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New book - Western Main Lines, Chester to Birkenead including the Helsby Branch


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ISBN 978-1-908174-21-5


At first sight this looks to be an interesting title, on my old local railway, about a line which sees little coverage in the railway press, despite it once being a four track mainline for part of it's length



A nice, if a common view, cover shot sees a 2-6-4t on the Up Fast at Hooton, on a "Paddy"


Opening the book we find the contents and a useful map, continuing to a couple of pages of background, sadly this is where the mistakes commence.


For example


The dates for the quadrification of the line from Ledsham Junction (not Ledsham as mentioned) to Green Lane Junction


"The route between Shotton (sic) and West Kirby closed to passengers ..." - the route was between Hooton and West Kirby, not Shotton, especially poor as Hooton is one of the locations featured in the book and is the subject of the cover.


Unfortunately the book is littered with mistakes, captioning errors, factual errors and factual omissions -some serious and some not so. I'm not listing them all as there are too many.


The book has some nice photographs but nothing really special*, and the very important junctions of Green Lane and Blackpool Street are completely omitted.


* Maybe to others they will be, but over the years I have amassed a goodly collection of photographs of the line.


Sadly, although the photographs are quite good, the captions are littered with errors, and as we have discussed several times, once things get into books they have a habit of becoming "facts", so the book is a bit of a curates egg, good in (small) parts.


Rating 2 / 5

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  • RMweb Gold

Alas Middleton Press does have the habit of producing occasional turkeys in the book line. I have found it generally best to use them as 'starters' and as photographic cross checks/additional sources if they are looking a bit deficient in the caption department. But having said that many of them are very well done and are accurate reference sources.


Regrettably i understand they have now pushed up their price to £16.95 and that is not only dissuading me from purchases unless they are very firmly filling serious holes on my 'wants' list but it has also put off one well-known retailer from stocking them as he too seemingly doesn't think they're worth that much. I know costs have risen but it is, I think, a price hike too far, especially for some of the more recent volumes.

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