BOOK REVIEW: ‘Rails Across Britain: Thirty Years Of Change And Colour’

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Reviewer:  NZ Crown Mines

Title: Rails Across Britain: Thirty Years Of Change And Colour

Editor: David Cable

No. of Pages: 217

Rating Scale (1: very poor, 10: excellent): Photographs: 9, Text 5

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Between 1985 and 2015, the author of this volume attempted to photograph ‘…Virtually all the trains that… operated on the main lines of Great Britain…’  The result is a 217 page, A-4 sized, book of colour photographs that shows both the changing-face and use of railway rolling stock in Great Britain, and the evolving and multitudinous colour schemes carried by British trains during this time.

This book is of the ‘Railway picture book’ genre, with the photographs it contains being taken during the 1985- 2015 period. Although these images comprise the majority of this volume’s content, they are prefaced by a two-page Introduction which the author has written to provide background to what follows. It includes a short history of British railway operations and developments (described by the author as ‘…Some of the most dramatic changes to the British Railways system since its inception…). Within the photographic section, trains of many types and varieties appear. Of the 200 full-page photographs on display, 195 are of DMU’s and EMU’s and trains hauled by diesel-electric and electric locomotives. The final five images show trains hauled by steam locomotives, and were taken between 1991 and 2011. The images are presented in consecutive year-order with the number of pages allocated to each year varying from three (1985) to 15 (1986). Curiously, one image (on page 178) is un-dated, but presumably belongs to the year group (2010) within-which it has been placed. A detailed, several-sentence caption is placed beneath each image. The caption invariably provides details relating to the specific motive power appearing in the photograph, together with information concerning where the image was taken and the colour-scheme it carries. Where the author believes it to be necessary, additional facts are also given, although this does not occur in all the captions. No Index or Maps pages are provided. The photographs are not listed separately. No ‘Technical’ information is provided concerning the equipment or methods used when taking these images.

For this reviewer, this volume has three serious faults. Of these, two are ‘mechanical’ the third ‘political’. Of the two ‘mechanical’ faults, the most obvious is the lack of an Index or any means by which specific trains / locations / colour schemes (even years) can be found within its pages.  Without an Index to guide them, a reader is reduced to ‘flicking through pages’ in an at-times futile attempt to locate an image, a location, colour scheme or a locomotive. In addition, the lack of any Maps (even one of the national railway network), means that the reader has no idea as to where the images were photographed. This is particularly problematic for readers living outside Great Britain who cannot be expected to know the location of (for example) Llandevenny (Page 94). The ‘political’ fault previously-alluded to, occurs when the author, while writing his Introduction, sees fit to create a new political administration for Great Britain ‘…The Tory Government…’  As the Conservative and Unionist Party has not changed its name, the use of a derisive nickname for a formally-constituted political party lowered the tone of both the Introduction and the volume itself. This reviewer expected better.

This volume may appeal to several different groups of readers. Due to its very-specific time period, railway enthusiasts interested in British trains of the 1985-2015 era are likely to find it especially useful. For such individuals, it could become a standard reference work. Those railway enthusiasts with a more general interest in railways within Great Britain could also find it worth viewing, Artists and modellers portraying British railways rolling stock and stations during the 1985-2015 period may also find it useful for reference purposes.  As the book depicts the evolution of British railways over a very specific time-period, transport historians may also find it of interest. The images of steam locomotives could appeal to steam aficionados.

Although the photographs are beautiful, the lack of both Index and Maps, when combined with the unnecessary political jibe, affected the rating that this volume has received.

On a Rating Scale where 1: very poor, 10: excellent, I have given the Photographs: 9;

the Text: 5.

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nzcrownmines is available for book reviewing. Contact: nzcrownmines@gmail.com

 

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BOOK REVIEW: ‘Rails Across Britain: Thirty Years Of Change And Colour’

BOOK REVIEW: ‘BRITAIN’S DECLINING SECONDARY RAILWAYS THROUGH THE 1960s’

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Reviewer: NZ Crown Mines

Title: Britain’s Declining Secondary Railways Through the 1960s

Authors: Kevin McCormack and Martin Jenkins

Total Number of Printed Pages: 168

Rating Scale (1: Very Poor, 10: Excellent): 7

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According to the song Big Yellow Taxi, ‘…You don’t know what you’ve got, til its gone’ and in many ways this volume is reflective of those words. It records the demise of Britain’s branch line railways in all their faded glory, and while so-doing-so, also unintentionally records the attributes of a society that is now but a fond and increasingly-distant memory.

