British Railway History: An Outline from the Accession of William IV to the Nationalization of Railways, 1877-1947

British Railway History: An Outline from the Accession of William IV to the Nationalization of Railways, 1877-1947

British Railway History: An Outline from the Accession of William IV to the Nationalization of Railways, 1877-1947

British Railway History: An Outline from the Accession of William IV to the Nationalization of Railways, 1877-1947

Excerpt

In the seventy years of our continued survey, the British railway industry passed out of its proving years, through its triumphant years, through its proud years, into the years of its re-examination--'improving years' perhaps, certainly chastening years for those who believed that any achievement was lasting.

Most of what your author wrote in the preface to his first volume, a revised impression of which has since appeared, applies equally to this, and there is scarce need to repeat it. A future commentator might remark that in the two hundred years extending, say, from 1760 to 1960, the British nation built up its position as the leading world power on Privilege, Capital and Coal, and lost it, with an extensive empire, maybe the most wisely ruled since that of the Antonines, on Democracy, Bureaucracy and Oil. The implied point of view is unlikely to be either fashionable or popular, but a detached observer might draw an analogy. Corn and Circuses? Voters and Motors? Quaint!

Now when the first volume of this historical impression appeared, your author emphasized that it was just that; that it was not a reference book. In its particulars it was intended to furnish but a general chronology to the main subject, which was history at large. So it is with this complimentary volume, which has been under the eye of Charles E. Lee, that most distinguished historian. Broad history is the present aim. For minute history, which, like contemporary observation, is a vital root of all history and which, where transport is concerned, is in the hands of my learned friend and men like him, you must go to the dedicated work that is theirs. As to technical history, locomotive engineering has had its great recorders--Ahrons, Dendy Marshall, and more recently, Poultney, to name but three. But as to signals and telegraphs, the bookshelf has a more empty look; it is less easy for the scribe to choose his crib. In this respect the present general account would be sadly wanting but for the continual and unselfish help of Thomas Spooner Lascelles, whom one can safely . . .

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