The book I read to research this post was The Branch Lines Of Worcestershire by Colin G Maggs which is a very good book which I bought from kindle. Colin is a railway author who tends to specialize in the West Country region and Worcestershire isn’t too far from that region. There have been quite a few railways closed in this county and sadly he covers the routes with in the county which is a shame because there are lines like the Tenbury line & Severn Valley Railway which extend quite considerably beyond the boundaries and I’m sure lots of information was left out. Apparently the branch from Stourbridge Junction to Droitwich was almost closed due to competition from the more direct Bromsgrove line with both going from Birmingham to Worcester. What saved it was the high speed trains going from Birmingham to Gloucester and beyond which needed the Bromsgrove line and a local service had to go on the Stourbridge Junction line as a result. The Tenbury line was one of several in the country called the bluebell line on account of it being quite a scenic route. The Severn Valley Railway although it has charitable status is quite successful as a privately run steam enthusiasts railway and one of the longest in the country. There was a branch line that took in the industrial town of Halesowen linking Stourbridge Junction to Barnt Green. There was also a branch line from Evesham to Leominster which are both small market towns. Of course a lot of these lines were making a loss but fed traffic to the major lines and gradually more and more lines were closed as traffic fell. I was born in Kidderminster on the Stourbridge Junction line which was an important terminus on account of its carpet manufacturing so this book is very interesting to me. The book itself is a little bit short but is an enjoyable read.
Archive for the ‘british history’ Category
Tags: book reviews, books, british history, colin g maggs, great britain, history, railways, steam locomotives, steam trains, textbooks, worcestershire
Tags: book reviews, books, british history, history, locomotives, pendolinos, railways, textbooks, trains, transport, virgin trains
The book I read to research this post was Virgin Trains by John Balmforth which is a very good book which I bought from a local bookstore. This book is around 80 pages and has some wonderful photos of Virgin Trains but sadly doesn’t have much information which is a shame as I am sure there is plenty of potentially interesting information they could write about this subject. When Virgin took over the West Coast & Cross Country in 1998 the railway stock was mostly from the 60′s & 70′s and in bad need of replacing and they agreed to upgrade the stock to Pendolinos, Voyagers & Super Voyagers by 2002 and were successful in doing this. Even the renamed HST’s foremerly Inter City 125′s were retired from there main routes completely from 2004. Much of the signalling in Britain is limited to only letting trains go at a maximum of 125 mph when they are capable of 140 mph upwards. Britain has more tilting trains than any other country in the world largely thanks to Virgin. They have had reliability problems with these tilting trains but this has mostly been sorted out. There has been controversy over the number of slots they have at Birmingham New Street which has meant some of the local trains have had to be transferred to Snow Hill although this has meant you can catch a local train from Stourbridge all the way to Stratford Upon Avon as the same trains goes on both lines so its not all bad. I think linking 2 local lines and another example is the train from Lichfield to Redditch is a good idea and passengers are bound to travel to the further destination if they can do it on one train. I did enjoy reading this book and Virgin has had some initiatives like recycling tickets and timetables as well as old uniforms which has probably not caught on although they are trying. I’d recommend this book for the wonderful photo’s.
Tags: argentina, book reviews, books, british history, falklands war, great britain, history, mount longdon, parachute regiment, the falkland islands
The book I read to research this post was Two Sides Of Hell by Vincent Bramley which is a very good book which I bought from a car boot sale. This book tells the story of the Battle of Mount Longdon, the fiercest battle of the Falklands Campaign. The story is told from the perspectives of the Argentine & British soldiers who have been interviewed in addition to the author’s experiences in the battle with the Para’s. It tells of how the Argentine soldiers were flown in airliners with the seats taken out to make more room and being told to sit on their kit. The ordinary Argentine soldiers were also starved and abused by their officers. One soldier tells of how they had nothing to eat despite their being thousands of sheep and plenty of food in Port Stanley. He got permission to slay a sheep and someone suggested they send it back to the base to be enjoyed by all the men and the dead sheep disappeared. Obviously one of the officers must have sold it on the black market. Another incident involved an Argentine conscript going into Port Stanley to buy food for him and his co workers. He got caught but luckily an officer he knew backed him up with a white lie, otherwise he would have been sent to military prison. The British Para’s by contrast couldn’t belief the heroes send off they got and got to travel on the luxury liner Canberra although it was modified for their use. Of course they had hardship later on. In the Battle for Mount Longdon many Argentine soldiers were sprayed with machine gun bullets while they slept and probably died in their sleep. This book started as a project the author and a tv crew were doing for Argentine television and they saw the potential for doing a book. I really enjoyed this book which is quite unusual in telling the story from both sides.
