Canals and Railways in the Industrial Revolution Tour | Tours for Seniors in Britain
A small group tour of Wales, Scotland & England that traces the history of the journey that is the Industrial revolution. Knowledgeable local guides and your tour leader share their history with you on this escorted tour including Glasgow, London, New Lanark & Manchester, Liverpool and the Lake district.
- 1. Visit Shrewsbury, Chester, Durham, the Lake District, and London.
- 2. See the architectural wonders of 18th and 19th century bridges, viaducts, and aqueducts.
- 3. Enjoy several short scenic rail journeys in Wales, England, and Scotland.
- 4. Enjoy scenic canal cruises in the Llangollen Canal in Wales, the Lancaster Canal,
|04 October 2022 |
Ends 26 October 2022 • 23 days
|03 April 2023 |
Ends 25 April 2023 • 23 days
|03 October 2023 |
Ends 25 October 2023 • 23 days
|08 April 2024 |
Ends 30 April 2024 • 23 days
|30 September 2024 |
Ends 22 October 2024 • 23 days
An Industrial Revolution Tour for Seniors | Exploring Britain's history through its canals and railways
This small group tour uncovers British history through the canals and railways of the Industrial Revolution. Learn how the Industrial Revolution after the Industrious revolution brought significant and lasting change to Britain. Discover how engineers overcame geographical obstacles using viaducts, bridges, aqueducts, tunnels, and locks. Witness first hand the groundbreaking technology and the many impressive structures that transformed Britain's economy, some now restored for recreational purposes. However, our tour program is not only a study of the physical impact such a fundamental change made to world history. Led by local guides selected for their expertise, we also provide the opportunity to examine and discuss the resulting social upheaval.
Packed to the brim with history, culture, and striking scenery, Great Britain and Ireland have a lot to offer the traveller. Our small group tour of the British isles are perfect for the mature or senior traveller who wants to explore the history of Britain and Ireland as part of an intimate guided tour with an expert local guide. The Industrial revolution tour, you can explore the must-see sights, while nonetheless offering experiences that venture off the beaten path on Odyssey Travellers collection of small group British tours.
The Industrial Revolution in Britain
The Industrial Revolution was the result of a number of developments that laid the foundation for economies of scale in manufacturing by lowering unit cost and maximising labour. In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, British manufacturers developed a number of new technologies, including the ‘spinning jenny’ and the power loom, which permitted increased production with a smaller amount of labour. From modest beginnings in the textile factory, these innovations would transform British industry, and eventually, the world.
Vital to this process was an improvement in communications. Canals linked major river to major river, while new technologies – the introduction of rolling mills and the high pressure steam engine – allowed for the creation of railway networks across the country.
The Industrial Revolution also transformed British society. Urbanisation was rapid, as millions left the country for new employment in the city. While some became wealthy out of all this innovation, for many it meant grim employment in atrocious working conditions.
While today's post-industrial economy seems like a far distant memory from the workshops and factories of 18th century England, the spirit of innovation established during the Industrial Revolution still shapes the way we think about our world. Today, information technology is called the 'fourth industrial revolution', while business students continue to learn economic principles established by observers of the Industrial Revolution such as Adam Smith.
Industrial Revolution Tour Highlights & Itinerary
Britain's industrial history is tangible today in its built heritage. Our tour focuses on one aspect of this heritage: railways and canals. To trace these, we travel by road from England's midlands through to Wales, followed by the west coast to Scotland, and then return down the east coast to London.
Beyond canals and railways, we also take the time to visit other fascinating historic sites. These additional locations include the Menai Suspension Bridge, a walking tour of York, and the National Waterways Museum, where visitors enjoy hands-on activities to learn about the operation of canals. Other activities include field trips to Shrewsbury, Chester, the beautiful Lake District, and London itself.
Our tour takes in several UNESCO world heritage and national historic sites, including a factory tour of the Derwent Valley Mills, Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal in Wales, and the Ironbridge Gorge bridge in Shropshire, with the nearby Jackfield Tile Museum and Blists Hill historic site.
For those interested in gaining a better understanding of how the Industrial Revolution transformed Britain, and continues to shape the country today, this is a travel experience like no other. Be prepared for a dazzling, memorable trip as you take in the quaint villages and diverse scenery that Britain has to offer. To send you best prepared, we have a recommended reading list about the Industrial Revolution.
