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Mystery book from my childhood

book railways world uk wilson




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#1 SealionSteve

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Posted 28 February 2018 - 17:04

I wonder if anyone can help me identify a book I used to own as a child - about 50+ years ago?

 

It was a general book - hardback and A4 or larger size - about railways in the UK and abroad and it had illustrations and text - aimed I would say at children 5-10 approx who were interested in railways. The structure of it was that a brother and sister who had a father who travelled extensively and used to tell them about the different aspects of railways he had used in his travels. I *think* the family name was Wilson, first names of the children may have been Dick and Betty. I can only recall a few details about the various subjects covered - I am fairly sure that there was a section about the Woodhead tunnels/overhead electrification in the UK plus various aspects of operation such as - from memory - marshalling yards and train ferries.

 

It's possible that it was reprinted about 30 years ago under a different title as I recall seeing what looked like the same book around then but I failed to note the title/author etc.

 

A long shot I know, but if anyone can suggest the title I would be very grateful. Thanks.

 

Steve


Edited by SealionSteve, 28 February 2018 - 17:05 .




#2 Marly51

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Posted 28 February 2018 - 17:19

Good luck with your search, Steve. Sorry I don’t know the book you are looking for. I am bit of a bookophile and have vague memories of childhood books, the titles of which have disappeared into the ether. There were a lot of well illustrated children’s books with an educational side in the 1950s/1960s...

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#3 5050

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Posted 01 March 2018 - 17:34

I've still got my childhood railway books.  'The Modern World Book of Trains', 'The Wonder Book of Railways', 'Dumpy Book of Trains' and probably one or two others.  My Mum always told the tale of how, at only 3 years of age, I screamed a book shop down in Douglas IoM until I got the Modern World book.  I couldn't read properly - but the pictures were great!  Every now and again one of them will come off the shelf while I'm looking for something else and a few (more like lots!) minutes will pass as I wallow in nostalgia.  In some instances I find something that really puzzled me at the time as a child - but now makes perfect sense!


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#4 SealionSteve

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Posted 01 March 2018 - 18:11

I've still got my childhood railway books.  'The Modern World Book of Trains', 'The Wonder Book of Railways', 'Dumpy Book of Trains' and probably one or two others.  My Mum always told the tale of how, at only 3 years of age, I screamed a book shop down in Douglas IoM until I got the Modern World book.  I couldn't read properly - but the pictures were great!  Every now and again one of them will come off the shelf while I'm looking for something else and a few (more like lots!) minutes will pass as I wallow in nostalgia.  In some instances I find something that really puzzled me at the time as a child - but now makes perfect sense!

Cheers 5050 - looking on some 2nd hand book sites with pictures of the inside pages, the "Modern World Book of Trains" looks like a similar kind of thing but I don't recognise any of the chapter headings! Thanks for the post though. I know what you mean about how easy it is to get sidetracked - both on my bookshelves and on the web :-)


Edited by SealionSteve, 01 March 2018 - 18:11 .


#5 petethemole

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Posted 01 March 2018 - 19:20

Probably The Book of Railways by Arthur Groom. Available on line secondhand. I had it as a lad and about 10-12 years ago found a copy on a market stall, which was enjoyed by my son.


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#6 gordon s

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Posted 01 March 2018 - 19:25

Several for sale at Abe books...

 

https://www.abebooks...r/arthur-groom/


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#7 SealionSteve

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Posted 02 March 2018 - 10:19

Thank you for that info, it certainly looks like a contender - have ordered a cheapo one to see if it is the one I had in mind. Having looked at a couple of sellers who give a picture of some of the pages, it's interesting to see that although the girl's name is Betty, the lad is called Billy - and the surname is Smith, not Wilson! I am quite prepared to admit that my memory is off on those details, so will await the delivery of the one I have ordered to see if the rest of it chimes with what I recall :-)

 

Thanks again - in the meantime if anyone has any different suggestions, please let me know.

 

Steve



#8 SealionSteve

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Posted 08 March 2018 - 11:44

Probably The Book of Railways by Arthur Groom. Available on line secondhand. I had it as a lad and about 10-12 years ago found a copy on a market stall, which was enjoyed by my son.

Hi petethemole

 

Book arrived today - although similar that was not the one of which I was thinking. Only a couple of pounds though so it's welcome on my bookshelf anyway!

