Trains of Christmas Past
Once upon a time, a child’s dream was to get a train set for Christmas. Michael Moore from Toy Train Tips and Tricks keeps the dream alive by celebrating model railways on his YouTube channel. This month he revisits a moment of department store magic, scrutinizing some famous trains of Christmas past.
Roll the Clock Back
It was 5.30 on Christmas morning, 1972. Ian Logan was staying with friends in Salinas Valley, CA, and must have been woken by Santa Claus. He wandered outside and saw a line of boxcars rolling across the asparagus fields. This memorable shot is part of our Christmas Bundle. Sign up and roll the clock back!
Long Live the King!
For 70 years Queen Elizabeth II was the one constant in an ever-changing world. The ending of her reign has been a cause of great sorrow, not just in Great Britain, but around the world. And now, with the public period of mourning ended, that responsibility must pass to her son King Charles III.
Romancing the Rails
As publishers of a new book on railroads, we were delighted to hear of a sparkling new exhibition celebrating the golden age of US rail travel. Romancing the Rails tells how the New York Central confronted competition from automobiles with visually stunning advertising, luxurious dining cars and sleek streamlined trains.
From The Bookshelf
Gary Shapiro hosts the radio show From the Bookshelf, broadcast from the KSCO station in Santa Cruz. He has just interviewed Ian Logan and Jonathan Glancey about Logomotive, their new book on railroad logos and locomotive design. The podcast is up. Board now for a trip back in time.
Wall Street Journal Review
Last Saturday the Wall Street Journal Review ran a piece on railways and design and how the two intertwine in our book Logomotive. ‘The design of the locomotives themselves may have left the deepest impression,’ writes Peter Saenger, ‘especially the sleek, art deco-influenced “streamliners”.’
Red Carpet at Grand Central
They rolled out a red carpet at Grand Central when you boarded the overnight train to Chicago. Those were the days, says Jonathan Glancey, when rail travel was romantic. Hear this and other stories from the last days of steam by watching his Father’s Day interview, now available on YouTube.
You Can Do It, America!
In a rousing talk given recently in Madison, Wisconsin, Ian Logan and Jonathan Glancey recalled the triumphs of American railroad engineering and design in the 1930s. American railroads absolutely had it all, they told their audience. ‘We hope they’ll do it again in the future. Come on, you can do it, America!’
Talking Trains This Weekend
Ian Logan and Jonathan Glancey are talking trains this weekend. They are putting on a double act in Madison, Wisconsin, telling the story behind their new book Logomotive. What took them to Grand Central Terminal or the West 60th Street freight yard? What foot plates did they ride?
Publication in the US
Logomotive is being shipped across the Atlantic. Publication in the US will be on 21st April. Readers in the US can pre-order Logomotive and receive their copies from our US warehouse in April or they can order from the UK and have their books flown across the Atlantic now. A pre-publication offer is open.
For the Love of Logos
The designer Ian Logan fell in love with railroad logos on his first trip to America in 1968. The design critic Jonathan Glancey and the architect Norman Foster love logos, too, and all that goes with them including loco design, station design, colour, graphics and lifestyle. For the love of logos, they have written Logomotive.
Design Interests of Norman Foster
Say Norman Foster and most people think architect. Prompted to name his buildings, they might mention the Gherkin, Apple Park or the Hearst Tower. How many know that the design interests of Norman Foster run to cars, planes and trains? Meet Norman Foster the one-time loco spotter, classic car collector, lover of period Americana and third ‘namer’ on Logomotive.
The Enthusiasm of Jonathan Glancey
Here’s someone who bursts on to your screen, words tumbling out of his mouth. Enthusiasm is his trademark. Meet Jonathan Glancey, co-author of our autumn double-header Logomotive. Leaping on to the footplate with his fellow logo spotter Ian Logan, he transports you back to the mid-century heyday of American style.
The Secret Romance of Ian Logan
Meet Ian Logan, designer to the stars and author of our forthcoming book Logomotive. Here he is beside a set of railway signs he designed in the 1970s. Perhaps best known for his tin trays and themed tin boxes, he was blown away by the graphics he saw painted on the side of American trains. He began a secret romance.
