Piercing the Pennines


Piercing the Pennines
Heroic railways linking Lancashire and Yorkshire

by David Joy

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SKU: 978-1-914227-02-8 Categories: , ,


Lancashire and Yorkshire led Britain and the world into the industrial revolution, yet were long cut off by the Pennine chain. The railway age finally brought the two counties together and ensured the continued growth of Manchester as one of Britain’s most remarkable cities. It was linked to Leeds and Sheffield by a series of heroic railway tunnels, three of which were successively the longest in the world when completed in the 1840s. Often taken for granted, this book portrays them as extraordinary achievements against seemingly insuperable odds that deserve the fullest recognition. It fully captures their epic construction in the harshest of conditions with high loss of life.

These pages look not just at the tunnels and the men who created them but also show how they connected key settlements either side of the Pennines. They step back further in history to show how canals paved the way for the railways and also look forward to their future role in the new world of a ‘Northern Powerhouse’.

There is a comprehensive collection of illustrations ranging from period lithographs through to present-day photographs.

The many varied themes of this book include:

• The vision of George Stephenson – ‘Father of Railways’

• Navvies left to survive in huts thrown together with loose stones and thatch

• Death and chronic illness at Woodhead tunnel on top of the Pennines

• Early travellers who refused to go through a tunnel behind a ‘steam monster’

• The raging inferno that created Britain’s worst-ever tunnel fire

About the author

David Joy is a true Yorkshireman, born and bred in the Dales, and is the author of over 50 books. Awarded the MBE in 2006, he has written extensively on railways including several titles on the legendary Settle-Carlisle line.

   This is the first to place special emphasis on Lancashire rather than Yorkshire – now widely regarded as ‘God’s Own County’. It might seem an act of treachery, but was essential fully to portray the railways that pierce the Pennines. Hence there is objective coverage of lines such as the one so dreadful that it carried passengers in open trucks. Its failings provided a rare source of agreement for the inhabitants of the two counties, who otherwise argued over virtually everything from Yorkshire Pudding versus Lancashire Hotpot down to the finer points of county cricket!

Additional information

Weight697 g


No of Pages