For further details about this tour, click the ‘Top 5’ or ‘Itinerary’ buttons above! If you’re keen to experience this tour, please call or send an email. Or, to book, simply fill in the form on the right hand side of this page.
Day 1: Manchester
Accommodation: 1 night at Novotel Manchester or similar.
Upon arrival in Manchester, we will come to our hotel individually. Our tour will commence with a welcome dinner.
Day 2: Shrewsbury
Accommodation: 3 nights at Prince Rupert Hotel or similar
Our first visit will be to Marples, which is a town on the edge of Greater Manchester. The Manchester region was the centre of great developments during the Industrial Revolution. The region was abundant in energy from coal for the spinning, weaving, and dying processes of the cotton fabric producing mills in the area. The expanding network of canals, and later railways, allowed for the movement of materials, products, and manpower to and from the factories. We will see the Grand Aqueduct, which carries the Peak Forest Canal over the River Goyt, and the impressive flight of 16 Marple Locks.
Later in the day we will visit Northwich as we cross the Cheshire Plains. Nearby at Winsfield, underground salt has been recovered since Roman times. An expansion of the industry in the mid 19th century relied on canal transport. To accommodate this, the recently restored Anderton Boat Lift was devised and built at Northwich in 1875, so enabling barges from the River Weaver Navigation to transfer their loads of salt to the Trent Mersey Canal. After visiting this boat lift, we will travel to Shrewsbury.
Day 3: Shrewsbury
Accommodation: Prince Rupert Hotel or similar.
We will travel to the Shrewsbury region, which is located on a loop of the Severn River just a few kilometres from the Welsh border in Salop (Shropshire). It is a beautiful, historic market town with many black and white, half-timbered houses and is the birthplace of Charles Darwin. Just to the east of Shrewsbury is a new town, Telford, named after Thomas Telford (1757-1834), who took a leading role as an architect and engineer with the development of British canals and in the building of many significant roads and fine bridges throughout the country. We will see several of Telford’s engineering masterpieces during the tour.
We will see a number of structures associated with the Severn River, including a beautiful, graded, seven arch bridge at Atcham village just south of Shrewbury. This bridge, which spans the Severn River, was constructed circa 1770 by OJohn Gwynne. We will also see the first cast iron bridge, which was constructed at Iron Bridge township across a gorge of the River Severn. The bridge was planned by Robert Pritchard and opened in 1781. Such a project, made possible through the development of the blast furnace, was just the start of a plethora of constructions to take advantage of the new advances in iron foundry.
Day 4: Shrewsbury
Accommodation: Prince Rupert Hotel or similar.
Travel today will take us to Market Drayton and on to the Derwent Valley Mills, a World Heritage Site which contains a fascinating series of historic mill complexes, including some of the world’s first modern factories.
Day 5: Llangollen
Accommodation: 3 nights at Gales of Llangollen or similar.
Today we will travel through Ellesmere, which is a pretty market town close to the Welsh border, adjacent to the Mere (one of several shallow lakes that formed in depressions after the last ice age) and on a spur of the Llagollen Canal. Telford lived here during the building of the Llangollen (Ellesmere) Canal between 1793 and 1805. We will also explore Chirk Castle in the Wrexham District of North Wales. Built in 1295, Chirk Castle was built in 1295 as one of many similar structures along the Welsh Marches (Border) to defend England. The castle, which is now owned by the National Trust, features superb views to the east, an award winning garden with lots of topiary, and an interesting interior. We will stop for 3 nights at Llangollen.
Day 6: Llangollen
Accommodation: Gales of Llangollen or similar.
Our journey today will take us across Wales via Snowdonia onto the Island of Anglesey. This will allow us to see the Menai Bridge, which is another Telford construction, that enables crossing the Menai Straits between the mainland and Anglesey and makes travel to and from the Irish ferry at Holyhead possible. The monumental wrought iron and stone suspension bridge was an engineering triumph completed just before Telford’s 70th birthday.
We will ride on the railway from Blaenau Ffestiniog to Porthmadog. Blaenau Ffestiniog was the industrial centre for the largest slate mine in the world, boasting 80 kilometres of underground railway on 26 levels. The journey to Porthmadog is described by an avid British train-travel writer as “terrific” and “glorious.” Another writer describes it as “a spectacular railway with stunning views.” Before our return trip to Llangollen, we will stop to enjoy the view around Mount Snowdon (1,085 metres), the highest mountain in Wales.
