Refer Spring 2016


Table of Contents

One Dark Day in the Middle of the Night: The Poetry Library Enquiry Service

Lorraine Mariner and Pascal O’Loughlin, Poetry Library

Reel Research: Studying Film and Television at the British Film Institute’s Reuben Library

Sarah Currant, BFI Reuben Library

Research and Redevelopment at the RHS Lindley  Library, London

Susan Robin, RHS Lindley Library

 Enthusiastic collectors: the Bankes brothers European shopping in the 1640s

Yvonne Lewis, National Trust Libraries

 Dogs Revisited: Information for Dog Owners

Helen Edwards, Editor Refer

British Railway Information Sources

Peter Chapman

 My Work as A Special Collections Librarian

Hope McClean, Franciscan International Study Centre

 My Experience as a Library Assistant in Public Libraries

Simone Charles

ISG Reference Awards 2016 

Refer, the journal of the Information Services Group of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP), is published three times a year and distributed free to members of the Group.

Editor: Helen Edwards

Editorial team: Lynsey Blandford, Ruth Hayes

Cover design: Jonas Heriot

Contact: Helen Edwards 07989 565739;

Copyright © The contributors and the ISG 2015

Online edition


One Dark Day in the Middle of the Night: The Poetry Library Enquiry Service

Lorraine Mariner and Pascal O’Loughlin, Poetry Library


Like all public libraries, a day at the desk of The Poetry Library can throw up an amazing variety of enquiries and encounters. Our users are of all ages, and all backgrounds, so we need to be ready for anything. Usually we are but, of course, there is always that enquiry which will knock you off your feet.

Often our enquirers are members of the public finding the library for the first time – interested in poetry but unsure where to start. We usually recommend an anthology such as Emergency Kit (Faber, 1996), Staying Alive (Bloodaxe, 2002), Identity Parade(Bloodaxe, 2010), Dear World and Everyone In It (Bloodaxe, 2013), or the annual anthologies The Forward Book of Poetry (Forward) and The Best British Poetry (Salt). Another common enquiry (which can be quite tricky) occurs when someone returns a book they’ve enjoyed and asks for “another poet like this one”. This can involve a bit of inquiring on our part to find out exactly what it was about the poet that rocked their boat.

Of course, as a specialist collection, quite serious academic research is always happening quietly in the background – we recently supported researchers who travelled from abroad specifically to view our holdings on the British poet and psychogeographer Iain Sinclair (we have lots) and the U.S. punk poet Kathy Acker (we have little but some of it is pretty unique).

On our website we have a section Poetry Queries with a link to Ask a Librarian and a choice of email subject headings. The two most popular are “Where does this quote come from?” and “Where can I find this poem?”. Regularly, people are seeking fondly remembered poems from their childhood or schooldays, or poems they’ve heard on the radio. Often enquirers include some history of their life during the period when the poem was encountered. This adds a poignancy to any research we do in finding the poem, and can make tracing the poem very rewarding.

We subscribe to several subscription poetry databases (all of which are accessible to our users in the library) which are fully searchable, and we also hold a searchable record of every poem we have previously found – this is unique to us and sometimes holds the key to finding a poem we’ve searched everywhere else for.

Of course, we don’t always trace a poem and so we have our Lost Quotations section of the website. Unfound poems are posted here and any of our website visitors can comment. The online version grew from a pre-internet notice board in the Poetry Library:

Our most popular Lost Quotation thread is for the children’s poem ‘One dark day in the middle of the night’ which has had 184 comments posted so far. Our Frequently asked for Poems section offers another insight into our users’ needs.

Another kind of enquiry can be about particular events – poems for weddings, civil partnerships, funerals, births etc. We hold several anthologies of poems for specific occasions but it’s really difficult to recommend poems for big life-events so we will always encourage enquirers to come to the library to do their own research if at all possible. We can also point enquirers from further afield to some useful websites like and, both of which list poems by theme, and, of course, our catalogue where it’s possible to search by Book Theme and Poem Subject.

Our next most popular Ask a Librarian subject heading is “How Can I Publish My Poetry?” We have a set reply where we begin by explaining that most people start to publish their poetry by sending it to magazines. We suggest that enquirers come to the library to look through the latest issues of our current poetry magazines to see which ones they like – if they like the magazine it’s more likely that the magazine’s editor will like their work. If they are not able to get to the library, examples of the poems contained in some of the poetry magazines can be accessed on our full-text website at  We also suggest they try entering competitions to promote their poetry and we can direct them to our list of current competitions

For poets starting out who want to get feedback on their work we maintain a list of Writing Groups across the country And for poets who feel they have enough poems for a book or pamphlet, we maintain a list of poetry publishers (We rely on poetry organisations to let us know about their competitions and writing groups, and we are always keen to hear from new poetry publishers and magazines, so our Ask a Librarian facility has an option “Request to add link to Poetry Library website”). We conclude our set reply by advising them to join The Poetry Library and read as much poetry as possible.

