Where to Wait for a Train
The first time I took the Elizabeth Line to Heathrow, I got a surprise. A nice one. Imagining I’d be seeing shiny glass and steel stations all the way, I kept my head down. Then we stopped at Hanwell. I looked up and what did I see? A cheerful brown and cream waiting shelter where I’d be happy to wait for a train.
We are now publishing cocktails as well as books. On Twitter and Instagram, we have posted pictures and recipes for two new cocktails, with more to follow. Each is designed to match one of our titles. Let me give you a hint at the process of making them that played out behind the scenes.
Where the Wild Things Are
Britain is not often thought of as a wild place, yet if you take the time to focus on the small things you will find much to wonder at. From the storm-beaten islands of Scotland to the clear chalk streams of Hampshire, it is possible to pause and find amazing wildlife even in the most familiar of places.
Bookshop of the Month: The Story of Backstory
Balham’s newest bookshop is a far cry from your usual high street retailer. It promises not only books but writers and the chance to mix with them. You are welcome to browse the carefully curated shelves, but the real draw of Backstory lies beneath the surface, or more accurately, behind the big blue counter.
Work from Your Bath
Are you tired of working from home? Try working from your bath, says Heath Robinson. An artist turned humourist, he elevated the everyday to a level of delightful absurdity, sketching solutions to every conceivable problem, including this Combination Bath and Writing Desk. This month we publicize his work in Who Do You Think You Are? magazine.
Bookshop of the Month: Word on the Water
A visit to Regent’s Canal would not be complete if you haven’t found yourself on the floating bookshop, Word on the Water. The first impression is pure eye candy, with cascading pot plants and bookshelves hanging perilously over the side. But step aboard, browse the books, chat with the owner, and you could go deeper than you expected.
Think railways, and what do you see in your mind’s eye? All too often a boarded-up building. If it’s old, leave it to rot or knock it down. For decades that’s been the way of the railways. Worse, rebuild it in steel and glass, bus-shelter style. But times are changing. Railway renovation is coming.
High Speeds, Heavy Weather
A new and improved Train Sim World releases today on PC and consoles. It brings some impressive upgrades including dynamic weather and more realistic lighting effects, a reworked Livery Designer and an Off the Rails mode which allows you to drive any loco on any route, all to immerse yourself in the world of train driving.
Celebrating 150 Years of Heath Robinson
The artist and humorist William Heath Robinson was born 150 years ago on 31st May. To celebrate, Chris Beetles opened a new exhibition of Heath Robinson drawings and paintings at his gallery in St James’s. He was also in conversation with Geoffrey Beare, a leading light at the Heath Robinson Museum.
Freight on the Tracks
Freight gets scant coverage in today’s railway media, often buried on the back pages, but the award-winning transport journalist James Graham aims to change that. For those who love freight on the tracks, he will launch a freight-only e-zine, Freight Tracks, on Valentine’s Day.
Geek Out With Logo Geek
Who’s interested in logos? At least 112.7k people are and they follow Logo Geek, a logo design service provided by Ian Paget. In a new podcast, Ian geeks out for an hour with Ian Logan and Jonathan Glancey, a designer and writer passionate about all things logos and locomotives, to discuss their new book Logomotive.
Journalist on the Footplate
How many journalists get to drive a Coronation class steam locomotive? Our intrepid author Jonathan Glancey did. In a podcast published today he also tells what it was like riding the footplate of Duchess of Hamilton from Settle to Carlisle and what he loves about the marriage of art and engineering.
You Too Can Drive a Big Boy
You are at the controls of a Union Pacific Big Boy, the largest steam locomotive in the world. Using the interactive levers, valves and gauges in this Train Simulator, you too can drive a Big Boy. You have 7,000 horsepower at your command. Are you ready for the challenge?
Ian Logan’s Magnificent Machines
For a week at the end of July, Oshkosh, Wisconsin is the busiest airport in the world. Its annual air show, which runs from 26th July to 1st August this year, attracts aircraft fans from around the world to watch daily aerobatic displays by top teams including the US Air Force Special Operations Command.
Inside the Cab of Big Boy 4014
Big Boy is warmed up. It’s been out on test runs. On 5th August it will depart Cheyenne, Wyoming on a month-long tour through 10 Southwestern states. Thanks to the steam team led by Ed Dickens, we can take you inside the cab of Big Boy 4014 and give you a feel for what it is like to operate the biggest steam locomotive in the world.
Designer Committed to His Craft
When we commissioned Bernard Higton to design the book that became Logomotive, we never imagined it would be his last. He was a designer committed to his craft, always looking for a new challenge, a turn of the page that would captivate an audience. We are saddened to announce that he has bid us farewell.
Wildest Travel Story Winner: USA – An Earth-Shattering Experience
This house north of Santa Cruz, California, was destroyed by the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989, as photographed by the US Geological Survey. Neville Denson from St Bees in Cumbria was driving nearby when the earthquake struck. He recalls how it felt in the following piece, which won our Wildest Travel Story Competition.
Memories of Henley
If you’re driving from Oxford to London, as I was privileged to do as a third-year undergraduate with a car, you have two main routes: the A40 via Stokenchurch and Beaconsfield, nowadays more often the M40, or the A4130 following the river via Dorchester, on to Nettlebed and down the hill to Henley-on-Thames.
Making a Grand Entrance
‘There can be no denying the importance the Victorians placed on first impressions,’ says Robin Guild in his masterful guide to home repair and decoration, The Victorian House Book. ‘It is the entrance door which captures the eye of the visitor as he waits to be admitted.’ In keeping with this tradition, we have had our door freshly painted and enhanced by stained-glass panels featuring our eponymous sheldrakes.
