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Each month the ICE Library team brings you a look at a recent addition to its collection. This time we’re delighted to have one of our Fellows reviewing a new book about the early main line railways.
Title: Early main line Railways
Author: Peter Cross-Rudkin
This book records 19 papers presented at the Early Railways Conference held in June 2014, which was sponsored by: ICE; the National Railway Museum, York; the Railway & Canal Historical Society; Beamish, the North of England Open Museum; and Newcomen, the International Society for the History of Engineering and Technology.
It is an eclectic mix of papers covering aspects of early railway history (defined in this context as from around 1830 to circa 1870). The papers cover economic, social and cultural progress, business practices (some dubious!), and developments in structural, architectural and traction practices relevant to railways.
All of the papers are interesting to the both the railway engineer and enthusiast of early railway history, but are best approached by selecting papers according to personal interest and taste. The range is worldwide with South and North America, Austria, Egypt and India as well as the UK included. Some give thought provoking views on the colonial approach to railway building as well as the efficiencies or otherwise of allowing capitalist principles to drive route selection and subsequent construction. The paper on electric traction experiments was a welcome distraction from the harder social, economic and fixed infrastructure papers, and this reviewer particularly liked the fact that a working electric model railway was produced before its full size contemporary!
The volume is well illustrated with the many photographs, maps and line diagrams which were used in the conference together with some additional material.
This book is available from the ICE Library so get in touch if you want to borrow it.