Wild Swan Books

Country Branch Line Volume One
The Watlington Branch

Paul Karau & Chris Turner

Hardback  -  240 pages  -  £26.95


This volume chronicles the history and life of the Watlington branch from 1872 until 1961. Running unobtrusively through 9 miles of beautiful Chiltern countryside, it linked Princes Risborough in Buckinghanishire to the small town of Watlington in Oxfordshire. Bypassed by all important routes, the people of Watlington hoped that a railway connecting it to the Wycombe line and thus to London and the rest of the country, would bring about a reversal in the town's fortunes. The townspeople were to be sorely disappointed for neither Watlington nor its railway was ever to have a heyday. But that is much of the charm of the place, and it is the quietness, the slowness and the almost storybook nature of the railway that attracted the authors of this fascinating and absorbing book to spend many years researching it.

From its opening in 1872 through its very mean years under private ownership, and rebirth under the Great Western, to its closure in 1957, the history of the line is traced in considerable detail, but this is no ordinary railway text. The authors believe in their approach that railway history is not just to do with facts, dates and locomotive classes, but it is also about the people who worked on and used the line, and this account relies very heavily upon lengthy interviews with the former staff and local people. Throughout the book the characters shine through, making it a compelling and most enjoyable read. Lavishly illustrated with hundreds of wonderful photographs, this definitive history of one of Britain's most appealing lines should not be missed by anyone interested in railways, local history, or in the way things used to be.

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