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Great Western Railway: books - history and rolling stock

Books on the history of the Great Western Railway as well as the construction and development of the railway network in the west of England.

Great Western Railway - A History

'God's Wonderful Railway', the astonishing engineering feat of Isambard Kingdom Brunel's main line from Paddington to Penzance, with its stupendous bridge over the River Tamar, endless Box Tunnel and exhilarating stretch alongside the sea at Dawlish Warren, has always been beloved of anyone who likes trains.

Andrew Roden's comprehensive history of this remarkable railway company, whose well-engineered lines survive not only into the privatised era of First Great Western but also in numerous lovingly restored steam railways like the Dart Valley, tells the story of nothing less than the opening-up of the isolated south-west of England to the trade and tourism of the modern age.
It has left us with soaring termini like Paddington and Bristol Temple Meads as well as glorious railway institutions like the Night Riviera overnight sleeper to Cornwall that endure to this day (not least thanks to the author's own campaigning!).
While the GWR's green locomotives and chocolate and cream carriages may have given way to purple, anyone who wants to return to the golden age of the railways will find the company's history an enthralling journey.

Author:Andrew Roden
Specs:320 pages, 19.5 x 13 x 2.1 cm / 7.7 x 5.1 x 0.83 in, paperback
Illustrations:numerous b&w photographs
Publisher:Aurum Press Ltd (GB, 2012)
Book: Great Western Railway - A History

Great Western Railway - A History

Language: English

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In the Footsteps of I.K. Brunel

Isambard Kingdom Brunel is arguably the greatest engineer in British history and as one of the great Victorian engineers who laid the foundations of modern Britain his achievements are still widely celebrated.
This detailed guide covers the extraordinary legacy that Brunel has left for all to see. The triumph that is the Great Western Railway, the first tunnel under the Thames, the Clifton Suspension Bridge and the SS Great Britain will be familiar to many, but even his spectacular failures such as the gargantuan SS Great Eastern and the Atmospheric Railway in Devon have left traces in the landscape that can be still be discovered today.

Recent developments in the story of Brunel's legacy are included such as the recently discovered Bishop's Bridge at Paddington, the proposal to make the Great Western Railway a UNESCO World Heritage site and the government listing of structures all along the route.
This extensive guide not only provides contemporary and present day illustrations of Brunel's lasting legacies, but also an extensive gazetteer of places where his work can still be seen today.

Author:Jonathan Falconer, Tim Bryan
Specs:160 pages, 23.5 x 17.5 x 0.8 cm / 9.25 x 6.9 x 0.31 in, paperback
Illustrations:numerous b&w and colour photographs
Publisher:Ian Allan Publishing (GB, 2014)
Book: In the Footsteps of I.K. Brunel

In the Footsteps of I.K. Brunel

Language: English

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GWR - Portrait of an Industry

Incorporated by Act of Parliament in 1835 and completed just six years later, the Great Western Railway became one of the great icons of the Age of Steam, and perhaps the world's most famous railway company.
Spanning Southern England from the Thames to the Bristol Channel, the history of Brunel's greatest achievement, and the surprising offshoots of the company as an industry, are represented here for the first time in full colour from the Amberley Archive.

Specs:128 pages, 17 x 24.5 x 1.1 cm / 6.7 x 9.7 x 0.43 in, paperback
Illustrations:118 b&w and colour photographs
Publisher:Amberley Publishing (GB, 2014)
Book: GWR - Portrait of an Industry

GWR - Portrait of an Industry

Language: English

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The Great Western Railway - How it Grew

The Great Western Railway (GWR) was founded in 1833 and would connect London to the West. It was engineered by the famous Isambard Kingdom Brunel and was known to many as 'God's Wonderful Railway'.