The volume is of the ‘Enthusiasts picture-book’ genre and was the result of a very deliberate campaign by one Blake Paterson to record scenes from the branch-line railways  being closed as Dr. Beeching attempted  to rationalise Britain’s  railways by the removal of   uneconomic lines. The result of Mr. Paterson’s efforts is a series of beautiful and evocative photographs. These depict trains of all sizes, shapes and varieties, in railway settings that range over the entire British Isles and include both Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. That in itself is commendable and an admirable record has resulted. . However, at least for this reviewer, even more commendable is the unintentional recording that occurred; the ‘background things’ that portrayed 1950’s and ‘60’s Great Britain.   The image of Blower’s Green on page 101 is a case in point. Unintentionally, the volume has become a document of social history and on that basis it is possible that the images may have greater value beyond being merely ‘pictures of trains’.

The book consists of a two-page Preface written by Blake Paterson (the photographer and source of the images that appear within this work). This provides details of Mr Paterson s quest, with an Author’s Note from Messers McCormack and Jenkins adding some additional information. This is followed by the photographs which form the main body of the work. A single-page Index appearing on the book’s last page provides page numbers for the stations appearing within it. The volume contains no maps.

Although the authors’ of this volume (actually ‘Compilers’ in this reviewer’s opinion), state that: ‘An attempt has been made to arrange the images … on a rough geographical basis’,  they have not provided any maps to assist in locating where the images were taken. Although to an ‘enthusiast’, this is likely to be of little consequence, many readers of this volume will not be familiar with the British railway network.  In addition, and despite the excellent captions accompanying the photographs, readers will also be unlikely to know exactly where the photographs were taken. This could well reduce the volume’s usefulness and desirability.

Regrettably, and despite the fact that he is the sole source of the images it contains, the book contains no biographical details about Blake Paterson,  The previously-referred-to Preface and Author’s Note provides details of the ‘How’ and ‘Why’, for the volume’s photographs, with full biographical details of the Authors / Compilers appearing on the dust jacket. Mr. Paterson is not however, given the same courtesy. Although useful as the source of the photographs, he remains anonymous. To know more about him, his methods and the equipment he used, would have been of value – especially to those interested in railway photography.

This work is likely to appeal to a variety of readers. These could include railway enthusiasts, especially those with a specific interest in Branch Railways within the British Isles. Railway modellers with an interest in transition–era railways of the British Isles are also likely to find this volume of interest, while transport, social and political historians could find the images (especially what appears in the backgrounds) useful in their  researches.

As previously noted, the absence of both maps and biographical information about the photographer lessens this volume’s value, and for this reviewer, it is ultimately just a collection of very pretty pictures. Were that that was not so.

On that basis, and using a Rating Scale where 1: Very Poor, 10: Excellent, I would give it a 7.

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 nzcrownmines is also available for book reviewing: Contact: nzcrownmines@gmail.com

BOOK REVIEW: ‘BRITAIN’S DECLINING SECONDARY RAILWAYS THROUGH THE 1960s’

Book Review: ‘Armoured Trains: An Illustrated Encyclopaedia 1825-2016’

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Reviewer: NZ Crown Mines

Title: Armoured Trains: An Illustrated Encyclopaedia 1825-2016

Author: Paul Malmassari

Total Number of Printed Pages: 528

Rating Scale (1: Very Poor, 10: Excellent): 7

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To the general public, the idea that trains could be weapons of war is preposterous. Trains carry freight, they do not carry and use guns, and they definitely do not engage in hostile actions against an enemy, especially not in the Twenty-first Century.  This volume proves otherwise.

It is very evident that the author of this volume knows and loves his subject.  Originally published in France in 1989, this revised and upgraded English-language version is well researched and, due to the depth of information, is likely to become the authoritative work on armoured trains.  The book covers the development and use of the armoured train as a military device.  In most of the instances described within this volume, the armoured train was essentially a very mobile ‘fortress on railway tracks’. As such it could carry the battle to the enemy and cause havoc as a result.  It was not as mobile as aircraft (which were invented later), but was a definite improvement over its horse-based contemporaries. The major European and Asian powers were inevitably the largest users of armoured trains and as such their trains form the largest section of the volume. It does not however ignore smaller conflicts and combatants, and includes and describes all and any situations where vehicles running on railway tracks were involved in aggressive military activities.

