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DVD, VIDEO AND BOOK REVIEW PAGE

THIS PAGE CONTAINS MY PERSONAL VIEWS
AND COMMENTS ON DVD, VIDEO AND BOOKS
THAT INCLUDE LOCAL RAILWAY INTEREST. 


COMPILED AND EDITED BY GEOFF POOLE

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MARSDEN RAIL (38) - AROUND BRITAIN DVD - 1953 to 1967.

Between 1959 and 1968 railway enthusiast Michael Marsden filmed the changing face of Britain’s railways and, for many years after mainline
 steam ended, he captivated audiences with his unique film collection.
 The blending of his film and that of other cameramen has resulted in a fascinating series of railway programs.

This volume, 38, in the Marsden Rail series takes the viewer on a journey around Britain between the years 1953 and 1967.
 There is much local interest from the Welsh Marches and Shrewsbury to Wrexham and Croes Newydd MPD then to Chester and then along the
 North Wales coast through Rhyl, Abergele, Colwyn Bay and some superb views of Llandudno Junction station and shed.
 The branch to Llandudno is also featured and then onto Bangor and Menai Bridge.

At Menai Junction, the former branch line to Caernarfon diverged and a DMU cab ride from Caernarfon to Bangor is complimented by a
 journey through the town on a track laying train.
 The film then moves on to the Cambrian Coast. The junction station at Morfa Mawddach near Barmouth, is  shown, followed by
 a return journey from Tywyn to Fairbourne which includes a visit to the delightful Fairbourne Railway before
 returning to Chester behind a “Princess Royal” class.

Other highlights include visits to Glasgow, Carlisle, Norwich, Cambridge and Liverpool Street station London along
 with many more locations around Britain.

A really comprehensive look at the way things were during the “Glorious Years” of steam.
 The DVD is very professionally produced and the steam sounds and music are not over done, as sometimes
 happens with some collections.

The running time is approximately 75 minutes long and I must admit I couldn't stop watching, after I started, as the film kept my interest
 from start to finish. I highly recommend this DVD to any steam enthusiast but especially the local enthusiasts
 because of the amount of North Wales locations.

Price £ 19.95 Free P&P Available online from:  www.videoscene.co.uk

By post from Videoscene PO Box 243, Lytham St Annes, FY8 9DE. Phone 01253 738336.








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A North Wales Railway Travelogue.
Donald Peddie.


Although this new 96 page publication, by Lightmoor Press, is predominantly aimed at the narrow gauge railways of North Wales I was pleasantly
surprised by the quite extensive previously unpublished photographs of 6G.

The author, Donald Peddie, has compiled this interesting collection of evocative photographs by his late father Ian Peddie.

Ian had a passion for Scottish railways but also for the narrow gauge railways of North Wales.

He was able to indulge the latter on family holidays to various North Wales coast resorts in the late 50's and early 60's, and thus captured
the early days of Welsh narrow gauge railway preservation.

As he held a Scottish Region lineside photographic pass it was not too difficult for him to arrange visits to standard gauge lines and sites
which included 6G.

The photographic quality and detailed captions are exceptional throughout the book.

Although the narrow gauge detail is heavily featured, standard gauge gets a generous covering at Aberystwyth, Machynlleth and other standard gauge
locations including Afon Wen Junction, long since disappeared from the railway map, along with the Cambrian Coast line around Criccieth
and as previously mentioned Llandudno Junction depot.

The book is fantastic value at £10.00 and I had no problem ordering my copy from "British Railway Books" PO Box 137 Abergavenny NP7 1AU.
Or on-line at www.britishrailwaybooks.co.uk
Email: gary@britishrailwaybooks.co.uk






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The 'CAM' Camwell Collection.


Two more dvd's covering steam around our area have come to my attention.

This rare footage is part of a newly published collection of twelve hourly volumes by 'Railfilms'
showing the evocative memories through the 16mm cine film of W.A. 'CAM' Camwell.

'CAM' was one of the most active members of the railway enthusiast community during the 1950's and 1960's.

The period during which British Railways moved from steam to diesel and electric traction and many
lines and branches past into history.

His membership of the Stephenson Locomotive Society led him to organising many tours of threatened or
interesting railway lines and he enthusiastically recorded as much of the railway network both in photographs
and on 16mm cine film.

Two of the volumes feature breathtaking memories of North and South Wales lines during the last days of steam and are reviewed below.

