Narrow Gauge and Industrial Railways by Brian Reading
Part of the pleasure of putting together this book was that the photographs were taken over a long period of time, many of the industrial railways that are now sadly lost and some dating from the early days of preservation. Selecting images brought back memories of the occasions when the pictures were taken.
Many pictures highlighted how attitudes to health and safety have changed over recent decades. In the 1950s permission was quite easily obtained to travel on the Penrhyn line up to the quarries and walk about taking photographs in the midst of all the activity. As shown in the book, the 1-foot 10¾ inch gauge so-called main line, ran over six miles connecting the quarry to Port Penrhyn. We travelled sitting on wooden boards perched on top of slate wagons. The boneshaking ride on un-sprung vehicles was memorably thrilling. Today’s safety regulations were still many years away!
With all three routes in operation, visiting the Isle of Man Railway was always a particular pleasure. Sadly, the railway was steadily getting into a poor condition. Arriving at Ramsay on a train from Douglas, I remember chatting to the driver. I had noticed that the vacuum bake was seldom used when approaching stations. The driver’s reply was quite revealing: “once we get the brake off at Douglas, if possible we tend not to use it again”! The conversation reminded me of a story that, while probably loosely based on fact, has undoubtedly been improved over the years. When it became a legal requirement for passenger trains to have continuous brakes, a member of the Royal family was visiting the Isle of Man. On a preliminary visit, a member of the Royal Household asked the Railway’s General Manager if they had fitted vacuum brakes. He received confirmation that this had been done. On the day of the Royal journey, it was noticed that no use seemed to be made of the new form of braking. When challenged, the General Manager confessed: “I said that we had fitted them, but I didn’t say that we used them!”
Narrow Gauge and Industrial Railways is one in a series of five photographic albums compiled by Brian and Ian Reading depicting the last days of steam on Britain’s railways. Each book contains previously unpublished photographs, maps, and vivid recollections.
Brian Reading and Ian Reading's book Narrow Gauge and Industrial Railways is available for purchase now.