The volume describes itself as an “encyclopaedia’ and as a result is  more suited to ‘dipping into’ rather than a straight ‘cover-to-cover’ read.  An Introduction provides general background details, and precedes the largest section of the work. This consists of 72 sections (aka ‘Chapters’) arranged by country and appearing in alphabetical order. Within each section information is given concerning the armoured railway vehicles that operated in or were owned by, that specific state. To this reviewer however, some of the inclusions are at best tenuous, and he considers the inclusion of New Zealand as the owner of an ‘armoured train’ while part of British Forces in the Middle East during World War II to be drawing  a very long bow.  At least one image (frequently more) appears within each section, while numerous line drawings are included.  Drawn to HO scale (1:87) these are of both rolling stock and locomotives.  Two Appendices are included; one containing numerous art-works of armoured trains, the other ‘… Original Factory Drawings of Armoured Trains and Trolleys’.  An Index and an Acknowledgements section are also provided. Sequentially-numbered Footnotes are used within each section while a Sources sub-section replaces a designated Bibliography. No maps of any sort are provided.

Unfortunately, this reviewer has two major concerns with this volume. One is with the complete lack of maps within the work, a situation which means that, unless they are geo-politically aware, a reader will have absolutely no idea as to where the trains actually operated. As several of the nations within the volume have also changed their names, this puts the reader at a major disadvantage. The other concern relates to the Index. Although the names of specific countries (for example, France, Russia, United States of America, South Korea, Georgia) are listed as Section (Chapter) Headings on the work’s Contents page, a random search within the Index found no evidence of  either these or any other ‘country’ names within that section. While it could be argued that a Contents-page listing is sufficient for the purpose, and that most readers will turn to the Contents before the Index, observation indicates that although purchasers of such a volume will initially only peruse the Contents page, they will eventually seek additional information within the Index section.  The absence of specific ‘country’ names makes such searching at best very difficult.  To this reviewer, this is a major failing as in his opinion, the seeker of specific information  needs to be able to quickly and positively identify that train X belongs to country Y (or vice versa). For this reviewer, being unable to do so, considerably-reduced the value of both the Index, and the volume.

The limitations outlined above notwithstanding. this volume is likely to appeal to several different groups.  Railway historians and enthusiasts will probably find it of interest, especially if they are interested in military railways, while both general and military historians could also find it informative.  Irrespective of the scale they work in, model-railway enthusiasts could also find it useful, especially if their interest is in military railways.

Due to its specialisation, this volume is likely to become the authoritative one on its subject. The lack of both maps and an incomplete Index do however reduce its value considerably.  On that basis, and on a Rating Scale, where 1: Very Poor, 10: Excellent, I would give this volume a 7. It should have been higher.

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 nzcrownmines is also available for book reviewing: Contact: nzcrownmines@gmail.com

Book Review: ‘Armoured Trains: An Illustrated Encyclopaedia 1825-2016’

Te Kereru Mining and Investment Co. Ltd.

I have long been interested in the nineteenth-century underground gold mines of New Zealand’s  Coromandel Peninsula. The need to develop these mines to their fullest potential required very large amounts of money and the latest technology – at that time only available from London, the financial and mining-technology centre of the world. Thus were British capital, Victorian-era steam-powered machinery and British manufacturing skills brought to bear on the Coromandel.

However, two problems needed to be solved: how to remove the gold-bearing rock in the most efficient manner, and having done this, how to extract as much gold as possible. The pursuit of these aims constituted New Zealand’s first heavy industry of any consequence. Developing the necessary technology, especially the use of potassium cyanide for gold-extraction, meant that for a period the New Zealand quartz gold mining industry led the world.

In one way the Te Kereru Mining and Investment Co Ltd. layout is a homage to this era and industry. In another it is also a teaching tool, showing in miniature how things were in ‘the olden days’, and introducing the viewer to a little-known aspect of New Zealand history.

The Backstory

1893: While hunting Kereru (Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae; the New Zealand  Pigeon) in the hills of New Zealand’s Coromandel Penisula, W.V. James discovers a gold and silver-bearign reef (‘lode’) near Toi Toi Creek – somewhere north of Karanagahake, and south of Port Jackson.

1895: The Te Kereru Mining and Investment Company (Limited. is formed in London and is soon driving horizontal tunnels (or adits) into the reef to explore the size of the deposit and commence the mining of the ore it contains.

1897: The Company begins constructing a 40-stamp battery / reduction-works for use in conjunction with the recently-introduced MacArthur-Forrest cyanide process. The work includes the construction of a steam-powered railway to connect the mine workings with the battery. This required the construction of a short tunnel through an adjacent ridge.