Day 7: Llangollen
Accommodation: Gales of Llangollen or similar.
Today we will see the Llangollen Canal, which is another engineering feat of Telford’s, who worked with William Jessop to construct the canal. In 2009 an upper section of the Llangollen Canal was inscribed on the World Heritage list.
We will see Shropshire Union Canal Horseshoe Falls, which is a weir built in 1806 used to divert water from the upper reaches of the Dee River into the canal stream. This creates a flow in the canal and water is carried from here via Ellesmere to the canal terminus just north of Nantwich, where it joins the south-north Birmingham Liverpool Junction Canal.
We will see the impressive “canal in the air” at Pont Cysyllte Aqueduct. Here Telford bridged the Dee valley with huge stone arches upon which he assembled an iron aqueduct trough and a towpath. We will travel along the canal in a longboat.
Day 8: Liverpool
Accommodation: 2 nights at Holiday Inn Centre or similar.
During our travel north to Liverpool across the Cheshire Plains, we will stop at the ancient city of Chester, located on the north side of the River Dee and the Shropshire Union Canal. The city was once a major Roman Fort, and the amphitheatre and much of the city wall stem from this time. Chester’s galleried streets, the Rows, date from the Middle Ages and we will have some time to explore these.
We will spend much of the afternoon at the Ellesmere Port, which is located at the junction of the Shropshire Union Canal and the Manchester Ship Canal on the south bank of the Mersey River. We will also visit the National Waterways Museum. If available during our visit, we will take a short cruise on the Centaur on the Shropshire Union Canal. The Shropshire Union Canal was Telford’s last major work and ran from Wolverhampton (Birmingham) to Port Ellesmere, with many spur canals along its way, completing a major south-north link for the canal system.
Day 9: Liverpool
Accommodation: Holiday Inn Centre or similar.
We will travel from Birkenhead to Liverpool, where we may see some activity on the Mersey River. We will also see Liverpool city highlights and historic spots related to railways. We will travel inland to Manchester and see Salford, the major dock of the Manchester Ship Canal. The Manchester Ship Canal runs parallel to the Mersey River and made Manchester a most significant port, inland from seaside Liverpool. Salford was a major junction for canals, particularly those associated with cotton and silk spinning and weaving in local mills during the 18th and 19th centuries. We will also visit the Museum of Science and Industry before returning to Birkenhead.
Day 10: Windermere
Accommodation: 2 nights at Merewood Country House hotel or similar.
Today we will travel from Birkenhead to Windermere in the Lake District for a 2 night stop. We enjoy a cruise on the Lancaster Canal across the Lune Aqueduct. Lancaster Canal was built along the contour, essentially eliminating the need for locks. The canal was engineered by John Rennie to carry coal, lime, slate and timber, and passengers between Kendall and Preston. A more recent spur canal, the Ribble Link, was constructed in 2002 near Preston connecting Lancaster Canal to the greater part of the canal system.
We will go inland to see the impressive 24 arched Ribble viaduct, which was built in the North Yorkshire Dales across the Ribble valley to carry the Settle to the Carlisle railway line. We will learn about its sad history as well as the story behind its threatened destruction and its rescue in 1960. The viaduct site in the Yorkshire Dales happens to be close to Askrigg, or “Darrowby” as it was portrayed in the television series “All Creatures Great and Small.” If time permits we may visit this small town. Later in the afternoon we will travel westward via Kendal to Windermere
Day 11: Windermere
Accommodation: Merewood Country House hotel or similar
Windermere became a holiday destination once the railway arrived in 1847. The West Coast Main line links the Lancaster and Carlisle Railways. Many of the local landforms that make this northwestern part of England naturally attractive were fashioned through past glacial activity which gouged out and blocked valleys, so forming lakes. We will see several lakes and Keswick, then go up to Castlerigg Stone Circle, an impressive 4,000 year old monument. We will travel through Borrowdale and over Honister Pass, past Buttermere and return via Grasmere, Rydal, and Ambleside.
Day 12: Fort William
Accommodation: 1 night at Muthu Alexandra Hotel or similar.
