Fire & Steam: A New History of the Railways in Britain Hardcover – 13 Sep 2007
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'A lively new history of the world's oldest railway system... Fire and Steam tells a rollicking tale.'
-- Michael Binyon, The Times
'Marvellously informative... a book that has given me more pleasure than any I can remember in quite a while.' -- Rod Liddle, Sunday Times
`A wonderful account of how our railways came to be.'
-- Jon Snow
`Christian Wolmar brings the era of railway mania alive: both the imagination and the daring that made it possible.' -- David Dimbleby
About the Author
Christian Wolmar is a writer and broadcaster. He writes regularly for the Independent and Evening Standard, and appears frequently on TV and radio. His previous books include the widely acclaimed The Subterranean Railway, a history of the London underground and On the Wrong Line, an account of rail privatization.
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Top Customer Reviews
Much of the book focuses on the nineteenth century, which saw the birth of the railways and the development of the network. During this period, the politicians tried not to interfere in the running of railways once built, though they still had to sanction the building of each new line. Indeed, during the periods of most rapid development, parliamentary business was often dominated by legislation pertaining to railway construction. With the railways came a host of other problems involving safety of both staff and passengers, staff working conditions and a myriad of other issues. The twentieth century began with the railways in a dominant position, but the situation wasn't as bright even at the time as it is sometimes depicted. The first of two major wars (in which the railways played a vital role) began the long period of government involvement (some would say interference) in running the railways that has continued ever since.Read more ›
Wolmar's scope is a broad one, ranging back to the early gravity- and horse-drawn routes of the 17th century. Yet it is not until steam engines are introduced that the railways emerge as a prominent mode of transportation. While initially envisioned primarily as a means of moving freight, Wolmar notes that railways soon found transporting passengers to be their most lucrative source of revenue. Soon railways sprang up throughout Britain, and by the start of the twentieth century lines reached nearly every corner of the island. Yet dominance bred complacency, and the railways were slow to respond to the challenge posed by the emergence of road haulage in the early twentieth century. Hobbled by under-investment during the two world wars and handicapped by successive (and sometimes conflicting) government mandates, Britain's railway network was in decline by the second half of the twentieth century.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A superb read for anyone with even an inkling of interest in trains. I loved it.Published 6 months ago by Julian Kirkman-Page
I live two miles away from the monument to remember the first minister to be run over by a train. This book explains the history of the railways I loved it.Published 8 months ago by David
A very interesting and informative guide to the origins and development of the railways in Britain. The author freely admits that he may not have covered some subjects in the... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Peter Matthews
A very good book about all aspects of the railways nothing is taboo its all here,warts,and all.Published 10 months ago by BARON JOHN.
Great for the general reader and those with some knowledge of the Thatcher and Blair political stances. An enjoyable read.Published 11 months ago by Pete