Book Review – Hydraulic Memories

Book Review – Hydraulic Memories

BOOK REVIEW 12-Mar-24 – here follows a detailed report by long-term DEPG member and regular contributor Neale Long, who has purchased this book from our online store and reports as follows:

   Hydraulic Memories

   by Roger Geach


   Publisher: Transport Treasury

   Format: Hardback, 78 pages, landscape



    “In his latest publication well known railwayman, photographer and enthusiast, Roger Geach takes us on a virtual journey over the former Western Region from Paddington to Penzance with a few diversions, depicting the days when ‘Westerns’, ‘Warships’, ‘Hymeks’ and North British Class 22s ruled supreme in their relatively short heyday in the mid to late 1960s. Following on from his earlier volumes on diesel-hydraulic locomotives such as ‘Westerns in Colour’ and ‘Back to the Old Days – Westerns’, Mr Geach has produced a worthy addition to the previously mentioned titles, this time also covering the other principal diesel-hydraulic classes, namely classes 22, 35, 42 and 43.


      This superb 78-page hard back book in landscape format serves the compiler and the contributors well, with the bulk of the photographs coming from the late Exeter driver Colin Wreyford, the other contributors being Doug Nicholls, Tony Smith and Roger Geach himself. Collectively they have produced a wonderful selection of images of all the principal diesel-hydraulic classes with virtually every image being previously unpublished. Commencing with a couple of excellent images of ‘Hymeks’ at Paddington, the volume ends appropriately at Penzance with an image of ‘Warship’ D854 ‘ZAMBESI’. The photographic journey takes us to Reading, then on to Didcot, Oxford, Gloucester then returning via the Berks & Hants to Westbury then Bristol and Cardiff before concentrating on the route south of Taunton to Devon and Cornwall. Many excellent images are included, all backed by very readable and informative captions.


Lots of variety in terms of locomotive liveries, workings and indeed locations, the main focus location-wise being on the West Country and all the usual locations feature, but for this reviewer, what makes this very fine collection of images stand out are the images that are not from the West Country. It is particularly welcome to see images in such ‘exotic’ locations as Moreton-in-the-Marsh, Heyford and Kingham. Images of the North British Class 43 ‘Warships’ on the Paddington-Worcester services are not common, so those are pleasing to see. Gloucestershire features with an image of ‘Hymek’ D7038 at the site of its major accident at Ashchurch in 1969 and a fabulous image of the much-lamented Gloucester Eastgate station containing a ‘Hymek’ and ‘Peak’ in the foreground and another ‘Peak’ Class locomotive leaving Gloucester Central. These images further illustrate to those not so familiar with the diesel-hydraulic story that these locomotives were not just restricted to the London, Bristol, Penzance axis, they were regularly seen (and appreciated) throughout the Western Region of British Rail.


From the locomotive standpoint, all the principal diesel-hydraulic classes feature prominently but again another aspect which really stands out are the number of excellent images of the Class 22s , particularly in the Exeter area, where of course they saw much use right up to their premature demise in 1972. Particularly welcome is the image of two of these often maligned locomotives on the 2C76 2010 Exeter-Newton Abbot passenger service at Cotford in 1970 and a lovely image of D6334 on a less-than-regular Class 22 working, the 1542 Exeter-Paignton at Countess Weir (not thought to be the usual portion off a London service in this particular case).


One or two other images are worthy of mention, most notably an image showing D818 ‘GLORY’ at the 1972 Plymouth Laira open day, on display with red backed nameplate, and there’s a stunning image of two ‘Westerns’ about to pass each other at Aller Junction, D1023 ‘WESTERN FUSILIER’ heading south with the 6V53 0427 Etruria-St Blazey clay empties about to be passed by D1028 ‘WESTERN HUSSAR’ working the 1B74 1515 Penzance-Bristol on 15 May 1976. DEPG members would no doubt also appreciate the image of D7017 at Ealing Broadway en route to Acton Yard on a freight service.


The author, in taking the reader on a virtual journey from London to Penzance, has sought to provide a sample of how things were in those days via this wonderful collection of images. Without any doubt, the author has succeeded and has provided an excellent book which will appeal not only to diesel-hydraulic enthusiasts, but also to all diesel traction fans and lovers of the old Western Region of British Rail.

   A title I would unreservedly recommend to all.”


Many thanks to Neale for providing this book review.

Click here or on the image below to buy this book and in doing so, supporting the restoration of D1010 ‘WESTERN CAMPAIGNER’.


Go to the Book Reviews page

Go to Depot news

Go to Join Us page

Go to Welcome page

Go to Home page