Apart from the obvious local interest of film showing working steam during the 'Glorious Years' these volumes are unique in
as much as instead of adding music or 'phoney' steam sound effects the publisher has stuck to the way "CAM" showed his films
at enthusiasts meetings and that is without any sound.
It is so refreshing just listening to the whirring sound of the film projector behind the informative commentary.

I have watched both volumes and I can honestly say I watched the whole two hours without a pause and it was like stepping back in time.

I fully recommend these films to anyone interested in railways during the 50's and 60's in North and South Wales.



The dvd's were produced by www.railfilms.com
 
 and can be ordered from www.telerail.co.uk

Or use the 24 hour Credit Card Orderline on 01524 735774.

Price of each volume at time of writing is £20.00 plus £1.50 p&p.


VOLUME (2)


  
Volume (2)

This volume covers mainly South Wales showing many of the cross-country lines and the lines built to take coal out of the Valleys
but also providing vital passenger services.

The South Wales main line is also featured but for many the highlights will be the lost lines - such as the "Little North Western", the Silloth
branch, Afon Wen to Caernarfon, Three Cocks Junction to Moat Lane Junction, Bala to Ffestiniog and many more.

This volume also has bonus footage of many of the narrow gauge and industrial lines in our area including the Dinorwic Quarries, The Padarn
Railway and the Isle of Man railways.

Fantastic value for these unique memories long gone.


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VOLUME (6)



Volume (6)

The footage on this volume starts in Carlisle then shows busy Blackpool and Southport but soon moves into our area on the
North Wales Coast main line starting at Prestatyn showing the ubiquitous Black Fives in action but also
Jubilee's 45591 'Udaipur' and 45624 'St. Helena'.

We then move on to the West side of Colwyn Bay at Mochdre showing the long gone four track straight showing many Black Fives
pulling holiday expresses under the now demolished Tan y Bryn road bridge at the foot of Bryn Euryn Nature Reserve.

Other engines shown working here are Royal Scot 46148 'The Manchester Regiment' and Britannia's 70023
'Venus' and 70032 'Tennyson'.

'CAM' then moved onto Llandudno Junction where we see more movements including Jubilee's 45723 'Fearless' waiting in the station
and 45620 'North Borneo' preparing to go onto 6G shed.

A busy Bangor shed is shown before moving over the Menai Straits to Anglesey and showing the Junction at
Gaerwen and a trip along the branch to Amlwch.

Then a visit to the Caernarfon line through to Pwllheli.

On leaving Pwllheli you can see the sad site of the 'cold' static display engine 46203 ' Princess Margaret Rose' at
Butlins Holiday Camp.

A brief visit to the Ffestiniog Railway in 1955 and then the Snowdon Mountain railway.

The footage then moves on to the Wrexham area and then onto the Central Wales line through Knighton
and Llandrindod Wells where we see 'Super Ds' at work and then explore many of the 'Valley' lines in South Wales.

All in all two fantastic volumes of memories from our past.



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NORTH WALES STEAM HOLIDAY - Volume 48 - (DVD)

B & R Video Productions – (60 minutes)

 


This DVD of unique, mostly colour, cine film showing working steam trains on the North Wales Coast main line during
the ‘Glorious Years’ was a real surprise to me.

I had really given up hope of finding any more film of working steam trains in our region and was resigned to accepting
the sparse collection already on sale was all we were ever going to have.

This DVD was a pleasant eye-opener for me especially the extensive coverage of Llandudno Junction station and 6G depot.

The start of the DVD shows trains leaving London Euston on the West Coast main line passing through Rugby and Stafford and
then on to Crewe touring the works and seeing some station movements before leaving and moving on to
some extensive coverage of Chester station and the shed at 6A.

It then moves on to Prestatyn and then more detailed coverage of Rhyl. It even shows the miniature steam railway which runs around the
marine lake and which is covered in a separate DVD review further down this page.

6G comes next and this film really does give the feel of what the Junction was like during the early 60’s.

The Conwy Valley line is then shown travelling through Tal y Cafn station before reaching Bleanau Ffestiniog with a special rail tour.

Good coverage of the Llandudno branch and terminus is next along with some interesting rare film of the Llandudno road trams
along with the Great Orme Tramway.

There is even archive film of a day trip ferry from the Isle of Man, showing passengers disembarking at Llandudno pier.