We will travel via Carlisle, through the outskirts of Glasgow, Loch Lomond, and Glencoe to Fort William with some comfort stops, a lunch break, and photograph stops.
Day 13: Stirling
Accommodation: 1 night at Golden Lion Hotel or similar.
We will take the Jacobite, a train that travels through a spectacular highlands landscape. Along the West Highland Railway Line between Fort William and Mallaig, we will see several interesting bridges, tunnels, and the Glenfinnan Viaduct. The line was opened in 1901 to provide easier access from the remote Atlantic coast to Glasgow and further afield.
In the afternoon we will take a bus to Banavie near Fort William, where the road and railway cross the Caledonian Canal. This is another Telford canal construction that began in 1804 and was completed in 1822. A change in water level at this point required Telford to build a great flight of 8 locks (Neptunes Staircase) as the water dropped from Loch Lochy down to Loch Linnhe at sea level. After visiting the locks we will take an afternoon drive to the southern Highlands via the Trossachs to Stirling, where we will stay for 1 night.
Day 14: Durham
Accommodation: 3 nights at Radisson Blu Durham or similar.
Before crossing the border and driving into England we will spend time visiting Stirling Castle, which is one of the largest and most important castles in Scotland with roots going back to the 12th century. Most of what we see today was built between 1490 and 1600.
We will also visit Falkirk, which is about halfway between Glasgow and Edinburgh. It is located on the upper reaches of the Firth of Forth, the estuary of the Forth River. The Forth and Clyde Canal passes to the north of the city, and as the name suggests it connects the Clyde River (and the Atlantic Ocean) in the west with the Forth (and the North Sea) in the east. The Union Canal runs, at a higher level, between south Falkirk and Edinburgh. Both canals are connected today by the Falkirk Wheel, an attractive piece of machinery built in 2002 to transfer boats between the two.
We will complete our journey south in Durham where we will stay for 3 nights.
Day 15: Durham
Accommodation: Radisson Blu Durham or similar.
We will visit Newcastle-upon-Tyne, which was first settled by the Romans. It was a staple wool-manufacturing town in the mid 14th century, but made its name through a monopoly on the export of coal to London in the 16th century. In the 18th century, it was a major centre for printing and industrial development through ship building and heavy engineering, making it a hub during the Industrial Revolution.
In more recent times, the city has seen a major revival tour, featuring the revival Quayside and the Millennium Bridge. After a short city orientation and walk there will be free time to visit the local museums and galleries. We will travel back to Durham on a coastal road through South Shields, Sunderland, and Ryhope.
Day 16: Durham
Accommodation: Radisson Blu Durham or similar.
In Durham we will have a walking town tour and free time. Durham is located on the River Wear, where the Norman Cathedral is located high above a U bend in the river and looks over much of the city. We will visit Durham Castle, which predates the Cathedral. It is now part of the university complex. Both the Cathedral and Castle were listed as a World Heritage Site in 1986.
Day 17: York
Accommodation: 3 nights at Holiday Inn or similar.
We will begin the day by driving south to Darlington to visit the site of the first steam-worked public transport. The Stockton Darlington Railway was established in 1825 to carry coal and passengers to the coastal Tee River.
To the south of Darlington and Stockton is the North York Moors National Park, which is a large expanse of heather moorland next to the coastal towns of Whitby and Scarborough. In mid morning, we will take the railway crossing the north Yorkshire Moors from Pickering to Goathland (used as “Aidensfield” in the Heartbeat television series). This line was established in the 19th century from Whitby and has been preserved by private funds. We will go on to Whitby by bus for lunch and free time. We will travel via Scarborough to York for 3 nights.
Day 18: York
Accommodation: Holiday Inn or similar
Activities today will include a guided city walk in York to the cathedral, wall, shambles, Guild Hall, and the Yorvick Centre, followed by free time. York, or as the Roman founders called it, Eboracum, is on the River Ouse. This walled city has a very rich cultural background. It was a road hub which had navigable river connections to the sea at Hull and inland. York became a major railway centre beginning in 1839.
Day 19: York
Accommodation: Holiday Inn or similar.
Our morning visit will be to the National Railway Museum. In the afternoon, we will travel to the southern end of the Yorkshire dales to visit Fountains Abbey, a wonderful remnant from 1593, and Harrogate, a spa town with lovely public parklands and gardens.