We sometimes get parents emailing us poems written by their children, asking us what can be done with these works of budding genius. Unfortunately, the two magazines we knew of that published poetry by children have now folded but poetry competitions for children and young people are becoming more common and we maintain a list on our website

The Poetry Society offers Youth Membership for 11-18 year olds and always we give the most useful piece of advice we know of when it comes to writing poetry – read as much of it as you can, and then read some more. Finally, we’ll suggest to any parent that they bring their children to the library, if at all possible. That’s what we’re here for.

So on the whole we are not floored for too long. And even when we are, it’s such a thrill for us when, looking through a book of poetry, we finally come across a line from a poem that sounds familiar and then suddenly realise it’s the poem that somebody has been trying to find on our Lost Quotations site for the last however many years. It makes it all worthwhile.

The Poetry Library is located on Level 5 of The Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre. We are open Tuesday to Sunday 11-8. Our telephone number is 020 7921 0943 and we can be emailed with enquiries on

Refer 32 (1) Spring 2016

Reel Research: Studying Film and Television at the British Film Institute’s Reuben Library

Sarah Currant, BFI Reuben Library


The BFI Reuben Library has been supporting research on film, television and the moving image for 81 years, with the formation of an Information Department and a reference library of books mentioned in the British Film Institute’s first annual report for 1933/34. The name of the department has changed several times, personnel have come and gone and the physical location has moved between various sites in central London, but the collection has remained a constant for anyone with an interest in film.

The collection spans the history of cinema and is one of the largest collections of written material about film and television in the world. We hold journals, books, annuals, newspaper cuttings and festival catalogues over two sites; we aim to specialise in the moving image in Britain but we are also international in our scope.

The new library opened its doors at BFI Southbank in June 2012, after moving from its previous home at Stephen Street, in the West End. Most significantly, the library also became free to use, more visible, and open to everyone. As well as being an access point for the library’s extensive collections, the intention behind having a free library space was to open up wider engagement with the BFI’s collections as a whole, including computer terminals for researchers to access the BFI’s new and comprehensive database, Collections Search. The external web version is available here:

Despite the specialist nature of the collection, the library has always attracted a broad cross section of users. A sizeable proportion of our user base is academic, including A Level, undergraduate and postgraduate students, teachers and lecturers. We are also used by film journalists, screenwriters and filmmakers as well as film enthusiasts and members of the public who are just passing through on their way to see a film or meet up with friends – another benefit to being free and more visible.

Enquiries come into the library in a variety of ways. There is an enquiry form via the website and these emails are monitored by a dedicated Research & Enquiries Librarian. We also receive some telephone enquiries. The majority of enquiries however come to us via our reading room.

The library team has 15 staff (4 part-time) who supervise the reading room on a rotational basis. We are open from Tuesday to Saturday, 10.30am to 7pm, and a lot can happen over the course of a “normal” day. Often queries are simple, involving the location of a relevant book title or a request for a recent issue of Sight & Sound magazine. Our most frequently asked question is for the WiFi password!

A large part of our work is ensuring researchers can see parts of our collections that are not on open access. We have a closed stack at the Southbank and a vault at the BFI’s Conservation Centre in Hertfordshire, in addition to the stock in the reading room. We run hourly retrievals from our stack, and Conservation Centre materials can generally be delivered within 5 working days.

Some recent enquiries have included a young woman who wanted to find out more about the career of her late grandmother who had worked on a number of Hammer horror productions; a couple who travelled from Yorkshire to watch a film from the National Film and Television Archive that had been digitised and added to Collections Search; and a Basque filmmaker who had worked in the new wave cinema of Paris in the 1960s and who wished to donate his book to the library.

During the course of a library duty session we might be asked the best way to search Collections Search for information about a given film or subject, to advise where a researcher new to the world of screen studies should start looking for information, demonstrate how the digitised press cuttings collection can be accessed on our research terminals, and help someone scan material to take away with them on our digital book scanners.

For the past 15 years we have also run an A Level study visit programme. These visits are pre-booked and run throughout the academic year. Group study visits are a fantastic way of engaging with the library collection on a deeper level, particularly in getting to know about recent acquisitions, for example, Is there anything written about Luther or The Bridge? Have there been any recent in-depth interviews with Leonardo DiCaprio? The Reader Services team take responsibility for preparing research materials for the students in advance, based on information provided by their teacher. Groups then receive an introduction to finding materials in the collection when they arrive and are assisted by library staff during their visit.

We acknowledge that not everyone with a research need can make the journey to London. We have recently launched a Digital Library On Demand service to researchers who require journal articles or extracts from books in our collections. For a small fee, researchers can request up to five items to be scanned and we will send them PDFs via a downloadable link. The service is still relatively new, but we have already provided scans for people as far afield as Australia and North America.