Time to Read
Now’s the time to read, but can you get hold of a book? Most of the book trade is shut and Amazon is prioritizing non-book products. Believe it or not, we are operating normally! Our warehouse has found a way of processing orders safely, with customer care teams working from home. So may we suggest some books?
We’ve been suffering a bout of digital angst. If you attempted to join our membership scheme in the past couple of weeks, you may have been held up by a digital roadblock. We apologize for this. As soon as we discovered the incident, we called in the engineers and they’ve fixed it. If you’d like to enjoy the benefits of membership, you now can.
Liven Up Your Coffee Break
In the imaginative world of Heath Robinson you can pour a cup of coffee with your eyes closed. Just pull on a cord and the Super-De-Luxe Coffee Maker does it all for you. What could be easier? This and other inventive ideas will liven up your coffee break when you use the set of six Heath Robinson coasters we launch today.
A Festival By The Quay
Adam Hart-Davis, author of Very Heath Robinson, will be speaking at Exeter’s second Literary Festival at 3.30 p.m. this Sunday, 10th November. You will find him at the magnificent 17th-century Custom House by the quay, where Adam will take you on a journey through the Weird and Wacky World of Heath Robinson.
Think of a Cracking Joke
To celebrate our 40th Christmas, we are holding our biggest competition yet. We would like you to think of an original joke to go inside a Christmas cracker – something so dry and witty that it would have impressed Heath Robinson himself. The winner gets a limited-edition book worth £300.
We Celebrate 40 Years of Publishing
We have matured! From the figment of an idea tossed about while walking the dog on Clapham Common, we have become a publishing house with finished books on the shelves, each with its sales history around the world, each with Herculean labours, and a few jaw-dropping moments, behind it. To celebrate 40 years of publishing, we are giving away a book a month.
Pullman Wins J. M. Barrie Award
Sir Philip Pullman, author of His Dark Materials, will receive the J. M. Barrie Award to mark a lifetime’s contribution to children’s literature, it has been announced. We salute him for delighting children and adults with alternative worlds and fictional characters. Less well known, though no less masterfully expressed, is the delight he himself takes in the imaginary world of Heath Robinson and the wonderfully absurd cast of characters who star in it.
Words by the Water
What better place to hold a literary festival than the Lake District, with its magical scenery and literary associations? This month nearly 100 writers, broadcasters and other national figures will arrive in Keswick for Words by the Water, a ten-day event held on the sylvan shores of Derwentwater. The Theatre by the Lake, where they will speak, is a short stroll from the water’s edge.
Gem in the English Countryside
A small town in the English countryside with a population of 6,000 does not immediately conjure up images of metropolitan buzz, but on closer inspection the historic market town of Oundle in Northamptonshire proves to be a real gem in the cultural life of the country, not least because of the Oundle Festival of Literature. St Peter’s Church is the main festival venue.
Sheldrake Membership Scheme for Readers
We invite you, our readers, to join our new membership scheme. We publish books not because we want to make money, though obviously we must, but because we’re excited and enthralled by the idea of creating something new and shining light on subjects that may have been overlooked or under-appreciated. As a Sheldrake Member you will be closer to the editorial process in which we engage every day and you will be able to obtain our books at a preferential price. For the pleasure of reading.
Yeovil’s Literary Scene
If you had to name places with literary associations, you might say Haworth, Stratford, the Lakes and Knole, but hardly Yeovil. If anything, the town is known for making gloves, helicopters and Yeo Valley yoghurt. But at the end of October a thriving literary festival takes over the Georgian Manor Hotel, built of local Ham stone, and other venues in the town centre. Though few people know it, Yeovil is also linked with Thomas Hardy and his Wessex novels.
Literature and Landscape in Shute
Chances are the name Shute will not ring a bell, but the Shute Festival of Literature and Landscape is here to change that. Offering a diverse range of talks on writing, film-making, exploration and landscape, the festival will whisk you away to East Devon for a weekend retreat in late September.