Day 20: Birmingham
Accommodation: 1 night at Holiday Inn Express or similar.
We will take a long drive with a lunch time stop en route to Birmingham where we stay 1 night.
Day 21: London
Accommodation: 2 nights at the London House Hotel or similar.
Today we explore Birmingham by walking along it’s canals and learn about the city and its rich industrial past. After lunch we depart for London for a 2 night stay. If time permits, we’ll visit the London Canal Museum where we will learn about the history of London’s canals, the cargoes carried, the people who lived and worked on the waterways, and the horses that pulled their boats.
Day 22: London
Accommodation: The London House Hotel or similar.
After breakfast at the hotel, we will spend a whole day sightseeing in London. First we visit the Royal Observatory and the Maritime Museum. We then head to the Brunel museum in the Brunel Engine House. We will return to our hotel late in the afternoon in time for our farewell dinner.
Day 23: London
After breakfast, we say our farewells and the tour draws to a close.
- Itineraries may change if flight schedules, site availability, and other inclusions are amended prior to departure.
- Note: Tour itinerary will be amended for 2019. The new itinerary will be made available online in late 2018.
Includes / Excludes
What’s included in our Tour
- 22 nights of hotel accommodation.
- 22 breakfasts and 12 dinners.
- Transport in comfortable and modern coaches.
- Cruise and rail services as indicated.
- Gratuities and necessary tips.
- Services of a tour leader for the duration of tour.
What’s not included in our Tour
- Comprehensive travel insurance.
- International airfares and departure taxes.
- Items of a personal nature such as telephone calls and laundry.
Participants must be able to carry their own luggage, climb and descend stairs, be in good health, mobile and able to participate in 3-5 hours of physical activity per day, the equivalent of walking / hiking up to 8 kilometers per day on uneven ground.
Make it a private tour
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Crossing international borders with restrictions
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For more information see our Crossing international borders with restrictions page.
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If less than 30 days before your tour starts you are unable to travel as a result of Government travel restrictions, Odyssey Traveller will assist you with a date change, provide you with a credit or process a refund for your booking less any non-recoverable costs.
See Terms and conditions for details.
Peace of Mind Travel
The safety of our travellers, tour leader, local guide and support staff has always been our top priority and with the new guidelines for public health and safety for keeping safe for destinations around the world, we’ve developed our plan to give you peace of mind when travelling with us.
See Peace of Mind Travel for details.
Mal was wonderful I did appreciate all she did for us. Us singles never felt at a loss during free time which is sometimes a problem on group tours She made us feel she loved all the things she told us about and her knowledge of the topic was amazing.
Loved every minute of the tour thanks everyone.
Participant April 2018
... we said goodbye to our companions at the end of our tour. Our four weeks together passed too quickly. We not only saw magnificent scenery, we watched the countryside change from winter grey to spring colour - carpets of daffodils, then primroses and bluebells, a lacework of green shoots covered larch, then chestnut, elm and silver birch. We met enthusiasts maintaining narrow boats on canals, steam trains of ancient vintage and knowledgeable local guides keeping the fascination of the past alive for us today. Our tour leader and bus driver collaborated to ensure that we knew what was happening and that all proceeded smoothly. Thank you for a great trip.
Participant April 2018
Good small mini bus made it able to access areas where the large coach tours can't go!
Participant April 2018
Good experiences on our canal boats, steam trains & ferry rides.
Participant April 2018
Wife Brenda and I just completed Odyssey tour in UK entitled “Canals and Railways” led by Mal Bock. Absolutely superb, and Mal’s leadership faultless. Extremely good value considering only seven guests, superb local guides and drivers, a most comfortable coach with seating for 24. . Hotels chosen were excellent, most with real character, not places one would have chosen without local knowledge and recommendation, . My wife and I have visited the UK many times- I was born there, but we saw so many places which were new to us. Thank you Odyssey!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Reading List Download PDF
Iron, Steam & Money: The Making of the Industrial Revolution
In late eighteenth-century Britain a handful of men brought about the greatest transformation in human history. Inventors, industrialists and entrepreneurs ushered in the age of powered machinery and the factory, and thereby changed the whole of human society, bringing into being new methods of social and economic organisation, new social classes, and new political forces. The Industrial Revolution also dramatically altered humanity's relation to the natural world and embedded the belief that change, not stasis, is the necessary backdrop for human existence.