We are happy to provide tours for interested groups of fellow information professionals with prior booking. Please contact to discuss availability and requirements. Alternatively, please drop by and say hello next time you’re on the Southbank. We’d love to see you.

 Refer 32 (1) Spring 2016

Research and Redevelopment at the RHS Lindley Library, London


Susan Robin, RHS Lindley Library


The Royal Horticultural Society’s Lindley Libraries is the collective name for the libraries situated across the four RHS Gardens at Wisley, Harlow Carr, Hyde Hall and Rosemoor, and the establishing library at the Society’s headquarters in Vincent Square, London. Combined, they create the largest horticultural library in the world.

This article focuses on the Lindley Library, London, how its collections can be used, and the ongoing redevelopment of the library.

The Library has two public areas. The Lending Library is our upstairs drop-in library. It is open to the public Monday – Friday 10am to 5pm, and anyone with an interest in gardens is welcome to browse or study. It contains our newest stock, classic titles, and current issues of select periodicals. Only RHS members may borrow material. Downstairs, the Research Room is accessible by advance appointment. In both rooms we permit reader photography and photocopying if conditions allows, with the caveat that it is the reader’s responsibility to adhere to the rules of copyright. We take enquires from the public by phone, post and email and look to reply within 10 working days. Enquires can range from the date a particular flower was first seen in UK garden centres; to how best to protect physalis from frost?


The Lindley Library, London is the heritage library for the RHS, and so holds the majority of its archives, rare books and special collections, alongside modern printed books and an historical and modern art collection. Broadly, our collection focus is the history of gardens and garden design, horticultural taxonomy, garden plant introductions, and commercial horticulture.

At the Library you will find the stories of discovering new, wild plants; the registration lists for particular cultivars (plants created by breeders); thousands of flora and plant monographs, specialist magazines, and nursery catalogues; and stunning artist representations, which all assist a researcher in identifying the date of creation or introduction of a plant, its defining characteristics, and it commercial popularity across the UK. The social, artistic, and pragmatic development of gardening can be traced through 19thC horticultural advice and plant hunting, early 20thC interests around public health and green spaces, the 1960s boom in gardening as an everyman hobby, and onto today’s popular interests in home and garden improvement and ecological awareness.

The oldest book within the collections is a 1514 edition of Pliny’s Historia Naturalis. Other notable holdings include Gerard’s Herbal (1597); Akizato’s account of the gardens of Kyoto (1799); Sibthorp’s Flora Graeca (1806-1830); the account book of Capability Brown (1753-83); and the papers of Gertrude Jekyll, and E.A. Bowles. Our collection of art work includes original pictures, photographs, and contemporary published prints by Redoute, W. Hooker, John Reeves, Lillian Snelling, and Siriol Sherlock. The oldest volume of drawings in the collection is by Dutch artist Peiter van Kouenhorrn (C1630s), while modern books on techniques include the classic textbook An Approach to Botanical Painting by Anne-Marie and Donn Evans (1993).

As with most libraries space is a challenge for us, and we have far more stock than we could possibly house on-site. We hold thousands of modern books (20thC+) in offsite storage (all marked as such on our online catalogue), that can be recalled with a few days’ notice. By using offsite storage we can keep titles and subject collections that may have fallen from popularity, but which we can see will be advantageous to future researchers, allowing us to maintain an authoritative collection for the library into the future. It also enables us to keep our onsite collections up-to-date, while ensuring all material remains accessible to our readers. 


Staff and students make much use of the collections in their own research. Our Art Curator Charlotte Brooks built upon the source material used by one of our PhD students, who had researched the history of our Reeves collection of ‘Chinese drawings of plants’ 1817-1831, to establish a confident date of painting of a particular picture of a Quilled Pink chrysanthemum. These RHS commissioned paintings were sold in the 1850s to ease the Society’s financial troubles. The collection was dispersed before eventually being returned via purchase and bequest. Records of the paintings were just as dispersed across the RHS archives. By cross referencing a numbered stamp on the painting, the date of Reeves arrival in Canton, an article from the Transactions of the Horticultural Society 1817-1818 noting the arrival of a possible ‘Quilled Pink’ from China, an entry in the RHS Council Minutes for 1826 retrospectively mentioning pictures received by Reeves, the contemporary sailing times from Canton to London, and the now known life cycle of the chrysanthemum, Charlotte was able to suggest a probable painting date of 1817-1818. As with all specialist libraries, continued research into our own holdings and history helps strengthen and clarify our resources.


 Chrysanthemum indicum ‘Lou Kwun Mee’, Chrysanthemum indicum ‘Toze Lung Sou’ (‘Quilled Pink’), Large volume 3, page 8.

