Archive for the ‘Great British Railway Journeys’ Category

Bradshaws (and other guides)

The first thing I thought when seeing Great British Railway Journeys was “someone should publish copies of the guide he is using…”

Well, someone has been doing that since the first Bradshaw’s guide was rare (the only complete copy).  It seemed it would have made more sense to use the copy than walk around with a rare book, but that’s me.  Not to mention people at home wanted to follow along.

That is probably why my first post on the topic got so much attention: down to Michael giving the link to it!

Anyway, these guides are available in facsimile editions. Quite nice ones I have to say.  Part of me wants to do a tribute “with my Bradshaw’s guide” video.

Go for the “official guides” which look EXACTLY like the ones Michael uses since the reprint editions tend to be other versions (and not well defined as to WHICH version it is since there are lots of different versions of these guides).  Amazon carries them, which is good if you are in the States or otherwise outside the UK.  You might have to copy the title to your local Amazon site to find it, but they can be purchased for a reasonable price outside the UK.

NOTE: The guide used in the Great American Railway Journey’s is Appleton’s Railway Guide to the USA and Canada (link is to reprint edition: ISBN 978-1471159947).  Watch out for the other reprint editions since they are NOT the same.  Also, the quality of those isn’t that good.

It seems that the original guide was one of Amazon UK’s top sellers!  So, it WAS a good idea to reprint it in facsimile!

I should also give a plug to Robert Humm & Co, which is the specialist book store that sold Michael the original Bradshaw’s used in the series.  They are an independent bookseller specialising in railways, other transport and industrial history.  They bill themselves as “Britain’s largest railway bookshop”.

Michael Portillo’s Latest Guide.

I have to admit some serious surprise when I caught Michael’s latest series: Great American Railroad Journeys.  There has been a lot of action here, which usually indicates a new series from Michaelbook

His latest guide Appleton’s General Guide to United States and Canada is much easier to come by than the First Bradshaw Guide.

The Hathitrust page is:

They have two editions, part 2 of 1889 and 1892. Appleton’s guide was published yearly.

Google Books has a link to another Appleton’s Railroad Guide (   This is not the guide used in the show, it is Appletons’ Illustrated Railway and Steam Navigation Guide, Containing the Time-tables of the Railways of the United States and the Canadas: A totally different book.

The versions of the Guide on Google books are not the 1879 edition.

You can find copies of the version used by Michael in used book stores. There are also versions available in Print on Demand, but they are different years than the 1879 version used in this series (or don’t say WHICH edition they are).  There was an original copy available here for US$200 (approx UK£ 138), but is been sold.

I should note that the 1892 edition is actually the more interesting version since it has a guide to the Colombian Exposition.

This relates to his first week’s journey:

Michael Portillo meets the human brain

Portillo BrainMichael Portillo meets the human brain on his Great British Railway Journeys at the West London Mental Health Trust’s archive of human brains. I have to admit this was amusing to me for just the possibilities–Hamlet’s Soliloquy? Portillo goes Zombie? He was very well behaved.

Let’s turn this into a caption contest–I know that those with a dislike for Tories can come up with some fairly cruel ones. At least he said it was a first for holding a human brain–despite how some people feel about the Thatcher years.

I have to admit that Great British Railway Journeys is a really fantastic series.

Michael Portillo’s Latest Bradshaw

As you know, Michael Portillo has a “new” edition the Bradshaw’s guide in the latest series of his Great British Railway Journeys. According to John Lee at Conway publishing, the e-book available for Amazon Kindle is the same Bradshaw he is currently using.

I am still looking for a better copy, either as actual edition, download, or facsimile.

Stay tuned!

Series 4 of Michael Portillo’s Great British Railway Journeys and New Bradshaw’s Guide.

Forgive me if I don’t have some hint as to where to get the latest Bradshaw’s Guide used by Michael Portillo in Series 4.  First off, I was caught unaware that the new series had started.  I thought they were repeats of earlier series until a message came up saying–“How do you like my latest series?”


Anyway, I noticed he is using an 1880s version of the guide and am doing what I can to find another copy.  Amazon has something that looks like what Michael is using: “Bradshaw’s Railway Handbook 1866: Complete Edition Volumes I-IV”.   It’s only available as a kindle edition in the UK.

Anyway, I am on the trail since I know most of my traffic comes from people wanting copies of this book.

Trust me, I will pass on a source if I can find one since I know we all want copies.

Family Friend on Michael Portillo’s Great British Railway Journeys

Family friend, Anne-Mary Paterson, author of Pioneers of the Highland Tracks, is going to be on Michael Portillo’s Great British Railway Journeys this Wednesday.  If she isn’t on in person, she will have contributed in the Dufftown to Aviemore segment.

Michael Portillo’s Great British Railway Journey DVDs reduced in price!

