Gillian Tindall

Track Changes

The Railways: Nation, Network and People

By Simon Bradley

Profile Books 645pp £25 order from our bookshop

Almost forty years ago, when steam trains had precipitately vanished, along with a third of Britain’s entire railway network, stations and shunting yards, I wrote an article for a Sunday magazine called ‘The Down-Train to Childhood’. It centred on a Sussex branch line, by then axed, that I had known in the early 1950s. I had put ha’pennies on the rails to get them squashed into pennies, watched milk churns expertly hauled in and out of the open guard vans of slowly moving trains, and scared myself enjoyably by standing close to the track when a squat, black tank engine came puffing down. (I’m sure it scared the drivers too. They used to hoot at me, which I took for a cheery greeting.) Back then, they were commonplace experiences. Now they are unimaginably remote.

Sara Stewart


Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • John Knox said that crowning a woman was akin to putting ‘a saddle upon the back of an unruly cow’. Tell that to Catherine de'Medici...,
    • RT : I 💕💕 the Pulpit article in September's about rereading books at different times of life.,
    • Interesting thread by Aki there on inclusivity in publishing. (Read her tweets for full thread.),
    • RT : A conference about inclusivity in publishing is a fantastic idea, but doesn't £200 seem a short-sighted undermining of, well, inclusivity?,
    • Calling all friends of bulbous salutations & the elfin grot: lots of entries to have already come in, but my door’s still open...,
    • 'Why the hell don’t they have more fun with their money?' Patrick Leigh Fermor skewers the super-rich ,