by K. Judkins. 55 pp. 8-1/2 in. x 5-1/2 in. (The Oakwood Press, Tandridge Lane, Lingfield, Surrey, RH7 6LW. £1.20.)
When I reviewed Mr. Judkins’ previous book about his experiences with steamers, mainly Foden and Sentinel waggons and Sentinel locomotives, I could not disguise my great enjoyment of that little book “My Life in Stearn”. Here is more in the same vein, about driving long distances, often alone, in Foden steamers, of working for Foden’s and Sentinel’s, and driving Sentinel railway locos. If the author sounds boastful at times, his enthusiasm for steam is undeniable and no steam-enthusiast can afford to miss this book. A bit more forced than his earlier book, this one is still enormously entertaining, as well as instructive, with a concluding chapter which is a fine plea for steam, the anti-pollution propellant.
There are so splendid descriptions of long runs, in steam waggons from which one learns that apparently a “mate” wasn’t essential (was it legal to operate alone?) and that speeds, and distances between taking on water, were higher and longer than is generally supposed. The pictures are good, one of them showing an Austin saloon cut in half by a runaway Foden (no casualties) and Judkins (what a grand name for a waggon driver!) tells of how an Austin 7 was hit a glancing blow by a steam-roller, the roll surprisingly collapsing. The running costs for five Fodens used by J. N. Miller Ltd. of Wolverhampton in the first half of 1929 made interesting comparison with petrol lorry running expenses, but I find it surprising that the author was allowed to drive G. C. Vadsworth’s E-type Foden undertype from 7 p.m. on a Sunday to the same time on the following Tuesday with only about 15 hours’ rest, tough as he undoubtedly is. This 666 miles cost less than £3 for coal, incidentally, whereas a lorry doing say 10 m.p.g. would have presumably used more than twice that amount, for petrol. It is alarming, though, to find that in a mileage of 132,000 a 1928 Foden’s solid tyre replacements cost £800, or more than half the cost of repairs in an annual mileage of about 7,500.
Altogether a most attractive little publication, which proves that size is no guide to the pleasure a book can give. Some more, please, especially about the Foden factory, Mr. Judkins! Incidentally, the author still enjoys driving long distances in a day—I wonder in what car, now that everyday Fodens are no more?—W.B.