The coverage moves on to Conwy, Penmaenmawr and then Llanfairfechan where the beautifully carved wooden animals and
insects, that were on display at the station here and which are mentioned elsewhere on this website, are clearly shown.

Bangor station and sheds are well covered next and then a trip along the Llanberis branch from Caernarfon into
Llanberis station, which incidentally is still standing and is now used as a craft centre. Some interesting early film of the
Snowdon mountain railway is also featured.

Finally the film reaches Holyhead and some good coverage of the station and docks rounds of a fascinating insight into
the history of our railway which has changed so much over the years.

All in all this is definitely the most comprehensive coverage of steam on the North Wales Coast main line during
the ‘Glorious years’ that is available today.
It’s not cheap at £19.95 but well worth the cost considering the unique nature of the content.
The commentary is excellent and even the steam sound dubbing is realistic and doesn’t detract from the viewing as
some DVD’s in the past have done.

I can strongly recommend this DVD to any railway enthusiast with an interest in our local history and I must admit I have
watched it through a number of times already.

If this review whets your appetite for a peep into the past and you decide to buy a copy I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.  




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Anthony J. Robinson's book "DAD HAD AN ENGINE SHED" illustrates his father's railway career that included his
employment at Llandudno Junction shed (then 7A) during the early years 1925 - 1945 and his
subsequent promotion to shed master at Mold Junction (6B).

The front of the book is shown above and details are shown below.

The publication can be purchased for £12.95 through the Oakwood website.

It can also be purchased at Waterstones, Llandudno and most good book shops.

This book obviously holds immense local railway interest and would be a great addition to any enthusiasts collection.


Railways were very much ‘in the blood’ John Eric Robinson (dad) was born in Crewe in 1902, the second child and the eldest son of John Robinson,

assistant chief electrical engineer to the London & North Western Railway. John Robinson was in turn the eldest son of the redoubtable (and famous) Ben

Robinson who had enjoyed the distinction of having driven the Royal train more frequently than any other man of his era and he was at the controls of

‘No. 790 Hardwicke on its record-breaking run during the ‘Race to the North’ in 1895.

Around about 1910 John Robinson moved the family to Wembley following a promotion to the head office at Euston. On leaving school in 1919 J.E.

Robinson gained a position in the LNWR workshops which were part of Willesden sheds. It was the start of a career on the railway that was to span

more than 45 years. Most of those years were spent in North Wales on sheds associated with the Chester & Holyhead Railway. He moved to Llandudno

Junction in 1925 as a fitter and remained there for 20 years. In 1945 he was promoted to leading fitter at Rhyl and another promotion, in 1948, saw him

achieve the position of shed master at Sowerby Bridge in Yorkshire. Keen to get back to North Wales, early in 1952 he applied for the

shed master’s job at Mold Junction. The importance of Mold Junction shed was essentially in its freight engine stud and what was for the area one of the finest

locomotive handling facilities available.

Who today could image someone in charge of over 200 men and 60-odd locomotives living in a council house and going to work on a bicycle! Working

five full days a week plus Saturday and Sunday mornings and having to be on permanent standby day and night for breakdowns and, yes, for no extra pay

at that! It has been written elsewhere that a typical shed master had to have the powers of judgement of Solomon, the ingenuity of Trevithick, the

stubbornness of Stephenson, the leadership skills of Patton, the negotiating powers of Kissinger and the memories of several elephants!

Well, J.E. Robinson would probably have failed on the last one, so to counteract this he meticulously kept a diary of all his work activities from 1922 right through to 1965.

His selfless devotion to duty was not unusual to men of his ilk, a job well done usually the only reward. This leadership by example imbibed similar qualities

in others responsible for the smooth running of the various departments within an engine shed.

To say that he was a hard working man would be an understatement in the extreme!

 

A5 format, 184 pages with 138 illustrations.
The book has a laminated card cover with a square-backed spine.




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Derek Williams has now published his eagerly awaited book dedicated to the men of 6G.

The book is titled:

The men of 7A and 6G loco shed 
Llandudno Junction 1920s till 1966.
Gone but not forgotten.

Derek has written this book with a great pride and feeling for his fellow workers 
at the unique steam locomotive depot that boasts a website dedicated to it plus a road in it's memory named Ffordd 6G and now a book.

