It started in 1917 as a horse-drawn carrier and grew to become one of the UK’s most respected family-owned independent bus companies. Along the way, Reliance Motor Services touched the lives of several generations in small villages across the Berkshire Downs. This short video supports the history of the company written by David Wilder and Barrie Hedges and published in April 2020 by Pen & Sword.
The years leading up to the end of steam on BR in 1968 were a time for many railway enthusiasts to pull out all the stops in a last-ditch attempt to record on camera the ever dwindling stock of steam locos still working on our railways. I was amongst those, lucky in that the north west of England was their final stronghold. My home in Bolton was close to the busy Manchester to Preston line, the route of what became the last ‘named train’ to be steam hauled, ‘The Belfast Boat Express’ to Heysham Harbour. From Preston, travelling the West Coast Main Line between Wigan North Western and Lancaster Castle stations became a regular week-end activity, venturing over Shap to Carlisle when opportunity arose. Most of these journeys were steam hauled, usually by a ‘Black 5’ or one of the last ‘Pacifics’, the Britannias, while shutters were kept clicking as grimy 8Fs and 9Fs hauled their freight through smoke filled stations.
WE HAVE A CHAT WITH THE AUTHOR, ANDREW BARTLETT…
…or at least we would have done had it not been for the fact that we’re in lockdown in Yorkshire, while Andrew’s in a similar situation 100 miles away in Leicestershire. So we thought who better to interview Andrew about his new book…than Andrew himself!
A Privileged Journey
Over the past three or four years I’ve given talks to many railway clubs and groups and am often asked to share my experiences as a railway enthusiast boy and young man, which seems to resonate with so many of us brought up in the nineteen-forties and fifties. For then most small boys were trainspotters – and no-one seemed to worry that were allowed to roam round Britain’s railway stations with a duffle-bag filled with a notebook and pencil, an Ian Allan ABC spotters’ book, a few sandwiches, a fruit pie and a bottle of Tizer. I just had to visit my cousin, a district nurse, to get the smuts from my eyes after a day round the London termini.
To mark the publication of my new book – a history of Croydon (London) Tramlink – this is the first in an occasional series taking a look at Britain’s urban light railways, and begins with a visit to Birmingham and a trip on its fast-expanding West Midlands Metro.
The system that was originally known as Midland Metro opened almost exactly a year before Tramlink, on 30 May 1999, and there are a number of parallels in the history of the two systems, both making extensive use of former railway alignments and both suffering from financial difficulties in their early years.
The arrival of the Corona Virus in Britain has led to an unusual reaction to the countries railway system, especially the London Underground. What was once seen as the safest form of transport is now one that the Government is advising us to avoid if at all possible due to the danger that crowded carriages present to the public.
It is hard for the majority of rail users to ever imagine that the railway system was anything other than safe. This is far from being the case. Travelling on the early railway system was so dangerous that it was possible to buy insurance with your ticket. The early trains may have been slow but the drive to increase speed often led to less attention to safety.
Who doesn’t love a good sale? There’s nothing better than getting your perfect book at a fab price, right?! Right now over the Pen and Sword site we have a huge pre Christmas sale going on. Here’s our pick of some of the best Transport offers….