One of the goals of setting up the Blog was to improve my writing. When I looked back on my first post from the 14th February, which was titled ‘Developing the British Railway Manager’, it showed me how far I have come. I cringe somewhat when I read it because I feel that my writing style has improved by leaps and bounds. I hope that these days I don’t make the simple grammatical errors of the past, and that I have a better (albeit not perfect) handle on when and where to put commas. Anyway, if you really wish to read it, it can be found HERE. I should also mention that in the early days of the blog I wrote much longer posts. However, I soon realised that this was not entertaining, and that shorter posts were much more pleasant for the reader. So, when I direct you to older blog posts below they will be longer in length than my current output.
I have tried over the last 9 months to cover current railway issues. However, I realise that I have always been hampered by the fact that I cannot be as up to date with them as I would like, given the time constraints of the PhD. However, I do have some favourite posts in this area. I am particularly proud of my 11th June post when I researched and revealed some of the current Secretary of State for Transport’s previous comments on rail transportation, all of which were negative. This post can be found HERE. I have also a soft spot for my Blog post of 12th July, in which I drew links between the Beeching report, the Serpell report, and the current review of railways being undertaken by Sir Roy McNulty. This can be found HERE.
Some of you may be aware that my PhD is about the quality of management on the London and South Western Railway between 1860 and 1914. Thus, this has been a prominent feature of my blog from the outset. Yet, as I realised quickly that some of my core PhD subjects do not make for entertaining reading, I have recently tried my best to only occasionally touch on the history of railway management. This said, there are some posts I feel are worth mentioning. My post on ‘Early Railway Administrators...The Good, the Bad and the Shiny’ of 15th May, looked at some of the more interesting railway managers of the early years of the British railway industry. They had a range of different backgrounds and did not always behave well. It can be found HERE. In August, I discussed the Feltham Marshalling Yard, and explained how, firstly, it was the original inspiration for my PhD, but also how it was a major investment decision for the L&SWR at a critical moment in railway history (Found HERE). Lastly, there was my post from the 3rd May on Viscount Pirrie, a board member of the L&SWR. He had many other directorships that allowed the L&SWR to gain a link with the other companies at which he was a director. Ultimately, however, Pirrie’s L&SWR directorship allowed him to benefit his own business empire by influencing the L&SWR’s policy. While my research on this subject has moved on, and there is more that could be said on this subject, you can read the post HERE.
I have recently become aware of how human stories can be of great interest to people. I have, therefore, recently written more posts on railway employees. In my post of the 18th February I wrote about the editors of the L&SWR’s staff magazine, and how their positions within the company affected the content of the publication. (Found HERE). More recently, I wrote about ‘Crime and Punishment’ in the Victorian railway industry, and how the rules that the Victorian railway companies imposed on their employees were harsh, but the consequences of infringement may have been harsher. This can be found HERE.
I have always been interested in the way that women were treated by railway companies, both as employees or as part of railway worker’s families. Therefore, I was particularly saddened by the story of Mary Ramsdale. She was widowed when her husband died while working on the railways and subsequently suffered a decline in her mental health. This had devastating effects for the family. Her story was detailed HERE. On the whole, however, I have focussed on Victorian Britain’s female railway workers. In my post of the 3rd of September I covered the ‘Hidden History of Britain’s Railwaywomen,’ as I have always been acutely aware that women’s history has frequently overlooked by historians. Thus, I gave some examples of potential areas of research, and commented on what needs to be done to discover more about Britain’s railwaywomen. (Found HERE).
Because I am doing a PhD it has meant that on occasion I have written about the highs and lows of this process, as well as some of the day-to-day thoughts I have regarding research. In September I posted what would become my most read blog post, in which discussed how the processes of research had been changed by technology over the last decade (Found HERE). On the 26th of February I discussed how strands of academic thought can lead researchers into unnecessary hunts for information, simply because they have a mystery they wish to solve. I detailed my own research on Albinus Martin, and told of how I became obsessed with finding information on him. Yet, this hunt had no particular value for my PhD, and it took me a while to realise this. This post can be found HERE.
I have not been able to list everything that I have written, but an index of all my blog posts can always be found at my main Turniprail website. Just click on 'Blog' on the left hand side and it will reveal a link to an index.
Over the last 100 posts I have, on many occasions, wanted to give up. However, through much support and encouragement I have been egged on to keep going by many friends and colleagues. I now wish to thank some of these individuals. Firstly, thanks must go to Dr Terry Gourvish (LSE) and Dr Roy Edwards (University of Southampton), who over a few pints suggested that I undertake a venture of this nature. I also wish to thank Matthew Snelling, Louise McCudden and Jon Cranfield, my closest friends, who have always supported my blog and have been willing to put up with me babbling about it. I wish to thank Peter Sutton and Dr Kevin Tennent (Open University), who have also regularly interacted with me about the blog and shared ideas. I also want to thank Sophie Collard and Jools Stone, who I met on Twitter. They have helped me immensely, firstly by re-tweeting my tweets, and secondly by allowing me to become a guest on their blogs.
Of course, I have missed out mentioning many individuals who deserve thanks, but, lastly, I must thank you, the readers of the blog. I do hope that you have enjoyed it so far. Please keep reading, spreading the word and making suggestions, without your help it cannot be a success.