Sunday 21 October 2012

Railway Wonders of the World ...

 ... in 1935!
Thanks to Clarence Winchester. [fbb thinks this is a picture of CW; he looks a bit like a "Clarence"; if it isn't, profuse apologies to CW's descendants.]


Clarence Winchester was born in London in 1895. In his earlier days he was associated with the stage. In 1913-14 he learned to fly, and wrote on aeronautics for the Daily Mail. He married Constance Groves in 1914. Winchester was "Editor of Ideas" under Sir Edward Hulton, and later under Allied Newspapers. He wrote Railway Wonders of the World, Shipping Wonders of the World, Wonders of World Engineering, The Story of the British Empire and Wonders of World Aviation.

These were all "Part Works" which our readers may have thought was a modern invention. [see deAgostini products, for example]
Railway Wonders of the World was published weekly in 1935 and 1936 at 7d an issue (2p then but the equivalent of about £1.50 today; so not cheap).
Later, bound volumes were produced ...
... of which fbb has the set of two, generously donated by a senior elder in his church. It is from these volumes that the chubby one extracted yesterday's pictures of the Railway Clearing House (read again). The two volumes are packed with articles about every possible railway topic in every possible country. Here are some of the weirder items:-

The Russian ball train ...
... which ran, like a Dyson vacuum cleaner, on balls instead of wheels. According to Clarence, trials were going well!

Then there was the automatic timetable machine ...
... just press a button and your timetable appears (on a sheet of card) in the window. Windows 1935?

Then this comes as news to fbb ...
... a suspension bridge linking Crewe Station to the locomotive works. Should have known about that; bad house point for fbb.

As does this ...
... and experimental geared steam turbine locomotive that ran (very briefly) in Scotland.

Some of the pictures of stations are truly evocative of the 1930s era and serve to remind us all of what rail travel was like nearly eighty years ago - even older that the fat bus bloke!
The magnificence above is Morecambe Promenade station, illustrating part of an article on travelling to Ireland. And Manchester Central in its heyday.

And finally to York; and a picture probably taken not that long after the 1877 station was built. It clearly shows the shiny new Queens Road and its bridge as referred to in an earlier blog (read again).
It also shows the appalling archaeological vandalism caused by smashing huge holes in York's historic city walls to provide access for its first station.

fbb has had these two tomes on his shelf for a year or so and it was another (failed) attempt at a domestic clear-up that prompted this renewed interest. The 1604 pages will doubtless produce a wealth of bloggable material over the coming months (years? decades?). You have been warned. Incidentally, copies of the two-volume bound set are readily available on-line at around £30 depending on condition. A Christmas present suggestion?

There is also a website dedicated to the publication (here).

Tomorrow we go back to Killamarsh.

Fat Bus Bloke's Bible Blog looks at a big helium balloon (read here).

 Next Bus Blog : Monday 22nd October 


  1. The Russian ball train (and my impression of it being a mobile dancing facility was sadly overturned as I read on) does bear a striking similarity to the latest generation of German high speed ICE trains (see

  2. Thanks. It's good to know that the trendy modern styling of the ICE is really about 70 years old! But, as they say, what goes around, comes around! How about panelled teak for Thameslink 2000-and-quite-a-bit-more? Blue with silver stripes for Hi-Speed 2?

    1. You're closer than you think. One of the liveries considered for Gatwick Express was LMS coronation-style maroon with yellow stripes.