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Commuters: The History of a British Way of Life (Paperback)

P&S History > British History P&S History > Social History Transport > Buses Transport > London Transport Transport > Trains & Railways Transport > Trams

By Simon Webb
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 150
Illustrations: 20
ISBN: 9781473862906
Published: 1st August 2016
Last Released: 20th May 2021




Chosen as the October Book Of The Month for Best of British magazine!

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Before the Industrial Revolution, everyone lived within short walking distance of their workplace. However, all of this has now changed and many people commute large distances to work, often taking around one hour in each direction. We are now used to being stuck in traffic, crammed onto a train, rushing for connecting trains and searching for parking spaces close to the station or our workplace.

Commuters explores both the history and present practice of commuting; examining how it has shaped our cities and given rise to buses, underground trains and suburban railways. Drawing upon both primary sources and modern research, Commuters tells the story of a way of life followed by millions of British workers. With sections on topics such as fictional commuters and the psychology of commuting; this is a book for everybody who has ever had to face that gruelling struggle to get to the office in time.

Of particular interest to transport professionals are the confirmation both that a great deal of travel behaviour is shaped by social stereotypes (which clearly change over time and are not therefore ingrained) and that much of the ‘innovation’ phase of new transport technologies has in the past been highly wasteful in terms of both money and resources (a luxury that modern metropolitan authorities simply cannot afford). Overall a pleasant compendium and an amusing companion.

Paul Stanton, Freelance

Simon Webb's Commuters traces the history of a very British way of travelling to work each day. Concise and informative, it explains how public transport created new suburbs.

This England, Spring 2017


This volume makes a well-timed appearance just as the annual news story emerges of the price increases that rail travellers will have to pay from the beginning of 2017. For the commuter this is never good news.

Simon Webb looks into the very origins of the commuter which, he explains, go further back than we might imagine. Methods of transport and entire communities have developed to cater for the commuter.

The commuter that we might recognise now evolved from the Britain forged during the Industrial Revolution travelling to the point where they became a familiar figure parodied in cartoons and comedy sketches.

Webb argues that this stock image of a commuter - the dapper, be-suited, bowler hat and tie-wearing gent carrying a rolled-up umbrella and copy of the evening newspaper - is fast becoming a thing of the past.

Best of British, October 2016
 Simon Webb

About Simon Webb

Simon Webb is the author of a number of non-fiction books, ranging from academic works on education to popular history. He works as a consultant on the subject of capital punishment to television companies and filmmakers and also writes for various magazines and newspapers; including the Times Educational SupplementThe Daily Telegraph and The Guardian.

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