Solo Publications

Solo Publications was formed in 1998, when Matthew Beddall and Ken Elks combined to produce a small booklet written by Matthew on the subject of the East Kent Light Railway, a privately owned minor railway. Both had formerly been members of the East Kent Light Railway Preservation Society, set up to take over the line in the event of it being closed by British Rail (which it did in 1987).

Encouraged by the success of this booklet, the pair collaborated on "Invicta to Eurostar", a brief history of mainline railways in Kent also published in 1998, which was based on a series of leaflets originally written by Ken for handing out to visitors to the East Kent Railway Museum. The next booklet followed in 2000, another solo effort by Matthew, this time about the Kent and East Sussex Railway, which, like the East Kent Light Railway, had been engineered and operated by Colonel H.F. Stephens from an office in Tonbridge, Kent.

During the next two years, while Matthew was away at university, Ken worked on two other books, one on the tickets used by the East Kent Light Railway, which resulted from research that he had carried out over a period of twenty years and another a reference guide to the opening and closing dates of stations built by the South Eastern, the London, Chatham & Dover and the South Eastern & Chatham railways, together with details the various changes of name right into the British Rail era. It was obvious that both of these specialist subjects would only have a limited market that would normally preclude any kind of publication. Accordingly, a decision was made to change to an A4 format and using laminated covers with wire binding. This enabled small quantities to be produced and so avoid a heavy capital outlay. As these initial stocks sold a further batch could be printed where necessary. Apart from anything else, this approach avoided the neccessity to store large quantities of books as had happened with the first three books.

Both these books were well-received, as a result of which other railway enthusiasts and authors approached Solo Publications about the possibility of getting their own research work published. These culminated in a series of other titles all on the subject of railway tickets from well-regarded experts such as David Geldard, whose work on pre-grouping Great Western tickets was followed by a two-part treatise on the tickets of the SER, LCDR and SECR and another on those of the Midland Railway. David's intention is to gradually write and publish books about results of his research into the tickets of all the pre-grouping railways. Two other acknowledged authorities have added their contributions, Brian Pask on the tickets of the Great Western and Great Central Joint Railway and recently, Godfrey Croughton on Irish platform tickets, a completely revised edition of a book first published by the Transport Ticket Society in 1993. Meanwhile, Ken Elks published a catalogue on platform tickets issued by the Eastern Section of the Southern Railway. 

The range of subjects, hitherto confined to railways, was broadened in 2005 when the late Tony Edwards, who had devoted many decades to the study of British military small arms weaponry and ammunition offered to write a four part work on the hotch-potch of secondary small arms used by British and Commonwealth forces during the First World War which had formed the basis of his Masters degree, This four-part work was first published in 2005 and completed in 2009. In addition, an updated version of a book he first published in 1979, on the identification of the .303 cartridge used by the British army for over 90 years also came out in 2005 and in 2011 was followed by a companion work on .303 headstamps by the same author.  Although the four separate books on Secondary Small Arms have now been discontinued they have been republished in a two-volume set, one covering rifles and carbines, the other air weapons, machine guns and pistols.

Back in 1981, Ken Elks wrote a book about the history and development of Japanese ammunition that quickly became the standard reference work on the subject, used by military museums, historians, collectors and explosives experts. In 2003 he began work on a new edition that synthesised all the additional information that had come to light during the previous two decades. This resulted in a new edition, expanded from the original and now in two parts, published in 2007 and 2009.  More recent publications covers ammunition with Turkish and Arabic markings and a headstamp guide on the ubiquitous 7mm Mauser cartridge.  Currently research is being carried out on a similar book on the subject of 7.65mm Mauser ammunition and an introductory guide to collecting dummy cartridges.

In parallel to this Ken Elks also began what is hoped to be a series of books on the tickets used by the various tramways in Kent. The first of these, Dover Corporation Tramways, was published in 2008.  This was followed by a second volume on the Isle of Thanet tramways and another on the Erith Council Tramways.  The fourth in this series, covering the jointly operated Bexley Council Tramways and Dartford Light Railway, is nearing completion.

Currently Solo Publications has over twenty titles in print, with more in the pipeline to follow shortly. Any budding author who wishes to have work published that is likely to have a minority appeal and would therefore benefit from the approach favoured by Solo Publications should contact us, giving a brief synopsis of what he or she has written.

Page introduced June 2011
Last update: August 2017