Having made my excursions through the summer by bus, tube, car, coach, plane and train, I had to come to the obvious conclusion that nothing is more British than the railway. Strikes, motorways, and aeroplanes notwithstanding, it seemed the indispensable means of access to the countryside. The railways put Victorian industrial Britain together, connecting the provinces to London, coal to iron, docks to hinterlands, town to country, home to work. The railwaymen were a central caste, part of the fundamental productive fabric along with the miners, the steelworkers and the dockers. The steam engine was the heroic vehicle of industrial advance, attracting the imagination of children, the loyalty of the railway servants, and the eccentricity of train spotters and model builders. Clergymen, commuters, schoolboys, and holiday makers found in it another element of common culture to add to the weather, gardening, cricket, and football as shared preoccupations in which they were all amateur and expert.
KeywordsSteam Engine Occupational Commitment Railway Servant Central Caste Stainless Steel Canister
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