Tags: book reviews, books, bridges, british history, canals, history, holyhead, industrial revolution, scotland, thomas telford
The book I read to research this post was Thomas Telford by L T C Rolt which is an excellent book which I bought from a local secondhand bookstore. Telford has the unusual distinction that the new town of Telford is named after him. He is also one of the greatest British people of all time. He isn’t as well known as Brunel but where as Brunel did much in the Industrial Revolution, Telford built fine roads, canals and bridges. Telford also lived near the beginning of the Industrial Age but for example didn’t see the full potential of the steam engine. He started out as an architect who later learned about engineering. Among his early work the bridge that spans the River Severn at Bewdley in Worcestershire is his finest. He raised the entire bridge in one season which was unheard of. There was a church at Shrewsbury in Shropshire and he was asked to repair the roof. He realised the foundations weren’t adequate and graves had undermined what foundations there were. He reported this and they thought he was trying to create work for himself. The church collapsed soon afterwards. He built the Ellesmere Canal, the Gotha Canal in sweden, the liverpool & Birmingham Junction Canal & the Shrewsbury to Holyhead road. The Gotha canal cuts straight through Sweden. He built a formidable bridge for Holyhead across the Menai Straits. He died before the Liverpool & Birmingham Junction Canal could be completed. He built many harbours and bridges in his native Scotland. At that time the Highlands were largely inaccessable. He was asked to judge designs for a Clifton Suspension Bridge across the Severn and turned down a design by a young Brunel along with all the others and submitted his own design. Interestingly Rolt has also written a book about Brunel.
Tags: ben macintyre, book reviews, books, british history, france, germany, history, military history, textbooks, world war 1
The book I read to research this post was A Foreign Field by Ben Macintyre which is an excellent book which I bought from kindle. This book is about World War 1 and the aftermath of The Battle Of The Somme. It’s a kind of historical investigation into the treatment of allied soldiers and also of the civilian population in a Northern France town. The allied soldiers were told they must surrender and surrender their arms immediately or be shot as spies. France after being conquered by Germany was like a giant concentration camp with the German soldiers covetting any usable possessions the civilian population had. One scientist working on a vaccine was sentenced to death for having pigeons which had been using for lab work and another scientist had to intercide on his behalf. Civilians couldn’t have pigeons as they could send messages and any had to be turned over to the German forces. Anyone who helped allied troops would be sentenced to be hanged and any mayors who were found to have allied troops in their towns were hanged. Towns would also be heavily fined collectively or the town would be burnt down. Despite this many allied airman and soldiers did seek shelter in French towns. I have to admit I am very impressed at the consistency of Macintyre’s books and I did really enjoy this book. It’s also around 350 pages so is a reasonable length. As with all Macintyre’s books its well researched.
Tags: book reviews, books, british history, goose green, history, parachute regiment, textbooks, the falklands war, warfare
The book I read to research this post was Spearhead Assault by John Geddes which is an excellent book which I bought from a secondhand bookstore. This book is mostly about the battle at Goose Green during the Falklands Conflict at which the author who was in the Parachute Regiment fought. When the British forces landed at San Carlos on the Falklands Islands, some bright spark at the BBC broadcast that they were going to take Darwin & Goose Green. Nobody ever got blamed for it, but it gave the Argentine’s important information. As it was there intelligence reported there was about 200 soldiers stationed at Goose Green when in fact there was 1,500. They had so much ammunition the men stood on the ammo boxes to keep their feet dry. There was only around 400 British soldiers involved. They had to take a bridge & there was a farmhouse where the Argentine’s kept a family hostage and when the para’s took the latter it was like the OK Corral although the family were unharmed and the Argentine’s fled. The actual battle at Goose Green could have been won sooner had Colonel H listened to one of his men who suggested a flanking mannouvre which was initially over ruled but in the end they did. When the Argentine forces did surrender it was because the British were launching Milan rockets at the bunkers and they could see it was hopeless continuing. The Argentine’s also had members from their special forces stationed at Goose Green and it was an extremely tough battle. The author John went onto join the SAS and was a Warrant Officer when he retired. I really enjoyed this book and it’s a fascinating subject.