1898 (November); Ore trains begin running.

1900:  Having found that the reef system descends much deeper than can be reached via horizontal adits, the Company sinks a shaft (the Toi Toi) to better mine the reef and to prospect further.

1901: The Toi Toi Shaft reveals that the reef system is increasing in value as it descends, and as a result, an additional 20 stamps are added to the battery.

1911: The cyanide plant is updated. This includes four tall Brown and McMiken (B&M) air-agitator tanks measuring 13.7 metres x 6.0 metres( 45 ft. x 20 ft.) placed towards the rear of the site. A vacuum-filtration  plant and hydraulic classifier are also added.

1913 (The present time): The Company’s upgrades are payign off and its gold and silver production is the alrgest within the district. The Toi Toi Shaft is currently 144.7 metres (475 ft.) deep and values are showing no sign of decreasing at this depth.

The Model

Te Kereru  (pronounced Tea -Care-Rare-Roo) was intended to portray by way of a small layout,  the main elements in this fictional history, a scenario that drew heavily on large-scale gold mines once found at Thames, Karangahake (Car-rang-ah-hack-ee) Komata (Co mah-tah), Coromandel and Waihi (Y-he) These and my own personal experiences provided the technical background.

My intention was always to make Te Kereru a technically and historically accurate portrayal of a neglected part of New Zealand’s history. I wanted the layout to be in N scale, portable, and able to fit between my car’s rear wheel arches. And it had to be ready for public exhibition within three months! It was, and at that and several other exhibitions has received encouraging comments from both the public and other modellers.

Of course I did not start from scratch. Te Kereru is the final development of a series of micro layouts beginning in 2006 with the Kaisers Reef (Hauraki) Gold Mining Co (NL) cutlery drawer-based layout seen at the 2008 New Zealand Model Railway Guild convention in Taradale (Napier).   I subsequently enlarged the ‘Kaiser’s concept, and created the Te Kereru Mining and Investment Co Ltd’ , (‘Te Kereru’ being pronounced: Tea Care-rare-roo), a portable ‘clockwork mouse’ layout designed for exhibitions and, for ease of transportation, capable of fitting in between the wheel arches of my Nissan Primera sedan’s rear seat.

Construction

The baseboard measures 1066mm x 508mm (3ft 6in x 2ft), comprising a sheet of MDF with strips of 20mm x 30mm pine glued on the outside edges to form a frame for a 12.7mm–thick sheet of ‘Pinex–brand  soft-board laid on top. A three-ply scenic divider conceals a small fiddle yard and work area, while a tall ridge separates the site of the Toi Toi (Toy-toy) Creek mining operations from the ore processing area. I have employed self-developed a New Zealand-specific variation of UK N scale (1:148), with suitably modified N-scale rolling stock.

Track and wiring

The track is roughly oval in shape, laid with Peco N scale Code 80 flextrack pinned to the Pinex. Exhibition-based experience and discussions with respected model railway peers convinced me that points can be a source of many problems, and since the viewing public rarely commented it seemed that omitting them would be a contribution to reliable running. The layout does however have three nominal sidings (at the mine, the battery and the locomotive shed beside the battery). These are supposedly one-blade mining tramway type units and are non-working.

Power feed is simply two wires attached to my veteran Hammant & Morgan power unit.

Scenery

Basic scenery was constructed from blocks of high-density plastic foam overlaid with kitchen towels. Pollyfilla was applied over this, followed by acrylic tube colours, predominantly white, black, yellow ochre, burnt sienna, yellow and blue.  Vegetation is Woodland Scenics Coarse Foliage. Ground cover consists of a variety of dried sawdusts, held in place by PVA and superglue.

The sky is deliberately white in colour — to help portray the anti-cyclonic gloom frequently found on the Coromandel Peninsula and emphasises the contrast between the bush and structures. Comments from residents of the area, indicate that I have successfully captured the atmosphere of the area.

Structures

All Te Kereru’s structures are scratch-built, designed to provide examples typical of the various evolutionary phases of large-scale nineteenth century underground goldmines in the Coromandel.

As well as the major mine and battery buildings there is a water-race, with race inspector’s hut, a locomotive shed; goods sheds at both the mine and battery, and various other tanks and buildings.

At Toi Toi there is a substantial amount of trestle work and a large dump for waste rock (mullock)  from the mine.

