Tell the Truth Shouldn't you know if you're going to book a room in an illegal Israeli settlement? East Jerusalem is occupied territory.
Readers may wonder, with good reason, why BRJ is reviewing a book published ten years ago. If they pause to think about it, the answer will become clear; it is a book that very few of them will have heard of, let alone examined in a bookshop.
Yet it is a book of the greatest importance, forming the first volume of the most ambitious project in railway history to be undertaken in our lifetime. This is a tall claim to make but it is based on impeccable evidence. Jack Simmons, Professor of History at the University of Leicester from tois one of the handful of professional historians to have an interest in railways another was C.
Mowat, who wrote a fine history of the Golden Valley Railway in addition to the standard textbook Britain between the Wars for which he is probably better remembered. Professor Simmons's interests extend beyond the confines of economic and business history to the social and technological aspects of the subject.
His writings on railways, commencing with a short monograph, The Maryport and Carlisle Railway Oakwoodhave always commanded great respect among both his professional colleagues and the enthusiast fraternity, his best known book to date being The Railways of Britain, An Historical Introductionoriginally published in and recently reissued in revised form reviewed in BRJ No.
The Railway in England and Wales represents the culmination of his life's work; a general history of railways paying due attention to the various factors involved in their development and their effects on the nation. The first volume provides something that has hitherto been one of the lacunae of British railway literature.
Working from primary and published sources, Professor Simmons provides perceptive commentary on the parliamentary background, the financing and construction of railways, developments in civil and mechanical engineering and looks at the opposing forces of competition and monopoly.
The coverage is balanced with questions of management and safety receiving as much attention as motive power. The book is unashamedly academic in tone, with statements being supported by footnotes and an absence of illustrations.
Do not allow yourself to be frightened off by this; the book is beautifully written, Professor Simmons's style being infinitely more readable than that of many writers on railways.
The footnotes, too, besides their intended purpose, are a fascinating quarry of sometimes obscure material for those who wish to extend their reading. In short, this is the one indispensable background work on railways prior to The publishing history of the book, however, has been little short of disastrous.
When it was published inlike most books produced for the academic market, it was not widely available in bookshops and, in addition, no attempt was made to promote it in the enthusiast sector. From here, the story becomes more complicated. The theme of these volumes was the impact of the railway; firstly, on individual communities and districts; secondly, on the thought and imagination of the English and Welsh peoples 'expressed in literature and the drama, the visual arts, music, folklore, recreation', together with its effects on architecture and the landscape and, lastly, on the life of the country as a whole, on politics, trade and industry, employment and an appraisal of the railway's place in Victorian society.
Since this important project was announced, Leicester University Press have found themselves unable to continue with its publication and Volume One virtually disappeared from view.
It has already received much praise from reviewers, Alan A. Jackson providing on e of the best short notices in Railway World for September I do not therefore intend to deal with it in great detail other than to outline the nature of its subject.
Two thoughts were uppermost in the minds of those who promoted railways; the desire to make money and the wish to secure better transport for goods and people between one place and another.
In other words, railways were there to do something. Most railway enthusiasts seem only to be concerned with what railways were, with what we might call the hardware, the engines, rolling stock, stations and so on rather than what the railway actually did, in terms of provision of services to its customers and profits to its shareholders.
It is what railways did that interests Professor Simmons. What effect did railways have on the places they served? How much traffic did they create? Questions such as these are posed in respect of a variety of places; cities, large and small towns, resorts, ports and rural areas.
Professor Simmons's target is the simplistic statement along the lines of 'The railway came to Little Snoring and enabled the population to grow from 1, to 5, in forty years'. Such a statement, on its own, is largely meaningless. We need to know how much and by what means the railway contributed to this growth.
Such assessments form the theme of this stimulating book, which clraws our attention to the tremendous diversity of local experience and the difficulty of making generalisations or devising rules.
Some very interesting suggestions for further research are made and the book should above all help us to see railways in an appropriate context, as perhaps the most important single agent of change in the nineteenth century, as opposed to something set up to provide nostalgic entertainment for the railway enthusiast of today.
The above was written by John Marshall: The railway in England and Wales, was clearly intended to be an academic work and this may be put some readers off, but this would be a grave mistake as academic does not imply the work was written from some rarified perspective.
It simply implies that all sources are carefully cited, and that Simmons is cautious about making statements, unless they can be verified. If there is doubt, then such doubt is stated. Simmons is no exception: It had been a rickety concern from the start, and the competition it embarked on with the South Eastern was ruinous.
But the company rushed on its fate by recklessly over-issuing debentures, in a manner that left even hardened observers gasping. In financial terms it never made more than a feeble recovery from the disaster of An Introduction to the Effects of Friendship in Today's Society PAGES 2.
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