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Caledonian Railway Miscellany

Caledonian Railway Miscellany

Michael V.E. Dunn

320 pages. 275x215mm. Printed on gloss art paper, casebound with a dustjacket.

ISBN13 : 9781916400122


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Of all the old railway companies which once existed in Britain, the Caledonian was without a doubt one of the most charismatic. It is a century now since it ceased to exist but its name is still spoken of with affection, and interest in its history continues; the many new books published in recent years are a testament to its enduring appeal. Like all industrial concerns of the time, working conditions could be harsh, with long hours and often low pay. Its staff did not view it through rose-tinted glasses but even so it engendered a fierce loyalty and is remembered today for its elegant locomotives, comfortable long distance trains, fine stations and breath-taking scenery through which it passed. In truth, the Company made most of its money by transporting vast tonnages of goods and minerals, and millions of commuters, across “the fields of apparatus, the furnaces, set on the dark plain like gigantic chessmen” to quote W.H. Auden, so the romantic scenery had to be contrasted with much industrial grime. Nevertheless, in everything it undertook, the Caledonian conducted its operations with an innate style and panache. Ten years in the making and containing nearly 400 images, the aim of this book is to take the reader beyond the familiar photographs of the Caley's engines and trains into darker, more obscure corners, and convey some impression of what life was like for those employed by this major transport undertaking.

Caledonian Railway Miscellany - Sample Images

sample book illustration
Of the hundreds of photographs which have passed through my hands while compiling this book, I have to confess that this picture remains one of my absolute favourites. It was taken at Stirling but came with no other details – we do not even know the number of the engine, which is a 'Jumbo' in well worn goods black livery. However, as a record of life at an engine shed it has few equals. From the tools they hold I would suggest this is the shed's fitting gang. One man stands out in particular, being the only person without a cap, leaning nonchalantly at the front of the group, not looking at the camera; I'd hazard a further guess that he was the foreman. All the usual underlying, earthy humour is here too, from the expressions on the men's faces to the fitter with his hammer and chisel, deliberately posed 'punching' a hole into his mate's head! Either by luck or judgement the photographer has managed to expose this image pin sharp and the reflections from the puddles complete the perfect portrait.
sample book illustration
Dundee West Station, where the line from Perth terminated, taken from a lantern slide around 1895, looking at the frontage from Whitehall Crescent, with Yeaman Shore straight ahead behind the carts and horses. Now regarded as one of Dundee's greatest architectural losses, this was the third station which had stood on the site. Designed by the Northern District Engineer, Thomas Barr, it was built in 1889-90, in the then-fashionable 'Scottish Baronial' style, and faced with red sandstone. Since it was only a few years old when this photograph was taken, practically no weathering has taken place and this late-Victorian masterpiece can be admired in the era and setting which had created it. A horse bus waits under the entrance canopy, which is topped by an ornate wrought iron 'Caledonian Railway' heading, with the Company's name picked out in white. Dundee West was another Beeching closure; passenger services ended on May 3rd. 1965 and the building was entirely demolished the following year. Car parking and approach roads for the new Tay Bridge now cover the site.