The Library also has a wonderful team of volunteers, many of whom have chosen to give their time to the RHS as they have a passionate interest in garden history and horticulture themselves. One of our long standing volunteers is a member of two garden history groups and uses modern (20th C+) books and periodicals, as well as the RHS archives to confirm information in their society newsletters, and to find places of interest for the groups to visit. The breath of the collection has enabled her to develop her knowledge of noted historic landscape designers such as Joseph Paxton, and Russell Page, and to study the private papers of William Robinson. She regularly draws on publications past and present such as Alicia Amherst’s London Parks and Gardens (1907) and Coke and Borg’s Vauxhall Gardens: A History (2011), as well as specialist topic periodicals Historical Gardens Review, Historic Houses Association Magazine, and New Arcadian Journal, which focuses on the cultural politics of historical landscapes. Such a collection of titles would be difficult to find together in any other public library.

Redeveloping the Library

The Library is currently undergoing refurbishment, with phase one to be completed on 7th March 2016. Our Lending Library remains a place for study and browsing, but now includes an exhibition space with display boards and cases that will allow us to show our three key collections; books, art, and archives. Until now, we have not had the facilities to promote all our collections outside of RHS Shows and special events, and we hope that exhibiting these collections will result in a broader awareness and study of these often unique and correlative holdings.

We are also looking to use this redefined space for talks and events. To make room for the display area, we removed our free standing book shelves and undertook a book rationalisation programme, to ensure that our readers still have a quality lending collection to hand. This entailed sorting and assessing our onsite lending collection of approximately 3,000 books, either retaining a title in the Lending Library, sending it into offsite storage, or relocating it into our reference collection downstairs. The Lending Library has also been redecorated, which involved the careful removal and packaging of portraits of our founding members, and logistical juggling of space between furniture and stock. Behind the scenes, our storage areas have been updated to make them more environmentally stable and to increase storage capacity. The art, archives, and heritage collections will be installed and accessible by 21st March.

Phase two will be the redevelopment of our Welcome area, with the installation of a glass door and new reception desk which will make us more visible to our readers, as well as introducing the sale of related RHS merchandise, such as botanical prints, into the Library. As with many redevelopment projects, we have faced the challenges of delays, and for us this has impacted on our planned reassessment of the reference collection. Our hope was to have a refreshed and reorganised lending and reference collection for our readers on reopening, but this is no longer possible. However, we are not disheartened! With tactical planning, we aim to continue with our improvements of our reference library, resulting in a collection that is more engaging for our researchers and more focused on our collection policy areas.

If you would like to learn more about the collections held at the Lindley Library, London please contact us at or visit our webpage at to see our opening times and online catalogue.

With thanks to Dr Brent Elliott, Charlotte Brooks, Lucy Waitt, and Joan Pateman.

Bibliography: Elliott, B., 2009. Occasional Papers from the RHS Lindley Library. Volume One. London. RHS Lindley Library.

 Refer 32 (1) Spring 2016

Enthusiastic collectors: the Bankes brothers European shopping in the 1640s

Yvonne Lewis, National Trust Libraries


At the death of Ralph Bankes in 1981, the National Trust received the generous bequest of his entire Dorset estate of over 16,000 acres. The estate included Studland and the coastal hills of Purbeck surrounding Corfe Castle, Holt Heath and the Kingston Lacy Estate north of the River Stour near Wimborne Minster.[1] Kingston Lacy house had been the family seat since it was built by Sir Roger Pratt for Sir Ralph Bankes in 1663-66. Originally built as Kingston Hall, it was renamed as Kingston Lacy by William John Bankes (1786-1855) during his extensive re-modelling of the house with Charles Barry which began in 1835-41.[2]

Ralph Bankes’s bequest also included the majority of the house’s contents, amongst which was a library of c. 3000 volumes. The collection as it stands reflects the interests of many different generations of the Bankes family from the seventeenth- to the mid-twentieth century. Its origins, however are in the seventeenth-century, partly due to the European travels of Sir Ralph and his elder brother John. About half of the 3000 volumes are from the seventeenth-century collection.

Sir Ralph Bankes (?1631-77) was the second son of Chief Justice Sir John (1589-1644) and his wife Lady Mary Bankes (1598-1661), often known as ‘Brave Dame Mary’.[3] After the death of his elder brother John (1626-56), Ralph inherited the somewhat depleted Kingston Lacy estate. The family fortunes had suffered considerably during the Civil War, as a result of the family’s staunch support of the Royalist cause.[4] After Sir John’s death, Parliament declared his estates forfeit in October 1645 and his library was granted to Sir John Maynard.[5] ‘Brave Dame Mary’ had defended their home at Corfe Castle through two sieges, but was eventually betrayed when a member of the garrison admitted Parliamentary troops to the castle disguised as reinforcements. The keys to Corfe Castle still hang over the chimneypiece in the Library at Kingston Lacy.