Here is the story of how it grew. Ken Gibbs traces the GWR's history from the very beginning. He describes the canals that existed in the approximate area eventually covered by the Great Western Railway, and their fate as the railway developed.
He then examines the tramroads and plateways that existed in the area fed by the canals, the mining, quarrying, iron working, and commercial interests as the Industrial Revolution spread, accompanied by the Great Western Railway.
The final section looks at the only real opposition to the Great Western: the existing and new railway companies that became targets for takeover as the Great Western expanded its hold and its territory.

With Nationalisation in 1947, the GWR's independence ended. All the struggles with canals, plateways, tramroads and other railway companies were now confined to the history books and the memories of the reducing numbers who knew the Great Western Railway as it was at the height of the steam years.

Author:Ken Gibbs
Specs:160 pages, 25 x 17 cm / 9.8 x 6.7 in, paperback
Illustrations:86 photographs
Publisher:Amberley Publishing (GB, 2012)
Book: The Great Western Railway - How it Grew

The Great Western Railway - How it Grew

Language: English

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The Great Western Railway in the First World War

In August 1914 the GWR was plunged into war, the like of which this country had never experienced before. Over the years that followed life changed beyond measure, both for the men sent away to fight and the women who took on new roles at home.

Not since 1922 has the history of the GWR in the First World War been recorded in a single volume. Using modern data-bases and enjoying greater access to archives, Sandra Gittins has been able to produce a complete history which traces the GWR from the early, optimistic days through the subsequent difficult years of the Great War, including Government demands for war manufacture, increased traffic and the tragic loss of staff.
From GWR ships and ambulance trains to the employment of women, every part of the story is told, including the saddest of all, which is represented by a Roll of Honour.

Author:Sandra Gittins
Specs:256 pages, 25 x 17.5 x 1.7 cm / 9.8 x 6.9 x 0.67 in, paperback
Illustrations:illustrated
Publisher:The History Press Ltd (GB, 2010)
Book: The Great Western Railway in the First World War

The Great Western Railway in the First World War

Language: English

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The GWR Handbook : The Great Western Railway 1923-47

For many the GWR was synonymous with holidays by the sea in the West Country, but it was built to serve as a fast railway line to London, especially for the merchants and financiers of Bristol.
Its operations stretched as far as Merseyside, it provided most services in Wales, and it was the main line to Cardiff, Bristol, Cornwall and Birmingham.

This book, a classic first published in 2006, reveals the equipment, stations, network, shipping and air services, bus operations including Western National, and overall reach and history of the GWR.

Forming part of a series, along with The LMS Handbook, The LNER Handbook and The Southern Railway Handbook, this new edition provides an authoritative and highly detailed reference of information about the GWR.

Author:David Wragg
Specs:256 pages, 25 x 17 cm / 9.8 x 6.7 in, paperback
Illustrations:150 b&w photographs
Publisher:The History Press Ltd (GB, 2016)
Book: The GWR Handbook : The Great Western Railway 1923-47

The GWR Handbook : The Great Western Railway 1923-47

Language: English

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Wartime GWR

An unrivalled collection of photographs taken from the archive of the GWR at Swindon STEAM Museum, which graphically reveal how two world wars changed the way of life on the GWR and the lives of all its staff forever.
In a time of enormous social change women became the new workforce while the men were away at war, and railways were at the forefront of the war effort as they struggled to maintain the flow of people, goods and armaments.

This is an evocative and enthralling tribute to the GWR's wartime efforts and is compiled by two members of STEAM - Museum of the GWR who have unique access to a wealth of rare and unseen material.

Author:Elaine Arthurs, Felicity M. L. Ball
Specs:160 pages, 29 x 21 x 1.5 cm / 11.4 x 8.25 x 0.59 in, hardback
Illustrations:numerous b&w photographs
Publisher:Ian Allan Publishing (GB, 2014)

Railways Through the Vale of the White Horse

A commemorative history of the railways of the beautiful Oxfordshire district 'Vale of the White Horse', running twenty-seven miles from Steventon to Wootton Bassett. The book spans the history of the route from the opening in 1840 until 1965, when British Rail withdrew all the local passenger services between Didcot and Swindon and all the intermediate stations were closed.

