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Great Western Horse Power Hardcover – 1 Jan 1995

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Hardcover, 1 Jan 1995
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: OPC Railprint; 1st edition (Jan. 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 086093425X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0860934257
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,115,863 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Peter Durward Harris #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 28 May 2009
History generally tells us that, after a somewhat hesitant start, trains replaced horses and canals as the primary means of inland transport in the nineteenth century industrialized world, only for motorized transport to replace trains in the twentieth century. A closer look shows that it wasn't quite that simple. Certainly, the trains brushed aside the competition over medium and long distances, but there was still much work for horses to do at a local level, at least until motorized vehicles became available.

The first chapter here covers the history of horse-drawn transport before the coming of locomotive-hauled trains. The remainder of the book explains the various ways in which horses remained useful in transporting people and freight well into the twentieth century. While focusing specifically on the area covered by the GWR, the basic story is likely to be fairly typical of Britain generally during the same period.

The GWR employed horses on a variety of duties as this book clearly demonstrates. Unfortunately, this aspect of train operation has been largely ignored by authors, who have shown much greater interest in railway construction, architecture, locomotives and train operation, forgetting (or perhaps not realizing) that horses played an important role in the service of trains during the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century. As such, the personal stories that employees might have been able to tell about their experiences are missing, but it seems that the archives contain plenty of official records (including pictures) to provide sufficient material for this book.

Every aspect of train operation involving horses gets coverage, beginning with their employment in the construction of the railways.
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I came across this wonderful book entirely by accident.

After finding a old horse headcollar stamped GWR for sale, i bought it and set about finding out more about it.

This book has wonderful stories, fabulous pictures, frankly mind boggling amounts of details in the technical drawings for varying carriages, vehicles and buildings.

Everything from how it started, what the horses got used for, what age they were bought, how much they were purchased for & where from, what they were fed, how much, how many of them and a list of reports of the conditions of horses at work. Lovely black and white photos accompany almost every page. It even tells you what the stable boys earned & how long it took them to reach a driving position!

The detailed drawings are fantastic and would suit anyone wanting to do scaled replicas of buildings or machinery/carts. A cracking book depicting a lost moment in time on the railways.

Hope you enjoy the cover and two internal pages i uploaded!

A Highly Recommended Read!
Soph.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Horses and trains serving each other 28 May 2009
By Peter Durward Harris - Published on Amazon.com
History generally tells us that, after a somewhat hesitant start, trains replaced horses and canals as the primary means of inland transport in the nineteenth century industrialized world, only for motorized transport to replace trains in the twentieth century. A closer look shows that it wasn't quite that simple. Certainly, the trains brushed aside the competition over medium and long distances, but there was still much work for horses to do at a local level, at least until motorized vehicles became available.

The first chapter here covers the history of horse-drawn transport before the coming of locomotive-hauled trains. The remainder of the book explains the various ways in which horses remained useful in transporting people and freight well into the twentieth century. While focusing specifically on the area covered by the GWR, the basic story is likely to be fairly typical of Britain generally during the same period.

The GWR employed horses on a variety of duties as this book clearly demonstrates. Unfortunately, this aspect of train operation has been largely ignored by authors, who have shown much greater interest in railway construction, architecture, locomotives and train operation, forgetting (or perhaps not realizing) that horses played an important role in the service of trains during the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century. As such, the personal stories that employees might have been able to tell about their experiences are missing, but it seems that the archives contain plenty of official records (including pictures) to provide sufficient material for this book.

Every aspect of train operation involving horses gets coverage, beginning with their employment in the construction of the railways. Even after their construction, the trains didn't go everywhere, so horse-drawn vehicles were required to transport people and freight to and from the trains. The GWR sometimes competed for this traffic by keeping their own fleet of road vehicles and horses to pull them, but they found other uses for horses too. Sometimes, horses were used instead of locomotives for shunting operations, while waste disposal and other light transport duties provided other tasks for horses. The book shows pictures of the little carts with the barrels used to contain the waste.

Horse lovers may also appreciate the pages devoted to the GWR's care of their horses including their purchasing policies and stabling arrangements. Apparently, the GWR also held its own competitions to encourage employees to look after their horses well, knowing that horses work better if looked after properly.

While much of this book is devoted to the service given by horses to trains, the GWR recognized that trains could sometimes provide a service for horses. Specially designed railway wagons (horseboxes) made their appearance in the 1840s. Apart from their usefulness in transporting the GWR's own horses, these horseboxes attracted other customers too. Racehorse transportation became a very important market for the GWR as this book explains, but the foxhunting and agricultural communities also appreciated these horseboxes.

As trains became heavier and faster, locomotives gradually replaced horses for shunting duties, while motorized vehicles eventually replaced horses on other tasks. The book does not track these developments, but I know from other sources that horses were still employed in the service of trains until well into the 1950s, while the transportation of horses by train continued into the 1960s, when motorized horseboxes for use on the roads replaced the railway equivalents.

Given the limited research material available, the author did a remarkable job in putting together this book, which covers a much neglected aspect of British industrial history.
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