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Author Topic: Clapham Junction 50 years of change (1998 version), By Vic Mitchell and Keith Smith Review  (Read 595 times)

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Clapham Junction 50 years of change (1998 version), By Vic Mitchell and Keith Smith

Book Review: As a small child, I was fascinated by the maze of lines at Clapham Junction, frequently embarrassing my grandmother by running from window to window in the train trying to see where the lines went. Then there were the masses of trains and that weird sensation of appearing to move backwards when passed by another train. My child's brain could not comprehend why there were so many and where they were all going. It was even bigger than Brighton!

So when this book, published to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the formation of British Railways upon Nationalisation, was produced I bought it like a shot so I could get answers to the questions I had as a child. It is not just about Clapham though, Kensington Olympia, Stewarts Lane and Nine Elms are included too! At the time of writing the book is out of print but can be purchased via Amazon.

The book starts with two early maps of the lines, geographical setting and background followed by a two page 1948 control diagram with a 1948 and 1997 route diagram.

The first section is Clapham Junction 1948 to 1959. Plenty of pictures of steam and electrics and a summary of the platform renumbering that took place in 1950. Personal highlights include the Royal Train being hauled by schools class Brighton on its way to Epsom races, a 'new' DEMU for the Hastings line entering platform 3 with the Kensington sidings in the background and Callington approaching the Kensington platform heading to the Midlands.

A picture of Squadron and a U1 class pulling a train from Oakley Junction to Lewes begins the Clapham Junction in the 1960s. Images of this era include steam and electric trains at the divergence of the Waterloo and Victoria lines, the re-railing of a parcels van and a photo showing corridor coaches 'crammed into every crevice'.

The 1970s section includes the Night Ferry and a train used for guard training whilst the 1980s has pictures of the empty Royal Train, a cement train in the yard (once again accompanied by a myriad of coaches), a telescopic view of 33103 arriving from Kensington, the Kenny Belle and a rare picture of the junction without any trains - amongst the many images.

As expected there are more images of Clapham junction to 1997. Eurostar puts in an appearance and there is a great picture of three EMUs appearing to race each other away from the station. Even a steamer makes an appearance with a class S15 in 1996. There are terrific pictures of the lines and the whole area and the author has carefully removed graffiti from one of the images so as not to 'perpetrate this evil practice'.

A lengthy section on Stewarts Lane follows. images include a coaling plant, a terrific two page picture showing steamers in the yard, views from inside the shed and a stunning picture of class 47s and a class 33 in the shadow of the Atlantic Lane viaduct.

A short section on Nine Elms follows before a fascinating piece on the Low Level Lines. Once again there are some great pictures including a two page view looking west from the South London line, a train about the pass under the main line from Kent to Victoria and part of the diesel depot with washing machine.

The beauty (Eurostar) and the beast (Q class) are amongst the pictures of Latchmere Junction before the book concluded with Kensington Olympia complete with pictures of steamers, HST, Eurostar, DMUs and EMUs

All of Middleton Press books are in black and white and the link below is to the Middleton Press website


ISBN: 1 901706 06 0

Score: 5
Just one Pendolino, give it to me, a beautiful train, from Italy


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