Saturday 16 February 2019

Guest Review: The Railway Adventures By Vicki Pipe and Geoff Marshall

I am changing my regular history/sport/travel guest review spot from a Sunday to a Saturday since I now review films on a Sunday. I've got two lined up for you as a special treat since I haven't been able to squeeze any in for a while AND this one includes a link to the documentary that accompanies the book!

The railways are one of our finest engineering legacies - a web of routes connecting people to each other and to a vast network of world-class attractions. It is also the best route to enjoying the landscape of Great Britain.

Within these pages Vicki Pipe and Geoff Marshall from All the Stations (YouTube transport experts and survivors of a crowd-funded trip to visit all the stations in the UK) help you discover the hidden stories that lie behind branch lines, as well as meeting the people who fix the engines and put the trains to bed. 

Embark on unknown routes, disembark at unfamiliar stations, explore new places and get to know the communities who keep small stations and remote lines alive.

Review: In 2017, the two authors undertook a project to visit all the then 2,563 stations on the national railway network in Great Britain. Starting in Penzance, they completed their epic railway adventure 15 weeks later in Wick. This project was entitled "All The Stations" and, as they travelled, they posted updates on various social media platforms (pun intended) and shared videos of their experiences on YouTube. A feature length documentary of their challenge is now available on YouTube. This book gives a taster of some of the highlights of their trip, and Vicki and Geoff hope that it will serve as an inspiration for readers to undertake their own railway adventure.

The various chapters in the book cover such topics as some of the places visited; interesting facts about the stations; how the railway network is operated and maintained; some of the fascinating people they encountered; and the various different trains on which they travelled (of the 60 different classes of train that run on the network, they travelled on all bar one). I was pleased to see that my local station of Knaresborough gets an honourable mention. The final chapter gives suggestions for readers to undertake their own railway adventure by providing five different routes. Each route can be undertaken in one day, but the authors encourage people to get out and explore the different stations and surrounding areas, extending the trips over several days.

However, far from being a book just for rail enthusiasts, and Vicki and Geoff go to great pains to point out that they are not trainspotters, this is a book that provides a fascinating snapshot of the communities and people that have been shaped by the railways, and will continue to do so as the network evolves. I enjoyed watching the videos posted during their adventure, which are characterised by the couple's infectious enthusiasm. I was pleased to see that this same enthusiasm for the subject is replicated in this book, which is very well illustrated with photographs taken during the trip. So, if you want to know how to rate stations on a quaint scale, or to find out why Vicki is so enthusiastic about Pacer trains (I suppose somebody has to be), then this is the book for you.

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US!

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