It’s easiest to clarify what the ‘early railway’ is by stating what it isn’t – namely, the ‘modern’ mainline public railway. ‘Early Railway’ covers all railways from the first known, in Ancient Greece, to the beginning of the modern railway around 1825; it is also usually applied to the many later private or industrial lines that continued in the earlier tradition. The long development of the form and function of railways was a fascinating process, including periods of quick and innovative change to both structure and technology: trials of wooden, cast iron, and wrought iron rails; of edge rails, plate rails and suspension systems; of power generated by men, animals and engines, culminating in the development of the first steam locomotives.
In recent years, research in Early Railways has been dynamic and wide-ranging, and has required a significant reassessment of our understanding of the subject. The members of the Group have played a prominent part in this process, and welcome all who might have a passing or a deeper interest in this remarkably little-known but highly important aspect of transport and economic development.
The Early Railways Group has published nearly 250 Occasional Papers (for an example click here; for a list of titles click here) and welcomes all suitable submissions, with friendly editorial help available for less-practised authors. A guide to research themes has been prepared by the International Early Railways Conference (available here), but we are open to all kinds of studies, news and informal comment that may be of interest to members of the Group.
If you would like to know more about the railway of the Tyrant of Corinth, medieval Scalextric or steam elephants, please contact Andy Guy at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The group co-ordinator is Andy Guy, email address: email@example.com