Magazine and Books. The club publishes a quarterly magazine of news and reports, which is distributed free of charge to members. Additionally, several members, including Chairman Jeff Vinter and Vice Chairman Mark Jones, have published a number of books on the subject of walking old railways. Mark's Discovering Britain's First Railways was published in June 2012 (click here), while Jeff's new, enlarged and illustrated gazetteer of railway walks throughout the British Isles was published in May 2011 (click here). Julian Holland's The Lost Lines of Britain hit the shelves on 31 October 2010 (click here).
In addition, Jeff's Railway Walks books were re-printed between April and October 2009 by The History Press. Each book has been re-set and given a new look, plus an expanded appendix of official railway walks that brings the situation right up to date. The various titles are available as listed below and can be ordered directly from the author at half price – including free p&p – by following the link here. Copies can also be obtained online or from high street bookshops, although stocks are now running out.
Jeff is pleased to report
that the original books contained very few errors of fact, but those that
have come to light have been corrected. It was not possible to re-visit
every single walk in the series due to serious time constraints caused
by work commitments. However, the books are now back in print, and further
writing commissions are planned for the future. The first of these is
listed below, and it should provide a huge promotional boost to railway
paths throughout Great Britain and Ireland ...
Bibliography. A bibliography listing just about everything that has been published on old railways (as a specific subject) appears below. However, this does not include books about individual lines, which generally are histories that give little, if any, coverage of the lines after closure.
The club is frequently asked for details of books which describe walking old railways, or the history of railway closures. As far as we are aware, the following bibliography is comprehensive, but we would be pleased to hear of any omissions. ISBN numbers are provided so that visitors to this site can order the books from local libraries, if they wish.
Please note that this list does not include details of books about 'forgotten railways' or individual branch lines, since such titles are not specifically about walking old railways. Besides, if we included such details here, this list would become unwieldy and extremely long.
David Turnocks Railways in the British Isles is the most academic study of old railways, but a great deal of factual and historical information can be gleaned from all of the above titles.
Two major studies of old railways have been commissioned by the government:
The Appleton Report was disappointing and did little more than state the obvious by listing and categorising what remained on the ground. However, the Grimshaw Report set out detailed proposals for the re-use of many disused lines in a series of 32 separate annexes. The organisation which produced the Grimshaw Report metamorphosed into Sustrans Ltd., the Bristol-based path-building charity, and many of the proposals in the report's annexes have now been turned into successful railway paths throughout the UK. In fact, some now form part of the National Cycle Network.
If your appetite for
books on old railways has still not been satisfied, you could try the
11 titles in the David & Charles' Forgotten Railways series,
or the same publisher's 14 volume Regional History of the Railways
of Great Britain, although this deals with all lines, whether closed
or open. Since the 1980s, a number of 'Then and Now' books have also been
published, some of the most popular being by Mac Hawkins, who goes to
extraordinary lengths to return to the exact spot where a period photograph
was taken, even if it means hiring special equipment to regain the height
afforded by a demolished railway structure such as a signal or footbridge.
Mac's books The Great Central Then and Now and The Somerset
& Dorset Railway Then and Now are particularly recommended.