Books. The club publishes a quarterly magazine of news
and reports, which is distributed free of charge to members. Additionally,
several members, including Chairman Mark Jones and Webmaster Jeff Vinter
, 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, while Jeff's new, enlarged and illustrated
gazetteer of railway walks throughout the British Isles was published
in April 2017 (see below).
When the publisher's offer has expired, the author will add to this page
the arrangements for buying copies directly from him. However, copies
signed and supplied by the author will necessarily cost more than the
publisher's £15 deal (this is not a lightweight book in any sense
of the word), so join the club and grab the publisher's offer while it's
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.