Iron, Steam and Money tells the thrilling story of those few decades, the moments of inspiration, the rivalries, skulduggery and death threats, and the tireless perseverance of the visionaries who made it all happen. Richard Arkwright, James Watt, Richard Trevithick and Josiah Wedgwood are among the giants whose achievements and tragedies fill these pages. In this authoritative study Roger Osborne also shows how and why the revolution happened, revealing pre-industrial Britain as a surprisingly affluent society, with wealth spread widely through the population, and with craft industries in every town, village and front parlour. The combination of disposable income, widespread demand for industrial goods, and a generation of time-served artisans created the unique conditions that propelled humanity into the modern world.
The industrial revolution was arguably the most important episode in modern human history; Iron, Steam and Money reminds us of its central role, while showing the extraordinary excitement of those tumultuous decades.
By Roger Osborne
Brunel: The Man Who Built the World (Phoenix Press)
A celebration of the life and engineering achievements of Isambard Kingdom Brunel by two of the world's foremost authorities.
In his lifetime, Isambard Kingdom Brunel towered over his profession. Today, he remains the most famous engineer in history, the epitome of the volcanic creative forces which brought about the Industrial Revolution - and brought modern society into being.
Brunel's extraordinary talents were drawn out by some remarkable opportunities - above all his appointment as engineer to the new Great Western Railway at the age of 26 - but it was his nature to take nothing for granted, and to look at every project, whether it was the longest railway yet planned, or the largest ship ever imagined, from first principles. A hard taskmaster to those who served him, he ultimately sacrificed his own life to his work in his tragically early death at the age of 53. His legacy, though, is all around us, in the railways and bridges that he personally designed, and in his wider influence.
This fascinating new book draws on Brunel's own diaries, letters and sketchbooks to understand his life, times, and work.
By Steven Brindle
The Lighthouse Stevensons
Bella Bathurst’s epic story of Robert Louis Stevenson’s ancestors and the building of the Scottish coastal lighthouses against impossible odds.
‘Whenever I smell salt water, I know that I am not far from one of the works of my ancestors,’ wrote Robert Louis Stevenson in 1880. ‘When the lights come out at sundown along the shores of Scotland, I am proud to think they burn more brightly for the genius of my father!’
Robert Louis Stevenson was the most famous of the Stevensons, but not by any means the most productive. The Lighthouse Stevensons, all four generations of them, built every lighthouse round Scotland, were responsible for a slew of inventions in both construction and optics, and achieved feats of engineering in conditions that would be forbidding even today. The same driven energy which Robert Louis Stevenson put into writing, his ancestors put into lighting the darkness of the seas. ‘The Lighthouse Stevensons’ is a story of high endeavour, beautifully told; indeed, is was one of the most celebrated works of historical biography in recent memory.
‘My own interest in the Lighthouse Stevensons is threefold. Firstly, from the writings of Robert Louis Stevenson, who turned his family’s trade into the raw gold of all his best fiction. Secondly, from various trips around Scotland. The country’s coast is a mass of storm-beaten rocks and treacherous headlands on which even the seagulls have trouble landing. It is impossible not to speculate what combination of courage and skill built the lighthouses around such an environment. And thirdly, because somewhere in there, unrecognised and unsung, is the most wonderful story!’
By Bella Bathurst
Canals: The Making of a Nation
Canals hold a unique place in British culture, with associations of lazy summer afternoons, journeying through lush green countryside. But as Liz McIvor explains in the book to accompany her BBC series, the story of our canals is also the story of how modern Britain was born. It was the canals that helped open up the trade of the Industrial Revolution, furthered the new science of geology, and even ushered in a new form of architecture. The legacy of our canals is all around us.
In Canals: The Making of a Nation, McIvor takes us on a journey across the network of English canals to tell a deeper story of how our waterways changed our lives. It’s a very modern tale, full of high finance and greedy investors, cheap labour and the struggle for workers’ rights, and new frontiers in family and child welfare. It’s a unique and compelling exploration of Britain’s golden age.
By Liz McIvor
The King Of Sunlight: How William Lever Cleaned Up The World
William Hesketh Lever - soap-boiler, social reformer, MP, tribal chieftain, multi-millionaire and Lord of the Western Isles - was one of the most extraordinary men ever to leave his mark on Britain.
