Book reviews — April 2014
'Camden Goods Station Through Time', by Peter Darley
Amberley Publishing, Stroud, 2013, 96 pages, 200 illustrations, ISBN 978-1-4456-2204-0, Price £14.99 from leading bookshops or £12.00 incl p/p from Camden Railway Heritage Trust (email: Darleyp@aol.com). All author's income to the Trust.
The London and Birmingham Railway was originally to have started from the north side of the Regent's Canal at Camden Town, but the line was extended one mile southwards to its passenger terminus at Euston Square, opened in 1837. In the opposite direction is the magnificent portal of London's first railway tunnel at Primrose Hill. Among the first installations at Camden, and short-lived, were underground stationary winding-engines to haul trains up the incline from Euston, in impressive vaults that still survive. The first, peculiarly planned goods station got off to a slow start in 1839, but by the mid 1860s the Camden site had gone through several transformations to a layout that then changed remarkably little over the next 100 years. Its features included numerous sidings and wagon turntables, a large goods shed and a rail to canal interchange facility, offices for the many clerks, a large locomotive depot and the Roundhouse of originally similar function, several groups of stables for the many horses that shunted the wagons and carted the consignments, interconnected by foot tunnels, and Messrs Gilbey's extensive wine and spirit bonded stores based on the vaults that underlay parts of the site.
Rail traffic to the goods yard had ceased by 1975, when members of GLIAS and the Camden History Society recorded parts of the site — various photos from then have been used in this book. Subsequently there has been much attrition of historic features, under pressures of redevelopment and changes of use, through to the 2000s when the Camden Railway Heritage Trust was formed. The CRHT is dedicated to promoting the preservation and restoration of the railway heritage of Camden Town. By raising public awareness and understanding of this remarkable but little-known heritage, this book should help to do that. The author, Peter Darley, is the trust's secretary.
References are not given, but Peter knows his stuff, having studied the minute books in the National Archives, contemporary accounts and such drawings as survive and having spoken to the right people. Moreover he has sought out often unfamiliar historic images from a variety of sources, selected the most appropriate ones and according to the CRHT website spent over £1,250 on reproduction fees. He's added good recent photos of his own, and produced some excellent computer-aided layout plans based on material in Network Rail's plan archives.
Although this is a picture book, with two well-chosen photos or drawings on every page, the substantial captions are well written and informative. I've found little to disagree with, except that the photos of the site entrance on pages 66 and 83 must be a few years earlier than '1934' (the date supplied by the NRM), from the style of the motor lorries and from buildings seen in the background that were altered before that date. This is an outstanding little book that puts some other volumes in this publisher's series to shame. Malcolm Tucker
'Early Structural Steel in London Buildings: A discreet revolution', by Jonathan Clarke
JUST PUBLISHED — AT A SPECIAL PRICE TO GLIAS MEMBERS
This major study tracing the development and use of structural steel in London has just been published by English Heritage. Jonathan Clarke draws on his many years of research into the subject. The hardback book of nearly 400 pages is abundantly illustrated by photographs and drawings. A full review of this book will appear in the next Newsletter, but in the meantime we are pleased to report that 'English Heritage is delighted to offer members of GLIAS a 30% discount and free post and packing (UK only) on the new book Early Structural Steel in London Buildings by Jonathan Clarke (rrp £75.00, discounted price £52.50). Please telephone 01235 465577 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and quote reference number 7220140007 to take advantage of this offer. Offer expires 31.12.14'. (So members will have plenty of time to read the review before buying book, if they wish to.)
'Walthamstow Through Time', by Lindsay Collier
Published by Amberley Publishing (www.amberley-books.com). February 2014. £14.99. Paperback, 96 pages. ISBN: 978-1-4456-2179-1. Approx 180 illustrations
Once noted for fine views, woodlands and wealthy estates, Walthamstow changed dramatically with the coming of the railways. With the opening of the Lea Bridge station in 1840, the borough developed into an important centre for commercial industry and a vital link for London's transport system.
Most people today would associate Walthamstow with William Morris, the High Street, the pop band East 17, and its famous greyhound stadium, known as 'the Stow'. Less well known is the town's rich transport heritage, being the home of Britain's first motor car and the home of London's buses. Author Lindsay Collier hopes to awaken memories for longstanding residents, and to inspire newcomers to learn more about this historic town.
© GLIAS, 2014