Original Vinter’s Railway Gazetteer
Vinter’s Railway Gazetteer dates from 1989, when long-standing club member Jeff Vinter was commissioned to write a series of ‘Railway Walks’ books, featuring old railways around the UK which had been converted into official trails. Each volume in the series included its own regional gazetteer, and by the turn of the Millennium Jeff had grouped these into a self-published booklet, updated with the many new routes which had opened by then. In 2011, this once modest booklet contained so many routes that it was published commercially, with a further enlarged edition appearing in 2017.
Members of the club have helped in this enterprise by providing photographs and tips about new routes, the latter ranging from a one sentence text message (!) to web links or newspaper cuttings. Unfortunately, the press in this country is extremely vague about old railways. To most reporters, an old railway is just an old railway, and – useful though its re-use as a trail may be – they rarely provide any specific detail about where a new or extended route begins and ends, least of all six-figure grid references. Although some insightful members have supplied these missing details when submitting reports, most have simply relayed information as received, which is entirely understandable; but this has left Jeff to do all the research necessary to pinpoint key locations and relevant railway historical details. This work has some similarities with solving a crime: the evidence of a new route will be there in the press, but maps, street plans, other websites and even local authorities or path-building charities must be consulted to pin down where it goes from and to. Sometimes, Jeff has had to make personal visits, but on other occasions – especially in Scotland and Wales – kind members living more locally have paid a visit and reported back.
In return for members’ input, Jeff has acknowledged all contributors, provided signed complimentary copies of his books, and (when non-fiction made more money than it does now) given them one-off royalty payments for the use of photographs. He has also arranged special deals with his publisher whereby other members could buy copies of his books at a 50% discount within the first 3-6 months of publication. Jeff explains: ‘Collectively, all my writing about old railways has only ever broken even, but then I don’t have to pay any tax on my authoring income – there isn’t any! This doesn’t bother me because I do this to encourage the constructive re-use of these old routes. What politician now would scrap billions of pounds’ worth of publicly-owned national rail infrastructure in the heedless way that politicians in the mid-20th century were perfectly happy to do?’
To access the gazetteer, just click on the link below. You will have to enter the current username and password (exactly as shown in the ‘EndNotes’ of the latest magazine) because this material is stored on a separate server. Note that the gazetteer is likely to be moved in the near future, when we will update the link.