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Luxury Railway Travel (Hardback)

A Social and Business History

British History Transport Victorian Era 20th Century Trains and Railways 19th Century

By Martyn Pring
Imprint: Pen & Sword Transport
Pages: 366
Illustrations: 87 colour and 49 black & white
ISBN: 9781526713247
Published: 30th October 2019

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British luxury rail travel was not just the domain of the Pullman Company. In fact, they were far from the only providers as railway companies in Britain were extremely active from late Victorian times competing for leisure business. Various railway operators were at the forefront of deluxe rail travel services across pre-grouping, Big Four and BR eras when first-class travel was increasingly adapted for the needs of the business community. Recently Britain’s railway heritage has been responsible for kick-starting a modern tourist spectacle as specialist operators run luxury day excursion, sleeping-car and fine-dining trains.

Martyn Pring has carried out considerable research tracing the evolution of British luxury train travel weaving railway, social and travel history threads around a number of Britain’s mainline routes traditionally associated with glamorous trains. Drawing on contemporary coverage, he chronicles the luxury products and services shaped by railway companies and hospitality businesses for Britain’s burgeoning upper and middle-classes and wealthy overseas visitors, particularly Americans, who demanded more civilised and comfortable rail travel.

By Edwardian times, a pleasure-palace industry emerged as entrepreneurs, hotel proprietors, local authorities and railway companies all collaborated developing upscale destinations, building civic amenities, creating sightseeing and leisure pursuits and in place-making initiatives to attract prosperous patrons. Luxury named trains delivered sophisticated and fashionable settings encouraging a golden age of civilised business and leisure travel. Harkening back to the inter-war years, modern luxury train operators now redefine and capture the allure and excitement of dining and train travel experiences.

An interesting study on a topic that continues to burn in our day.

Read the full Spanish review here

Miniaturas JM

This survey of the luxury train deserves a place in the library. This remains a distinctive book.

Friends of the National Railway Museum

Descriptive and informative, Pring explores the meaning of luxury and how it’s uniquely viewed and transformed by different generations. What was considered luxurious during the Victorian era is vastly different now. Luxury Railway Travel reads like an extravagant time travel through Britain’s opulence era where train travel was just as stylish and fanciful as the elite class themselves. From the coaches to the food on board, Luxury Railway Travel also looks at how rail travel shifted over a century and was reshaped by advanced technology, recessions, tourism and a flourishing middle class.

For those who love to follow a journey visually, there are plenty of photographs, old newspaper clippings and advertisement posters throughout. With over 350 pages, the book is rather long, but quite engaging, especially for history and travel enthusiasts like myself.

Read the full review here

Manhattan with a Twist

Reviewed by

TLS, Conrad Landin

Luxury Railway Travel is an elegant, beautifully illustrated and highly informative book, written by an enthusiast for fellow railway enthusiasts. They and many other readers will certainly enjoy it.

Read the full review here

Cercles

This book is about social, economic and business history and as such offers a new way of exploring the story of luxury train travel, while leaving plenty for the dedicated railway historian and enthusiast.

Rail Professional, February 2020 - reviewed by by Paul Atterbury

Backed up by iconic posters, this is a terrific account of a bygone era.

Devon Life, March 2020 - reviewed by Annette Shaw

A book full of fascinating facts regarding the rise, fall and, hopefully, rise again of luxury railway travel.

Read the full review here

For the Love of Books

Book on the history of luxury travel on the main routes of the British railways, from the beginning of the mid-19th century to the present-day era. Both the Pullman company and many other companies, especially in the Victorian era. Includes a section on luxury trains in the rest of the world including Renfe.

There are few books that deal with the issue of luxury trains, let alone treat it with this quality. A book that every fan of the history of the railway should have in his library. Essential to know the world of luxury trains, a topic not widely explored in railway literature.

Read the full Spanish review here

Unes Cuantos Trenes Blog, Jorge del Valle

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Luxury Train travel fascinates me this book was perfect for me.Traveling in the uk on these wonderful trains captures my imagination takes me on an exotic vacation in my mind,Really enjoyed this book.

NetGalley, Abby Siverman

Martyn's extraordinarily beautiful book is more than a collection of classic railway posters - it describes a way of life that's now lost in the mists of the twentieth century. When the Queen travels to Sandringham in Norfolk she travels by train, the same train that I used to get from Stevenage to Kings Lynn on my nightly commute home when I first moved to North Norfolk. I dare say her carriage is fitted out slightly differently to the one in which I used to sit, but the fact is that luxury railway travel in the way described in Martyn's book is no longer available, at least not in the UK. There is a lot of focus on Scotland, and some of the adverts inevitably pander to the "upper" classes with illustrations focusing on the "12th", with excursions from Kings Cross to all parts of Scotland. Martyn looks at the changing face of luxury, and it is fascinating to see the glorious artwork from the early years of the twentieth century. Things changed in the 1950s - I guess it was a time of austerity, but the posters from British Rail were matter-of-fact, harsh even, compared to the brilliant illustrations from previous decades, when no expense was spared in commissioning the top artists. As a piece of social history, this book is faultless, and a precious reminder of luxury and class distinction. It was John Major who famously said that there were no longer any social classes. There are, and the divide now is bigger than ever, bigger even than that described by Martyn in this fabulous book. Exceptional.

