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Early Railways

Early Railways 5 - Invitation to subscribe


Copies of ’Early Railways 5’ may be reserved at the price of £39.00 each (full price £55), worldwide post and packaging included. This is the first of the Early Railway series to be printed in colour; the full contents is listed below. Dont miss the deadline - the subscription list closes on 1st September 2014.

To subscribe to ’Early Railways 5’ online, paying by credit or debit card or from a paypal account please use the ’add to cart ’ button below. It is important that you complete the text box to indicate exactly how you would like your name to appear in the book. After pressing ’add to cart’ you will be able to change the quantity ordered, should you want more than one copy.

All online orders will be acknowledged by email, as will post orders where an email address is given. All subscribers will be acknowledged in the introductory pages of the book. If the fund is oversubscribed, the print run will be increased so that all subscribers may have a copy; any surplus will be put towards the next conference in 2016.

A print copy of the ’Invitation to subscribe’ may be obtained by clicking here. This can be completed and returned with your cheque/money order, payable to ’Six Martlets Publishing’, to Six Martlets Publishing, 4 Market Hill, Clare, SUDBURY. CO10 8NN

The subscription list closes on 1st September 2014.

How your name is to appear


A new international conference series on


will alternate with the existing Early Railway Conference on a 2-year cycle. This first main-line conference will be held in


from Thursday 19 June to Sunday 22 June 2014.

Further details, a booking form and an online booking facility can be found here.

ER5 photo 1
Conference papers have researched the close relationship between early rail transport and other industrial transport systems including canals, such as here at William Reynolds' Hay canal-incline near Ironbridge.



The Early Railways conferences will continue as before, at a four-year interval, with the next planned for 2016.

The ‘early railway’ is defined as railways which were pre-main line in concept if not necessarily in date. The ‘main line’ model is considered to be that established with the opening of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway in England in 1830, on the understanding that other dates are relevant in other countries.

The two conferences are differentiated by this ’main line’ and ’pre-main line date or style’, although there will inevitably be elements of crossover at times. They share a common purpose, in hoping to shed new light on subjects which are, in terms of railway history, relatively little studied or published.


The First conference was held at Durham University in September 1998 and proved highly successful. It was immediately agreed to hold a Second, which took place at Manchester’s Museum of Science & Industry in 2001, with the Third at York’s National Railway Museum in 2004 and the Fourth at University College London in 2008, a date which coincided with the 200th anniversary of Trevithick’s London locomotive trials.

Click here for a review of the Fourth Conference.

ER5 picture 2
Tyneside coal waggonways formed the most extensive railway system in the world by the end of the eighteenth century. [Reproduced by permission of the North of England Open Air museum, Beamish.]


The Fifth Conference was held at Caernarfon, in June 2012. This represented a long-awaited opportunity to host the conference in Wales, where so many important early railways were constructed and where the first demonstration of the steam locomotive took place.

Over 100 delegates attended a highly stimulating and comfortable conference. The evening trip proved memorable; a gravity-waggon run and a private train on the Ffestiniog Railway on one of the stormiest nights for several years.

ER5 picture 3
Risca viaduct on the Sirhowy Tramroad in South Wales, opened in 1805, is one of the iconic structures of the early railway period. [Reproduced by permission of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust: Elton Collection.]

See above, under ’Early Railways 5 - Invitation to subscribe’ for a list of papers that were presented at the Conference:

ER5 picture 4
Photographs of operational early railways are comparatively rare. Here horses pull a train along a plateway at Hirwaun in South Wales. [Reproduced by permission of Rhondda Cynon Taff Libraries.]



Papers from all four previous conferences have been published in a series of attractive and authoritative volumes that have already become collectors’ items.

Click here for a list of contents of the Early Railways volumes.

The only volume still in print is Early Railways 2, which can be ordered at

The Conference Committee is aware how difficult it is to find copies of the volumes and is examining possible solutions.


At the Fourth Conference some time was devoted to a discussion of the aspects of early British railway history that required further documentary and archaeological research and analysis. Click here to download a copy of the resulting Research Agenda.


Enquiries about the Early Railways conferences and publications by e-mail to:

The Early Railway Conference is jointly sponsored by