Writers and Readers Gather in Devon
Discussions in the garden, talks in the Great Hall, the Barn and the Dukes Room, word schools, poetry breakfasts, story-telling, comedy events, theatrical performances: words and ideas in all their forms and combinations are on offer at Ways With Words, the literary festival that’s held this July in the idyllic setting of Dartington Hall.
Taking Flight in Penzance
Let your imagination take flight this summer by going to the Penzance Literary Festival. Between 4th and 7th July writers will be talking about their latest books, focussing on flights literal and metaphorical, in the friendly setting of this fishing port and holiday resort on the Cornish coast.
Heath Robinson’s Birthday
On 31st May 1872 William Heath Robinson was born in Hornsey Rise, north London. Over the next 72 years he made a huge name for himself as a humorous illustrator. He was as well known as Picasso. Going one better, he got his name in the English dictionary as both a noun and an adjective. To mark his birthday, we offer the De Luxe limited edition of our book Very Heath Robinson at a third off the published price.
Competition Winner Announced
Thank you to everyone who entered the Heath Robinson Caption Competition, organized with Gullivers Bookshop and the Wimborne Literary Festival. And congratulations to Nerys Hucker who was declared the winner by the panel of judges led by Adam Hart-Davis, seen above signing copies of his Heath Robinson book. The challenge was to caption a family outing on the Weekend All-Weather Tandem. She rose to the occasion.
Heath Robinson’s Weekend All-Weather Tandem makes family excursions possible. Equipped with a horn, twin umbrellas and anti-lock braking system, it can cope with every eventuality. We’re running a competition to caption this picture. Send us your best idea for a chance to win a Very Heath Robinson De Luxe Edition.
Au Revoir Douglas Botting
We are very sad to announce that Douglas Botting has died at the age of 83. Author of Wild Britain: A Traveller’s Guide and General Editor of the Wild Guides series, he is a towering figure in the literature of wild places. To him we owe an eternal debt for capturing in beautifully chosen words the harmonies of the natural world of which we are part and on which we depend for our survival.
Nested head to toe in this box are De Luxe wooden cases ingeniously designed to preserve the limited edition of Very Heath Robinson. Folded over the waiting hardback books and tied Heath Robinson-style with knotted string, they become rare woodbacks. The first 20, batch produced and finished by hand, go on sale today.
Beer and Books in Taunton
At the back of an old brewery in Taunton’s historic Bath Place lies Brendon Books, an independent bookseller that specializes in maps and travel. Every November the bookshop hosts the Taunton Literary Festival, now in its seventh year. Literary festivals like this are a sign of the new energy in the world of independent bookselling.
Very West Country Event
The picturesque town of Looe, on the South Cornwall coast, is having a very West Country event this week. Local writers, historians, naturalists, photographers, even fishermen, are gathering at the annual Looe Literary Festival to speak on their latest books, tell tales of historic smuggling, exhibit photographs of the beautiful Cornish landscape and journey into world of Victorian railway expansion.
Truth and Beauty in Architecture
The Minister of State for Transport has spoken powerfully about the importance of beauty in architecture. Addressing the Advisory Panel of the Railway Heritage Trust on Monday, the Right Honourable John Hayes MP said that most of what we had built since the war should be demolished. A stunned silence descended.
National Bookshop Day 2017
Publishers, booksellers and authors today celebrate the UK and Ireland’s second national Bookshop Day. To mark the occasion, we announce a series of bookshop interviews that we will publish over the next three months as the days draw in and you long for a good book to read by the fire.
Now You Can Mow in Comfort
You can also dance with robots, date by slot machine and boil an egg straight from the chicken, thanks to Heath Robinson. Helpful devices to do all these things are now on view in the big new book we publish today, Very Heath Robinson. The author is Adam Hart-Davis, presenter of What the Romans Did for Us, and Philip Pullman has written the Foreword.
A Very Heath Robinson Birthday
On 31st May 2016 Heath Robinson would have been 144. Artist, humorist and Contraptioneer Extraordinary, he satirized the technical advances and social pretensions of three generations, from the 1890s to the 1940s. To celebrate a birthday blow-out, we are proud to announce that the well-known television presenter and author Adam Hart-Davis will write a new book for us called Very Heath Robinson.
