Railway books

To buy, depending on book format/edition, you will be directed to Amazon, Lulu or the Bristol Folk PayPal site. To buy books from Lulu you will need to set up an account the first time you buy (the same as with Amazon); paperbacks available via Lulu are only printed when you order so helping just a bit to help save our planet's resources.

Transacord: Sounds of Steam

The first 500 copies come complete with a strictly limited edition free CD, which includes two tracks not previously issued on CD. See further details of the CD.

Transacord: Sounds Of Steam book jacket

Transacord first released railway recordings in 1955 and, in its 1960s heyday, chalked up sales of 40,000 records per year. Transacord: Sounds of Steam celebrates one of Britain's best-loved record labels and was written with the full cooperation of Transacord and the National Railway Museum, York (which holds the Peter Handford Collection).

Enthusiasts quickly recognised the exceptional quality of both the recordings and of Peter Handford’s skilful editing. Handford had a dual career as a British film industry sound recordist and was at the forefront of location recording (he won an Oscar for the soundtrack to Out of Africa) and the techniques learned as part of his trade ensured that every Transacord record included more than just ‘railway noises’.

He brought an artist's ear and the enthusiast's knowledge to his recordings and each record presented a compelling series of soundscapes, in which steam locomotives were the undisputed stars (and occasional prima–donnas), backed by a full supporting cast of birds, dogs and church bells (if in the country) or the clanking of signal levers and station announcements (if in a station or yard). Minute attention to detail and to atmosphere – the product of his pioneering work in the film industry – ensures that Transacord records continue to provide the listener with such a transport of delight. (Note that you can now buy Transacord recordings direct from Transacord.)

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British Railways on Vinyl: 1931 to 1989 (Ian McDonald)

The first 200 copies are in a jacket design resplendent in British Railways passenger livery green (or hexadecimal equivalent) with orange and black lining on rear. Once these have gone, the book will only be available in mixed traffic black.

British Railways on Vinyl: 1931 to 1989 book jacket

British Railways on Vinyl is the culmination of years of painstaking research and provides an unique historical record of all known recordings of British railway locomotives issued on UK-pressed vinyl records, from the earliest discovered - a 10" 78 rpm HMV recording issued in 1931 - to the last known - issued in 1989 by ASV Transacord.

The first section summarises records by record company, whilst the following section lists each record by catalogue number and provides full details of every locomotive heard. The next section is listed by locomotive number or class and includes location and recording date, where these are documented: sub-sections cover the Big Four followed by British Railways standard class locomotives, then diesels and, finally, miscellaneous British railway recordings, such as industrial, narrow-gauge railways and London Underground.

Organising the book in this way precludes needless data duplication, whilst making it easy to find on which record, and by which record company, recordings of either specific locomotives or locomotive class are included. It also lays bare the extent of reuse of many recordings on, often, multiple records.

The book also solves a long-standing mystery from the mid-1970s - Diesel Hydraulic enthusiasts can at last discover the identities of certain Class 52 locomotives from the Argo LP, Westerns, which have long been unknown.

In short, this book is a must for all railway enthusiasts, from the casual modeller, who wants to create an authentic soundtrack for their hobby, to the serious historical researcher of British railway recordings from the 'classic' era, when steam was still King. It will also be of great interest to those vinyl record collectors that enjoy more esoteric tastes. Never mind Black Sabbath, this is the real sound of heavy metal!

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See also

The Saydisc & Village Thing Discography jacket image

The Saydisc & Village Thing Discography includes information on several railway recordings that the label released. Further information can be found here (though you'll have to scroll down a fair way).