Incorporated by Act of Parliament in 1835 and completed just six years later, the Great Western Railway was a stupendous technical achievement. Extending for 118 miles from London to Bristol, this magnificently engineered line spanned Southern England from the Thames to the Bristol Channel, and was regarded as the first link in a chain of railways that would ultimately reach Cornwall, Wales and (via steamship) the south of Ireland. The railway, which is virtually flat and has no appreciable curves, has remained in use to the present day, carrying trains that travel from London to Bristol in just 13/4 hours. This present study examines the line from London to Bristol Temple Meads. Around fifty different locations have been included - some of these are busy traffic centres such as Paddington, Southall and Reading, while others are wayside stations such as Pangbourne, Tilehurst and Wantage Road.
Stanley C. Jenkins, who was educated at Witney Grammar School, the University of Lancaster and the University of Leicester, has written over 20 books and some 750 articles on local, transport and regional history. Having worked as an English Language teacher at Oxford Air Training School for several years, he returned to Leicester University to retrain as a museum curator in 1986, and was subsequently employed by English Heritage as the Regional Curator for South Western England. He is Curatorial Advisor to the Witney & District Museum, and is also working as a curator for the Soldiers of Oxfordshire Trust, which is at present building a military museum at Woodstock. Martin has been interested in railways since the late 1960s, but only starting taking photographs seriously with the acquisition of his first 'proper' camera in 1978.