“The Undertype Steam Road Waggon” by Maurice A. Kelly. 242 pp. 11 1/4 in. x 8/3/4 in. (Goose & Son, 94, Victoria Street,Basingstoke, Hampshire, RG21 3B1 £12.50.)
Sometimes one reads a particularly interesting and praiseworthy book to which a successor is promised, but it never appears. Not so in the case of Maurice Kelly’s industrious research into one-make steam-waggon history. We reviewed his great work on the over-type waggons enthusiastically, concluding with the hope that he might one day treat the less-primitive and equally-important undertypes in the same comprehensive manner. Here is that book. It may not appeal to too many motoring enthusiasts. But for steam followers it will be indispensable. The format is the same as for the former work, each make of waggon being given a long description, many excellent pictures arid diagrams on the big art-pages, and detailed tabulated specifications. What is more, there are lists of customers to whom each waggon was sold, and when. How the author assembled such specialised information I do not know, but its inclusion makes this book quite outstanding, as a complete reference work on a subject which has sparse coverage in any case.
The makes of waggon dealt with are Atkinson, Brotherhood, Clarkson (at last, details about a make that was also famous in the London bus world), Clayton, Foden, Fowler, Garrett, Leyland, Mann, Sentinel (of course), Yorkshire, and those made outside England, numbering a further ten manufacturers’ products. I have always found the steam waggon particularly fascinating and the information in this book about the history, development and particularly the competitions organised for these vehicles, and the ton of the report drawn up in 1946 by the Joint Investigations Committee on steam-driven transport, are very welcome. The latter report runs to nearly 13 pages and points to why the steamer was driven from the roads by Government legislation. There are other appendices and an index, and in this volume the author has given magazine and other references to each make. He also mentions toy Sentinels, made respectively by Lesney and Tri-ang, the latter with a smoke-making unit, and a model of an early-1920s Sentinel to be seen in Worthing Museum, and, of course he deals with restored amid recently-unearthed full-size undertype waggons.
The picture chosen for the front cover of the dust-jacket is of a Mann 6-tonner used by A. Thorne of Eaton Bray; having gone there in post-war times to watch model-car racing. I must say I would not have liked to meet such a waggon in the narrow lanes thereabouts!
This book is on better quality paper than the previous 147-page volume but it is a reflection on the increase in book prices in the last five years that it costs £8.52 more. However, any technical librarian should be grateful of the chance to secure all the specialised information Contained in Kelly’s two books.—W.B.