Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Golden Age (2) : Murder Underground

The British Library have re-published dozens of Golden Age crime novels, many by authors now largely forgotten. Mavis Doriel Hay wrote three crime novels in the mid-1930s of which this, Murder Underground, was the first.

Like many Golden Age authors her career was cut short by the Second World War and the chaos caused during and after it and she never added to her three novels post-war. Though she did write some non-fiction books in the 1950s and 1970s.

Her first novel Murder Underground, which deals with the investigation (largely by amateurs) of the murder of a woman at Belsize Park tube station, can be best thought of as "promising". The set-up of the story is well done and interesting but unfortunately the story meanders a bit too much with the characters being rather one-dimensional and mostly unlikeable.

Towards the end of the book though it really starts to pick up once the story seems to get some direction and the ending is excellent, it is just a shame the earlier two-thirds of the book are a bit lacking.

Overall though a good read, and it has a lovely painting of a 1938 Tube Stock train on the cover!

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Two special trains at Stafford

I went to Stafford station this morning to take a few photos of two specials which went through the station. The first bought back a lot of memories to me as it was Class 86 hauled, when i was a kid train spotting at Stechford i used to see trains hauled by 86s all the time. Its a lot rarer now though i did an 86 hauled freight at Bletchley last week (though unable to get a photo of it at the time).

The second special train was hauled by two Class 37s, so plenty of diesel thrash there for sure! You can see my photos here.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

The Angel escalator

One aspect of metro railway systems like the London Underground which is often overlooked is the escalator. They make getting to and from the platform level much easier especially on deep level stations. The alternative is to use lifts, and if you have ever used an escalator-less station like Elephant & Castle or Covent Garden then you know they very easily become bottlenecks or the stairs, and having climbed 180 steps at Clapham South at the weekend that is usually something to be avoided!

The longest escalator on the Underground is at Angel tube station on the Northern Line, only an escalator at Heathrow Airport is longer in the UK in fact. They are the fourth longest in Europe [1]. The escalator is sixty metres long and rises just over twenty-seven metres [2]. The escalators were installed during a rebuild of the station in the early 1990s.
Going up

And down again!

[1] Paul Moss, London Underground (Haynes, 2014) p. 158
[2] Jason Cross, London Underground Guide 2017 (Train Crazy, 2017) p. 99

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Golden Age (1) : 2835 Mayfair

My favourite literature these days are detective and mystery novels from the first half of the twentieth century (mostly between the two world wars), known as "Golden Age of Detective" fiction. Stereotypically they are thought to always involve mysteries in country houses investigated by keen amateurs. As we will see there was a lot more to these stories that that...

We'll start with 2835 Mayfair, also known as the Mayfair Mystery, and to be honest it does not sit that comfortably in the genre. It was written by Frank Collins Richardson before the First World War. Later reissued as part of the Collins Detective Club.

Although an enjoyable and witty read as the book progresses you are not sure what kind of story it is, is it a crime novel or something else? It is something else but you arn't really sure what that something is until the ending.

The story actually is pretty preposterous and only a skilled author could get away with it, luckily this is the case here. The characters are well drawn and you do care about them in the end which is always a hallmark of a good story. The best thing about it though is the reproduction Collins Detective Club cover.

Monday, 12 February 2018

Another set of London rails

As i was in London on Saturday i did some more rail exploring in the capital, concentrating on the Northern Line. I visited Kings Cross to see a steam locomotive display, St Pancras to see some Eurostars, Angel, Oval, Balham and finally Clapham South where my Hidden London tour took place. You can see my photos here.