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Bradshaw’s Guide

About Bradshaw’s Guide

Like the popular BBC television series Great British Railway Journeys, this site is inspired by the work of Victorian cartographer, printer and publisher George Bradshaw.

George Bradshaw

George Bradshaw (Richard Evans, 1841). Original: National Portrait Gallery, London

Born at Windsor Bridge, Pendleton, Lancashire, on the 29th of July 1801, upon leaving school he became apprenticed to an engraver named Beale in Manchester. In 1820 he set up his own engraving business in Belfast, returning to Manchester in 1822 to set up in that city as an engraver and printer – principally of maps.

His name was already known as the publisher of Bradshaw’s Maps of Inland Navigation, when in 1839, soon after the introduction of the railways, he published, at sixpence, Bradshaw’s Railway Time Tables, the title being changed in 1840 to Bradshaw’s Railway Companion, and the price raised to one shilling. A new volume was issued at occasional intervals, a supplementary monthly timesheet serving to keep the book up to date.

In December 1841, acting on a suggestion made by his London agent, Mr. W. J. Adams, Bradshaw reduced the price of his timetables to the original sixpence, and began to issue them monthly under the title Bradshaw’s Monthly Railway Guide. In June 1847 was issued the first number of Bradshaw’s Continental Railway Guide, giving the timetables of the Continental railways just as Bradshaw’s Monthly Railway Guide gave the time-tables of the railways of the United Kingdom.

Bradshaw’s guides brought order to an otherwise chaotic and rapidly expanding network, the result of Railway Mania. When, in 1865, Punch praised Bradshaw’s publications, it stated that seldom has the gigantic intellect of man been employed upon a work of greater utility.

Bradshaw was a well-known member of the Society of Friends, and gave considerable time to philanthropic work. While touring Norway in 1853 he contracted cholera and died on 6th September. He is interred in the cemetery adjoining the cathedral in Oslo.

About this site

Following the popularity of Michael Portillo’s television series, the 1863 edition of Bradshaw’s Descriptive Railway Hand-Book of Great Britain & Ireland was republished, and copies of this and other publications by Bradshaw are now available from Old House Books.

Still, as a tome of considerable size, Bradshaw’s insights into the places we pass everyday remain difficult to access when exploring Britain’s railways, or enduring the daily commute. The aim of this site is to make Bradshaw’s work readily accessible, available to read anytime and on any device. You can also follow George Bradshaw on Foursquare and Twitter. Two sections are currently available. The first covers London and South East England, the second South West England, Wales and Ireland. The two remaining sections will be added over the coming years alongside new features and improvements.

This site has been developed by Paul Robert Lloyd, a graphic designer and web developer based in Brighton, England. If you have any feedback regarding this site, you can contact him on Twitter.


Colophon

Based on Bradshaw’s Descriptive Railway Hand-Book of Great Britain & Ireland by George Bradshaw, published in Great Britain in 1866. Identified as being in the public domain, content is free of known copyright restrictions. Sourced from original texts digitised by the Hathi Trust. Typographical errors appearing in the original have been corrected, with the exception of instances where the common spelling of a Victorian word appears to differ from the modern-day equivalent. Examples include chimnies and Shakspeare.

Photochrom images taken from the Photochrom Print Collection, digitised by the Library of Congress (Prints and Photographs Division).

Home page features Rain, Steam and Speed – The Great Western Railway (J. M. W. Turner, 1844). Original: The National Gallery, London

Body text set in Scotch Text by Neil Summerour. Condensed headings set in League Gothic from The League of Moveable Type. Display and emboldened text set in Trocchi by Vernon Adams.

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