Editor’s Picks: Railway History

Learn all about the illustrious history of the railway – and about some unfortunate occurrences – in these titles, distributed by Casemate IPM.

What the Railways Did For Us 
9781445641232Stuart Hylton looks at the way that Britain has undergone fundamental changes since the beginning of the railway age, and the contribution the railways have made to those changes. Over the last 170 years their impact has not just been on the physical landscape, but also on the social landscape. Topics include the Victorians’ attitudes to class and to women, the extent to which the railways gave rise to new types of crime, and how they influenced the decision of Parliament, the town planners and the development of new urban communities, the birth of Metroland, the ways that wars are fought, how we live and work, the growth of the holiday and mass spectator sports, as well as their role within an integrated transport system and the effects of the Beeching cuts on so many rural communities.
Buy it here $29.95

Steam Trains 
9781445632728Most people are under a misapprehension: the Rocket was not the first steam engine. Quite a few were built before it, but Stephenson’s engine was the first successful steam locomotive.
Colin Maggs tells the history of the steam engine from pre-Rocket days to British Railways building Evening Star, the last main line locomotive, through to the preservation movement and even discusses new-build locomotives of extinct classes such as the Tornado.
This is also the story of the rolling stock, the ‘train’. The early first-class coaches were based on a stagecoach design, while some second-class coaches had no glass in the windows and passengers wore fine-gauge goggles to avoid getting cinders in their eyes. Third-class coaches were merely open trucks – after all, why not travel in the open as passengers had done on the outside of a stagecoach?
Buy it here $34.95

Britain’s Railway Disasters 
9781781593790Passengers on the early railways took their lives in their hands every time they got on board a train. It was so dangerous that they could buy an insurance policy with their ticket. There seemed to be an acceptance that the level danger was tolerable in return for the speed of travel that was now available to them.
British Railway Disasters looks at the most serious railway accidents from the origins of the development of the train up to the present day. Seriousness is judged on the number of those who died. Information gleaned from various newspaper reports is compared with official reports on the accidents.
The book will appeal to all those with a fascination for rail transport as well as those with a love of history.
Michael Foley examines the social context of how injuries and deaths on the railways were seen in the early days, as well as how claims in the courts became more common, leading to a series of medical investigations as to how traveling and crashing at high speed affected the human body.
Buy it here $39.95

The Great Train Robbery 
9781445606828On 8 August 1963, just about 30 miles north of London, a red light brought the ‘up’ Traveling Post Office to a halt. A few minutes later, the locomotive and the first two carriages moved slowly forward – with a posse of fifteen extra men on board. It traveled the few hundred yards to Bridego Bridge where it was robbed.
The train, the robbers, the railway men, and the postal workers made the headlines as one of British history’s most legendary crimes took place. An act of audacity, cunning and dare-devilry, which became a story of tragedy, jinx, and violence. Dubbed ‘the Great Train Robbery’, it was the cops and robbers story, to end all cops and robbers stories. Like it or not, with its newsworthiness, books, documentaries and feature films, it has an enduring appeal.
Buy it here $19.95

The Race to the North 
9781848847729In the late nineteenth century, some of Britain’s leading main-line railway companies threw caution to the winds in an attempt to provide the fastest passenger express services between London and Scotland. These became known as the ‘races to the north’. There were two phases, in 1888 and 1895, and they spurred the building of new bridges across the Firth of Forth and Firth of Tay. David Wragg’s gripping, detailed narrative tells the story of this famous commercial competition, and he fills in the background, which is no less interesting – the pioneering engineering of the steam age, the massive construction projects, the cut-throat battle for passengers and freight, and the deep inter-company rivalries that drove the rapid development of the railways during the Victorian period.
Buy it here $39.95

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