Series 1 is now £12.39 and Series 2 is £16.67 at Amazon from being in the mid 20 quid range !

Naturally, any hesitation at buying series 2  disappeared with the reduction in price and I ponied up for a copy.

I should add that the BBC now provides for commercial availability of programmes from online suppliers.  Eventually, they will offer links to services which officially stream the material.

I have to add this vid for BBC America because it’s just silly.

I know which side of the bread is buttered!

OK, I do have to admit that I do what I can after all my comments about wanting to support the BBC. Since I get the most traffic from Michael Portillo’s Great British Railway Journeys, I want to show that I am trying to give back here.

I hope Mrs. Thatcher would approve!

BTW, since most of the traffic here is due to the links to the download for Bradshaw’s Guide, I want to repeat that this copy is the same as that used by Michael Portillo on the show per Robert Humm, the bookseller who sold Mr. Portillo the original book. Also, this is the difference between the facsimiles per Mr. Humm:

So much for originals. Now for the good news : not one but two reprints of the Portillo set have been produced and both are on offer in our New Books section. You can use the Search Box to find them quickly by entering the reference codes.

Reference : A2855 . Title : Bradshaw’s Guide. Hand Book 1. 2. 3. 4. A complete year set of the four regional parts for 1866. Paperback, with an enlarged page size for easier reading. £24.95

Reference : A2893 . Cover title : Bradshaw’s Hand Book 1. 2. 3. 4. (from title page : Bradshaw’s Descriptive Railway Hand-Book Of Great Britain And Ireland.) A reprint of the actual volume used on the TV programmes. £9.99

Thank you, BBC and Michael Portillo.

Although, I do have to admit that I am thoroughly envious of all the places that Michael goes on his journeys.

Bradshaw’s Handbook – A Facsimile of the Famous Guide

OK, this post is a bit against my interest seeing that the bulk of my traffic comes from fans of Michael Portillo’s Great British Railway Journeys who come here for where to download a PDF of the guidebook used by Mr. Portillo (Michael?).

Anyway, I was looking at the Series DVD and debating whether to spring for Series 2 at 27 quid (ouch!). While my first thought is to spring for it given that I get loads of traffic from fans of the show. That price is still a bit of a bite with the state of the economy–maybe when I feel much more flush. I will admit to putting it into my basket.

Anyway, it turns out that my other question:

Why doesn’t someone come out with a good facsimile of the Guide used in the show?

After all, the guide is next to impossible to find.

In fact, I have been tempted to say that I completely trust Michael Portillo given that he is walking around with an incredibly rare book. In fact, the rarity of the book makes me think that Michael Portillo has the bravery of an SAS (SBS?) trooper since I’d hate to think what length a crazed anorak would go to for a copy of that guide!

Seriously, walking around with something which is rarer than a first folio Shakespeare takes serious bottle.

But, Bradshaw and railway fans rejoice, for there is a really good facsimile out there for you to own. The nice bit is that the price is only £5 at Amazon!

I can see these going like hotcakes

Actually, there are a couple of copies of this out there. The one I mention and another which sells for £21.94. Since I’ve downloaded the PDF version, the more expensive one seems out of my league.

And I’m not going to debate the merits of both versions since there are enough reviews on Amazon which get into that.

Actually, I won’t, but Robert Humm, the bookseller who sold Mr. Portillo the original book did make a comment about the facsimiles:

So much for originals. Now for the good news : not one but two reprints of the Portillo set have been produced and both are on offer in our New Books section. You can use the Search Box to find them quickly by entering the reference codes.

Reference : A2855 . Title : Bradshaw’s Guide. Hand Book 1. 2. 3. 4. A complete year set of the four regional parts for 1866. Paperback, with an enlarged page size for easier reading. £24.95

Reference : A2893 . Cover title : Bradshaw’s Hand Book 1. 2. 3. 4. (from title page : Bradshaw’s Descriptive Railway Hand-Book Of Great Britain And Ireland.) A reprint of the actual volume used on the TV programmes. £9.99

So, there are two choices for where to get a facsimile of this book. Or you can download a copy for free from the hathi trust site I mention in my post.

Give Mr. Humm the business since you can say you bought your Bradshaw’s Guide from the same source who sold it to Michael Portillo.

No one need know that you have a facsimile!

Weekend fun!

Ruins are so much more interesting with the Time Team gang digging them up.

I’ve been wanting to write a piece about how I want to visit all those neat places I see on programmes such as Michael Portillo’s series Great British Railways Journeys, Paul Murton’s Grand Tours of Scotland, Coast, Julia Bradbury’s shows, and so on. You know the type of places: Knoydart, Gower Peninsula, Scarborough, The Doncaster Earth Centre, ad nauseum. I’ve been to most of them and they are as good as portrayed.  Still there are other places to be explored that don’t have the media attention.

