railway history

Sculptures of navvies by the Royal Military Canal Navvies or navigators were the workmen who travelled the country to build the Royal Military Canal at the start of the 19th century. At its height, 700 navvies were employed together with the soldiers of the Royal Staffordshire Corps.
During the Industrial Revolution, Britain was completely transformed. It was transformed through technological development: steam, locomotion and railways. It was transformed by millions of pounds of capital backing increasingly ambitious, even audacious schemes. But, more than any other factor, it was physically transformed shovel load by backbreaking shovel load by […]

Praising the unsung heroes

The Duke of Wellington's train being prepared for departure from Liverpool to Manchester, 15 September 1830 1
At just over thirty miles, the railway between Liverpool and Manchester covered a relatively short distance. But, as the world’s first twin tracked and timetabled passenger railway it signalled the start of the railway age and ushered in the modern age. . At the start of the nineteenth centuries Liverpool […]

Thirty miles to the future  

Tanfield_Railway_pic_3 brian clark [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
The arrival of the railway heralded a new age more than almost any other technological development. But the idea of combining fixed paths with wheeled vehicles was much older than the great nineteenth century inventors and the age of steam. Christopher Woolmer opens his book Fire and Steam, a history of […]

Ahead of their time

It is now over four years since the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers heralded the credit crunch and the start of the one of the deepest global recessions in history. We are well versed in warning stores of booms, busts and bubbles. The South Sea Bubble and the Wall Street Crash […]

An asylum of railway lunatics

Swindon's railway works for the Great Western Railway by Ben Brooksbank [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
York, Swindon, Crewe, Derby, Peterborough, Wolverton and Eastleigh are very different places, cities and towns spread across Britain. From ancient cathedral cities to metropolises that barely existed two centuries ago, they all share one thing; they are amongst Britain’s railway towns.  Railway towns owed their economic success and booming populations to […]

Makin’ all t’railways cum to York

It was the dawn of a new age for Britain’s steam-powered trains. After years of neglect and underinvestment, the railways would be revitalised and the country would regain its position stoking the furnace of innovation and enterprise. Thousands of brand new steam engines were ordered to haul Britain back into […]

Steaming into post-war Britain