Published in June 2021 by Pen & Sword and written by Geoff Plumb, the landscape format hardback book measures around 25.4 cm x 24.13 cm, has 176 pages, 150 colour, and 10 black and white illustrations. It has a published price of £30 although Pen & Sword currently has it on offer at £27.00, and at the time of writing it can be obtained from Amazon for £21.10.
The author was introduced to railways at an early age by his father, and this is his third photograph album covering British Railways during steam's twilight years in the 1960s, the first two covering the Southern and the London Midland Regions. This latest album covers the Western Region, but the sub-title “Western Region” is the important distinction, as it is not exclusively Western Region locomotives and trains, but covers trains in the area covered by the former Western Region in that decade.
The book is one man's collection and we must be thankful that enthusiasts like Geoff Plumb have made their collections available for wider consumption. The very extensive captions provide more than just a ‘what' and ‘where' but tell the story of each particular photograph. What makes this album particularly noteworthy is the content of the photographs, as their composition perfectly recreates the 1960s scene. They are not just photographs of locomotives or trains, but include the immediate surroundings to add interest.
Although the book oozes nostalgia, there are a few minor quibbles. The very first photograph in the book, which should be the standard bearer for the rest of the content, is not a Western Region loco at all but ex-LNER interloper 4472 Flying Scotsman. Although the photograph was taken at Paddington, it would have been preferable to have an ex-GWR loco such as a Castle as the Frontispiece.
The Introduction promises a journey starting from London then heading north-westwards and south-westwards in a zig-zag sort of pattern, but what we have is a collection heavily skewed towards Swindon Works and the ex-Cambrian lines which between them account for over 100 out of the 150 photos in the book.
With the book's title leading us to expect views from the 1960s, it seems odd that a photo taken in 1989 at Didcot should be included, even though it does show two ex-GWR 4-4-0s in action.
Below we see contrasting views of Swindon Works, with 0-6-0 Pannier Tanks after receiving a full overhaul while opposite a line of locos await the cutter's torch.
Swindon Works again, with a young trainspotter getting a chance to pay his last respects.
The book is characterised by photos that often include human interest elements, none more so than on the left where nobody is turning a hair at the unconventional method of boarding the train.
Here again, human interest is to the fore, with a crowd of railwaymen on the platform and a young trainspotter in the foreground ready to write down the loco's number.
Not strictly Western Region, but coming within the book's remit of being within the area covered by the Western Region and showing an ex-GWR Pannier Tank. Surely the small boy will remember his time on the footplate.
RailAdvent would like to thank Pen & Sword for providing RailAdvent with a copy of the book for review.