Derek worked in many areas of the depot and knew all of the men who worked there and consequently this made it a very emotional experience for him 
having to recall these memories especially when he realized that many of the men he was writing about were no longer with us.
 This fascinating insight into this special depot is written with such warmth by Derek and makes the book a very special work for anyone with an interest in local railway history.
 The book is packed with stories by Derek and other workers plus hundreds of photographs some never published before making this book tremendous value for money.

It is published by Gwasg Carreg Gwalch,
6 lard Yr Orsaf, Llanrwst, Gwynedd.
PHONE: 01492 642031.

The book is on sale at most local book sellers at £9.00.
Signed copies can also be obtained from the author
Derek Williams on 01492 572217
at £9.00 plus £2.00 P&P.

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A VHS video by Stirling Video titled Main Line Steam Routes, 
Steam in the 1960s Volume two. filmed by Richard J Willis
originated on 16mm colour film. Running time 50 minutes.

This video is very professionally produced with plenty of nostalgia showing various steam routes on the Southern , Great Western
 and London Midland regions, with many steam engines on their everyday workings. 

Local interest starts at Chester. We are now firmly in London Midland country. This was the start of the principle branch of the West Coast Main Line.

 The Chester and Holyhead Railway was fully opened by 1850 and formed a major artery for Anglo-Irish traffic, particularly the Irish Mail.

The video proceeds to Holyhead station with it's unique layout - the up and down platforms being separated by the harbour used by Irish ferries.
    The berthing of such a ferry holds your attention as you move with the passengers to the railway station, noting the "London-Holyhead" and "Irish Mail" carriage boards
 borne by immaculate maroon stock.

The Chester and Holyhead possessed amongst it's many assets a station with the longest name in the country, commonly abbreviated by the railway "Llanfair P.G." 
The video shows the incredible station name-board as a Black Five 
45307 pulls into the station.

The castellated portals of Robert Stephenson's Conway tubular bridge 
are seen to effect as we watch the passage
 of two Black Fives from below,
and after an energetic
 climb, high up from the castle battlements.

Stanier Class 3, 2-6-2 Ts were rarely captured on film and we have to move back 
to the 1950s to catch 40133 running along the banks of the River Conway on it's way from Blaenau Ffestiniog to Llandudno Junction.
Llandudno itself was, as we know, served by a short branch ending in a characteristic LNWR terminus.
  Our visit coincides with a "grimy" Britannia 70051 "Firth of Forth" backing empty coaches out after her arrival from Crewe.

Back on the main line between Colwyn Bay and Llandudno Junction, 
Black Five 45380 races by before we move to a vantage point 
above the line at Colwyn Bay.

Once relocated we watch a Stanier 8F slogging uphill towards 
Llysfaen with a heavy freight.

Although the local shots are relatively short on this video it is still a very interesting piece of nostalgia that sadly is very rare.

 Although we have many stills of our area to view,  
film of working steam is very much in short supply. For this reason I feel that this video 
even at the published price of £22.95 is still a worthwhile acquisition.

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North Wales Steam (1927-1968) by E.N.Kneale.
North Wales Steam Volume Two.  by E.N.Kneale.

The two books by Norman Kneale are a superb photographic record
of the railways of North Wales.
Norman has provided many photo's for this website but in the pages of these
two books are many photographs of our region by himself and other
photographers including H.A.Coulter, Harry Rodgers Jones and Norman's friend
and colleague B.A.Wynne.

The intention of these two volumes is to portray, in a pictorial manner
 the atmosphere and character of this main line in North Wales, and some
of it's branches during the golden days of steam.

The period covered is from the late twenties to what is now generally considered
 the premature demise of the steam engine in the late sixties.

Few of us will deny the dignity of the most human-like of machines, whether it be a
humble L&Y 0-6-0 coming to rest on Rhyl shed after a days work, or the
stirring sight of a "Scot" leaning to the curve as it passes through
the arch of the castle walls at Conway heading an up "Irish Mail".

All these once familiar sights, so much taken for granted, are alas no longer with us.

Today the Journey between Chester and Holyhead is so much less interesting
since the disappearance of the steam engine, which to sympathetic eyes
seemed to enhance the natural beauty of the sea coast
mountains and valleys

Norman's  sincere hope is that those who turn the pages of his books will
pleasurably recall memories of a more colourful and less hurried era.

The two books are packed with superb memories of when steam ruled the lines.

NORTH WALES STEAM 1927-1968  £12.95
NORTH WALES STEAM Volume Two. £ 12.95

Published by:
Oxford Publishing Company
Link House, West Street, Poole, Dorset.


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