The Railways That Built Britain with Chris Tarrant
Chris Tarrant examines how trains transformed the nation and shaped modern Britain.
Part 1: Boom, Bust and Blood
In the first episode, Chris begins in the cab of Puffing Billy, the world’s oldest-surviving steam locomotive, which was built in 1813 and designed to move coal along a five-mile stretch of track from a Northumberland mine to the docks. Chris also tells the story of Henry Booth, who not only championed George Stephenson’s famous Rocket, but also helped finance it, and talks about the work of the navvies who dug the tunnels and laid the tracks.
Part 2: How the Railways Won the War
Chris examines the role of the railways during the two global conflicts of the 20th century, keeping vital supply lines open and transporting troops to and from the front. In the First World War, railway works were converted into munitions factories
Part 3: Steam is Dead, Long Live the Railways
Chris examines the devastating impact of the Beeching report, which led to half the country’s stations and almost a third of the lines being closed. He also looks at how the railways were reinvented for the modern age, and how a sleek new locomotive not only saved the railway network, but reshaped the country.