For enthusiasts,researchers and modellers of the Great Eastern Railway

RG042: Walks in the Ardennes, GER 1890.

NEW JUNE 2021.  It is often not appreciated how much effort the GER put into boosting its passenger trade from Parkeston Quay, but here is just one example. It is an oblong 90-page book with board covers, priced at sixpence. The full title is ‘Walks in the Ardennes with boating, fishing, cycling and shooting notes’. The author is Percy Lindley, who wrote other guides for the GER as well. He comes across as a good writer, familiar with the places he describes and with plenty of practical tips for the traveller.

The first edition came out in 1889. This is the second edition, with some extra pages added on those parts of the Ardennes which extend out of Belgium into the Grand Duchy of Luxemburg. The date is thought to be 1890 – it is not stated anywhere, but everything seems to be consistent with that. There are no photographs, but instead there are plenty of pen and ink sketches by Julian Weedon. Folded in are maps of the Ardennes as a whole, and of the part of the River Meuse described.

It is understood that it was published by W H Smith, but again this is not mentioned explicitly. Where the publisher’s name might be expected on the title page, it just reads “London: 125 Fleet Street; and all Booksellers”. Certainly it is easy to imagine it being stocked on station bookstalls.

Nor is the Great Eastern Railway named in its production, but it is clear they played an important part. The inside front cover is devoted to an advertisement for the Continent via Harwich. The corresponding page at the back is used to provide a list of cheap circular tours on offer via Harwich, with examples of prices – exactly what were needed to embark on the suggestions contained in the book.

There is a map showing rail connections on both sides of the North Sea, and a tempting account is given of what it was like to be a passenger on the night boat to Antwerp. Mr Lindley acknowledges the help he had received in the chapter on boating by “Monsieur Gaston Guillain, the Great Eastern Railway Company's representative at Brussels. Monsieur Guillain had prepared the way all along the Meuse, at the inns and with the lock-keepers, for the comfort and convenience of any Englishmen bringing their boats across.” (...and among all the practical advice is guidance on how easily you can take your own boat on holiday with you, and what it is likely to cost!)

The book is word-searchable and has bookmarks to all its main sections. The file will be available to download as soon as payment has been made. You go to your account and click on ‘Downloads’. New customers create an account as they place their order.

File
Pages 92
File Size (MB) 6.5

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