A Nod to Subscription Publishing
In March we launched a Kickstarter campaign for our great big humour title Very Heath Robinson and raised £7,581 towards the costs of the book, which was published on 4th May. We are enormously grateful to all those who answered our call and helped us complete ‘Adam’s whopping (1.9 kg), wonderful new book’, as one reviewer has called it, to the standard we intended. We have pleasure in listing them below.
Take a Two-Gallon Stewpan
People have often criticized Mrs. Beeton for the enormous quantities she recommended in her recipes: take six fowl, two dozen eggs, 4 lbs. sugar and so on. When we started work on The Shorter Mrs. Beeton, we were pleasantly surprised to find that her recipes were mostly modest in scale and perfectly suited to a modern family. In the case of her medium stock, however, you do really need a two-gallon pan.
Cavaliers and Roundheads
Ollie Cromwell, aged just three
Just loved the Diamond Jubilee,
He’d wear a saucepan for a crown,
But soon it stuck there, upside down.
His Mother tugged, the boy turned pale,
Her efforts were to no avail,
The problem was, his Mother said,
That Ollie had such a round head.
Royalist vs Republican
A royalist simply through and through,
Fred turned his house red, white and blue.
It really was a sight to see,
All dressed up for the Jubilee.
But Mabel (maybe with good reason)
Showed inclinations close to treason.
Then with an axe found in the garden,
Fred refused to grant her pardon.
He smiled and said ‘Off with her head,
I’ll buy a corgi pup instead.’
Winner of the Wild Escape Competition
Gorkhaland’s Wild West by Liz Cleere
The freshly brushed floor of compacted cow dung was smooth and cool under foot. I crossed the room, climbed into the heavy wooden bed next to Jamie and blew out the candle. Night crept in through the open window bringing with it the intoxicating scent of gardenias, and quietening the moths and insects that had been dive-bombing the candle’s flame. Curling up under the blanket, my body relaxed on to the hard mattress, while outside pale moonlight whispered through the forest on the other side of the valley. Somewhere on the horizon Kanchenjunga’s five tiger-toothed caps glinted silver against the black sky.
Second in the Wild Escape Competition
Wild in Cressbrook Dale by Helen Moat
‘Wake up, little fellow. It’s time…’
My child of four sat bolt-upright in bed, eyes glassy from dreams of wild things.
‘…It’s time for our wild night out,’ I whispered.
It was a warm summer’s evening in June, the light of the day gently fading out; the air beginning to cool. Jamie’s small chubby hand fitted perfectly in mine, like a Russian doll within a Russian doll, as we slowly descended the stairs. On the kitchen table, a rucksack sat ready, the items needed for our adventure laid out beside it.
Third in the Ruthless Rhyme Competition
A New Year’s Hobby
Margot declared, ‘new year, new me!’
Her new interest? Taxidermy.
She caught and stuffed her children’s rat,
Posed on a plinth the family cat.
Their guinea pig she slit in half;
Her husband lowered his Telegraph.
‘You’re making quite a mess, my dear.
Perhaps just join the gym next year?’
Second in the Ruthless Rhyme Competition
Aunt thought she’d make a contribution
to uncle’s New Year resolution.
She put his bottles out of reach
amongst the polish, soap and bleach.
How on earth could she have guessed
that in his alcoholic quest,
without his specs his sight was dim.
It was the bleach which finished him.
The Winning Ruthless Rhyme
George’s New Year’s Resolution
New Year, he thought, was just the chance
To buy a little place in France.
When Mavis once again said no,
George knew that she would have to go.
His beating heart was all a-quiver,
As George pushed Mavis in the river.
And as she floated down the stream,
George shrugged and muttered, ‘Vive la dream’.
After Harry Graham’s Ruthless Rhymes
Walter Crane (1845-1915)
Walter Crane was born in Liverpool on 15th August 1845. His prolific career reached its zenith with his brightly coloured toy books, created for children but prized by connoisseurs of design. The popularity of these books was hardly surprising, given the care that went into their production and the colours which glowed from every page.
The Regeneration of King’s Cross Station
Last Thursday, as a member of the Railway Heritage Trust Advisory Panel, I toured the works at King’s Cross, where Lewis Cubitt’s 1852 terminus is being restored and a new concourse added.
Up on the roof, as we walked along the valley gutter between the twin trainshed arches, we saw new plate-glass and solar-voltaic panels being installed. From the parapet of the station façade we could survey the entire battlefield of 19th-century railway rivalry, the plain engineering style of the Great Northern at King’s Cross facing the Gothic upstart of the Midland’s St Pancras across the road. Further west, now converted into a concrete hulk, lies the terminus of the North Western at Euston, on which the statue of Britannia atop St Pancras turns her back.
The humorous verse of Harry Graham was an early hit with several 20th-century literary figures, including W. H. Auden, George Orwell and Agatha Christie. The hilarious rhymes they adored as children remained with them, popping up unexpectedly in their heads during their writing careers.
Honouring Past Craftsmen
This is an excerpt from the Publisher’s speech at The Victorian House Book launch party, Brunswick House, Vauxhall Cross.
Why did we do a book on Victorian houses? There are more of them in Great Britain than any other period house. A quarter of the British housing stock is Victorian. Nearly six million of us live in them and we all have to look at them when we walk or drive through our cities and towns. When I was a small boy living in Kent, my grandfather used to drive us up to London for a Christmas treat – Peter Pan on ice or Bertram Mills’ Circus – and as we made our way through the Victorian suburbs of Catford, Lewisham, New Cross, Peckham and Camberwell, I witnessed scenes of sad dilapidation. What had been Class I gentleman’s villas now had cars parked in their front gardens, garden walls crumbling, paint peeling off the windows, brickwork dark from London soot, front doors drab and cluttered with inappropriate ironmongery. Rows of plastic doorbells testified to the scourge of multi-occupation.