Sunday, May 23, 2010

Great British Railway Journeys - a visit to Saltburn

Michael Portillo's great train journey into Britain's nooks and crannies - with a timetable from 1839 as his companion - comes to Saltburn this summer.

Victorian cartographer George Bradshaw created the world’s first book of railway timetables in 1839, making sense of the services offered by Britain’s 150 competing rail companies. His yellow bound guides were so common that to Victorians and Edwardians any timetable was known as ‘a Bradshaw’.

Micheal admitted:"I'd only heard of him from Sherlock Holmes. When Sherlock Holmes gets a new case which involves him travelling across the country, he says to Watson 'get the Bradshaw' - it was obviously absolutely essential to Victorians, for the timetables.
There were many different local railway companies and originally they would just put up their timetable at the local station. Bradshaw was the first person to compile the timetables. Before that, he'd mapped the railways, and before that, he'd mapped the canals.
What we're using is a subsequent development from all that, his handbook, a guidebook that's laid out in terms of routes. Bradshaw tells you where to go and where to stay but, unlike a modern guidebook, it's full of opinion. He celebrates engineering, he celebrates science, London, the greatest city that has EVER existed... And also opinions on some things that he thinks are fantastic: there will suddenly be two paragraphs on a hotel he stayed at and how wonderful the proprietress is!"

Following in Bradshaw's footsteps Michael Portillo is venturing on a journey from Tynemouth arriving in Saltburn this June. A preliminary visit has already been made and the BBC2 programme is due to be aired sometime next year.

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