Britain's towns and cities were famously transformed in the nineteenth century by the coming of the railways, which turned around their fortunes and gave urban dwellers new opportunities to travel across the country. Yet the effect on the rural population was arguably far greater. While some of the initial trunk lines were designed to link major cities, the network of smaller cross-country and branch lines that followed opened up large tracts of previously remote countryside, providing new markets for agricultural produce and ending the isolation of many rural communities. Such was the pace of development during the Railway Mania period in fact, that by the end of the nineteenth century there were few areas of country not served by train. This book tells the story of these country railways from their golden age to their decline in the wake of nationalisation and the Beeching Report in the mid-twentieth century - and indeed current efforts to restore and preserve them.
Tim Bryan spent twenty-one years working as curator at the GWR and STEAM museums in Swindon and is now Head of Collections at the Heritage Motor Centre, Gaydon. He is the author of nine books and many articles on railway and heritage topics.
Introduction / Building Country Railways / Across the Countryside / Branch Lines / A Day in the Life / Decline and Fall / Places to Visit / Further Reading / Index