British Railways Past and Present – No.17 Cornwall

Book - British Railways Past & Present 17--Front-Master-3000Sh-Logo-C9P4


Although we’re in a digital age with so much information on the internet, I do love railway books and am always on the look out for ones which feed my particular interests. Sadly books are often heavy and postage costs often get in the way. I was therefore really pleased when a job lot of books went on sale just a few miles down the road – even happier when I won them for £10 and the seller agreed that I could collect them a few days later.

The book bundle featured several SW themed books including British Railways Past and Present – No. 17 Cornwall by David Mitchell

The Past and Present book series features pairs of photographs taken at the same location but separated by a number of years. The Past are generally from the early 1960’s and feature mainly steam locomotives, while the Present are from the 1990’s. The 250 black and white photos are well reproduced on a descent semi gloss paper and while the Present Photos (taken by author David Mitchell) are now somewhat past, all provide a useful pictorial reference for enthusiasts and modellers of the dramatic rationalisation that occurred during the later years of the 20th Century.

Terrific Trains Collection - Reference Book Overview - British Railways Past and Present 17 Cornwall, by David Mitchell. Photo Pictorial History and details of Cornish Railway Stations. Sample Page

The book contains:

  1. Most of the passenger stations in the county
  2. The route of the ‘Cornish Riviera Express’ along the former GWR mainline to Penzance
  3. The former LSWR / Southern North Cornwall Line
  4. Branches to Bude, Callington, Looe, Fowey, Newquay, Falmouth, Helston and St Ives
  5. The Bodmin and Wadebridge Railway
  6. China Clay Country
  7. Map
  8. Index


Accompanied by a paragraph of informative text, the Pictures are organised in a logical progression. Starting in the North East with the former Southern Routes they then head back towards Saltash and slowly work west along the mainline with additional journeys taking in the various branch lines that criss-crossed the Duchy.

GWR Panniers and Prairies feature often, as do the various DMU’s that worked the lines later on. Many images of the China Clay wagons appear in both the past and present images, the latter often behind a Class 37.

For me a highlight is the Gunnislake Page during the journey along the Callington Branch. The picturesque station not only is the basis for Drakewalls OO, but my research had not come across the published photos before.

The book is not currently in print, and my First Edition paperback copy originally retailed for £10.99 when published in May1993. it appears widely available on eBay and amazon with price ranges typically between £5 and £10 for both this and the several reprinted editions over the following 10 years (blue or green covers) – however prices as high as £25 have also been seen – (Prices as 2017)

More recently the contents have been republished in 2010 by Silver Link Publishing Ltd. as two books, covering East and West Cornwall respectively.

Book Specifications

Terrific Trains Collection - Reference Book Overview - British Railways Past and Present 17 Cornwall, by David Mitchell. Photo Pictorial History and details of Cornish Railway Stations. Rear Cover

    • Full title: British Railways Past and Present – No.17 Cornwall
    • Author: Mitchell, David
    • Publisher: Past and Present Publishing, 1993
    • Edition: 1st
    • Binding: Laminated Softback / 144 Pages
    • Photos: 250+ (BW)
    • Dimensions: 235 x 170 x 10 mm
    • Weight: 0.381kg
    • ISBN: 1 85895 001 5
    • EAN: 9 781858 950013
    • Copyright: Past and Present Publishing

Other Editions

    • 2003: (Blue with White Title and Magenta Text Box)
    • 2001: (Blue with Red Title and Yellow Text Box)
    • 1994: (Blue with Yellow Title and Yellow Text Box)

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