Book Reviews

Scottish Transport  66  –  2014 Edition.

Scottish Transport 66 is the 2014 edition of the STTS’s annual magazine.   It comprises 48 pages, A5, plus card covers, and includes a variety of well illustrated articles covering tram, bus, and railway topics.   Among these is a really rare bird – the story of the Stronachie tramway which formed part of the transport link between the remote Stronachie Distillery and Milnathort station.  My uncle was for many years the minister of the Parish of Milnathort and often spoke to this writer of the approximately 2’0” gauge roadside tramway with wagons hauled by a tractor most of whose wheels ran on the road surface but had a leading bogie that ran on the rails.    Weird!!     Other articles follow the progress of the new Edinburgh tramway up to its opening, examines the tramway in Mussleburgh through the medium of postcards, remembers the “Liners” (ex-Liverpool streamliners) during their time in Glasgow, looks at the two trams once owned by Ian Cormack at his home in Cambuslang, while Gordon Casely thinks wistfully how the Ballater branch might eventually reopen – at  very distant date.     Issue 66 is priced at £6.50 and can be obtained from Society meetings and events stalls or by post from Iain Frew, 17 Catherine Drive, Sutton Coldfield, UK, B73 6AX

Scottish Transport 67 – 2015 Edition

The annual magazine of the Scottish Tramway and Transport Society was published in September 2015 and contains as usual a selection of articles covering a wide range of transport modes.    The first article records a remarkable piece of detective work in identifying the complex history of a non-standard horse tram in the Glasgow fleet.   This has involved the use of new technology and the author, Alan Brotchie, believes that the detailed history of this tram has now been resolved.   Next there is an account of “Odd Men Out” within Western SMT’s 1100 strong bus fleet in the 1950s.     These were mostly buses obtained from absorbed smaller companies, or became oddities following a rebuild with a very different body from the original.    Next we turn to the Clyde estuary and a rarely thought of activity – the duty of the Clyde Port Authority to maintain buoys and navigation lights to indicate safe ways for other shipping.    This article remembers an event in 1977 when the Authority’s vessel “Fulgar” ran aground during a severe storm and how she was rescued by the ferry Jupiter.    Next there is a major article about Glasgow’s “Semi-High Speed” tramcars.     These traditional looking trams were equipped with two powerful 60hp motors and were designed to operate at up to 33 mph.    They had 31.75” wheels compared with 27” on conventional trams so they stood higher than the older vehicles and there is a comprehensive history of these trams. As might be expected the reopening of the Borders Railway to Tweedbank is covered followed by Gordon Caseley’s description of how STTS, working with many other bodies managed to topple First Group from the operation of the Scotrail network.    There are then two mainly photographic features showing Edinburgh Trams in the snow, and Alexander Atlantean Ambassadors – buses that have featured in trade shows in the UK and abroad.    Letters to the editor and a short item about the new trams in Edinburgh complete an interesting issue.
The publication is available in our Book Store.

Scottish Transport 69 – 2017 Edition

This is the 2017 edition of the Scottish Transport and Tramway Society which as usual contains articles about tramway and bus transport plus a tribute to the late Brian Longworth. Well illustrated articles include Memories of trams in Paisley – in the days when extra services were needed to carry the many workers from Ferguslie Mills and Babcock and Wilcox in Renfrew. Northern Roadways operated a fleet of single deck coaches and some double deckers obtained second hand from Birmingham Corporation. The rise and decline of the company is recorded in some detail. Waterloo Street Bus Station close to the Alhambra Theatre and Central Station was intended to service the city’s outer suburban bus services but was soon found to be too small to accommodate all potential routes. It’s story until it was replaced in 1971 is accompanied by a particularly interesting selection of photographs. Ian Stewart’s “Glasgow Tramcar” book has long been recognised as the finest book about its subject. A number of queries arose from the two editions that have been published and detailed research has produced answers to some of them. Since a third edition seems unlikely the answers are published in this magazine. The last seven pages of this magazine are devoted to a tribute to Brian Longworth which had been read at his funeral on 6 October 2016. He was a walking encyclopaedia about Glasgow trams.
The publicatuion is available in our Book Store.

MANX  TRANSPORT  REVIEW   No 95,    published late 2016,   128 pages A5, profusely illustrated. Available from the ERS website book store at £6.95.

This bumper issue of the Manx Electric Railway Society’s magazine contains a wide range of new packed articles covering most aspects of transport on the Isle of Man.    Rail based transport occupies the first 82 pages covering topics that include the Laxey station track layout changes, the Ballure Bridge reconstruction, and a proposed Ramsey transport interchange at the MER Station site.   The Snaefell Railway derailment is covered in some detail as is the debate concerning the rebuilding of Douglas Promenade and its effect on the horse tramway.  It is good to be able to read about the presentation of three Red Plaques to railway structures – Douglas Station. Laxey Station, and the Manx Electric Railways major Depot at Derby Castle. There is a short photo-feature about station buildings and shelters on the electric and steam railways.

Bus news begins on page 83 updating the reader on arrivals (and departures) of buses from Great Britain and this is followed by the history of an extensive garden railway – one of several on the island.   Brief notes on the Blackpool 125 event of a few years ago and final comments about the horse tram service’s possible future bring this issue to a close.    There are usually notes about shipping and air services to the Island but in this edition there is no news about the ferries or planes.

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