A new and comprehensive history of one of our best-loved railway companies. ‘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 new 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.
ANDREW RODEN is a railway journalist and campaigner now based in Cornwall. He has worked on a range of railway magazines over the past decade from Rail to Hornby Magazine and the prestigious International Railway Journal as Contributing Editor. In 2005 he led the campaign to save the ‘Night Riviera’ sleeper train to Cornwall from closure. He is author of the highly successful books Flying Scotsman, A History of the Great Western Railway and The Duchesses, all published by Aurum Press.