The premise of Amberley Publishing's "Through Time" series is very simple. Each volume usually covers a particular town or city, and within its covers the authors set out a series of old photographs of the subject of the book, each paired with an equivalent modern photograph and coupled with an informative extended caption describing what has changed and why the view is significant.
"The Waverley Route Through Time" by Roy Perkins & Iain Macintosh varies this approach in a number of ways, and the result is fascinating: a book that captures its subject at a unique and particularly important moment in time, and a book that will inevitably need updating in the future for reasons we discuss below. One obvious difference between this book and most of the "Through Time" series is that it doesn't cover a town or a settlement. Rather it covers a disused railway line. The authors set out the story of the Waverley Route in a ten page introduction to the book. In essence it was a railway that ran through the Scottish Borders from Edinburgh to Carlisle, opening in stages between about 1850 and 1862. The last train ran the length of the Waverley Line en route from Edinburgh to London on Sunday 5 January 1969 and the line then closed. Parts found uses as footpaths, or for roads, or for supermarket car parks or even for housing.
What makes the Waverley Route particularly interesting, however, is that work has been under way since 2011 to restore the northern 40% or so of it to use. For this part of the line the modern photographs represent views that are very much of the moment, because within a short time they will be replaced by scenes that are actually rather more like the historical views they are being compared with in the book: i.e. views that come complete with railway lines. In some cases this immediacy is particularly marked, with images images showing sites where houses that were erected (incredibly enough) on the line of the the closed railway have been demolished to allow the new railway to be built.
We look forward with interest to a second edition of this book, in which images for the northern part of the line will need to be set out in threes: showing the same vista when the old railway was open, during the period of closure, and after its restoration to full use.