By George Bradshaw
(Old House, Hardcover, 9781908402028, 512pp.)
Publication Date: July 24, 2012
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Collector’s item, landmark in the history of the tour guide, snapshot of Britain in the 1860s – Bradshaw’s Handbook deserves a place on the bookshelf of any traveller, railway enthusiast, historian or anglophile. Produced as the British railway network was reaching its zenith, and as tourism by rail became a serious pastime, it was the first national tourist guide specifically organized around railway journeys, and to this day offers a glimpse through the carriage window at a Britain long past.
Bradshaw's Descriptive Railway Hand-Book of Great Britain and Ireland was published in four parts, describing the sights to be seen in towns and cities encountered along selected railway journeys in each region. Gathered together into a single book, it bore the short title Bradshaw's Handbook and after a few years, passed into obscurity, remaining extremely rare to this day. This is facsimile of that book, possibly the only surviving example of the 1863 edition.
The original Bradshaw's Handbook inspired the BBC2 television series Great British Railway Journeys, now preparing for a fourth season.
George Bradshaw became famous for producing the world's most successful and longest running combined railway timetable — a publication to be found in the library of every Victorian traveller. But in the middle of the 19th century, with the railway network reaching its peak, his company shifted focus to tourist guides, such as this one, designed for the rail traveller.