Friday, July 31, 2020

Book Review: The Crowsnest Chronicles by Roy C Link

I've followed Roy C Link and his Crowsnest Tramway for many years. As a fan of interesting, small space layouts, especially those in larger gauges, it's very much my sort of thing. While I only have a tiny percentage of his modelling skill, Roy's work has always been something I've aspired to copy.

Anyway, when I spotted he has brought the Crowsnest story together in a single volume, I eagerly sent my £9.95 off and a few days later received a package.

Even at a glance you know this is amazing value for money. The format looks a lot like a Wild Swan book. Same high quality paper for 96 pages and all the 174 photos are well reproduced. We even have plans for the locos, rolling stock and buildings.

The story starts with the first layout in 1973 and runs right up to the present day. I don't know whether you say someone is single-minded or bloody-minded to build basically the same model four times, but each iteration is a step on from the last, although some of use would be happy with the first attempt.

Much of the book is taken up with the final 16mm version and the construction is covered in great detail. There are many take-away ideas for materials for me. I've always fancied building something large scale and very detailed, so the ideas on scenic treatments, when flock powder and even static grass aren't quite up to the job, has given me something to think about.

While an odd-ball title, I know this book will find plenty of fans for whom there is pleasure in looking at high-quality modelling and enjoying the excellent workmanship. I'm no fanboi, and there will be a few of those, but I am a modeller and like to look at other people's modelling, especially when they explain how they do it. And yes, I would love to own a pantograph milling machine...

Crowsnest Tramway

As an aside, there is a helpful explanation of how I finally saw Crowsnest, in Canada. It seems that two versions of the model have been sold to a collector out there. Good news for me as I finally had the chance to view the layout in the flesh - even if I had had to travel a long way to do it!


Christopher Payne said...

I am not sure I understand the need for a comparison with the work of another publisher. Anything produced by Roy Link is the very highest quality in terms of layout, typography, legibility, and production values in general. Do other publishers achieve the same level of excellence?

Christopher Payne

James Finister said...

I love Roy's work. I remember the utter thrill of being shown the contents of his early Bagnall when visiting Tennents as a teenager. But, and it is quite a big but,he has quite a recognisable style.

Anonymous said...

This layout has been on display at the Ontario Narrow Gauge Modeller's Show near Toronto, Canada. I've only been to the meet once, but quite enjoyed it. Hopefully it'll return when the current pandemic is over.

Steve Lucas

Phil Parker said...

Christopher - I'm just trying to explain to those who don't know what the book feels like. It was the first thought that struck me when I opened the parcel. Knowing Roy's publishing work, I expected good things, but this surpassed my expectations.

There are some books on my shelf that I own simply because they are nice objects in their own right. This is firmly in that category, with the added benefit that the subject interests me a lot.

I don't think I will be alone in this, but since you can't easily get your paws on a copy at a shop or show, the comparison is hopefully helpful to some.

BelfastCardiffDublinEdinburghLondon said...

Certainly a helpful comparison for me. Wild Swan is a useful and accessible measuring stick - thanks Phil.