150 Years of Railway Carriages (Railway History in Pictures)
Whatever the fascination of locomotives, railway passengers are usually more interested in the coaches in which they travel, for on longer journeys of a few hours the standard of comfort inside the coach and the facilities provided play an important part in determining whether passengers will use the train in future or change to alternative transport. Today, quiet, easy riding air-conditioned High Speed Trains whirl passengers along at 125mph on many routes in an environment in total contrast even with secondary and relief trains formed of coaches built no more than 15 years or so ago which, though decidedly noisier, often draughty and harder riding, are still vastly more comfortable then the first railway carriages of a century and a half ago. Then what today we would call an open coach because of its spacious saloon style interior, was literally what it was called — bereft of roof, with holes in the floor to let out rainwater, and used for carrying luckless third-class passengers. Even in closed coaches for the upper classes there was no heat, no toilets and no refreshments. They all came later.
The development of railway carriages combines social history, and its Victorian class apartheid, with the progressive art of the carriage builder. Nevertheless, however comfortable today's latest steel, plastic and glass fibre coaches might be they cannot compare with the elegance, graciousness and style of some Edwardian carriages with beautiful timber panelling inside and out, and high quality furnishings.
Geoffrey Kichenside has assembled over 120 photographs of railway carriages past, recent, and present to illustrate the gradual progression from the stage coach era to the airline style of the Advanced Passenger Train.
Hardback, 96 pages, over 120 black & white photographs
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