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Lost Railways of the World (Hardback)

P&S History > By Century > 19th Century P&S History > By Century > 20th Century Transport > Trains & Railways

By Nigel Welbourn
Imprint: Pen & Sword Transport
Pages: 256
ISBN: 9781399096171
Published: 8th November 2022


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Many readers will be familiar with Nigel Welbourn’s long running series of books, covering lost railways in Britain and Ireland. This new book Lost Railways of the World is the latest by this author on the subject of disused railways.

The material for this volume has been collected and researched over a period of almost fifty years of world travel by the author. Informative text records the fortunes of the world’s lost railways and every country with significant disused railways is included. Lost railways are a unifying theme, being found throughout the world, from the hottest African desert to the coldest steppes of Russia.

The book has a surprisingly British flavour as historically many railways throughout the world used British equipment and operating practices. On his first trip in the 1970s the author discovered British signalling equipment in Europe. In 2020 he discovered the same firms’ equipment in South America.

The world’s top ten lost lines are listed, from the seven-mile-long sea bridge on a line that ran through the Florida Keys, to the rugged mountain splendour of the Khyber Pass Railway. Some of the oldest, largest, longest, most northerly, southerly, expensive, crookedest, steepest, highest, lowest and most notorious lost railways are included.

Quirky and other unique tales from lost railways are included, such as the disappearing phantom bridge, a line destroyed by molten lava, to one that sank under the sea, another that conveyed giant turtles, to a memorial to a brave railway elephant. The author also visited remote areas of Argentina and provides more information on the mysterious disappearance of the ex-Lynton & Barnstaple Railway locomotive Lew.

A large number of the 300 colour illustrations have not been published before, maps and stories from around the world will delight not only the railway enthusiast, but appeal to a wider cadre of readers with an interest in nostalgia, history, geography and travel. To some the book will be an informative source of information, to others it is written in a way that highlights the most amazing lost railways in the world, but either way it is a fascinating and unique book.

As featured in

The Colonel - No 152, Autumn 2023

"The book will delight not only the railway enthusiast but will also appeal to others with an interest in nostalgia, history, and geography, The book is produced to Pen & Sword's usual high standard and is highly recommended."

Read the review here

Rail Advent

"This book manages to bring together the world’s lost railways in a way that makes you really feel the loss while you are left wondering why most were ever allowed to disappear in the first place. This is a super meaty read."

Swanage Railway Magazine – Spring 2023, Issue 130

"This book brings together the lost railways of the world in a way that makes you really feel the loss while you are left wondering why most were ever allowed to disappear. A super meaty read."

BLN - Apr23 001

The title of this book is apt, but somewhat understates the quality of the actual content. The author has had a lifelong interest in disused railways and has published some 16 volumes on lost lines in various parts of the UK. Now he has drawn together the results of numerous trips around the world to produce a remarkable book. Each chapter covers a different country or region, starting in Europe and the UK, and ending in New Zealand. It does not seek to be wholly comprehensive, since as the author states countless lines have been lost over many years.

The book’s major appeal is that it is clearly written from actual visits, and gives a real feel for each country and location. Spread through the book are whole-page features of The Ten Great Lost Railways of the World. The British contribution is, understandably, the Great Central Main Line, the next in order being the original Hejaz Railway. Each of the ten is illustrated with a map, and the book is profusely illustrated with 300 high quality colour photographs, many of which haven’t previously been published. Being so profusely illustrated, it might appear to be a coffee table book. This, however is a wrong conclusion and it is definitely a book to read from beginning to end. It is produced to Pen & Sword’s usual high standard and thoroughly recommended.

Ffestiniog Railway Magazine - Spring 2023

A new addition to Nigel Welborn's popular Lost Railways series is always something to look out for, and this one covers a vast subject in his usual fact filled and pleasantly written style.

What will Nigel's next book be? Lost Railways of Outer Space? If is bound to be just as entertaining.

Steam World

Featured in

York Model Engineers Newsletter

Read the article here

Farnham Herald

Featured in

Daily Telegraph - Saturday's Review supplement

About Nigel Welbourn

Nigel Welbourn has had a lifelong interest in railways and disused railways in particular. His thesis on disused railways won the University of London’s Robert Davies Roberts Memorial Prize. His critically acclaimed and long running ‘Lost Lines’ series of books ran to some 16 volumes. On every trip taken at home or abroad the author has taken every opportunity to discover lost railways. He lives in Hampshire, backing onto the Watercress Line, on which he is a volunteer.

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