Synopses & Reviews
It is hard, from a distance of nearly two centuries, to imagine the impact the coming of the railways must have had at the start of the nineteenth century. Their physical impact was dramatic enough - great mechanical horses, breathing fire and smoke and drawing impossibly heavy trains at unimaginable speeds, across a landscape transformed by the embankments and cuttings, viaducts and tunnels their passage demanded. However, they would also transform the way war was conducted and peace was maintained; prove to be one of the drivers of the dramatic industrial growth of the nineteenth century; create opportunities for many to become enormously wealthy, but impoverish many more, who invested unwisely; cause the state to think again about the policy of laissez-faire that was its default position; transform our leisure; radically re-shape our towns and cities and change our very notions of time and how we measured it. In this book, Stuart Hylton looks at the changes wrought in the British Isles during the first century of the railway age and answers the question, what did the railways do for us?
Stuart 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.