An abandoned traction engine remains at Toi Toi from when it served as a stationary boiler to power an air compressor in the mine’s early days. Contrast that with the new fangled telephone recently installed to connect the General Manager’s office at the battery Te Keruru office with the Mine Manager’s at Toi Toi.

The tall B&M (Brown and McMiken) air-agitator tanks at the battery form part of the battery’c cyanide plant and are typical of early examples, while the Toi Toi Shaft’s 65ft (20m)-tall head frame (or Poppett Head) is similar to those at Thames, Waihi and Coromandel.

Material and methods

A wide variety of discarded materials were used in constructing Te Kereru. Almost everything was made from off-cuts, such as the scraps of picture framer’s matte board used for buildings, or the discarded overhead transparency film used for window glazing.

The battery’s windows, having multiple panes, were first scribed to create the mullions, then covered with white paint, which when wiped off with a damp cloth left paint within the scribed lines – instant multi-paned windows!

Mining plant, having only a short life-expectancy, was constructed as cheaply as possible, and in New Zealand low-cost corrugated iron was the primary form of cladding. My ‘corrugated iron’ was 1970s-era embossed wallpaper and I made the B&M tanks from toilet-roll inners, with propelling-pencil leads being used for over-flow pipes and card for the deflectors installed at the tops of the tanks. . . The Toi Toi Shaft head frame was built from square-section strip balsa and card, and the mine ore trucks from cork roadbed, with propelling-pencil leads for the axles. Items I could not make, (such as track, people and animals), were purchased.

Detailing

I enjoy the possibilities for detailing, and as a result various small vignettes appear on the layout. These include a cage in the Toi Toi Shaft head frame with a worker putting a lot of effort into manoeuvreing an empty ore wagon back inside before it returns underground, two men using a pinch-bar to get an ore-truck back on the rails at the entrance to one of the tunnels, and the telephone-line repairman up a pole near the water-race, replacing a line that has been broken.  His two pack-horses (one carrying saddlebags) graze below him.  There are other similar mini scenes as well, though they may not be evident at first glance.

Rolling stock

Motive power is an N-scale Bachmann 0-6-0 Plymouth switcher reworked to look something like a Manning-Wardle street tramway locomotive.  This was supposedly imported by the company from a bankrupt British system.  Wagons are scratch-built, mainly of the mainly of the side-tipping-type and mounted on single N-scale bogies’.

Several flat-deck wagons do static duty at the goods sheds at Toi Toi and the battery.   Because of the severe curvature, a simple type of hook and pin coupler is used. At the standard N scale viewing distance of two feet (600mm), these rarely elicit comment.

People and creatures

Te Kereru has various people and animals within its boundaries.  People are doing a variety of jobs, from shovelling coal outside the battery’s boiler house, to the telephone-line repairman previously-mentioned.  At Toi Toi, pit ponies haul ore and timber wagons as needed.

Things that lurk in the forest

There is a resident dinosaur in the bush country between the battery and the mine. A reclusive creature, it is only seen at exhibitions, mainly by small children. He has proven singularly successful as an ice breaker with members of the public.  With the children indulging in a dinosaur hunt the parents can be engaged in conversation and left free to actually look at what is on the layout.

Is it narrow gauge?

I am frequently asked if the layout is 009 or some narrow gauge variation on Z gauge (Nn3 perhaps). The questioners are invariably surprised that it is in fact conventional N scale, rather than the apparent narrow gauge that prompted the question.  The narrow gauge look is not intentional, but seems to have evolved of its own accord. For that I have no explanation.

Public reaction

My wife accompanies me to exhibitions, and she has noted that because of the clockwise direction that model railway exhibitions tend to follow, members of the public mostly approach from the Te Kereru  or battery (left hand) end.  Having given the layout a quick once-over, and seeing little to interest them, they then move on, to suddenly notice Toi Toi at the other end, hiding behind some hills and trees.  The reaction is frequently one of surprise accompanied by a ’wow’ of amazement, and followed by a closer investigation. Some people have even been observed dragging their mates back to share in the discovery.

Frequent comment is made concerning the detail that has been incorporated into Te Kereru, along with surprise as to how much detail is possible in such a small scale  and space. We have also noticed that because of its height — it simply rests on a conventional trestle table — small children and people in wheelchairs seem to get the best of views.

The future?

Te Kereru has so far attended several exhibitions and been well received. It is reliable and fun and gets lots of positive comments from viewers, so its appearances will continue. In between times it is still being detailed and added to.

Layout at a glance

Name: Te Kereru Mining and Investment Co. Ltd.

