Saturday 26 March 2022

Guest Review: Great British Railway Journeys By Charlie Bunce

A glorious insight into the history, landscape and people of Britain, from The Sunday Times bestseller.

The Scottish west coast was one of the most challenging stretches of line to confront railway engineers. Extreme gradients, curves, bogs and scree left them scrambling around for ideas, but the result is one of the most scenic railway journeys in the world. En route Michael Portillo discovers local authors such as Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott, local industries including haggis, tartan and whisky-making and impressive landscapes including Ben Nevis and the magnificent Glenfinnan Viaduct.

Places visited: Ayr, Glasgow, Paisley, Helensburgh, Loch Lomond, Tyndrum, Oban, Fort William, Inverailort and Mallaig.

This individual journey is one of a series taken from the bestselling books Great British Railway Journeys and Great Victorian Railway Journeys that accompany the highly successful BBC Two series. Michael Portillo follows the famous George Bradshaw railway guides in railway journeys across the length and breadth of the country, discovering spectacular scenery and stunning architecture and exploring local history and industry.

Review: Great British Railway Journeys is a BBC television series, presented by the former politician Michael Portillo, that has been airing on television for several seasons. Michael Portillo is filmed undertaking various rail journeys, stopping at locations along the route to view places of interest and to interview people about the role of railways in their industry. The inspiration for the series was the railway timetables and guides written during the 19th century by George Bradshaw and known as Bradshaw’s guides. This was a time when the railway network in Britain was expanding rapidly, and the programme makers wanted to follow Bradshaw’s guide to show how the advent of the railways changed the face of Britain, and to contrast the Victorian era with the present day.

Charlie Bunce was the executive producer of the first two series of the programme, and wrote this book, with a foreword by Michael Portillo, to accompany the series. It describes the nine separate journeys that were featured in these two television series. Each of the journeys, which cover England, Wales and Scotland, has a separate theme covering such topics as the movement of manufactured goods, or the opening up of coastal holiday resorts to city factory workers. Although, compared to the television series, the book seems rather dry, it is accompanied by many historical photographs, which I found to be the most interesting aspect of the book.

This book will appeal to all railway lovers and also, because it is a travelogue with an historical angle, will also appeal to those with an interest in social history.

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

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