 

Regards

Steve



#9 Dagworth

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Posted 08 March 2018 - 16:40

I wonder if anyone can help me identify a book I used to own as a child - about 50+ years ago?

 

It was a general book - hardback and A4 or larger size - about railways in the UK and abroad and it had illustrations and text - aimed I would say at children 5-10 approx who were interested in railways. The structure of it was that a brother and sister who had a father who travelled extensively and used to tell them about the different aspects of railways he had used in his travels. I *think* the family name was Wilson, first names of the children may have been Dick and Betty. I can only recall a few details about the various subjects covered - I am fairly sure that there was a section about the Woodhead tunnels/overhead electrification in the UK plus various aspects of operation such as - from memory - marshalling yards and train ferries.

 

It's possible that it was reprinted about 30 years ago under a different title as I recall seeing what looked like the same book around then but I failed to note the title/author etc.

 

A long shot I know, but if anyone can suggest the title I would be very grateful. Thanks.

 

Steve

Can't tell you the title, but I had it too, hardback with a deep red/maroon cover IRC

I remember a picture of a large steam engine on rollers at Rugby, titled Going Nowhere Fast

 

Andi



#10 SealionSteve

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Posted 08 March 2018 - 18:02

Can't tell you the title, but I had it too, hardback with a deep red/maroon cover IRC

I remember a picture of a large steam engine on rollers at Rugby, titled Going Nowhere Fast

 

Andi

Thanks And the Rugby pic rang bells, too. but nothing positive about the book. I am looking for hits on dick betty wilson manchester sheffield wath


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#11 Dubaimike

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Posted 08 March 2018 - 18:43

I remember this too. I think the children travelled around the UK with their father, who explained aspects of railway working to them as they did.

 

I recall the boy saying he wanted to see "one of those new engines that runs on oil" and the girl being able to list the names of the A3s!

 

But I don't remember the title!


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#12 SealionSteve

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Posted 09 March 2018 - 08:35

I remember this too. I think the children travelled around the UK with their father, who explained aspects of railway working to them as they did.

 

I recall the boy saying he wanted to see "one of those new engines that runs on oil" and the girl being able to list the names of the A3s!

 

But I don't remember the title!

Those are both in "The Book of Railways" by Arthur Groom, as suggested by petethemole in his post of 1st March. I bought one dead cheap to see if that was it, and although it's similar and the girl in it is called Betty, it isn't the one I was thinking of. It's fascinating reading though - especially the 50s-style of speaking, which comes across as very stilted and old-fashioned. Mind you, I don't think anyone down our way spoke like BBC announcers in real life!

 

I have just recalled another quote from the book I am trying to trace - it ended with a mention of being able to travel to places by bus and a sentence something like "But who would go by bus when it was possible to travel by train? Certainly not [the children's names - which I remember as Dick and Betty Wilson]!"

 

I might well be confusing two or more books, and "The Book of Railways" may well have been one of them - after all it's 50-60 years ago...

 

Steve 


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#13 Dubaimike

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Posted 09 March 2018 - 14:48

Oh, OK. I must see if I can get one. I remember the painted colour illustrations were quite good, but maybe that was because I was about 6.

 

Anyway, thanks for starting the thread, I'd forgotten the book entirely until you did.



#14 Colin

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Posted 11 March 2018 - 09:45

I used to have this book, I’m sure - memories are coming back of a picture of a Q1 0-6-0 (every chapter started with a colour illustration IIRC), the girl (Betty) says something like “gracious, what an ugly engine”. One chapter was possibly called Stars Of The Track (pic was of a tube train (?) and another featured an illustration of Patriot 4-6-0 St Dunstan. I’m not quite sure how I have managed to remember these details, but hope it helps!

#15 SealionSteve

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Posted 11 March 2018 - 11:06

I used to have this book, I’m sure - memories are coming back of a picture of a Q1 0-6-0 (every chapter started with a colour illustration IIRC), the girl (Betty) says something like “gracious, what an ugly engine”. One chapter was possibly called Stars Of The Track (pic was of a tube train (?) and another featured an illustration of Patriot 4-6-0 St Dunstan. I’m not quite sure how I have managed to remember these details, but hope it helps!

