Authorised on 8 May 1833, the London & Birmingham Railway was one of Britain's first great trunk lines. Engineered by Robert Stephenson (1803-1859), the L&BR line was regarded at the time of its construction as `the Eighth Wonder of the World'. The route was opened in stages; the first section from Euston to Boxmoor was brought into use on 20 June 1837. The route was extended to Tring on 16 October 1837, and on 9 April 1838 further sections were opened from Tring to Denbigh Hall and between Rugby, Coventry and Birmingham. Finally, on 17 September 1838, the L&BR route was completed throughout its 112-mile length.
In its original form, the L&BR functioned as a transport link between London and Birmingham, but the establishment of long-distance railway communication between London and Scotland was regarded as a matter of national importance, and further companies such as the Grand Junction Railway and the Lancaster & Carlisle line were brought into existence to facilitate this ambitious aspiration. Although the L&BR was, at first, suspicious of these new companies, the London & Birmingham directors eventually decided to co-operate, and by 1846 the major west coast companies had amalgamated to form the `London & North Western Railway' with the West Coast Main Line from Euston to Glasgow being one of the busiest railways in Britain, if not the world.
Stanley C. Jenkins, who was educated at Witney Grammar School, the University of Lancaster and the University of Leicester, has written over 20 books and some 750 articles on local, transport and regional history. Having worked as an English Language teacher at Oxford Air Training School for several years, he returned to Leicester University to retrain as a museum curator in 1986, and was subsequently employed by English Heritage as the Regional Curator for South Western England. He is Curatorial Advisor to the Witney & District Museum, and is also working as a curator for the Soldiers of Oxfordshire Trust, which is at present building a military museum at Woodstock. Martin Loader has been interested in railways since the late 1960s, but only starting taking photographs seriously with the acquisition of his first 'proper' camera in 1978.