Ralph Bankes had to re-build both the family fortunes and their home. Evidence for John and Ralph’s collecting can be found in a few contemporary sources, including a library catalogue of c. 1670, Sir Ralph’s commonplace books, Dame Mary’s accounts in the Dorset Record office and John’s travel notes. The library catalogue, or ‘Catalogus Librorum’, begun by Sir Ralph Bankes around 1675, and continued by his daughter-in-law Margaret after 1691, is basically a list by shelf of the books at Kingston Lacy by the end of the seventeenth-century. Amongst the volumes were several, signed by either John Bankes or his younger brother Ralph. In some cases, where a volume was original signed ‘J Bankes’, Ralph has neatly overlain the ‘J’ with his ‘R’. We can trace roughly 50% of the volumes in that catalogue still in the house today.

After their father’s death, young John went abroad for his education during the 1640s, as presumably so did his younger brother Ralph a few years later. In her account book his mother, Dame Mary, has entries relating to paying for the receipt of letters from France and Italy during the period mid-February 1645/6 to the end of March 1648.[6] These entries in her accounts tie in with some of the dates in Mr John Bankes’s observations on his Travels. This is John Bankes’s copy of the Voyage de Monsieur le Prince de Condé en Italie (Lyons, 1635), which has been bound in plain vellum, but interleaved with slightly larger sheets of blank paper for note-making. He has also underlined the various places or sights in the printed text in pencil, as well as his having written several sheets of dated notes, which are bound in before the text. This fat vellum-bound volume, has now been boxed and given the spine title ‘John Bankes’s Travel MSS’. With this volume we can follow John’s travels through France and Italy in 1646-48.[7] As his brother, Ralph inscribed his copy of Malherbe’s Le secrétaire de la Cour (Rouen, 1645) at Rouen in 1648, the two brothers may have met in their respective travels. John, however, was fairly soon to be back in England as he inscribed his copy of Tobias Venner’s Via recta ad vitam longam at ‘Bathe August 28th 1649’.

Although the family managed to recover their lands and some of their fortune, the contents of Corfe Castle were scattered. The only potential surviving books from Sir John’s library that are now at Kingston Lacy are reputed to be two books formerly owned by Sir Nicholas Bacon, one of which has an elaborate armorial binding by the Huguenot binder from Dijon, Jean de Planche.[8] It was done for Sir Nicholas Bacon (1509-1579), whose elaborate arms are painted in the central oval panel on the front board. The second potential survivor bears the inscription on the front pastedown “Anna Bacona D. Custodis uxor”.[9] All of the other books bought in the seventeenth-century are from the 1630s and later. As can be seen from her account books, amongst the other goods, such as cloth for making clothes, pens and other small items, Dame Mary was paying between “6d” and “1-04-0” for a range of books from pamphlet sermons to “Bishops Hals workes in on uolume”.[10] Some of the pamphlets were later bound into volumes that are still in the house; a few bear the initials ‘MB’ [Mary Bankes].

In his three commonplace books, dated [1656?]-1659, 1657-[1668] and 1666-[1671?], Sir Ralph lists the titles of the books he read and makes notes upon his reading, usually in the language in which the book is printed. He carefully notes the author and title of each work, sometimes also the place of publication and format of the book. One of the pieces of work in progress is a project to compare the entries in these commonplace books with the Catalogus Librorum, to see to what extent Sir Ralph’s book buying and reading overlapped. He didn’t habitually annotate his books, so there is very little evidence in any of them of his reading habits. The same is true of other members of the family at this period, so re-creating the collection and where it came from is something of a jigsaw puzzle. With very few family papers remaining, we have to make educated guesses by piecing together the evidence from the few sources we have with the half of the collection that is still at Kingston Lacy. The Library room you see today is the same space in which we think the books were housed in the seventeenth-century, but the room which had been two rooms was opened up in the 1780s to house the enlarged library collection. [11] Looking out over the south lawn, brings together many generations of the family, as you can see the obelisk brought back from Philae by William John Bankes (1786-1855) as part of his collection of Egyptian antiquities.

[1] For further details of the house and estate, see Anthony Mitchell, Kingston Lacy, 1994.

[2] Ibid., p. 5.

[3] For further information on both parents cf. Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford 1995 (CD-ROM).

[4] Details of the family fortunes during the Civil War years can be found in George Bankes The story of Corfe Castle, London 1853.

[5] Ibid. See also Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford, 1985. cf. under John Maynard (1602-1690). The DNB entry for Sir John Bankes does not record the recipient of Parliament’s grant of his library. Sir John Maynard left his manuscripts to Lincoln’s Inn.

[6]Dorset Record Office, D/BKL 8 c/64, f. 119r and 78v.