Hi Colin

 

Those memories you mention are all from "The Book of Railways" by Arthur Groom, as suggested by petethemole. The colour pictures are on each right-hand page, with b&w line drawings on each left-hand page. "Stars of the Track" does indeed have a picture of a tube train in as one of the colour illustrations.In that chapter they do a tour of London stations, and the "Stars" referred to are named expresses rather than the LT stock(!). St Dunstan is illustrated in a chapter called "The Train Tester", where they visit the works at Rugby and get shown round - Dad has a job "on the railway", in an office, and gets dispensations left right and centre :-)

 

It's the boy (Billy) who comments on the Q1 - but you got the wording right, after all that time!

 

It was definitely another book which I was thinking of, but I am beginning to suspect that I had the Arthur Groom one as well and have probably got the two a bit mixed up in my memory. The "mystery" book definitely had a section on the then-new Woodhead electrics and I am fairly sure that there were one or two bits about railways outside the UK too. There's nothing in the Groom book about either.

 

The search continues!

 

Steve


Edited by SealionSteve, 11 March 2018 - 11:10 .

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#16 New Haven Neil

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Posted 11 March 2018 - 11:15

This thread has jingled a memory for me too, but I don't have as clear a memory of the book I had - the one thing that always fascinated me was in the background of one of the paintings was a very dirty pannier tank - all the main subjects were of course immaculate but that pannier is probably responsible for my love of weathered locos to this day.  A handful of years afterwards seeing the Cuneo weathered 'Nellie' in the Triang book set me off on a weathering journey that hasn't yet ended.

 

Douglas, 5050? Isn't that down south somewhere!



#17 SealionSteve

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Posted 11 March 2018 - 11:23

This thread has jingled a memory for me too, but I don't have as clear a memory of the book I had - the one thing that always fascinated me was in the background of one of the paintings was a very dirty pannier tank - all the main subjects were of course immaculate but that pannier is probably responsible for my love of weathered locos to this day.  A handful of years afterwards seeing the Cuneo weathered 'Nellie' in the Triang book set me off on a weathering journey that hasn't yet ended.

 

Douglas, 5050? Isn't that down south somewhere!

Ah, now that might be in the "mystery" book - shame you can't recall the title! I've just skimmed through the colour pictures in the Groom book, and can't see any dirty locos in evidence at all - even the Q1 is pristine :-)

 

The weathering article in "The First Ten Years" encouraged me to weather many of my own models - I recall Cuneo saying that the idea was to make the loco look heavy.

 

Regards

 

Steve


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#18 New Haven Neil

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Posted 11 March 2018 - 11:44

Ah, now that might be in the "mystery" book - shame you can't recall the title! I've just skimmed through the colour pictures in the Groom book, and can't see any dirty locos in evidence at all - even the Q1 is pristine :-)

 

The weathering article in "The First Ten Years" encouraged me to weather many of my own models - I recall Cuneo saying that the idea was to make the loco look heavy.

 

Regards

 

Steve

 

I'm afraid I have literally no other memory of it, other than I loved it.  It was essential to look at it every night as I went to bed!  55 years later it isn't going to spring to mind - what's left of it.....


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#19 5050

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Posted 11 March 2018 - 14:17

 

Douglas, 5050? Isn't that down south somewhere!

No, even after all these years I can still remember it as being located somewhere on an island in the middle of the Irish Sea.  With horse trams, electric trains - and a bl**dy big wheel! :sungum:



#20 New Haven Neil

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Posted 11 March 2018 - 18:01

No, even after all these years I can still remember it as being located somewhere on an island in the middle of the Irish Sea.  With horse trams, electric trains - and a bl**dy big wheel! :sungum:

 

Sorry - my humour was directed at Douglas being somewhat to the south of my location in the north of the island!  I had presumed you were resident here.

 

PS The wheel's in Laxey.



#21 SealionSteve

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Posted 13 March 2018 - 17:19

Sorry - my humour was directed at Douglas being somewhat to the south of my location in the north of the island!  I had presumed you were resident here.

 

PS The wheel's in Laxey.

I've now accepted that I am probably confusing the Groom book (whose general idea and a daughter named "Betty" gel with my memories) with another book I used to have (the "mystery book" which I am seeking to identify).

 

I'm particularly shaken by the fact that I was CERTAIN - but now unsure - that the kids' surname was "Wilson" because our next-door-neighbours' surname at the time I had that book was - Wilson! No idea where "Dick" came from though - so perhaps the children were "Dick and [someone who might have been Betty] [some surname or other]. Oh come on, it was half a century ago :-)

 

The two things of which I am CERTAIN of is that this book had a section about the then new Woodhead tunnel overhead electrics and that there were a brother and sister with an itinerant dad who used railways a lot!!!! 

