The introduction to this fascinating book opens: "The railway in the 1980s had little changed since the 1960s. Certainly there were no more steam locomotives, but passenger trains consisted largely of carriages hauled by locomotives; many of these carriages were still steam heated. The locomotives themselves were mostly constructed in the 1950s or early 1960s, Secondary services were provided by multiple units from the same era. Freight traffic was still bouyant... Traditional signalling was still very much in evidence throughout the system... In 1980 BR was still one railway, the evidence for which was that everything was painted one colour! All this was about to change."
"The Later Years of British Rail 1980-1995: The North of England and Scotland" by Patrick Bennett shows the reader what happened next. It comprises a large number of nicely and extensively-captioned photographs of trains and railways in the North of England and Scotland. In taking photographs during the latter part of the period, the author sought to focus on aspects that were about to disappear forever. The author says: "Putting together a work such as this, involving making a choice of hundreds of photographs from several thousand, will inevitably reflect the particular interests of the author. Nonetheless, I have tried to include as broad a sweep as possible of the railway that existed in the later years of BR and hope others will enjoy reading this book as much as I have enjoyed writing it." We believe that other enthusiasts will. The book captures an organisation in the midst of revolution, and as such is an important historical document, as well as being home to some excellent photographs.
The book itself is divided geographically. Short chapters cover areas such as "North of Manchester", "Merseyside and South Lancashire", "The North-East" and "North Cheshire and North Derbyshire", as well as narrower subjects such as "Settle and Carlisle" and "Guide Bridge". Scotland is covered by a number of sections towards the rear of the book, and there are some thought-provoking photographs here. We were especially taken by an image of Oban Station, taken in June 1980 before its demolition and replacement by a structure which, in our view, has rather less character.