British railway enthusiasm

Far from a trivial topic, the post-war train spotting craze swept most boys and some girls into a passion for railways, and for many, ignited a lifetime's interest. This book traces this post-war cohort, and those which followed, as they invigorated different sectors in the world of railway enthusiasm. Today Britain's now-huge preserved railway industry finds itself driven by tensions between preserving a loved past which ever fewer people can remember and earning money from tourist visitors. It was Hamilton Ellis and Philip Unwin who were the joint pioneers of the 'Railway Book Mania' which ran from 1947 to the dwindling of popular and mid-depth railway history writing in the 1970s. British railway enthusiasts suffer from an image problem. Standing forlorn on station platforms, train spotters are butts for every stand-up comic's jokes. Like some other collectors, train spotters collect ephemera: locomotive numbers are signs unconnected to any marketable commodity. Train spotting had its own rich culture. As British railways declined from their Edwardian peak, enthusiasts' structure of feeling shifted steadily from celebrating novelty to mourning loss. Always a good hater as well as a skilled engineer, more than seventy years ago Curly Lawrence identified issues which still bounce around modelling sections of the British railway fancy. The book discusses toy trains, model engineering and railway modelling. British railway enthusiasm remains a remarkably varied activity today, articulated through attachment (of whatever kind) to prototype railways' life-world.

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