Scale: N (1:148).

Size: 1.066.8mm x 508mm. (42″ x 24″).

Prototype: Various Coromandel Peninsula gold mining tramways.

Period: 1913.

Locale: Coromandel Peninsula, North Island, New Zealand

Layout Style: Portable.

Height: Approximately 1m (height of trestle table).

Length of mainline: 2.72m.

Track: Peco code 80 flextrack

Points/Turnouts: None.

Control:  Conventional 240-volt transformer.

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TE KERERU MINING AND INVESTMENT CO. LTD.

General view of layout showing Toi Toi mining area at bottom of layout and battery/ reduction-works site visible at upper LH corner.

(Scale: 1:148)

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TE KERERU MINING AND INVESTMENT CO. LTD.

Detail view of Toi Toi Mining area showing various adits and tramways. Poppett Head of Topi Toi shaft visible at center-right foreground.

(Scale: 1:148)

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TE KERERU MINING AND INVESTMENT CO. LTD.

A view from Mullock heap (Waste rock) area showing surface buildings associated with the Toi Toi shaft. The tramway goods shed and the tracks of the steam-powered tramway. are visible at LH centre and at bottom of the image. Various adits and mining-related tramways are visible in the background.

(Scale: 1:148)

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TE KERERU MINING AND INVESTMENT CO. LTD.

View along Mullock Heap trestle, looking towards Toi Toi shaft

(Scale: 1:148)

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TE KERERU MINING AND INVESTMENT CO. LTD.

View of Upper Toi Toi Valley showing various adits and mullock heaps (Waste rock dumps).

(Scale: 1:148)

toi-toi-115

TE KERERU MINING AND INVESTMENT CO. LTD.

Braceman maneuvering ore wagon into cage on upper Brace of Toi Toi shaft.

(Scale: 1:148)

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TE KERERU MINING AND INVESTMENT CO. LTD.

View of western section of Toi Toi mine workings, showing No.6 adit and ore-Bins and  steam-powered tramway tracks. The Toi Toi Shaft and Winding-Engine House is visible in background.

(Scale: 1:148)

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TE KERERU MINING AND INVESTMENT CO. LTD.

Steam-tramway locomotive No.1 arriving at the battery with a rake of wagons. General view of 60-stamp battery/reduction works and cyanide plant. B&M tanks visible at left, with tracks of steam-powered tramway visible at bottom of photograph.

(Scale: 1:148)

view-of-battery-from-access-road

TE KERERU MINING AND INVESTMENT CO. LTD.

A general view of the battery / reduction-works area  The 60-stamp battery is in the taller part of the large building that also houses the cyanide plant. There is a hand-fired boiler in the smaller foreground shed. The tracks of the steam tramway are just visible

(Scale: 1:148)

battery-bm-tanks-classifier-and-sttling-tanks-detail-dscf4898

TE KERERU MINING AND INVESTMENT CO. LTD.

Detail image of the modern Brown and McMiken Air-agitator tanks installed at the Te Kereru Mining and Investment Co. Ltd.’s battery in 1912.

(Scale: 1:148)

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TE KERERU MINING AND INVESTMENT CO. LTD.

Aerial view of Battery, Company offices, Cyanide plant B&M Tanks, Pump House Tailings Dam and Locomotive Shed.

(Scale: 1:148)

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TE KERERU MINING AND INVESTMENT CO. LTD.

A detail view of the Company’s water-race headstock and siphon, with waste water discharging over the spillway to the right. The Water-race Inspector is visible on the bridge, while his hut is visible behind the telephone pole.

(Scale: 1:148)

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TE KERERU MINING AND INVESTMENT CO. LTD.

An image of the Company’s water-race  and its recently-installed and modern telephone system which connects the Battery with the mine. A recent storm has removed the wires so a repairman can be seen on top of the pole, reconnecting the line. His pack horses are grazing patiently below him.

(Scale: 1:148)

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TE KERERU MINING AND INVESTMENT CO. LTD.

Tramway locomotive shed.

(Scale: 1:148)

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Note: No photographs of the dinosaur have been discovered.

Te Kereru Mining and Investment Co. Ltd.

BOOK REVIEW: ‘RAILS ACROSS EUROPE: EASTERN AND SOUTHERN EUROPE’; ‘RAILS ACROSS EUROPE: NORTHERN AND WESTERN EUROPE’.

