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Belles and Whistles Five Journeys Through Time on Britain's Trains by Andrew (Professor) Martin
  

Belles and Whistles Five Journeys Through Time on Britain's Trains

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Sue Baker's view...

Compare our modern experience of trains, uncomfortable seating, unopenable doors and windows, constant announcements and frivolous colours and designs and compare this to the world that Andrew Martin describes and we can see that besides the gains, an awful lot has been lost. He traces five famous trains, the Flying Scotsman and Brighton Belle among them, highlighting their history and what is left of them today, the modern trains serving these famous routes now a pale shadow of their former selves. Andrew Martin is a splendid host on these journeys, suitably grumpy at the travails of modern travel and with a fund of historical facts and anecdotes at his fingertips. Belles and Whistles is an absorbing guide, which through its focus on trains is also a telling historical commentary on Britain over the last 100 years.

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Synopsis

Belles and Whistles Five Journeys Through Time on Britain's Trains by Andrew (Professor) Martin

In the heroic days of rail travel, you could dine on kippers and champagne aboard the Brighton Belle; smoke a post-prandial cigar as the Golden Arrow closed in on Paris, or be shaved by the Flying Scotsman's on-board barber. Everyone from schoolboys to socialites knew of these glamorous 'named trains' and aspired to ride aboard them. In Belles and Whistles, Andrew Martin recreates five of these famous train journeys by travelling aboard their nearest modern day equivalents. Sometimes their names have survived, even if only as a footnote on a timetable leaflet, but what has usually - if not always - disappeared is the extravagance and luxury. As Martin explains how we got from there to here, evocations of the golden age contrast with the starker modern reality: from monogrammed cutlery to stirring sticks, from silence on trains to tannoy announcements, from compartments to airline seating. For those who wonder whatever happened to porters, dining cars, mellow lighting, timetables, luggage in advance, trunk murders, the answers are all here. Martin's five journeys add up to an idiosyncratic history of Britain's railways, combining humour, historical anecdote, reportage from the present and romantic evocations of the past.

Reviews



About the Author

Andrew Martin is a journalist and author. His previous book for Profile, Underground, Overground (9781846684784), was a history of the London Underground. He has written for the Evening Standard, Sunday Times, Independent on Sunday, Daily Telegraph and New Statesman among others. His 'Jim Stringer' series of novels based around railways are published by Faber.

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Book Info

Publication date

2nd July 2015

Author

Andrew (Professor) Martin

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Publisher

Profile Books Ltd

Format

Hardback
288 pages

Categories

History
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Trains & railways: general interest

Modern history to 20th century: c 1700 to c 1900
20th century history: c 1900 to c 2000

ISBN

9781781252130

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