Keeping the Heat in an Old House
A Technical Advice Paper by Denis Meehan
A lot of damage is done to Victorian houses in the name of energy conservation, most frequently by replacing original sash windows with inappropriate double-glazed units. As Denis Meehan explains in his report on Energy Conservation in a Victorian House, changing the windows is one of the last things you need to do.
Gangsters, Goats and Greek Mythology
What brings a smile to the face of this cigar-toting stranger? Rubber feet, it turns out. Gangster Pete has rubber feet. If this sounds faintly ridiculous, you are at one with the judges of the Ruthless Rhyme competition. Some of the entries, they decided, while not ruthless, were memorable for their oddity or absurdity.
Laugh for Less than a Fiver
To celebrate the solstice and all things summery, head to the Riviera ‘And there upon the sunny sands’ relax with a good old laugh, courtesy of Harry Graham. We guarantee the health benefits of When Grandmama Fell Off The Boat. As luck would have it, it’s 50 per cent off this month.
Can You Trump Our Bunting?
We are running a bunting competition to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. All you have to do is take a better bunting picture than ours and post it on our Facebook wall, tweet it to @SheldrakePress or e-mail it to ku.oc1701863540.sser1701863540pekar1701863540dlehs1701863540@sser1701863540p1701863540. Add an innovative caption with the word bunting in it, and you’re done!
In our Wild Escape Competition, Liz Cleere described a trek in the eastern Himalayas to visit a slice of wild India that people rarely see and Helen Moat recounted the magical night she and her young son Jamie spent in the company of glow worms in Britain’s Peak District. Liz Cleere is the winner.
The runner-up in the Ruthless Rhyme Competition is Rosemary McDougall with her Good Intentions. She scored 20 points, just one behind Angela Perkins with George’s New Year’s Resolution. In third place is Elizabeth Francis with A New Year’s Hobby and a score of 13 points. You can read all three rhymes in our Blog.
A Franglais Dream
The winner of the Ruthless Rhyme Competition is George’s New Year’s Resolution, written by Angela Perkins. George’s dream was to buy a little place in France, but Mavis stood in his way. A coup de something or other was required. To see how George resolved this petit problème, click here.
Sixty-Five Rhymes Written
For the past two months we have been running a competition to find the best short poem in the style of a Ruthless Rhyme, a humorous verse form invented by Harry Graham. By the time the competition closed at midnight GMT on Sunday 4th March, we had received 65 rhymes from nine countries, including Australia, Germany, India, Nigeria, Romania, Spain, France, the UK and the US. The last entry came in at eight minutes to midnight.
Brooking Collection Finds Temporary Home
Charles Brooking’s major collection of architectural detail, referred to in our earlier news item, has been written up in The Financial Times, along with this griffin and other illustrations. The collection has now been moved to temporary storage, but is still under threat and needs a permanent home and financial assistance. To read the article in The Financial Times, click here. To find out more about the collection’s immediate needs, please visit their web-site.
Help for the Brooking Collection
Since the age of two, Charles Brooking has been collecting architectural detail. He has amassed 250,000 items of salvage, which have just been moved into temporary storage following the withdrawal of support from the University of Greenwich. The collection urgently needs a new home and funding to preserve it for the future. Can you help? For more on this unique archive, click here.
Gertrude Jekyll (1843-1932)
On this day in 1843, the garden designer Gertrude Jekyll was born in London. She created over 400 gardens in the UK, Europe and America, and is particularly noted for her collaboration with the architect Sir Edwin Lutyens. Her design style employed cottage-garden motifs to make her meticulous arrangements of plants appear effortless and uncontrived. Notable examples of her work are Vann Hambledon in Godalming, Surrey, Glebe House in Connecticut, USA, and Les Bois de Moutiers, France.
Plans for London Bridge Station
Network Rail have unveiled their plans for the redevelopment of London Bridge station. The aim of the new design, by the architectural firm Grimshaw, is to make it easier for passengers to enter and exit, but the scheme has drawn controversy due to the proposed demolition of the buildings at 64-84 Tooley Street.
