Review – Firsby To Spilsby
Great Northern Railway Society Newsletter
Review by Adam Cartwright
The Lincolnshire Wolds Railway Society has been producing short booklets for a few years now – its website currently lists 9 books.
Opened in 1855 the Horncastle branch was highly profitable for many years, helped by the development of Woodhall Spa as a leisure resort; the owning company remained independent until 1923. A slow decline set in and the branch closed to passenger traffic in 1954 though it remained open to goods until 1971, six months after the closure of many East Lincs lines. The main line connection at Woodhall Junction was unusual in that trains had to reverse in order to the bay platform which had no run round facilities. Sadly, little of the old branch still remains; the stations at Horncastle and Woodhall Spa having been demolished. The main buildings at Woodhall junction still stand, being the home of GNRS member Alan Stennett.
First impressions of the book are excellent; it is well designed and produced and the content doesn’t disappoint either. The highly readable text is basically a précis and update of the same author’s Oakwood Press book on the Horncastle branch published almost 30 years ago. It is supported by excellent photographs, some in colour and many of which are new to me. It is remarkable how much has been packed into such a short book, considering that a small number of photos have been printed over two pages. That is not a criticism, by the way – the images in question are high quality and well worth enlargement. I could not find any errors beyond a few minor grammatical issues.
All in all a highly professional introduction to the Horncastle branch and great value too. I only wish other current publishers would give so much care and attention to publishing standards. I will definitely be buying other books from LWRS – especially because it helps to extend their line south to Louth.
Having both books in my collection I suggest that the serious historian still needs the Oakwood Press volume which goes into much greater detail about the process by which the Horncastle company was formed and obtained its Act of Parliament. The LWRS publication is presumably aimed more at the ‘casual’ visitor to LWR who needs a somewhat ‘lighter’ read. As such it is an excellent publication: in particular the printing by a local (Louth) company is first class. A big “well done” to the LWRS – it just shows what can be achieved! Ed