Flying back from my summer holiday this year there wasn’t a lot of conversation on the plane, just a spare seat next to me and plenty of thinking time! So my thoughts turned to wondering where to go for my next holiday; maybe take a train along the south coast?
Trains cause frustrations at times but where would we be without them? Waterloo station has always been the main starting point of travel for me and it is so rich in history and ghosts of the past. I can’t help thinking about the evacuee school children of 1939, and the thousands of men who were transported to enemy lines. In Railways of the Great War Colette Hooper and Michael Portillo explore some remarkable stories, from the exploits of railwaymen at the Front to the secrets of railway spies who worked behind enemy lines, as well as the manufacture of munitions in railway workshops. The book also explores the ways in which Britain’s locomotives, railway companies and skilled railway workforce moulded the course of the conflict, from mobilising men and moving weapons to transporting food for troops.
Did you see the programme ‘Great British Railway Journeys’, in which Michael Portillo took different train journeys inspired by Bradshaw’s Handbook? The Handbook is a copy of the actual book (original produced in 1863) and is often referred to as Bradshaw’s Guide. It was the first national tourist guide specifically organised around railway journeys in Britain. If you know a railway enthusiast, historian or traveller, this leather-bound book would make a fine Christmas present and a collector’s item! Continue reading »