Beliefs far ahead of their times - the welfare state, votes for women, workers' rights - jostled in his mind with ideas that were fantastically bonkers - the world's problems could be solved by moving populations from country to country, ballroom dancing could save the soul and the only healthy way to sleep was outdoors in the wind and the rain.
Adam Macqueen traces Lever's footsteps from his humble Bolton boyhood to a business empire that straddled the world, visiting the homes and model towns from the Mersey to the Congo that still bear the mark - and often the name - of William Lever.
It is a hilarious and touching journey that shines a spotlight on a world and a set of beliefs long gone, and asks several vital questions: where does philanthropy stop and social engineering begin? Is it right for an employer to dictate how his workers spend their weekends and hire private detectives to make sure they are doing it properly? Are the length of a lawn and the curve of a bannister of vital importance to the great scheme of things? And why would a multi-millionaire with half a dozen homes and property on four continents chose to sleep on the roof?
By Adam Macqueen
The Apprentice of Split Crow Lane: The Story of the Carr's Hill Murder
A Victorian Murder. A Victorian Madman. A Modern Judgement.
Gateshead, April 1866
Five-year-old Sarah Melvin was walking along Split Crow Lane looking for her father when she disappeared. Later that night a couple walking home from the pub tripped over her body.
Sarah was the child of Irish immigrants who had been drawn to the North-east in search of work. Poor, perceived with prejudice, they quickly came under suspicion of killing their own child.
The true murderer was a misfit whose social awkwardness stopped him ever rising above apprentice. He would eventually make clear exactly why he killed Sarah - and the reason would scandalise the whole country, yet to him had a dreadful logic.
Told here for the first time, this is an extraordinary story of sexual deviance and murder, offering a chance to reassess a most unexpected judgement with new insight. In lively, empathic prose, Jane Housham explores psychiatry, the justice system and the media in mid-Victorian England to reveal a surprisingly modern state of affairs.
By Jane Housham
Walking Through Glasgow's Industrial Past (Walk With Luath)
Walking Through Glasgow's Industrial Past sets out to retrieve the hidden architectural, cultural and historical riches of some of Glasgows working-class districts. Many who enjoy the fruits of Glasgows recent gentrification may be surprised and delighted by the gems which Ian Mitchell has uncovered beyond the usual haunts.
Complete with maps of the areas covered, and illustrations and photographs of Glasgow s industrial past, this guide presents the social history of a city.
By Ian R Mitchell
The Birth of the Chocolate City: Life in Georgian York
One of the great names in chocolate history, Rowntree's, evolved from the humble retail beginnings of Mary Tuke, eighteenth-century mother of York's chocolate industry. This book explores how she was formative in shaping modern York as a city of confectionery manufacture, a city with a broader history in this industry than any other city in the UK. York emerged as the epicentre of an empire of competing chocolate kings. Strevens also insightfully reveals the impact that the development of York's confectionery production had on the lives of the rich, the poor and 'the middling sort', exploring growing social trends in the social capital of the North, such as chocolate and coffee houses, and the evolution of York as a destination for the 'polite and elegant'. This is an accessible and at times wry exploration of eighteenth-century York, vividly bringing to life the sumptuous splendours and profound murkiness of the city at the time of its commercial emergence as the 'Chocolate City'. Each chapter develops the detailed picture of what it must have been like to live in this city at the inception of York s most scrumptious of trades.
By Summer Strevens
The British Industrial Revolution in Global Perspective (New Approaches to Economic and Social History)2009
Why did the industrial revolution take place in eighteenth-century Britain and not elsewhere in Europe or Asia? In this convincing new account Robert Allen argues that the British industrial revolution was a successful response to the global economy of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. He shows that in Britain wages were high and capital and energy cheap in comparison to other countries in Europe and Asia. As a result, the breakthrough technologies of the industrial revolution - the steam engine, the cotton mill, and the substitution of coal for wood in metal production - were uniquely profitable to invent and use in Britain. The high wage economy of pre-industrial Britain also fostered industrial development since more people could afford schooling and apprenticeships. It was only when British engineers made these new technologies more cost-effective during the nineteenth century that the industrial revolution would spread around the world.
