Luxury Railway Travel (Hardback)
A Social and Business History
Guest blog post: The Inquisitive Archivist
A guest post written by author Martyn Pring for the Mary Evans Picture Library blog, The Inquisitive Archivist: Travelling in Style.
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.
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.NetGalley, G Heard
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.
I'm fascinated by trains and this was an excellent and well researched history book.NetGalley, Anna Maria Giacomasso
i found it engrossing and informative, a very good read.
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 starsNetGalley, Samantha Edelman
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.