Tags: army, book reviews, books, british history, falklands war, history, military history, parachute regiment, textbooks
The book I read to research this post was With 3 Para To The Falklands by Graham Colbeck which is a very good book which I bought at a car boot sale. This book was written to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the Falklands Conflict. Graham was a Major in 3 Para and was in it for 23 years and in the Territorial Army for a further 9 years. He was visited by the police about allegations of war crimes at Mount Longdon and while he didn’t witness anything like that he realised most people knew little about the Battle which was decisive in the conflict. 2 Para attacked Goose Green in the conflict & 3 Para had to march all the way across the islands to Port Stanley. At the time a military junta ruled Argentina and had invaded the Falklands which meant the population would have been ruled by a dictatorship. The British government did give the impression they couldn’t be bothered about the islands. At Mount Longdon which was attacked at night time some of the Argentine officers shot their men in the leg to stop them retreating. It was one of the fiercest battles of the Falklands Conflict. 3 Para were transported to the Falklands aboard the Canberra which was a cruise ship converted for the conflict and requisitioned. The soldiers didn’t have a the benefit of a map of Mount Longdon although obviously they did have a map of the Falklands. One good thing about the war is at least the dictatorship in Argentina did have to make way for a democracy. Apparently the islands were originally discovered by the French who did have a colony there. At one stage the Spanish who at that time ruled Argentina also claimed the Islands. It’s a very interesting book which I enjoyed reading.
Tags: ben macintyre, books, british history, espionage, great britain, history, textbooks, world war 2
The book I read to research this post was Agent Zigzag by Ben Macintyre which is an excellent book which I bought from kindle. I have only read this book and Operation Mincemeat by Ben but I am very impressed by both which are very exciting true stories that happened during World War 2 and I daresay if any of the people involved in this story were still alive the Official Secrets Act would stop it from being published. The story is about an excon who had been using gelignite to rob shops and went on a bit of a crime spree in his time. He then ended up in prison in Jersey during the German occupation during World War 2. He then became a spy for the Germans but wanted to get their trust so he could try and assassinate Hitler. However he became a double agent for the British instead and among the things he passed on the Nazi’s was that the De Havilland Aircraft Factory near London had been destroyed and that British destroyers had a rocket propelled device that could destroy a U-boat at the bottom of the ocean. Both these stories were false and with the former story the British hired a magician to help make the factory look like it been destroyed from the air and it was able to continue production. With the latter story many U-boats under attack stayed close to the surface which played right into the hands of the naval vessels attacking them. Wrongly Zigzag was treated a bit shoddy by one of his handlers and lost his spy status and a great opportunity to pass on more false information was missed. It is a fantastic story and years later someone else tried to publish a book on the subject but it was suppressed. I really enjoyed reading this book which is one of the best history books I have ever read & it’s amazing to think it’s true.
Tags: berkshire, books, british history, british rail, history, railways, reading, steam trains, trains, transport
The book I read to research this post was Rail Centres: Reading by Laurence Waters which is a very good book which I bought from Amazon. Reading the county town of Berkshire was linked by the Kennet & Avon Canal before the railways arrived. When they did arrive there was a platform but no station for a considerable amount of time. There was also a major railway rail crash in its early days where the passenger carriages were crushed by the weight of the freight carriages and this was compounded by the fact they had no spring buffering. Later railways were built linking Basingstoke & also a line was built linking Dover, the boat train to the North & Midlands. Of course the Great Western line was a different gauge to much of the rest of Britain and the lines had to be upgraded. 2 very big companies which were Huntley & Palmers Biscuits & Suttons Seeds benefitted from being able to send good out by train. In the 1980′s the station had to be rebuilt and it was long overdue & a small shopping concourse was incorporated into this. There is also a large hotel that is notable because it was designed by Brunel. I really enjoyed this book which is also quite an interesting subject. It’s part of a Rail Centre’s series about famous railway towns which funnily enough doesn’t include Birmingham or Glasgow presumably they couldn’t find an author to write them.