Boat Trains – The English Channel and Ocean Liner Specials (Hardback)
History, Development and Operation
Guest blog posts by Martyn Pring
- Mary Evans Picture Library blog, Continental Travel: Luggage in Tow
- STEAM – Museum of the Great Western Railway: Object Of The Month
- National Railway Museum blog, Travel history writer Martyn delves into the history of luggage on the railways
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In many ways this title featuring the evolution of cross-channel boat trains and the many dedicated services responsible for moving international passengers to and from trans-Atlantic steamers, is an extension of luxury railway travel. But that’s not the full story as it encapsulates more than 125 years of independent and organised tourism development. At the end of the nineteenth century, faster and more stable twin-screw vessels replaced cross-channel paddlers resulting in a significant expansion in the numbers of day excursionists and short-stay visitors heading to Belgium, France and the Channel Islands. Continental Europe, as it had done since the end of the Napoleonic Wars beckoned, introducing ideas of modern-day mass tourism.
Numerous liners bestriding the globe were British domiciled. Major ports became hives of commercial activity involving moving freight and mail, as well as transporting all manner of travellers. Not only was there intense competition for passenger traffic between the Old and New World and Britain’s imperial interests, greater numbers of well-heeled tourists headed off to warmer winter climes, and also experimented with the novel idea of using ocean steamers as hotels to visit an array of diverse destinations. Cruise tourism and the itinerary had arrived as ‘Ocean Special’ boat trains became essential components of railway and port procedures.
Whilst some railway operations were dedicated to emigrant traffic, continental and ocean liner boat trains were also synonymous with the most glamorous travel services ever choreographed by shipping lines and railway companies working closely in tandem. This well illustrated book explores the many functions of boat train travel.
This book is much more than a book about trains, as it will appeal to ship enthusiasts, lovers of vintage travel posters, and anyone who is interested in travel in general. There surely cannot be a more comprehensive story of boat trains in a single book. A book full of fascinating information, exceedingly well produced, and great value for money. Highly recommended.Rail Advent
Read the review here
Published in autumn 2020, this covers the rise of traffic to the ports on the south of England and northern France and the changes that were needed to port infrastructure to accommodate a new market. Chapter 5 describes the rise an ultimate reduction of the classic French channel trains including the Blue Train to the south, the Cȏte d’Azur and to Italy. Chapter 6 interestingly covers all the efforts of the pre-grouping companies to capture traffic to and from the US which required the rapid development of high quality rolling stock to provide travellers with conditions of travel which were becoming expected by high-end passengers. Comprehensive notes, references, select bibliography, and an index complete this highly detailed book.Swanage Railway Magazine – Winter 2023, Issue 129
This book should appeal to the rail fan, the ship enthusiast, the connoisseur of travel posters and those interested in the business of transportation. I know of nowhere else one can find so much information on boat train operation in one book. The book is well worth a read by anyone interested in the interconnectivity of different means of public transportation.Charles H. Bogart, Steamship Historical Society of America
A smart review of one of the great key commercial events in our history.Miniaturas JM
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Featured in theJournal of the Kent & East Sussex Railway - Tenterden Terrier, Summer 2021
This is a hefty book, worthy of it's glamorous material which is supported by multiple illustrations of the fashionable trains and their stylish passengers.Journal of the Railway & Canal Historical Society
The value of Martyn Pring’s books is that, while they are about trains, they tell us so much more, about social history, politics, economics and the great contribution made by the railway in the development of international travel. I shall look forward to the next one.Rail Professional, June 2021 reviewed by Paul Atterbury
Click here to view the full review (page 79)
Listed in the magazine's ‘bookshelf’ featureDevon Life, June/July 2021
Read the full article hereThe Daily Telegraph, 10th April 2021
Featured inThe Society of Model and Experimental Engineers Journal, April 2021
This is a well researched and referenced book. It's one of the best presented I've seen, with well chosen historic illustrations.Welsh Railways Research Circle - Spring 2021 newsletter
This is an outstanding book backed up with some excellent photographs. I would very highly recommend it to our readers.Shipping – Today & Yesterday, March 2021
This book is well illustrated throughout using archive photographs and period poster reproductions.Platform 5
The book is thoroughly researched, commendably well indexed and referenced, and illustrated with a wealth of photos and posters to provide a fascinating picture of a world of travel that has all but passed into history.French Railways Society
I enjoyed the book and have no hesitation in recommending it.
Book Of The MonthShips Monthly, March 2021
Book Of The MonthSea Breezes, January 2021
Welcome to the first STEAM blog of 2021! We are kicking off this year’s Object of the Month series with a special guest blog from marketing and tourism researcher, Martyn Pring - click here to readSTEAM – Museum of the Great Western Railway
Another interesting volume with a tremendous amount of research having been undertaken by Martyn Pring as evidenced from the Bibliography and Newspapers/periodicals noted.6024 Preservation Society
A well produced heavyweight volume, majoring in a previously neglected area of transport history.
Like its companion volume, Boat Trains is crammed with fascinating detail as well as a most impressive array of full-colour illustrations reproducing posters and historic photographs of trains, docks and stations. These will most certainly appeal to enthusiasts and to some general readers.Professor Hugh Clout, University College London
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