range from the tiny Lancashire & Yorkshire 0-4-0 tanks on Barrow Road to the mighty LMS Beyer Garrett, and from the beautiful gloss black and chrome 'Silver Jubilee' No. 5552  to the unusual Armstrong Whitworth 3-car articulated diesel unit.  And then there are those M.R. pictures mentioned earlier - many of them - showing what our local railway looked like around a hundred years ago.

The area from Mangotsfield to Bristol and Bath, is given a generous 32 pages, with some sixty photographs, many of which were new to me.  The photo's of Bitton and Oldland Common are, well, common, having been reprinted in many publications, including of course Semaphore, but there was lots of new material that I had never seen before on the rest of the Bristol to Bath line, plus a few interesting snippets of information.  There are some lovely pictures of Bristol Temple Meads, plus many 'new' pictures of Bath Green Park.

This is an excellent publication that compliments the two other professional books printed so far on 'our line', and is highly recommended.

At the time of writing this review (13th September), the station shop had not yet ordered any copies of this book, but I gather that they will be doing so shortly.  Contact the station to order your copy because it is well worth buying.

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This page last updated by Tony Wray on 13/9/2004.

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