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Railway and Canal Histories

Our collections are a rich source for information on the railway and canal histories of the British Isles. They include many thousands of volumes that have been written on British railway history, from the earliest days through the "Big Four" and nationalisation 1948-1996 to privatisation; and on railway companies large and small. Similarly there are many items relating to the histories of canals in the UK and Ireland. Individual histories are found on Explore the British Library.

Railway history | Canal history

Railway history

The foremost bibliography in the field is George Ottley, A Bibliography of British railway history. 2nd ed. London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1983, Supplement: 7951-12956 (1988) and Second supplement: 12957-19605, compiled by G. Boyes, M. Searle and D. Steggles. York: National Railway Museum in association with Railway & Canal Historical Society, 1998 (Humanities Reading Room shelfmark: HLR385.0941)

The standard reference work for British railway history is A Regional history of the railways of Great Britain, edited by David St. J. Thomas and others. 15 vols., 1960-89 (British Library shelfmark: 08236.g.1.)

A useful introduction is The Oxford companion to British railway history, from 1603 to the 1990s, edited by Jack Simmons and Gordon Biddle. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997 (Humanities Reading Room shelfmark: HLR 385.0941, and two copies at YC.1997.b.5944 and YC.1999.b.3057).

Useful links include:

Canal history

One of the key reference works for canal history is The Canals of the British Isles, edited by Charles Hadfield (Newton Abbot: David & Charles, 1950-85), 14 vols. Each volume is devoted to a particular region of the British Isles, and in the Library carries an individual shelfmark.

Useful links include: