Saturday, 11 August 2012

Lending Library

There's not been a lot of modelling done this past week, but plenty of reading.

Himself has been up here to convalesce from the exertions of helping with the annual Kids Training Week on the FR. (According to the teenagers he was, apparently, 'cool', which he seems rather pleased about.)

He also brought with him some new books he bought in the railway's shop at Portmadog which I've been having a good look at.

One which may be of particular interest to blog readers is the latest offering from Middleton Press in their Great Railway Eras series, this time with all colour snaps of the FR between 1955 and 1982.

Some may question the appropriateness of the phrase 'Great Railway Eras' in this case because this period  - or at least the second half of it - is widely viewed as the FR's Ugly Railway Era.

This was the time when Merddin Emrys was given a radical rebuild with a new boiler and emerged looking almost anorexic. The new Earl of Merioneth, on the other hand, gorged on steel plate and gave a passable impression of two army tanks parked back to back.

Historic vintage carriages were stripped of panelling and covered in a monotonous red livery, while redundant road tankers doubled as water towers and old oil drums became platform rubbish bins.

But I loved it! This is the FR of my childhood. There's no denying the railway looks better, is more varied and makes so much more of its unique heritage these days, but nostalgia is a powerful emotion and we all have a soft spot for things we remember from our younger days.

If you're an FR anorak then I'm sure you will quickly spot some of the caption howlers in the book. There are 3 very obvious ones I've spotted so far: A shot of Prince on the mineral line at Minffordd which the book says is 1980 but which is so obviously the late 1960's because of the altered frames beneath the saddle tank. There is Merddin on Cei Mawr with a train of vintage stock in green and ivory livery. 1971 it says. I don't think so! Ditto a snap of Linda and Blanche at Harbour with carriages in the same colour scheme which the author also tries to tell us is 1971.

I point this out not because I want to look like an FR smart-arse but because for modellers these are important details. FR locos and carriages have been altered in subtle ways so frequently over the years that you have to look at a lot of pictures when doing your research and caption errors like this can be confusing and misleading.

Some of the pictures are also a little fuzzy which is perhaps a consequence of the original camerawork rather than the reproduction in the book.

Despite these niggles, however, I really enjoyed the book and would say it's an essential element of an FR enthusiasts library.

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