Of course, that is a huge case of the grass being greener on the other side of the fence laadeedah. Especially since I live a couple of miles from an early and historic canal in the city where I live and more than a couple from another much more impressive canal (but nowhere near the C & O Canal). In fact, I believe there are several canals not too far from where I live. Still, seeing Julia Bradbury hike a canal (or anywhere else) makes it look much more inviting.  My train journeys take me through the battlefields of the industrial revolution.  Still, I’ll admit that it is the lure of the media hiking about the celebrity places that makes the one look much more interesting than another less publicised attraction.

Laci and Ruins

And given my proclivity for digging up old guidebooks, I should be able to come up with someplace neat and off the beaten path. Although, guidebooks can be a bit like estate agents’ write ups of properties that get your expectations all built up. Not to mention that I have this unfounded belief that there is nothing worth seeing near where I live (now, would all you tourists please go away!). There’s another post in that, but when you see these places everyday….

Anyway, I decided to go away to a secluded place and found myself in an abandoned spa town. Yes, this was one of those places where the rich and trendy would go “to take the waters” up until toward the end of the 19th century. Then, artists invaded the place to imitate the French Impressionists to do plein air painting. Add in that the place has historic ruins pretty much throughout the village, which makes it a perfect attraction for artists.

Thyme in the herb garden

The place is in some far off, somewhat inaccessible region making it a lovely spot to remain undiscovered.

And I’m not telling where this is…

There is actually at least one Bed and Breakfast, which is the only dining establishment as well. But not a heck of a lot else for the general public other than the public library and government services. Well, there are paths for hiking, some ruins, and remains of the spa buildings.  There was a herb garden in the ruins.

So, one doesn’t need to follow the well beaten path created by the media to find some exciting places nearby to visit and relax.

See also: Heritage Coast (England and Wales)

Michael Portillo’s great Great British Railway Journeys is out on DVD!

OK, I made a plug for this DVD in my last post, but it isn’t really commercial.

First off, I’m not making any money for this. It’s partially in gratitude for Michael linking to my site–seriously racking up my stats.

It’s also because I have been moaning that the BBC has taken its dear sweet time in releasing this (and other) material on DVD. I’m not sure how much money has haemorraged from the sales because most of the first series is available as download. I have read that Britain had a fairly bad problem with video piracy with half the population admitting to it.

The problem is that piracy is a two edged sword in that it may actually stimulate commercial purchase–the free window may be a useful marketing ploy. People may sample a programme and decide to buy the DVD. Also, it can increase the audience size: e.g., programme comes out such as Great British Railway Journeys and it is seen by hobbyists outside the UK via download.

I think the issue of piracy is a lot more complicated than just simple downloading. I also think there needs to be better methods of addressing the demand for the content than is out there.

Still More Reasons to Love Michael Portillo!

Maybe it’s because I’m so Brilliant.

And he WAS my MP (from 25 November 1999 – 5 May 2005).

But His site links to Mine! Click where it says link to Bradshaw’s Guide in Digitised Form!

Thank you for the traffic! And the Great British Railway Journeys Show!

More reason to love the man!

And Series One is coming out on DVD And there is the Book of the series.

He may make me respectable yet!

Michael Portillo, Bradshaw’s Guide, and Great British Railway Journeys

OK, I have to admit being a closet anorak and watching Michael Portillo’s Great British Railway Journeys on the BBC.  In this show, Portillo used something he called “his Bradshaw’s Guide”, but the real Bradshaw’s Guide is the well-known series of monthly time tables published between 1839 and 1960.  Bradshaw also produced an annual publication called Bradshaw’s Railway Manual, Shareholders’ Guide And Directory. This doesn’t have any tourist information, either. These versions of The Bradshaw’s Guide contains no tourist information, except for hotel advertising.  The book he actually used was Bradshaw’s Tourist Handbook. And, according to Robert Humm’s books (a store specialising in transportation related literature):

Bradshaw’s Tourist Handbook, Mr Portillo’s ‘guide’, is unfortunately extremely scarce. The individual parts turn up from time to time, but to get all four together is most unusual. The one Mr Portillo is using came from us (of course!) but it is the only complete set we have ever seen. Sadly, we have no more, even of the individual parts, to offer at present.

Robert Humm mentions this in his blurb Michael Portillo’s Bradshaw

Fortunately, there is a complete copy available online which is similar to the one Portillo used in the show:




The book is downloadable in PDF form.

UPDATE: There are two facsimile versions available for you to own if you want a hard copy. Robert Humm sells them (as does Amazon UK). If you buy it from Robert Humm, you can say that you bought your copy of Bradshaw from the same person who sold Michael Portillo his copy.

And you’re helping to support an independent bookseller!