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Reviewer: N Z Crown Mines 

Title: Rails Across Europe: Eastern And Southern Europe

Rails Across Europe: Northern And Western Europe

Author: David Cable

Total No. of Pages: (Rails Across Europe: Eastern And Southern Europe): 258

(Rails Across Europe: Northern And Western Europe): 245

Colour Pages: (Rails Across Europe: Eastern and Southern Europe):248

(Rails Across Europe: Northern And Western Europe): 236

Rating Scale (1: very poor, 10: excellent): Photographs: 8; The overall volumes: 4.

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Although these are separate titles, the author notes that they are in fact ‘sister’ volumes; it is on that basis that this reviewer has chosen to deal with them as a single entity.

These works are hard-covered examples  of the ‘Enthusiasts’ picture books’ genre and contain colour images of locomotives (both with and without attached trains), in a wide variety of locations across the European continent.   The author very-evidently loves both his subject and photography, and has travelled widely in pursuit of his subject material. |It should be noted however that although the majority of the images are his own, contributions from other photographers also appear, a fact acknowledged by the author. The quality of the images is such, that if a reader is seeking a pair of books showing only contemporary ‘European’ trains, there would be few to rival what these works contain. It should however be noted that the section on the United Kingdom is not large, the author stating that this railway system will be the subject of a separate volume in its own right.

However, although the images are of excellent quality, this reviewer believes that these works are seriously let down in other areas. Because the volumes are arranged by country, this reviewer expected to find, at minimum, a map of Europe indicating international boundaries, borders ad railway networks.  He found none. Regional maps (to assist the reader in locating the sites where the images were photographed\) were also absent. There are no maps within these volumes, and unless the reader is familiar with the continent/region/ district, the locations and captions are virtually meaningless. Each volume contains an Introduction, Notes on railways of each country [sic], and nothing else.  There is no Index, Table of Contents, or Glossary. There is no way of identifying or locating the various locomotives (or even the sections for individual countries) within the volumes. No key is provided for the numerous abbreviations that appear within these volumes, making them of little value.

In precis, the images within this work are beautiful, the photography superb, and if that is what the purchaser is seeking, they will be well-satisfied. If however, a buyer is seeking some sort of ‘authoritative’ work (if only for random ‘dipping-type’ searching) then this work may not be what they require.

The inclusion of the absent additional items (Maps, Abbreviation Key etc.) could have made this work so much more; its potential may have been compromised by their absence.

On a rating scale of 1-10 where 1: very poor, 10: excellent, I would give the photographs an 8, the overall volumes, 4.


nzcrownmines is also available for book reviewing Contact nzcrownmines@gmail.com

BOOK REVIEW: ‘RAILS ACROSS EUROPE: EASTERN AND SOUTHERN EUROPE’; ‘RAILS ACROSS EUROPE: NORTHERN AND WESTERN EUROPE’.

BOOK REVIEW: ‘THE INGENIOUS VICTORIANS: WEIRD AND WONDERFUL IDEAS FROM THE AGE OF INNOVATION’

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Reviewer: NZ Crown Mines

Title: The Ingenious Victorians: Weird and Wonderful Ideas from the Age of Innovation

Author: John Wade

Total Number of Printed Pages: 288

Total Number of Illustrations: 139

Rating Scale (1: Very Poor, 10: Excellent): 8

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Many years ago, when discussing Victorian ‘inventiveness’ this reviewer was told that ‘The Victorians didn’t know something couldn’t be done, so went ahead  and did it anyway’. That, in essence, summarises this volume; the things that Victorians did because they didn’t know they couldn’t.

The author defines the ‘Victorian era’ as being the period 1837-1891 when Queen Victoria was Monarch  of both Great Britain and the lager British Empire,  this work  naturally tending to concentrate on the eccentricities, successes and failures of ‘inventive’ residents of Great Britain during this time.  As a result, the reader is introduced to such worthies as the builder of the Crystal Palace, the many inventors of the phonograph, and those involved in the design and construction of both Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament in London.  Many other individuals, some perhaps eccentric, who did feats of daring do during this period, also make their appearance  In addition, the subjects covered include such wonders as the world’s biggest camera, electric submarines and London’s well-known Cleopatra’s Needle. Although largely Anglo-centric in its focus, inventors and creations from Germany, France and the United States of America also make their appearance, their relevance to the topic under discussion being explained clearly and objectively.

This book is well written in a clear, easily-read and informative style. It consists of an Introduction, followed by 28 Chapters, each focusing on a specific subject. Within the individual chapter, photographs and engraved images provide visual reference to the subject under discussion. A Bibliography and Index are also provided, while the sources of the images used within the work are noted in a separate Picture Credits section.

