A Garden Railway Adventure: Building and Operating the Southern Cross

A book by Nicolas Trudgian
A Garden Railway Adventure: Building and Operating the Southern Cross
A Garden Railway Adventure: Building and Operating the Southern Cross
Marc Horovitz
Book review

A Garden Railway Adventure: Building and Operating the Southern Cross
by Nicolas Trudgian
Published by:
Atlantic Publishers
83 Parkanaur Avenue
Southend-on-Sea, Essex SS1 3JA
Great Britain
Hardbound, 8¾" x 11", 128 pages, color photos throughout
Price: £23.95
Web site: www.atlanticpublishers.com
Nicolas Trudgian is an artist of some stature, particularly in aviation circles. He has brought all of his artistic skills and sensibilities to the design and construction of his Southern Cross Railway. Featured in the August 2006 issue of Garden Railways, the Southern Cross is a large, eclectic line that is a brilliant melding of concepts and practices from South Africa, South America, India, and Cuba into a strong, cohesive, believable whole. This book documents this accomplishment.
Early chapters describe the railway's beginnings and evolution, along with the builder's ideas, goals and concepts, likes and dislikes, and general philosophy. He goes on to talk about the trains. Motive power is both electric and live steam. All motive power has been heavily modified, repainted, and weathered to amalgamate them into the Southern Cross family-indeed, all of the locomotives have a distinct family look about them and the origins of specific engines are often obscure, adding to the uniqueness of the enterprise. Trains of 30+ cars are the norm on the Southern Cross, and they look right at home in the broad landscape.

An excellent nuts-and-bolts section describes the actual construction of the railway, which was done largely without assistance of any kind (help from Basil the pony notwithstanding). This chapter is accompanied by some beautiful, hand-drawn renderings of some of the different construction techniques used on the line.

The volume finishes up with a section on garden-railway photography as a sub-hobby. I would say that this section includes some beautiful photos but that would be slighting the rest of the book. In fact, there are hundreds of outstanding pictures throughout the volume. The book is beautifully designed, illustrated, and produced, with matte, coated paper and a hard binding with dust jacket. The author's writing is intelligent, humorous, and exceedingly readable. The book, aside from its primary topic of an original and superbly executed railway, is full of hard information, insightful observations about the hobby (and its people), and experience gained over the many years of the railway's existence. It should be on every garden railroader's bedside stand.


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