 

As lovely as the IoM is, I'd really love to hear from anyone who has any idea what the heck this book is!

 

Steve



#22 New Haven Neil

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Posted 13 March 2018 - 17:46

So would I, if it has the dirty pannier in it!


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#23 Old Gringo

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Posted 20 March 2018 - 17:46

Those are both in "The Book of Railways" by Arthur Groom, as suggested by petethemole in his post of 1st March. I bought one dead cheap to see if that was it, and although it's similar and the girl in it is called Betty, it isn't the one I was thinking of. It's fascinating reading though - especially the 50s-style of speaking, which comes across as very stilted and old-fashioned. Mind you, I don't think anyone down our way spoke like BBC announcers in real life!

 

I have just recalled another quote from the book I am trying to trace - it ended with a mention of being able to travel to places by bus and a sentence something like "But who would go by bus when it was possible to travel by train? Certainly not [the children's names - which I remember as Dick and Betty Wilson]!"

 

I might well be confusing two or more books, and "The Book of Railways" may well have been one of them - after all it's 50-60 years ago...

 

Steve 

 

Hi Steve,

 

Several people have mentioned 'The Book of Railways' by Arthur Groom, published by Birn Brothers Ltd., London, around 1950; featuring Betty and Billy Smith, with a series of full colour illustrations of the first years of British Railways by R.M. Clark and I gather that you now have a copy.

 

However, the lines, "Should we go by motor coach?" Mumsie said - followed by "How dreadful!" wailed the chorus of five (railway children), all together it seemed.  "No, Mother.  That can't be.  Half the fun of the holiday would be gone.  Let us stick to the railway," laughed Daddy.  This text is found on page 47 of the little (6" x 4.5") book 'Off By Train', by George Gibbard Jackson,  published, possibly 1928, by Raphael Tuck & Sons Ltd., London.  The family is Mr. & Mrs. Burt and they have five children, Derek, Nell, Mary, John and Maureen!

 

The cover illustration, by Robert Barnard Way, is Royal Scot, No. 6117 'Welsh Guardsman (to traffic 10/1927) and the frontispiece, the only other colour picture, is of A1 Pacific, No. 4475 'Flying Fox (4/1923).  All the other illustrations are in ink and unfortunately printed on poor quality paper.

 

In 1927, G.G. Jackson wrote 'The World's Railways', which was also illustrated by R.B. Way and I believe that 'Off By Train' uses some of these illustrations, but in a book aimed at younger children. Interestingly, the final chapter (from page 54), 'When the wind helped' has two ink drawings of engines with faces on their smoke-boxes, at least a decade before 'Sammy the Shunter' and almost two decades before Awdry's all-conquering 'Thomas'.

 

Hope this helps.

All the best,

John.



#24 Colin

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Posted 20 March 2018 - 22:13

Anyone remember a book called “How Trains Work” by Geoffrey Day. I still have it somewhere. A thin publication with a paper cover, it was quite informative and seemed to concentrate on BR/LMR steam - I think it was bought for me around 1960. Right at the end, there is a picture (painting, there are no photos in the book) of diesel no. 10000 alongside a Royal Scot, the accompanying text explaining that despite the advent of the diesel, the “good old steam engine” would be around for many years to come.
Would that the writer’s confident assertion had come true.......

#25 kevinlms

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Posted 20 March 2018 - 23:33

Anyone remember a book called “How Trains Work” by Geoffrey Day. I still have it somewhere. A thin publication with a paper cover, it was quite informative and seemed to concentrate on BR/LMR steam - I think it was bought for me around 1960. Right at the end, there is a picture (painting, there are no photos in the book) of diesel no. 10000 alongside a Royal Scot, the accompanying text explaining that despite the advent of the diesel, the “good old steam engine” would be around for many years to come.
Would that the writer’s confident assertion had come true.......

What has to be remembered is that the text of some of these books of the period, was regurgitated and could be related to events of 10 years prior, or even pre WW2. The fact that a book purchased in 1960, featured a painting of LMS 10000, as presumably the latest diesel, indicates that.

 

By 1960, many of the Pilot Scheme diesels were built and in service, notably the Class 20s & 31s (the later having the original Mirlees engines, so not really 31s), from 1957. From 1958, the Class 40s were available too.

 

As an aside, I found this interesting page on Wikipedia

 

https://en.wikipedia...of_introduction














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