DESPITE being one of the best-known and admired rail companies in the country, by 1947 the GWR was at the lowest ebb of its entire history. Worn out by war, there had been no maintenance for six years and the government couldn’t supply the steel it needed for repair. The latter half of the 1940s presented a multitude of challenges to overcome, some due to the recent war and others individual to the GWR: the staff coped with rationing, a desperately cold winter and a blazing hot summer, and dealt with floods, collisions, broken rails and failing locomotives. The incredible strength of character and can-do attitude of GWR workers kept the railway running through it all. This history, taken from GWR papers and illustrated from them throughout, reveals the details of every day, as well as the problems and difficulties the staff faced. Above all, it shows how well they overcame their problems with only muscle power and a steam crane to help – and, of course, no health and safety regulations and arguments to slow them down. Adrian Vaughan’s unique history of this famous rail company shows just how special the GWR was right through to the end of its very last year.
The nineteenth century was a time of innovation and expansion across the industrial landscape, and nowhere more so than on the railways, as the new age of iron, steel and steam, literally, gathered pace. At the head of the race up was the iconic Great Western Railway. As this mighty corporation grew, it absorbed an astonishing 353 railway companies. Many of them had their own workshops, depots and manufacturing, often assembling locomotives to the designs of other companies. All these, along with the various designs, became the responsibility of the GWR on takeover, and followed its standardisation of components where this was possible. These works became the beating heart of the GWR’s vast empire, where majestic engines were built and maintained by some of the most skillful and inventive engineers of the day. Retired GWR railwayman Ken Gibbs presents a comprehensive portrait of the works from Brunel to the final days of steam in the mid-twentieth century, and beyond to the rediscovery and renovation of many of the workshops for their unique heritage.
DIV God’s Wonderful Railway”, it was called if you were a fan; the “great Way Round” if you took a rather more jaundiced view of some of its circuitous branch lines. But 175 years after its foundation, the Great Western Railway company is remembered with the most nostalgia, even love, of all Britain’s pre-nationalisation railway companies. It built, and ran, the great main line from London to the West Country and Cornwall (today’s First Great Western franchise). It was engineered by the greatest of them all, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, who built such wonders as the Box Tunnel and the Saltash bridge. Its steam locomotives were designed by great men like Churchward and Hawkesworth. But also it had wonderful stations like the soaring Paddington and Bristol Temple Meads, as well as innumerable idyllic country halts with little more than a pagoda shelter and a couple of milk churns awaiting collection. Its engines were painted a deep green, its carriages chocolate and cream. Its Cornish Riviera Express train, and the line alongside the beach at Dawlish sprayed by the waves, became the stuff of legend. Now Andy Roden has written the first comprehensive history of the GWR for 20 years, to tie in with its 175th anniversary. It will appeal to everyone who bought his Flying Scotsman or Christian Wolmar’s railway histories. /div
The Great Western Beach is Emma Smith's wonderfully atmospheric memoir of a 1920s childhood in Newquay, Cornwall. She recalls the rocks, the sea, the beaches, the picnics, the teas and pasties, the bracing walks, the tennis tournaments and bathing parties, the curious residents and fascinating holiday-makers - relishing every glorious, salty detail. But above all this is a portrait of a family from the astonishingly clear-eyed perspective of a nine-year-old girl: her furious, frustrated father, perpetually on his way to becoming a world famous artist but suffering the indignity of being a lowly bank clerk; her beautiful, unperceptive mother, made for better things perhaps but at least, with three fiancés killed in the Great War, married with children at last; the twins, fearless, defiant Pam and sickly, bewildered Jim, for whom life is always an uphill climb, and baby Harvey, brought on the same winds of change that mean that life, with all its complication and wonder, cannot stay still and the Cornish playground of Emma's childhood will one day be lost forever.
Release on 2014-11-05 | by Stanley C Jenkins,Martin Loader
Plymouth to Penzance
Author: Stanley C Jenkins,Martin Loader
Pubpsher: Amberley Publishing Limited
The Cornwall Railway was authorised on 3 August 1846 with the aim of constructing a broad gauge rail link between Plymouth, Truro and Falmouth. After many vicissitudes, the railway was ceremonially opened between Plymouth and Truro on 2 May 1859. Meanwhile, further to the west, an entirely separate undertaking known as the West Cornwall Railway had been sanctioned with powers for the construction of a standard gauge railway between Truro and Penzance, which would incorporate parts of the earlier Hayle Railway. The WCR was completed in 1852, although there was no connection with the Cornwall Railway until 1859. Despite the 'break-of-gauge' at Truro, these two railways formed part of a through route between Paddington and Penzance and, as such, they were subsequently absorbed into the GWR system as part of the present-day West of England main line.