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“...the aesthetics were more garden shed than locomotive...”

for the photographer.One of the perils of photography particularly in the early days - was that people tended to pose on the object they were most proud of.So you end up with the impression that the more magnificent the machine,the less work it actually did.Presumably false,but the truth is already fading fast from memories. There are some wonderful oddities in this collection.In remote corners of Dorset it little mattered if the aesthetics of an engine cab were more garden shed than locomotive. When Goathorn school closed and the children needed transport to the metropolis of Corfe Castle,the railway simply took a clay wagon and bolted a shed to it.Fortunately one photographer took a snap in the 1930s and the image survived. Narrow gauge railways were an essential part of the industrial scene in the early years of the 20th Century,and even in these largely rural counties there were an impressive number,from extensive weapon production facilities,through mineral lines (mostly clay in Dorset,but coal and peat in Somerset) to short lines serving watercress beds.Most of the lines featured in this book were closed before the Second World War and have long since disappeared,but a few survived into the modern era,the curtain finally falling in the early ‘70s, when the last clay line closed in Purbeck,followed soon afterwards by the peat railways around Ashcott in Somerset.Last to go - quite recently - was the Sylvasprings watercress line.Several pleasure lines are featured in the book,but for one reason or another,most of these have now closed too. Anyone with an interest in small railways or industrial and social history will find this book and its companion volumes a unique archive of a lost era.And never throw anything away! In a faded album you might just find the only known photograph of the Bedlam Brickworks Railway... Dorset & Somerset Narrow Gauge Vic Mitchell & Keith Smith .Published May 2006 ISBN 1 904474 76 4 .Publisher Middleton Press . tel 01730 813169 mail .

The Royal Navy Cordite Factory at Holton Heath made explosives and was not even featured on maps,let alone photographed. This is one of several photos that have come to light recently


Miniature Railway 1