Within this volume’s covers, and on the basis of its title, this reviewer expected to find examples of ‘Victorian Inventiveness and Ingenuity’ from both the United Kingdom itself, and from within the larger British Empire. The Victorian ‘Age of Innovation’ was, after all, a time where, as already noted, ‘The Victorians didn’t know something couldn’t be done, so went ahead and did it anyway’. In this expectation he was disappointed, finding instead that the work had a very definite United Kingdom, European and North American focus.

In addition (and despite the title) the work ignores Victorian inventiveness in the field of international commerce. In this reviewer’s opinion, the absence of such items (of which there were many) reduces its appeal and potential audience. Rather than being an authoritative discourse celebrating the inventiveness that saw Victorian Ingenuity accomplish the impossible in many parts of the world, the volume is inclined toward the ‘quirky’ rather than the practical. What results is essentially a narrative of curiousities and oddities.

There will undoubtedly be those who will purchase this work on the basis of the ‘oddities’ that it contains. Such buyers will be seeking a detailed recitation of the more eccentric aspects of the Victorian era, and for them this volume will serve that purpose well. Despite the emphasis on the ‘unusual’, purchasers seeking examples of commercial ‘Victorian Ingenuity’ could also find some of the information of use. Ultimately and despite the promise inherent within the title, for this reviewer, the eccentric has triumphed over the innovative and while the result is an interesting treatise, it could have been so very, very much more.

On a Rating Scale where 1: Very Poor, 10: Excellent, I would give it an 8.

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BOOK REVIEW: ‘THE INGENIOUS VICTORIANS: WEIRD AND WONDERFUL IDEAS FROM THE AGE OF INNOVATION’

BOOK REVIEW: ‘Rails Across Australia: A Journey Through the Continent’.

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Reviewer: N Z Crown Mines

Title: Rails Across Australia: A Journey Through the Continent

Author: David Cable

Total No. of Pages: 258

Colour Pages: 248

Rating Scale (1: very poor, 10: excellent): Photographs: 8; The overall volume: 4.

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The volume Rails Across Australia: A Journey Through the Continent by David Cable, is of the genre known as ‘Enthusiasts’ picture books’ and contains 248 colour images of Australian trains and locomotives; some in preservation, but most in operating situations in a wide variety of locations across the continent.   The author travelled widely while resident in Australia, taking numerous photographs when doing so. He is a very competent photographer and some of the images can only be described as ‘stunning’. My personal favourite within the book is the ‘outback picture of ‘BHP CW60AC 6071 Chichester …pass Goldsworthy Junction …etc.’ (it’s a long caption) on page 142. This image is quintessentially ‘Australian’ in its content of blue sky, red dirt and a very, very long train. As an example of Mr. Cable’s photographic abilities it is excellent.

On this basis alone, some will find it worth purchasing.

However, the volume does have drawbacks, some major, some minor, with the most obvious a complete lack of maps of any sort. As a result, unless the reader is familiar with Australia and its railways, the locations and captions are largely meaningless.  As if this was not enough, no key is provided for the numerous abbreviations that appear within the work; again rendering them of little value. The reader should not have to guess what is meant.

The order of the photographs is also perplexing as it seems to follow no rhyme or reason. Locomotives and trains from different states are frequently placed opposite each other, rather than within sections applicable to their home railway systems and states. There is no apparent order for the locations. To this reviewer, it would have been logical to start with Queensland (in the north east of the country) and follow the population centres around until finally reaching Western Australia. This has not been done, reducing the volume’s usefulness.

The work has no Index, with the result being that should a specific location, train or locomotive be sought, a search through the entire volume becomes necessary; a very time-consuming and frustrating exercise.  There is no Table of Contents.

In precis, the images within this work are beautiful, the photography superb, and if that is what the purchaser is seeking, they will be well-satisfied. If however, a buyer is seeking some sort of ‘authoritative’ work (if only for random ‘dipping-type’ searching), then this work may not be what they require.

The inclusion of the additional items (Maps, Abbreviation Key etc.) could have made this work so much more; its potential may have been compromised by their absence.

On a rating scale of 1-10 where 1: very poor, 10: excellent, I would give the photographs an 8, the overall volume, 4.

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nzcrownmines is also available for book reviewing: Contact nzcrownmines@gmail.com

BOOK REVIEW: ‘Rails Across Australia: A Journey Through the Continent’.