Railways The Making Of A Nation Season 01 , Episode 04 – “The New Commuters”
Historian Liz McIvor explores how Britain’s expanding rail network was the spark to a social revolution, starting in the 1800s and continuing through to modern times. A fast system of transportation shaped so many areas of our industrial nation – from what we eat to where we live, work and play. The railways generated economic activity but they also changed the nature of business itself. They even changed attitudes to time and how we set our clocks! Our railways may have reflected deep class divisions, but they also brought people together as never before, and helped forge a new sense of national identity. In this episode – the railways enabled us to live further and further from the places where we worked. Before the age of steam you would need a horse to travel long distances on land. Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries our railways encouraged the development of suburbia inhabited by a new type of resident and worker – the commuter. In some cases, new places emerged on the map, simply because of the railways – places like Surbiton. Liz visits London and the south east of England, our nation’s largest commuter zone. The Victorian rail network was never part of one, single grand plan – but emerged and evolved, line by line, over decades. For today’s commuters, work is still going on to create a ‘system’ that serves their needs!
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