One For The Road (BOOK)



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One For The Road (BOOK)

Review by John Browning, published in Light Railways magazine 151 page 24

Take an engagingly different rail enthusiast with the gift of the gab and indefatigable energy who has recently graduated to cane loco driving duties, his desire to produce another book showing the best features of the cane industry’s railway systems, the co-operation of most mill companies, a collection of yarns well illustrated by a cartoonist loco driver, and some much better than average photographs, many in colour, and you have “One for the Road”.

This book is a follow-up to Andy’s previous book “Wheels in Motion”, and like it is not a book designed purely for the railway enthusiast. It is predominantly a book for cane railwaymen by a cane railwayman. However, it will be purchased by many enthusiasts because of its excellent full-page colour photographs, the generally clear system maps, the useful information (especially valuable for likely photographic locations), and the sense it provides of the special culture of the cane railwayman.

The general pattern for each mill is some essential information on the rail system, more details on specific lines and vantage points, and a collection of “tales of the footplate” with well executed cartoons to illustrate them, together with a map and photographs. Some patchiness in quality and quantity of the material available for each mill is almost inevitable.

There are many things to admire about the book. It is attractively presented, and packed
with valuable information that was collected in a very short time. Apart from the full page
colour photographs (from almost each mill featured) there is a selection of colour and black & white photographs of E M Baldwin locomotives taken from the Frank Baldwin collection, and a range of cane railway black & white photographs, some historical.

The black and white photographs are much less “muddy” than those seen in the previous book and the maps are also largely an improvement. There is also some technical information on some of the main locomotive types used on the cane railways. The quality of text is high, with just a few names spelt in ways that might provoke disagreement.

Unfortunately, two mills (Babinda and Mourilyan) simply do not feature as main entries in the book and while it can be imagined that not all mills wished to contribute, to omit them without any mention or explanation could mislead the unwary reader.

The full-page colour photos would have benefitted from having their captions printed on the same page. Some photographic captions supplied to Andy might not escape scrutiny from the keen-eyed. For example on pp.50-1 the Clyde locomotive with McDESME nameplate has a different type of handrails from the locomotive identified as McDESME in adjoining photographs, and on p.51 the early-model Baldwin locomotive is IONA not IYAH.

There are also some erroneous captions for some of the Baldwin collection photographs. For example, the upper photo on p.77 is Goondi Mill’s 4wDH built in 1978, while the lower one on p.80 appears to show a 1972 locomotive for Rarawai Mill. The upper photo on p.75 seems to show a locomotive that is too dirty to be in process of being loaded at Baldwin’s works so is presumably being unloaded at the mill.

In some ways the book gives the impression of having its clear theme and purpose diluted through the addition of other valuable material which came along. Nevertheless, it can be thoroughly recommended as both enjoyable and

A4 portrait size, 157 pages, colour cover, colour and black & white
24 maps, 6 diagrams, 156 cartoon illustrations.

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