The former South Eastern Railway Offices at 64-84 Tooley Street were built between 1897 and 1900 by the architects Charles Barry and Son. Charles Barry Sr created the Gothic extravaganza of the Houses of Parliament. This is the only surviving commercial building by his son, and it is an important part of the London Bridge conservation area. Do we really want to swap this for Network Rail’s new entrance to London Bridge station (see our Blog)?
The Great Exhibition
Today is the 160th anniversary of the closing of the Great Exhibition. In the five months since it opened, over six million people had visited and viewed the 100,000 objects on display, including exhibits from France, America, Canada, India and Russia. To the surprise of many, the exhibition made a profit of £186,000, most of which was used to create the South Kensington museums. The influence of the Great Exhibition on interior design is examined in The Victorian House Book.
Augustus Pugin (1812-1852)
On this day in 1852, the architect Augustus Pugin died at his home in Ramsgate, Kent. His most famous project was his work with Sir Charles Barry on the Palace of Westminster after the old building had been destroyed by fire in 1834. Pugin was responsible for the design of the interior and some of the exterior details. His contribution to architecture and interior design is covered extensively in The Victorian House Book, from which this detail in the Palace of Westminster is taken.
50th Home Decoration Supplier
Wilsons Antiques, based in West Sussex, is the 50th company to be added to the Victorian House Decoration section on our Links page. Over the past few months, this resource has grown steadily, and now profiles a wide selection of companies providing goods and services useful for the renovation of period houses.
Edward Burne-Jones (1833-1898)
The Pre-Raphaelite artist Edward Burne-Jones was born 178 years ago today. Inspired by the artists of the Italian Renaissance, his paintings depict graceful figures in meticulously detailed medieval settings and are often on mythological or religious subjects. His interest in medieval art can also be seen in the stained glass and tapestry designs he produced for Morris & Co. This example is taken from The Victorian House Book by Robin Guild.
History of Artificial Stone
The invention of Coade stone in 1769 allowed architects to add more ornamentation to buildings than had previously been possible. Coade stone mimicked natural stone but was cheaper and longer lasting. The history of artificial stone, including Coade stone, is chronicled in a book by Simon Scott, director of Haddonstone Ltd. His company, just added to our Victorian House Decoration page, produces its own variety of artificial stone.
In the 19th century, plasterwork such as cornices and dado rails played both a decorative and practical role. Dado rails, for example, prevented walls from being knocked by furniture, but also added visual interest because contrasting colours could be used above and below. If you wish to add or replace decorative plasterwork in your house, Simply Mouldings can make and install many features, including dado rails and ceiling roses. Their contact details are now available on our Victorian House Decoration page.
Sir Joseph Paxton (1801-1865)
Today is the 210th anniversary of the birth of Sir Joseph Paxton, who designed the Crystal Palace for the Great Exhibition of 1851. The building was modelled on a conservatory he had created at Chatsworth to house the giant Victoria amazonica water lily. The plant’s vein structure is said to have been the inspiration for his design. There is a chapter on garden design, including conservatories, in The Victorian House Book. Paxton’s railway work is covered in The Railway Heritage of Britain.
Bespoke Front Doors
‘However charming the gate or imposing the porch, it is the entrance door which captures the eye of the visitor as he waits to be admitted’ (Robin Guild, The Victorian House Book). Impress your visitors with a replica Georgian or Victorian timber door made by GBS Joinery, whose details are now available on our Links page under the Victorian House Decoration section. They offer a bespoke service, making and fitting doors and windows for residential and commercial properties.
Hilaire Belloc (1870-1953)
On this day in 1870, the Anglo-French writer Hilaire Belloc was born in La Celle-Saint-Cloud, France. Although he wrote numerous works of history and biography, he is best remembered for his macabre humorous verse, such as ‘Matilda’. To find an equally naughty Matilda, go to When Grandmama Fell Off The Boat.
Top Table at St Pancras
The great days of railway luxury are returning. Today Top Table have a special offer on the St Pancras Grand, ‘a stylish, romantic destination restaurant’. When was the last time a railway dining room was connected with romance? Brief Encounter? Early next year, the restored King’s Cross station will be unveiled, offering more 19th-century splendour. For a snapshot of the work in progress, see our Blog.
