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Rails in the Road: A History of Tramways in Britain and Ireland (ePub)

P&S History > British History Transport > Trams World History > UK & Ireland > Ireland

By Oliver Green
Imprint: Pen & Sword Transport
File Size: 32.9 MB (.epub)
Pages: 269
Illustrations: 200
ISBN: 9781473869400
Published: 11th July 2016


£12.00 Print price £30.00

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RCHS Book Awards 2017

Winner of the Railway & Canal Historical Societies 'Popular Transport Book of the Year' award AND the overall 'Transport History Book of the Year'!



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There have been passenger tramways in Britain for 150 years, but it is a rollercoaster story of rise, decline and a steady return. Trams have come and gone, been loved and hated, popular and derided, considered both wildly futuristic and hopelessly outdated by politicians, planners and the public alike. Horse trams, introduced from the USA in the 1860s, were the first cheap form of public transport on city streets. Electric systems were developed in nearly every urban area from the 1890s and revolutionised town travel in the Edwardian era.

A century ago, trams were at their peak, used by everyone all over the country and a mark of civic pride in towns and cities from Dover to Dublin. But by the 1930s they were in decline and giving way to cheaper and more flexible buses and trolleybuses. By the 1950s all the major systems were being replaced. London’s last tram ran in 1952 and ten years later Glasgow, the city most firmly linked with trams, closed its network down. Only Blackpool, famous for its decorated cars, kept a public service running and trams seemed destined only for scrapyards and museums.

A gradual renaissance took place from the 1980s, with growing interest in what are now described as light rail systems in Europe and North America. In the UK and Ireland modern trams were on the streets of Manchester from 1992, followed successively by Sheffield, Croydon, the West Midlands, Nottingham, Dublin and Edinburgh (2014). Trams are now set to be a familiar and significant feature of twenty-first century urban life, with more development on the way.

This copiously illustrate general history draws on a vast collection of old postcards, posters and other pictures.
Highly readable and an attractive book.

Society of Model & Experimental Engineers

Oliver Green has produced a readable and attractive general history of British tramways, covering origins, rapid development and decline, He also writes about preservation and the complex history of modern British tramways, even including the non-street Docklands. Unlike other authors he gives full attention to Irish tramways, remarkably innovative in their way.

This is not really a book for model makers as there is little technical detail. It is full of wonderful old pictures, however, making this a highly nostalgic work showing trams in their street context. It's little wonder that trams remain one of the best loved forms of transport.

Model Engineer, March 2017 – reviewed by Roger Blackhouse

The scope of this book is wide, including rural tramways such as the Wisbech & Upwell railways, the Tyne & Wear Metro and the Docklands Light Railway.

One great virtue of this book is the variety and quality of its copious illustrations, including advertisements, cigarette cards, cartoons and paintings.
This is an excellent single volume overview of the history of British tramways, with a good balance of text and illustrations, attractively presented - truly a quality production.

Railway and Canal Historical Society

By any standards, this is a blockbuster of a book, and one which will command an essential place for anyone with an interest in tramways. The standard of its presentation and illustration demonstrate the revolution that has taken place in book publishing in recent years.

The book tells a classic story and will become a valuable account of it, and a splendid investment.

Roads & Road Transport History Association

As feature in

Light Rail Transit Association

A brilliant book. Very detailed

Tramway Men

Impressively comprehensive; well-illustrated, with images from a variety of archives and collections; and an excellent read. It is highly recommended.

Friends of the National Railway Museum

As featured in.

Evergreen Winter 2016

Profusely and beautifully illustrated, informed and informative, exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Rails in the Road: A History of Tramways in Britain and Ireland" by Oliver Green (former Head Curator of the London Transport Museum and who has become its first Research Fellow) draws upon his years of experience, research and expertise and has created a unique and unreservedly recommended transportation history for community and academic library collections.

Midwest Book Review

'In Oliver Green, the tramways have found an able chronicler of their colourful history – and that of the working museums devoted to re-creating their golden days. His book is well illustrated in colour and black and white, drawing on a range of fascinating and on-going story. '

London Business Matters

About Oliver Green

Oliver Green is former Head Curator of the London Transport Museum and has become its first Research Fellow. He has lectured widely and authored a range of publications on aspects of transport and design, ranging from the history of the London Underground to British Airways posters. His most recent book is Frank Pick’s London: Art, Design and the Modern City, published by the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and now acts as a consultant and mentor to a number of transport museums.

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