Books Monthly

Review article: 'Nothing can beat the romance of luxury train travel between the wars' as featured by

Spectator (online & print) – reviewed by Christian Wolmar

This book will definitely please the train enthusiast but also the general reader as there are many photographs, newspaper articles and those exceptionally important advertising posters. If anything I love the advertising posters, so unique and brilliant of their age. I’ve always enjoyed train travel but not living close to a railway service, travelling by train was always a rarity but always a special. To me it was always the speed, whether stood on a lonely platform stuck in the middle of nowhere and the train thunders past or to me just being able to travel so far. Like this book, the book is about luxury travel and reading this excellent book really does make you want to travel on some of the luxury lines around the world.



The opulence and the journey of the classes through rail travel show how the railway really did become a form of luxuriousness and something you could aspire to and experience. Reading the book and looking at the various advertisements for destinations and rail travel sends you back as the reader back to that era when rail was the king, especially when it came to holiday travel. This is a very classy book with clearly a lot of effort from the author, Martyn Pring with regards to writing, research and pictures. It is a first-class book and most definitely an excellent present for a railway enthusiast.

Read the full review here

UK Historian

A look at luxury train travel mostly focusing on the UK from the 1860s to today.A few mentions of other train lines in the world. But most of the focus is on luxury travel across the UK. I reccommend for those who have an interest in rail history and English history.

NetGalley, Shelly Myers

For those of us who have a rather romanticised perhaps even fantasised view of railways, luxury rail travel is a notion that appears very near the heart of it. Therefore such a book which even though it devotes its later pages to the present day redefinition is a homage to the golden days of the late Victorian and Edwardian era which witnessed such luxury travel as an integral part of a normal timetable instead of being the preserve as like today of specialist tour operators.

Firstly the book defines what is meant by luxury then shows how with the assistance of the patronage of royalty and the development of tourism to previously little trod parts of the UK the competing private companies were ever eager to outdo each other by promoting and providing luxury and opulence. This coincided with a rapid change in the social structure caused by industrialisation and a new flourishing middle and upper middle class.

This book I'm sure will not only please the train buff but also the general reader as there are many photographs, newspaper articles and those all important advertising posters (an art form in itself) that bring an added resonance to the text. Coach development, food and associated features like the great Gothic station hotels are all covered and by the end of the book the reader I'm sure will be seeking the relevant tour operators to experience if only for a day what such a feeling of traveling on a railway in luxury is actually like.

Amazon UK Review

As featured on Visit Cornwall

Visit Cornwall

Luxury Railway Travel is a fantastic and interesting book. It is well written and really descriptive.

NetGalley, Heather Bennett

I am a rail enthusiast with a passion for history, so this book hit the mark perfectly for me. The author, Martyn Pring, did a masterful job covering the history of luxury rail travel in the United Kingdom from the 1860s to today. I like that he included information about the food served, as well as the magnificent station hotels. The book is well-researched, engrossing, and very thorough. The photographs, newspaper articles, and advertising posters that illustrate it make the book even more appealing... I found this a very enjoyable read.

NetGalley, Kathy DiDomizio

For those of us who have a rather romanticised perhaps even fantasised view of railways, luxury rail travel is a notion that appears very near the heart of it. Therefore such a book which even though it devotes its later pages to the present day redefinition is a homage to the golden days of the late Victorian and Edwardian era which witnessed such luxury travel as an integral part of a normal timetable instead of being the preserve as like today of specialist tour operators.

Firstly the book defines what is meant by luxury then shows how with the assistance of the patronage of royalty and the development of tourism to previously little trod parts of the UK the competing private companies were ever eager to outdo each other by promoting and providing luxury and opulence. This coincided with a rapid change in the social structure caused by industrialisation and a new flourishing middle and upper middle class.

This book I'm sure will not only please the train buff but also the general reader as there are many photographs, newspaper articles and those all important advertising posters (an art form in itself) that bring an added resonance to the text. Coach development, food and associated features like the great Gothic station hotels are all covered and by the end of the book the reader I'm sure will be seeking the relevant tour operators to experience if only for a day what such a feeling of traveling on a railway in luxury is actually like.

NetGalley, G Heard

I'm fascinated by trains and this was an excellent and well researched history book.
i found it engrossing and informative, a very good read.
Recommended!

NetGalley, Anna Maria Giacomasso

For people I know who like their trains history, this would go down very well. They get all the ins and outs of different services, and extended appendices covering even more detail. So this is a clear and solid everyday purchase for those spotters thus inclined, and by no means a one-off luxury... this is very well put together. Four and a half stars.

NetGalley, John Lloyd

A look at train trail - a focus in the UK from the 1860s to today. Some mentions of other rails in the world. But is a look at luxury travel across the UK. Good for those who have an interest in rail history and English history.

NetGalley, Alexandra Roth

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Intriguing and well written.

Long fascinated by the glamour and luxury of early railway travel, I was excited to see a book fully dedicated to the subject. Pring is clearly a fellow enthusiast, and that love for the subject matter comes through in the text, making for an infinitely readable piece of nonfiction.

Pring does an admirable job of presenting his information in a thorough and complete manner that befits narrative nonfiction: Dense and informative but never dry.

This book focuses solely on British railway travel, and I’d love to see Pring take on the same topic for either continental Europe or America in this future.

NetGalley, Samantha Edelman

About Martyn Pring

Martyn Pring has a background in marketing, tourism and academia. He is currently an author and independent researcher with interests in culinary tourism, destination marketing, luxury branded sectors, travel histories as well as travel writing, A self-confessed railway, maritime and aviation enthusiast from a young age, he wrote the successful story of Luxury Railway Travel: A Social and Business History. Martyn lives and works in Dorset.

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