The Victorians placed great importance on the fireplace as ‘the cornerstone of domestic comfort’ (Robin Guild, The Victorian House Book). If you would like to bring some authentic Victorian character into your home, Nostalgia UK Ltd supplies antique fireplaces in wood, stone, slate, cast iron and marble. We have just given them a link on our Links page under the category of ‘Victorian House Decoration’. They have a stock of more than 2,500 fireplaces, including classical, Gothic, Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau designs. Visitors to their web-site can take a virtual tour of their showrooms and warehouses.
Browsers Bookshop and Café
The Victorian House Book is now available at the Browsers Bookshop and Café, in the picturesque town of Woodbridge in Suffolk. This is an environment where visitors can browse at their leisure, with tea, coffee and cakes available if the mood takes them. Recipes for all the cakes can be found in the cookery books on the shelves. There is a children’s branch of Browsers further down the road.
E. A. Higginson, Staircase Makers
When so many people are doing loft conversions or digging out their basements, there is a frequent need for new flights of stairs. To ensure a seamless connection between old and new, you need to be able to copy your existing staircase accurately. This is just the sort of job that E. A. Higginson can do. Their contact details are now available on our Victorian House Decoration page.
London Stained Glass
There can be no denying the importance the Victorians placed on first impressions, and with grandeur in mind they turned the front entrances of their houses into showcases of architectural detail and decorative art, in which stained glass was ever-present. If yours is missing, and you want to commission a new design, have a look at Judi Stark’s portfolio, now available on our Victorian House Decoration page.
Mr Jones of North London
We have just added a link to Mr Jones of Muswell Hill, makers of curtains, blinds and traditional upholstery. After more than 25 years, they have built up an in-depth knowledge of their subject and amassed a stock of designer fabrics and wallpapers which they claim is the largest in North London. Do a one-stop shop with them, they say, and you will save yourself many frustrating hours of traipsing around.
Stung to Death by Savage Bees
For your entertainment, we have just posted sample couplets by Harry Graham in our Preview of When Grandmama Fell Off The Boat. Whether your subject is dining, dancing, motoring, bathing or bee-keeping, we believe you will find something here to trigger your schadenfreude. Try this:
When Mrs Gorm (Aunt Eloise)
Was stung to death by savage bees,
Her husband (Prebendary Gorm)
Put on his veil, and took the swarm.
He’s publishing a book, next May,
On “How to Make Bee-keeping Pay.”
Mother’s Day Competition
This week five copies of The Kate Greenaway Baby Book can be won through KiddieBase, the on-line retailer. To win one of five prize bundles, including gift vouchers, hampers, jewellery and our Baby Book, KiddieBase invite you to say what being a mother means to you or submit your favourite quotation about motherhood.
The Well-Known Mr Crapper
We have given a link to Thomas Crapper, who gave their name to an inglorious noun and verb. They are still trading on it, producing hand-made replicas of their firm’s products from the late-Victorian and Edwardian periods. As you would expect, they do loos and W. C. seats, but they can also fit you out with baths, basins, taps and bathroom accessories which they claim are ‘ultra-authentic’ and not the ‘vaguely Victorian’ sanitary ware that is generally available. Lucinda Lambton and Adam Hart-Davis, among others, have written glowing reviews of their period detail and thunderous flush!
Baby Book Published
The new edition of The Kate Greenaway Baby Book has arrived. With a freshly designed cover by the award-winning artist Ting-Chung Cheng, the book combines traditional childhood images with a clean modern style. It has sections for parents to fill in with details of their child’s general progress, as well as important information such as vaccinations and illnesses. All of this is accompanied by beautiful images from one of the first book illustrators to have her work published in colour, and whose ability to capture the innocence of childhood won her lasting popularity. It provides an ideal gift for new and expectant mothers.
Celebrate Our Launch
To celebrate the launch of our new web-site, now live, we are offering 30% off two of our most popular titles, The Victorian House Book by Robin Guild and When Grandmama Fell Off The Boat by Harry Graham. To obtain these discounts, simply enter the promotional code WEB1110 at the check-out.