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SOMETIMES you come across a lofty railway viaduct, marooned in the middle of a remote country landscape. Or a crumbling platform from some once-bustling junction buried under the buddleia. If you are lucky you might be able to follow some rusting tracks, or explore an old tunnel leading to...well, who knows where? Listen hard. Is that the wind in the undergrowth? Or the spectre of a train from a golden era of the past panting up the embankment? These are the ghosts of The Trains Now Departed. They are the railway lines, and services that ran on them that have disappeared and gone forever. Our lost legacy includes lines prematurely axed, often with a gripping and colourful tale of their own, as well as marvels of locomotive engineering sent to the scrapyard, and grand termini felled by the wrecker's ball. Then there are the lost delights of train travel, such as haute cuisine in the dining car, the grand expresses with their evocative names, and continental boat trains to romantic far-off places. The Trains Now Departed tells the stories of some of the most fascinating lost trains of Britain, vividly evoking the glories of a bygone age. In his personal odyssey around Britain Michael Williams tells the tales of the pioneers who built the tracks, the yarns of the men and women who operated them and the colourful trains that ran on them. It is a journey into the soul of our railways, summoning up a magic which, although mired in time, is fortunately not lost for ever. THIS EDITION REVISED AND UPDATED TO INCLUDE MAPS.
In the seven decades since the darkest moments of the Second World War it seems every tenebrous corner of the conflict has been laid bare, prodded and examined from every perspective of military and social history. But there is a story that has hitherto been largely overlooked. It is a tale of quiet heroism, a story of ordinary people who fought, with enormous self-sacrifice, not with tanks and guns, but with elbow grease and determination. It is the story of the British railways and, above all, the extraordinary men and women who kept them running from 1939 to 1945. Churchill himself certainly did not underestimate their importance to the wartime story when, in 1943, he praised ‘the unwavering courage and constant resourcefulness of railwaymen of all ranks in contributing so largely towards the final victory.’ And what a story it is. The railway system during the Second World War was the lifeline of the nation, replacing vulnerable road transport and merchant shipping. The railways mobilised troops, transported munitions, evacuated children from cities and kept vital food supplies moving where other forms of transport failed. Railwaymen and women performed outstanding acts of heroism. Nearly 400 workers were killed at their posts and another 2,400 injured in the line of duty. Another 3,500 railwaymen and women died in action. The trains themselves played just as vital a role. The famous Flying Scotsman train delivered its passengers to safety after being pounded by German bombers and strafed with gunfire from the air. There were astonishing feats of engineering restoring tracks within hours and bridges and viaducts within days. Trains transported millions to and from work each day and sheltered them on underground platforms at night, a refuge from the bombs above. Without the railways, there would have been no Dunkirk evacuation and no D-Day. Michael Williams, author of the celebrated book On the Slow Train, has written an important and timely book using original research and over a hundred new personal interviews. This is their story.
Michael Williams has spent the past year travelling along the fascinating rail byways of Britain for this new collection of journeys. Here is the 'train to the end of the world' running for more than four splendid hours through lake, loch and moorland from Inverness to Wick, the most northerly town in Britain. He discovers a perfect country branch line in London's commuterland, and travels on one of the slowest services in the land along the shores of the lovely Dovey estuary to the far west of Wales. He takes the stopping train across the Pennines on a line with so few services that its glorious scenery is a secret known only to the regulars. Here, too, is the Bittern Line in Norfolk and the Tarka Line in North Devon as well as the little branch line to the fishing port of Looe in Cornwall, rescued from closure in the 1960s and now celebrating its 150th anniversary taking families on holiday to the seaside. From the most luxurious and historic - aboard the Orient Express - to the most futuristic - on the driverless trains of London's Docklands Light Railway - here is a unique travel companion celebrating the treasures of our railway heritage from one of Britain's most knowledgeable railway writers.
In the heroic days of rail travel, you could dine on kippers and champagne aboard the Brighton Belle; smoke a post-prandial cigar as the Golden Arrow closed in on Paris, or be shaved by the Flying Scotsman's on-board barber. Everyone from schoolboys to socialites knew of these glamorous 'named trains' and aspired to ride aboard them. In Belles and Whistles, Andrew Martin recreates these famous train journeys by travelling aboard their nearest modern day equivalents. Sometimes their names have survived, even if only as a footnote on a timetable leaflet, but what has usually - if not always - disappeared is the extravagance and luxury. As Martin explains how we got from there to here, evocations of the Golden Age contrast with the starker modern reality: from monogrammed cutlery to stirring sticks, from silence on trains to tannoy announcements, from compartments to airline seating. For those who wonder whatever happened to porters, dining cars, mellow lighting, timetables, luggage in advance, trunk murders, the answers are all here. Martin's five journeys add up to an idiosyncratic history of Britain's railways, combining humour, historical anecdote and reportage from the present and romantic evocations of the past.
This beautifully-packaged book will take the reader on the slow train to another era when travel meant more than hurrying from one place to the next, the journey meaning nothing but time lost in crowded carriages, condemned by broken timetables. On the Slow Train will reconnect with that long-missed need to lift our heads from the daily grind and reflect that there are still places in Britain where we can stop and stare. It will tap into many things: a love of railways, a love of history, a love of nostalgia. This book will be a paean to another age before milk churns, porters and cats on seats were replaced by security announcements and Burger King. These 12 spectacular journeys will help free us from what Baudelaire denounced as 'the horrible burden of time.' Updated for the paperback.
Why do people love trains so much? Tom Chesshyre is on a mission to find the answer by experiencing the world through train travel—on both epic and everyday rail routes, aboard every type of ride, from steam locomotives to bullet trains, meeting a cast of memorable characters who share a passion for train travel. Join him on the rails and off the beaten track as he embarks on an exhilarating whistle-stop tour around the globe, from Sri Lanka to Iran via Crewe, Inverness, the Australian outback, and beyond.
Whether you’re on the Orient Express or the Inverness to Wick and Thurso route traversing some of the wildest country in Britain, train travel affords a vision of the world like no other. From the modest line through North Yorkshire’s Esk Valley to the Trans-Siberian; from a narrow-gauge web of lines in the Harz Mountains to the coast-tocoast journey through the mountains of Corsica, acclaimed travel writer Anthony Lambert presents an unmissable selection for any traveller who loves the journey as much as the destination. Here is a carefully chosen, wide-ranging selection of train journeys with character, sublime scenery and a real sense of history.

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