Books

Top 5 books on railways, featuring Terry Pratchett and a handbook from 1866

The author of Railways: A History In Drawings chooses his top 5 books on railways.

The author of Railways: A History In Drawings Christopher Valkoinen chooses his top 5 books on railways.

1 Fire & Steam by Christian Wolmar

An excellent place to begin a deep dive into the history of British railways that spans their birth to privatisation in the 1990s.

2 Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett

The penultimate book in the Discworld series relives the excitement of Britain’s railway revolution in the setting of Pratchett’s wonderful fantasy world.

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3 The Big British Railway Puzzle Book by the National Railway Museum

If you like to while away your time with a few puzzles, then this is the railway book for you. Fun puzzles alongside a great introduction to Britain’s railway history.

4 Bradshaw’s Guide: The 1866 Handbook Reprinted by George Bradshaw

Bradshaw’s Guide was indispensable for any Victorian traveller. This reprint of a 155-year-old tourist guide (complete with the original adverts) is a fascinating snapshot of every part of Britain and Ireland that could be reached by train in 1866.

5 The Didcot, Newbury and Southampton Railway by Paul Karau, Mike Parsons, Kevin Robertson

I chose this because it is all about the railways where I grew up. My copy was gifted by my mum to her father in 1981 because he caught the train to school every day on this now-closed railway. No matter where you live, there is a railway book somewhere that delves into your own history. Search it out!

Railways: A History In Drawings by Christopher Valkoinen is out now (Thames & Hudson, £50)

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