By the latter part of the nineteenth century most towns along the Scottish Borders had acquired a rail service. Falling passenger numbers led to line closures beginning in the 1930s and continuing until today. This nostalgic collection of photographs illustrates many of the area's lost stations, along with historic rolling stock.
During the course of the 1950s England lost confidence in its rulers and convinced itself it must modernise. The bankrupt, steam-powered railway, run by a Colonel Blimp, symbolised everything that was wrong with the country; the future lay in motorways and high-speed electric - or even atomic - express trains. But plans for a gleaming new railway system ended in failure and on the roads traffic ground to a halt. Along came Dr Beeching, forensically analysing the railways' problems and expertly delivering his diagnosis: a third of the nation's railways must go. Local services were destroyed, rural England sacrificed for tarmac and wheel - at least that is how Dr Beeching is remembered today. Last Trains examines why and how the railway system contracted, exposing the political failures that bankrupted the railways and scrutinising the attempts of officials to understand a transport revolution beyond their control. It is a story of the increasing alienation of bureaucrats from the public they thought they were serving, but also of a nation struggling to come to terms with modernity.
Release on 2019-06-28 | by John McGregor,ROBIN. MCGREGOR HOWIE (JOHN.)
Track Beds Rediscovered
Author: John McGregor,ROBIN. MCGREGOR HOWIE (JOHN.)
Scotland still has hundreds of miles of 'dismantled railways', the term used by Ordnance Survey, and the track beds give scope for many walks. Some track beds have been 'saved' as Tarmacadam walkway/cycleway routes while others have become well-trodden local walks. The remainder range from good, to overgrown, to well-nigh impassable in walking quality. This book provides a handy guide to trackbed walks with detailed information and maps. It is enhanced by numerous black and white old railway photographs, recalling those past days, and by coloured photographs that reflect the post-Beeching changes. The integral hand-crafted maps identify the old railway lines and the sites of stations, most of which are now unrecognisable. The 'Railway Age' is summarised and describes the change from 18th century wagon ways and horse traction to the arrival of steam locomotives c.1830. The fierce rivalry that then ensued between the many competing companies as railway development proceeded at a faster pace is recounted. Although walkers may be unaware of the tangled history of the development of the railway system during the Victorian era, many will have heard of, or experienced, the drastic 1960s cuts of the Beeching axe. However, in more recent times Scotland has experienced a railway revival - principally in the Greater Glasgow area but with new stations and station re-openings elsewhere. The long awaited 30-mile Borders Railway from Edinburgh to Tweedbank, the longest domestic railway to be built in Britain for more than a century, is something on a very different scale. Early passenger numbers have exceeded expectations and towns served by the line have seen significant economic benefits. Many railway enthusiasts cling to the hope that more lines will be reinstated. Meanwhile, those walks offer a fascinating and varied selection of routes that can fill an afternoon, a day or a long weekend - an ideal opportunity to get walking!
The phenomenon that is our 'Lost Railways' series extends far south of the border with this addition. Like the Scottish titles, this volume contains detailed and interesting accounts of the lines which were closed during and since the Beeching Era, accompanied by 52 rare photographs dating from 1900 to the 1960s, many of which are previously unpublished. The photos show the long lost stations and their trains which were once the lifeline of communities. Featured are rare and nostalgic railway images of Padstow, Helston, Bodmin, Bude, Perranporth, Praze, Nancegollan, Fowey, Otterham, Camelford and Callington, among many others.
Release on 2013-10-01 | by Jack Richards,Adrian Searle
The Shocking True Story Behind Britain's Worst Rail Disaster
Author: Jack Richards,Adrian Searle
It was the railway's Titanic. A horrific crash involving five trains in which 230 died and 246 were injured, it remains the worst disaster in the long history of Britain's rail network.The location was the isolated signal box at Quintinshill, on the Anglo-Scottish border near Gretna; the date, 22 May 1915. Amongst the dead and injured were women and children but most of the casualties were Scottish soldiers on their way to fight in the Gallipoli campaign. Territorials setting off for war on a distant battlefield were to die, not in battle, but on home soil victims, it was said, of serious incompetence and a shoddy regard for procedure in the signal box, resulting in two signalmen being sent to prison. Startling new evidence reveals that the failures which led to the disaster were far more complex and wide-reaching than signalling negligence. Using previously undisclosed documents, the authors have been able to access official records from the time and have uncovered ahighly shocking and controversial truth behind what actually happened at Quintinshill and the extraordinary attempts to hide the truth.As featured in Dumfries & Galloway Life magazine, January 2014.
North is the point we look for on a map to orient ourselves. It is also the direction taken throughout history by the adventurous, the curious, the solitary, and the foolhardy. Based in the North himself, Peter Davidson, in The Idea of North, explores the very concept of "north" through its many manifestations in painting, legend, and literature. Tracing a northbound route from rural England—whose mild climate keeps it from being truly northern—to the wind-shorn highlands of Scotland, then through Scandinavia and into the desolate, icebound Arctic Circle, Davidson takes the reader on a journey from the heart of society to its most far-flung outposts. But we never fully leave civilization behind; rather, it is our companion on his alluring ramble through the north in art and story. Davidson presents a north that is haunted by Moomintrolls and the ghosts of long-lost Arctic explorers but at the same time, somehow, home to the fragile beauty of a Baltic midsummer evening. He sets the Icelandic Sagas, Nabokov's snowy fictional kingdom of Zembla, and Hans Christian Andersen's cryptic, forbidding Snow Queen alongside the works of such artists as Eric Ravilious, Ian Hamilton Finlay, and Andy Goldsworthy, demonstrating how each illuminates a different facet of humanity's relationship to the earth's most dangerous and austere terrain. Through the lens of Davidson's easy erudition and astonishing range of reference, we come to see that the north is more a goal than a place, receding always before us, just over the horizon, past the last town, off the edge of the map. True north may be unreachable, but The Idea of North brings intrepid readers closer than ever before.
Over half a century ago, a leading commentator suggested that Scotland was very unusual in being a country which was, in some sense at least, a nation but in no sense a state. He asked whether something 'so anomalous' could continue to exist in the modern world. The Scottish Question considers how Scotland has retained its sense of self, and how the country has changed against a backdrop of fundamental changes in society, economy, and the role of the state over the course of the union. The Scottish Question has been a shifting mix of linked issues and concerns including national identity; Scotland's constitutional status and structures of government; Scotland's distinctive party politics; and everyday public policy. In this volume, James Mitchell explores how these issues have interacted against a backdrop of these changes. He concludes that while the independence referendum may prove an important event, there can be no definitive answer to the Scottish Question. The Scottish Question offers a fresh interpretation of what has made Scotland distinctive and how this changed over time, drawing on an array of primary and secondary sources. It challenges a number of myths, including how radical Scottish politics has been, and suggests that an oppositional political culture was one of the most distinguishing features of Scottish politics in the twentieth century. A Scottish lobby, consisting of public and private bodies, became adept in making the case for more resources from the Treasury without facing up to some of Scotland's most deep-rooted problems.