By Robert C. Allen
Energy and the English Industrial Revolution
The industrial revolution transformed the productive power of societies. It did so by vastly increasing the individual productivity, thus delivering whole populations from poverty. In this new account by one of the world's acknowledged authorities the central issue is not simply how the revolution began but still more why it did not quickly end. The answer lay in the use of a new source of energy. Pre-industrial societies had access only to very limited energy supplies. As long as mechanical energy came principally from human or animal muscle and heat energy from wood, the maximum attainable level of productivity was bound to be low. Exploitation of a new source of energy in the form of coal provided an escape route from the constraints of an organic economy but also brought novel dangers. Since this happened first in England, its experience has a special fascination, though other countries rapidly followed suit.
By E. A. Wrigley
The Railway - British Track Since 1804
Never before has a comprehensive history been written of the track used by railways of all gauges, tramways, and cliff railways, in Great Britain. And yet it was the development of track, every bit as much as the development of the locomotive, that has allowed our railways to provide an extraordinarily wide range of services. Without the track of today, with its laser-guided maintenance machines, the TGV and the Eurostar could not cruise smoothly at 272 feet per second, nor could 2,000-ton freight trains carry a wide range of materials, or suburban railways, over and under the ground, serve our great cities in a way that roads never could. Andrew Dow's account of the development of track, involving deep research in the papers of professional institutions as well as rare books, company records and personal accounts, paints a vivid picture of development from primitive beginnings to modernity. The book contains nearly 200 specially-commissioned drawings as well as many photographs of track in its very many forms since the appearance of the steam locomotive in 1804.Included are chapters on electrified railways, and on the development of mechanised maintenance, which revolutionised the world of the platelayer.
By Andrew Dow
Bread for all
Today, everybody seems to agree that something has gone badly wrong with the British welfare state. In the midst of economic crisis, politicians and commentators talk about benefits as a lifestyle choice, and of 'skivers' living off hard-working 'strivers' as they debate what a welfare state fit for the twenty-first century might look like.
This major new history tells the story of one the greatest transformations in British intellectual, social and political life: the creation of the welfare state, from the Victorian workhouse, where you had to be destitute to receive help, to a moment just after the Second World War, when government embraced responsibilities for people's housing, education, health and family life, a commitment that was unimaginable just a century earlier. Though these changes were driven by developments in different and sometimes unexpected currents in British life, they were linked by one over-arching idea: that through rational and purposeful intervention, government can remake society. It was an idea that, during the early twentieth century, came to inspire people across the political spectrum.
In exploring this extraordinary transformation, Bread for All explores and challenges our assumptions about what the welfare state was originally for, and the kinds of people who were involved in creating it. In doing so, it asks what the idea continues to mean for us today.
By Chris Renwick
The story of Wales
The Story of Wales is a vibrant portrait of 30,000 years of power, identity and politics. Revisiting major turning points in Welsh history, from its earliest settlements to the present day, Jon Gower re-examines the myths and misconceptions about this glorious country, revealing a people who have reacted with energy and invention to changing times and opportunities. It's a story of political and industrial power, economic and cultural renewal- and a nation of seemingly limitless potential.
The Story of Wales is an epic account of Welsh history for a new generation.
By Jon Gower
The Last Wolf: The Hidden Springs of Englishness
What sort of a place is England? And who are the English? As the United Kingdom turns away from its European neighbours, and begins to look increasingly disunited at home, it is becoming necessary to ask what England has that is singular and its own.
It is often assumed that the national identity must be a matter of values and ideas. But in Robert Winder's brilliantly-written account it is a land built on a lucky set of natural ingredients: the island setting that made it maritime; the rain that fed the grass that nourished the sheep that provided the wool, and the wheat fields that provided its cakes and ale. Then came the seams of iron and coal that made it an industrial giant.
In Bloody Foreigners Robert Winder told the rich story of immigration to Britain. Now, in The Last Wolf, he spins an English tale. Travelling the country, he looks for its hidden springs not in royal pageantry or politics, but in landscape and history.
Medieval monks with their flocks of sheep . . . cathedrals built by wool . . . the first shipment of coal to leave Newcastle . . . marital contests on a village green . . . mock-Tudor supermarkets - the story is studded with these and other English things.
And it starts by looking at a very important thing England did not have: wolves.
By Robert WinderThe Last Wolf: The Hidden Springs of Englishness