The first of two volumes, "Wildfire through Staffordshire" presents the very best from Osborne, Wild and Roscoe, who each published their own early "Railway Traveller's Guides" shortly after the opening of the country's first ground-breaking trunk line, the Grand Junction railway, on the 4th of July 1837. This publication is lavishly and uniquely supplemented with commissioned poems by Ian Henery as well as many antique views, vistas and rare maps from the period, and covers the first half of the journey from Birmingham to Liverpool or Manchester. The second volume continues as the Wildfire crosses the border of Staffordshire into Cheshire. The guides, published back in 1838, became must-haves for those who could take advantage of the ability to travel by rail over long distances. When the Grand Junction line opened, with the Wildfire engine making the inaugural run, the distance between Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool could be covered in a matter of hours rather than days, as before it opened when long distance travel was only then available to the privileged few.
Railway travellers were keen to find out more about the land, the people and places that they could gaze out at from the safety of their railway carriage, and as some took advantage of the opportunity to explore recommended destinations along the route, the age of tourism arrived. Readers boarding the Wildfire at Curzon Street on the edges of the booming manufacturing town of Birmingham in 1838, the year of Queen Victoria's coronation, and join our contemporary commentators on a thought-provoking journey. Travelling out of Warwickshire along the tranquil, picturesque Tame valley, the route crosses the border into Staffordshire, and continues through the scarred and barren wastelands of the mining and manufacturing districts. Yet the journey also discovers many splendid gentlemen's seats of residence and stately houses along the way, allowing us to marvel at the ever-changing scenery as our journey unfolds across windswept Cannock Chase, up into northern Staffordshire and its districts famed for pottery.
Along the way our commentators delve into the lives of the people who dwell in the many manufacturing and agricultural towns along the route, their lives changed forever by the rolling tide of industrialization rapidly sweeping the land. This is truly a living, spoken local history at the dawn of the Victorian age. The lines that made up the Grand Junction Railway now form the backbone of the West Coast Main Line. The first from the Railway Time Traveller's Guide series, this book provides the reader with an opportunity to retrace the journey made in 1838, sadly though not by steam. Wildfire through Staffordshire is not only a must-have for railway enthusiasts and local historians, but appeals to anybody interested in Britain's history and heritage. After completing the journey through Staffordshire aboard the Wildfire back in 1838, readers can re-visit the many places described in that early journey, as some now make up the famous modern day visitor attractions in Staffordshire. These are listed with visitor information in the last section although, sadly, many have disappeared in the mists of time.