[7] Yvonne Lewis ‘A young Royalist abroad in the 1640s: in pursuit of ‘Mr John Bankes’s observations on his travels’, ABC Newsletter, Autumn 2014.

[8] The binding is on Theodore Zwinger’s Theatrum Vitae Humanae, Basel, 1565. For fuller details of the binding, see Treasures from the libraries of National Trust country houses, New York, 1999, no. 32.

[9] Peter Martyr Vermigli’s Loci communes, London 1576. STC (2nd ed.) 24667. The elaborate gold-tooled binding has been identified by Mirjam Foot as by Daniel Pateman’s binder.

[10] Dorset Record Office D/BKL 8 c/64.

[11]Anthony Cleminson, ‘The transition from Kingston Hall to Kingston Lacy: the Bankes’ fifty-year search for an adequate dining-room’, Architectural History, 31 (1998).

Refer 32 (1) Spring 2016

Dogs Revisited: Information for Dog Owners

Helen Edwards, Editor Refer


Bedrooms in my boyhood were chill places….in winter there was no such thing as falling asleep the moment one’s head touched the pillow, for the first five minutes between the sheets were spent shivering and shuddering with cold as they sapped the heat from one’s body – unless one had a dog.”

(Brian Sewell Sleeping with Dogs, Quartet Books, 2013).

Some years ago one of my grander BBC colleagues found himself next to Prince Edward at a social occasion. Searching frantically for something to fill a conversational vacuum, he alighted on the fact that both he and the prince had recently become fathers for the first time. “A bit of a shock, this children business,” he remarked. “Not to us,” came the royal riposte. “We had dogs.”

(Edward Stourton Diary of a Dog-Walker, Doubleday, 2011)

The first reference book I ever bought with my own money was The Observer’s Book of Dogs: Describing Three Hundred Breeds and Varieties with 148 Illustrations, by Clifford L. B. Hubbard (Frederick Warne, 1945 reprinted 1961). It cost five shillings. The purpose of the book was to “enable the reader to identify one breed from another with as little effort as possible, and at the same time give him what I thought were the most interesting and prominent facts relating to the history and origin of each race.” Another goal was to describe many of the less popular, and in some cases extinct, but nevertheless interesting breeds whose “origin, history, habits and descriptions are practically unknown to any but the specialist.” Although terse, the descriptions manage to fit considerable information into a couple of paragraphs and at the same time convey the author’s enthusiasm for dogs of all kinds.

Fast forward nearly fifty years and I was able to resume my childhood interest in dogs. With space no longer at a premium on the Internet, it is now possible to greatly expand on the information available about each breed. A typical Wikipedia entry for each dog breed may – or may not – include sections on: etymology, history, description, appearance, temperament, uses, training, grooming, health, popular culture, plus references and links.   There is also a boxed insert with a photograph, alternative names, origin and traits such as height, weight, colours, typical litter size etc. However, there is no standard format for a Wikipedia entry, so the information can be quite variable. Some may include health information for the breed, others not. Some entries, such as that for the border collie, are very extensive and include details of the breed registries for different countries in the world. Others like that for the Kuvasz, one of the best known Hungarian breeds, contain the headline note: “this article reads like a personal reflection or opinion essay rather than the opinions of experts.” Some focus primarily on anecdotes and quotes, as does the entry for the extinct turnspit dog.

Another Web source about modern dog breeds is the Kennel Club ( This provides the official breed standards for the 216 recognised breeds that “describes the ideal characteristics, temperament and appearance including the correct colour of a breed” plus lists of registered breeders and breed clubs. There is also an introduction to each breed aimed at potential dog owners. This includes a table describing the amount of exercise required, suitable environment (town or country), type of home and minimum garden size, how much grooming the dog needs, the kind of fur and whether it sheds, and the average lifespan.

Not considered as a breed by the major breed clubs (and certainly not identified as a specific type of dog in my youth) are the new crossbreeds such as the labradoodle (a cross between a Labrador and a poodle), and the cockerpoo (cocker spaniel and poodle). Encyclopaedia Britannica dates the term “designer dog” from the late twentieth century when breeders started to cross purebred poodles with other pedigree dogs, in order to obtain a puppy with the poodle’s hypoallergenic coat together with desirable features of other breeds. Designer dogs, along with small city dogs, are now experiencing the fastest increase in popularity, according to market research from Mintel Petcare 2015.

Despite the long relationship between man and dog, new research has shown that many of the popular beliefs about dogs from my childhood, and still prevalent today, are incorrect.Biologist John Bradshaw from the Anthrozoology Institute at the University of Bristol explains In Defence of Dogs: Why Dogs Need our Understanding (Allen Lane, 2011) the role of canine science and what it means for dogs and their owners. While comparative zoology often helps in the understanding of why species behave as they do, in the case of dogs this approach has done considerable harm. Many previous experts have interpreted dog behaviour as if it were “under the surface, little altered from that of their ancestor, the wolf….This supposition leads inevitably to the misconception that every dog is constantly trying to control its owner – unless its owner is relentless in keeping it in check.” Bradshaw shows that the comparisons between domestic dogs and wolves are unfounded. He describes the science that reveals how dogs’ minds really work and how humans can best interact with them. With this knowledge, owners can re-evaluate training manuals, dog forums and websites, and apply caution to the many which are now known not to be backed by science.