Fully illustrated with hundreds of historical photographs and detailed track diagrams, "Railways Through the Vale of the White Horse" is an ideal resource for anyone with an interest in this scenic railway route and a nostalgia for the early days of railways in Britain.

With personal insight and images from railway historian Adrian Vaughan, the book covers:
- Great Western Railway's development of the route, as part of Brunel's 'Bristol Railway'
- Original correspondence between Brunel and his staff
- The building and progression of all the stations from Steventon to Wootton Bassett
- Station staff, passenger statistics and goods income reports
- The signal boxes, introduced in 1874, through to their abolition between 1965 and 1968.

Author:Adrian Vaughan
Specs:160 pages, 24.5 x 19 x 1 cm / 9.7 x 7.5 x 0.39 in, paperback
Illustrations:200 b&w photographs, 37 drawings
Publisher:The Crowood Press Ltd (GB, 2015)
Book: Railways Through the Vale of the White Horse

Railways Through the Vale of the White Horse

Language: English

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First Great Western : Gateway to the West

This is the story of First Great Western, the Train Operating Company whose performance rose from being the worst for a long distance operator in the UK to becoming one of the best in a few short years; whose passengers felt so disgruntled they even organized a fares strike.
The franchise grew out of the Great Western, set up upon privatisation in 1993, and the company as it currently stands was created after the merger of the First Great Western, Great Western Link and Wessex Trains franchises in 2006. But in 2008, the Department for Transport became so disillusioned it issued a Remedial Notice Plan (the first step to a holder losing its franchise) before a new management team kick started the company back into life.

In this book, the reader can find out how First Great Western became an award winning train operator after coming so close to losing the franchise. They can see photographs of the only Pullman Dining service in the UK on the Paddington - Penzance sleeper train.
We learn what goes on at one of its main Traction Maintenance Depots and how new life was breathed into rolling stock old enough to be considered railway heritage. The book also discusses how electrification of the Great Western Main Line will improve passenger services and cut journey times.
This is a book that will have plenty to interest modern railway enthusiasts, but will also have much to offer to readers with an interest in the running of a successful rail business in this era of privatisation.

Author:John Balmforth
Specs:96 pages, 23.5 x 16.5 x 0.8 cm / 9.25 x 6.5 x 0.31 in, paperback
Illustrations:120 colour photographs
Publisher:Fonthill Media (GB, 2014)
Book: First Great Western : Gateway to the West

First Great Western : Gateway to the West

Language: English

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Related titles:

The GWR Exposed - Swindon in the Days of Collett

The GWR Exposed - Swindon in the Days of Collett and Hawksworth

Jeremy Clements, Kevin Robertson

English | hardback | 192 p. | 2015

Swindon Works Through Time

Swindon Works Through Time

Andy Binks, Peter Timms

English | paperback | 96 p. | 2015

Swindon Works 1930-1960

Swindon Works 1930-1960

Peter Timms

English | paperback | 192 p. | 2014

Swindon Works: The Legend

Swindon Works : The Legend

Rosa Matheson

English | hardback | 192 p. | 2016

Swindon Steam : New Light on GWR Loco Development

Swindon Steam - A New Light on GWR Loco Development

L.A. Summers

English | paperback | 224 p. | 2013

The Steam Workshops of the Great Western Railway

The Steam Workshops of the Great Western Railway

Ken Gibbs

English | paperback | 208 p. | 2014

Carriage & Wagon Works of the GWR at Swindon Works

The Carriage & Wagon Works of the GWR at Swindon Works

Ken Gibbs

English | paperback | 208 p. | 2016

Great Western Revival: Western Locomotives

Great Western Revival - Western Locomotives in the Preservation Era

John Mayberry

English | paperback | 128 p. | 2015

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Last update:15-04-2024