Railway Bylines: Special 'Industrial Railways in Colour' -South West #02- (IR632)
Product No.: IR632
Title: Railway Bylines: Special 'Industrial Railways in Colour' -South West #02-
Author(s): Poulter, Michael
Publisher: Irwell Press
Binding: Laminated Pictorial Boards
Dust Jacket: None
Edition: 1st Edition
Publication Year: 2004
Features: 64 Pages with Colour Photos.
Trawling through old dusty notebooks and pursuing background research in preparation for this book has revived many memories of travels to South Wales in pursuit of industrial railways. It has given an opportunity to reflect on why it was my favourite region. Perhaps a combination of geomorphology, infrastructure and people. The dominant local scenery of steep sided valleys cut down through the Pennant Sandstone formation renders the region unique in these Isles. Mines, foundries and housing jostled with each other for space in these crowded valleys, intertwined with road, river and rail.
Fences appeared to be an idea that had yet to arrive. Paradoxically this close 'connectedness' gave a sense of openness to the visitor which was mirrored in the local folk. A warm welcome from gaffers who recounted local railway anecdotes over tea dispensed from grimy mugs was commonplace. A treasured piece of railwayana would be unwrapped from a greasy cupboard and displayed proudly and possibly presented as a gift. A marked contrast to these days when railwayana is expensive spoil.
With the passing of the mines and foundries so has this tactile and collective culture gone for ever. The more sterile information and consumer age has created light industry and supermarkets on the burial grounds of the mines. 'Lived in' overalls have been replaced by high visibility vests, hard hats and safety boots. Permission to view the remaining sites worth visiting can be fraught with bureaucratic difficulty in contrast to the welcoming open access that was once widespread in South Wales.