Another scientist who has transformed thinking about dogs is Brian Hare at Duke University. In his book The Genius of Dogs: Discovering the Unique Intelligence of Man’s Best Friend (co-written with Vanessa Woods, Oneworld, 2013), Hare describes how, for a long time dogs, were ignored by the scientific establishment as an artificial domesticated animal and of little interest as a subject of study compared to primates. However, Hare was fascinated by the kind of intelligence dogs have which enable them to be so successful at bonding with humans over thousands of years. He found that dogs have a unique ability amongst animals to read human body language and sense their emotions and thus to relate to their owners. The book describes the experiments into dog cognition Hare carried out, the new theories about “the survival of the friendliest” he has evolved, and their implications for dog training. A free MOOC Dog Emotion and Cognition with Brian Hare is available on the Coursera platform:

Both Bradshaw and Hare are powerful advocates for dog welfare and point out the difficulties dogs can experience adapting to modern life and the inhumane treatment many still receive even in the UK: puppy farms, cruel breed standards, illegal dogfighting. At the same time market research by Mintel Britain’s Pet Owners(August 2015) describes the increasing humanization of dogs. 57% of dog owners now cite companionship as the main reason for having a dog, going up to 69% for those who live alone. One third of owners – or pet parents as many owners now consider themselves -get Christmas or birthday presents for their dogs. This humanization is also shown in the marked increase in the use of human names for dogs. According to data from VIP pet insurance ( Max and Bella remain the most popular dog names in 2014, with many others from the top 100 interchangeable with baby names lists. Academic research published in 2009 by Stanley Brandes from the University of California based on pet cemeteries confirms this trend. Brandes also notes the increase in gender specificity in dog names since the 1960s and the growing tendency to include the dog as a family member.


Refer 32 (1) Spring 2016

British Railway Information Sources

Peter Chapman



George Ottley mapped the literature in A bibliography of British railway history (1965) and continued and enhanced the work in the first and second supplements (1988 and 1998). The Railway and Canal Historical Society publishes an annual Bibliography as a supplement to its Journal (more information at

A discography of recorded Railway sounds on vinyl has been created by Ian McDonald: British Railways on Vinyl: 1931 to 1989 (2013)


David Spaven and Julian Holland produced Mapping the railways : the journey of Britain’s railways through maps from 1819 to the present day (2011), whilst Mark Ovenden compiled Great Railway Maps of the World (2015) and, with Mike Ashworth, Transit Maps of the World: Expanded and Updated Edition of the World’s First Collection of Every Urban Train Map on Earth (2015).

Highly recommended is Stuart Baker’s Rail Atlas Great Britain and Ireland (2015) – now in its 14th edition – and the 2 volume magus opus The Railways of Great Britain a historical atlas : at a scale of 1 inch to 1 mile by M H Cobb – sadly out of print and very difficult to track down second-hand. 


Prolific railway author Julian Holland wrote The Times History of Britain’s Railways(2015), An A-Z of Famous Express Trains(2013), and Amazing and Extraordinary Railway Facts(2011) and the follow-up More … (2012)

An early 20th century worldview of the development of railways has recently been reissued: Frederick A. Talbot The Railway Conquest of the World (1911). The author of the forward to the 2015 reprint, Christian Wolmar, has written (amongst many books) The Iron Road: The Illustrated History of Railways (2014) and Fire and Steam: A New History of the Railways in Britain (2008). The importance of the railways to the Victorians is explored by Mark Casson in The world’s first railway system : enterprise, competition, and regulation on the railway network in Victorian Britain (2009).

Simon Bradley’s The Railways: Nation, Network, and People (2015) was the Sunday Times History Book of the Year in 2015. Tanya Jackson’s British Rail: The Nation’s Railway (2013) reviews what was good and not so good about the nationalised railway operation in the UK. Chris Austin and Richard Faulkner’s Holding the Line: How Britain’s railways were saved (2013) is a detailed account of post-war government policy towards the railways in Britain. Matthew Engel’s Eleven Minutes Late (2010) is a readable and affectionate tribute to the place of the railway in Britain’s psyche.

Rolling Stock

Robert Pritchard continues the recording of British Rolling Stock initiated by Ian Allan: Locomotives 2016: Including Pool Codes and Locomotives Awaiting Disposal (2015) along with companion volumes for coaching stock, electric multiple units, and diesel multiple units. Along with Peter Hall he has recorded the Preserved Locomotives of British Railways (2014).

Comprehensive coverage of the rolling stock being used throughout the world can be found in Jane’s World Railways Yearbook (2015)

Information on ‘historic’ rolling stock is best traced through the publications of the individual societies which seek to preserve and develop our knowledge of the Big Four railway companies (predecessors to British Rail), and to the many pre-1921 companies which were amalgamated at the Grouping. A good example of the wealth of information to be found is the Publications list of the Great Northern Railway Society


Clinker’s register of closed passenger stations and goods depots in England, Scotland and Wales, 1830-1977 and its subsequent Supplements remains an invaluable printed resource. Useful in locating the stations is Railway Atlas Then and Now (2015) by Paul Smith and Keith Turner, and one from my early days of railway enthusiasm, British Railways Pre-Grouping Atlas & Gazetteer (2015) – now in its 6th revised edition…

English Heritage has published The English Railway Station (2014) by academic Steven Parissien which covers the ‘architectural development and social history of the British (sic) railway station’.

A quirky view of the c150 ‘request’ stops on the British network can be found in Dixe WillsTiny Stations (2014)

Track and signalling

English Heritage has also published a report on the remaining historic signal boxes owned by Network Rail: Railway Signal Boxes: A Review (2012) – authored by John Minnis. The Friends of the National Railway Museum have published The history and development of railway signalling in the British Isles (2014); a subject also

covered byTwo Centuries of Railway Signalling (2008) by Geoffrey Kitchenside and Alan Williams.

Current signal boxes and signalling is covered in the Signalling Atlas and Signal Box Directory, Great Britain and Ireland (2010) by Peter Kay (maps by David Allen).

The classic account of the consequences of failure (and the lessons learnt) is L T C Rolt’s Red for Danger (2009).

The ‘permanent way ‘ of the railway is the provenance of the Permanent Way Institution. Understanding Track Engineering (2015) is one of the Institution’s many essential works.

Track gradients of the British main line railways as they existed prior to nationalisation is the subject of Gradients of the British Main Line Railways (2016). Current track layouts can be found in the five volume Quail Track Diagrams published by TRACKmaps.

Timetables and Tickets

Surprisingly perhaps, a printed version of the national rail timetable for Great Britain is still published: Rail Times for Great Britain (Middleton Press). The ‘working timetable’ – ie the times to which the trains actually run – can be downloaded at

Timetables from 1839 to the current day can be accessed at the National Railway MuseumSearch Engine facility:

For more adventurous rail travellers, the Thomas Cook European Rail Timetable was essential until it ceased publication in August 2013. Fortunately, the compilers of the Timetable have continued to publish in print independently: European Rail Timetable (

British Railway Tickets (2011) by Jan Dobrzynski is a useful introduction whilst Railway tickets, timetables & handbills (1986) by Maurice Bray is more detailed. However, the source for world-wide illumination is the Journal of the Transport Ticket Society (

Railways in culture

The eight volume Railway Journeys in Art is the ‘definitive collection of British railway posters which showcases some of the greatest collections of railway posters to be found anywhere in the world’. Compiled by Richard Furness, the work is based on the collection at the National Railway Museum.

John Huntley wrote Railways on the Screen in 1993. Glyn Horton has produced Horton’s guide to Britain’s railways in feature films (2009). Those of us of a certain age will remember the work of British Transport Films. A commemoration of 40 years of the Unit, Moving Images, was written by John Reed in 1990.

The impact of the railway upon American popular culture is the subject of Wayne Erbsen’s short book Railroad Fever – Songs, Jokes & Train Lore (2011). Also available is Long steel rail : the railroad in American folksong (2000) byNorm and David Cohen.

The railway anthology (2014) edited by Deborah Manleycarries writings on railways by over 50 literary figures, whilst Trains, literature, and culture : reading/writing the rails (2012) by Steven D. Spaldingis a series of papers on the impact of railways on American and European literature. Finally, Andrew Dow’s Dow’s dictionary of railway quotations (2006) contains over 3,400 quotations from more than 1,300 writers and speakers from around the world.

Model Railways

Many readers of Refer will have grown up with Tri-ang or Hornby model railways. Pat Hammond has written a three volume work on the company – Tri-ang Hornby:… – and worked with Ian Harrison on Hornby : the official illustrated history (2002).

For a historical view from Germany, the 1938 Miniature railways : a survey of passenger-carrying miniature railways with an appendix on manned model shipsby Dr Walter Strauss was re-published in 1988.

Finding additional resources

The National Railway MuseumSearch Engine publishes an invaluable series of Resource Packs:

With thanks to David Langton and Karen Baker

Peter is grateful to fellow railway book enthusiasts David and Karen. Naturally, any errors are his responsibility alone


Refer 32 (1) Spring 2016