Full Steam Ahead (2016) s01e02 Episode Script

Episode 2

(Steam train rattles) The Age of Steam shaped how we live today.
The Victorians laid over 20,000 miles of lines in the biggest engineering project the country has ever seen.
Connecting our towns with high-speed links, revolutionising trade and transportation, communication and recreation.
It was the greatest transformation in our history.
But how did it happen? To find out, historians Ruth Goodman Flat out! Alex Langlands Shovelling coal is something I'm gonna get very familiar with.
and Peter Ginn It is tough work! are bringing the railways back to life, as they would have been during the golden age of steam.
I feel like I'm in a Western.
This is very definitely the best steam engine I've ever been on.
Oh, no, he's gaining on us! A brave new world.
They will be helped by armies of enthusiasts, who keep the Age of Steam alive (Grunts) (Whistle blows) on Britain's 500 miles of preserved railway.
This is the way to experience train travel, isn't it? It is.
They'll follow in the footsteps of the world's finest engineers.
These are the men that built Britain's railways.
Those who ran it This is brutal! This is savage industrialism! and those for who life would never be the same again.
Internet, pah! It had nothing like the impact of the railways.
This is the story of how the railways created modern Britain.
The first railways were designed to carry the heavy goods of the Industrial Revolution.
Stone, coal and iron.
But it wasn't long before they were carrying a very different cargo.
How did we get from a point of a railway designed for goods to a railway designed for people? Victorian businessmen and investors quickly capitalised on this new form of passenger transport, creating a network of iron roads, which transformed the country.
But who were the people who built this network and how did they do it? With the railways allowing people to travel at much greater speeds, the patterns of life in Britain radically changed.
So I'm really interested in exploring exactly who these early passengers were and what it was like to travel on the Victorian railways.
In 1820, the only way to travel was by foot or by horse.
Few people made long journeys.
Walking from London to Edinburgh took ten days or three days by stagecoach.
Within a lifetime, this would be cut to just seven hours.
By rail.
And yet the first trains weren't built to carry people.
In 1825, the Stockton and Darlington Railway was built to move coal from the collieries of Darlington to the port of Stockton-on-Tees.
DRIVER: It might be a bit bumpy when it sets up.
ALEX: Yeah? I'm holding on.
I love it.
I just love it.
Here, at Beamish, in County Durham, they've built a replica of the first Stockton and Darlington train, pulled bythe Steam Elephant.
This is sensational.
This is very definitely the best steam engine I've ever been on.
DRIVER: The original was built in 1815.
This is Georgian.
This is not even Victorian.
- This is Georgian.
- Well before.
ALEX: I mean, it's a rickety old beast.
It's really quite Heath Robinson.
But this would have been cutting edge in its day.
It would have been advanced, yes, top of the range.
- And do we know who built it? - Yeah.
Chapman and Buddle.
- Chapman and Buddle? - Yeah.
It was a mine owner.
So, if he's a mine owner, his primary interest is not moving people around.
- As much coal as possible.
- How much coal could it pull? - About 70 tonne of coal.
- 70 tonne of coal? 70 tonne of coal.
Just remarkable.
Soon, miners began hitching a ride to work, sitting on the coal trucks.
The railway owners spotted a business opportunity and started charging for the privilege.
The rail passenger was born.
PETER: Well, this doesn't look too bad.
Thank you.
All aboard.
The first passenger carriages were nothing more than converted coal trucks.
This must have been amazing.
When you first got an opportunity to travel by the railways.
I love how bumpy it is! I suppose the novelty would have worn off quite quickly.
It is nicely painted.
It is all lovely and clean in here, but it is just a wooden wagon, with some wooden benches.
There are accounts of these wagons filling up with quite a bit of water and, obviously, as it's moving, the water sloshes around, so it'd be going over the top of your boots, onto your feet.
It makes sense as to why the sides are so high.
That would be your only protection against the wind.
Wouldn't it? At least something at your back.
Not only were these early railways uncomfortable and slow, they only ran short distances, connecting mines with towns and ports.
To move people and goods across the country, what was needed was a national network, linking Britain's towns and cities.
(Train whistle) But creating this network was going to be an enormous task.
The problem with steam locomotives is they can't deal with any form of gradient or slope.
So they need to follow the same contour through the landscape.
So, to get through a landscape like this, you'd need to use all sorts of embankments and cuttings and tunnels and viaducts, so that you could follow a line, snake round the edge of the hills and you'd create the most efficient way of getting from A to B.
And all of this work would lead to, essentially, the biggest engineering project in Britain's history.
The network would be built by a quarter of a million nomadic workers, known as "navvies".
My God.
Imagine effectively living outside in these conditions! The boys are joining expert in rural crafts, Colin Richards.
- Good to see you.
- And you.
Colin has set up a navvy camp as it would have been during the 1840s.
The "navvy" term came from the word "navigator".
The navigators were the people who built the canals for Britain.
And that involved a lot of major engineering, with essentially, a pick and shovel.
And that skill was immediately transferable to the railways.
And they had to live somewhere.
And these settlements, sort of moved through the landscape at different periods as the railway progressed.
Early camps were ramshackle shanty towns, populated by craftsmen, their families and their livestock.
These self-contained worlds would have been home to as many as three and a half thousand navvies.
Looking at your head - Alex, that should fit you.
- Yeah, that should.
It looks vaguely familiar, this one.
Building railways was back-breaking, dangerous work, but there was one concession to health and safety.
The bowler hat.
So, we see this as sort of the dress of a gentleman, don't we? But what you're saying is back in the mid-Victorian period, this was the working man's hat.
That's right.
It went through a transformation over the centuries, but it started out being sort of essential protection, really.
It's a strong shape and so, if you make it strong, reinforce it, then it can actually take the impact out of things falling on your head.
By 1845, navvies had built over 3,000 miles of railway, connecting up the nation's major cities.
It enabled the mass migration of the people from the countryside in search of work, more than doubling the populations of London, Manchester and Glasgow.
Before laying track, the navvies had to clear a path.
This involved bridging valleys, cutting embankments and felling tens of thousands of trees.
If you've got a tree in the way of your railway line - Yeah? it needs to come down and it needs to turn into sleepers.
To provide a smoother ride, it was essential that the track could flex under the weight of the train.
Tracks aren't anchored to the ground.
Instead, the rails are held in place by horizontal sleepers, which rest on a bed of crushed stone, known as "ballast".
The best material for sleepers was a hard wood, like oak, which was both durable and shock-absorbing.
As it's hitting that, it's almost ringing like a stone.
This is the heartwood, round here.
That's the kind of stuff that makes absolutely perfect sleepers.
For every mile of track, some 2,000 sleepers were needed.
The problem is there was never enough wood in England and there hadn't been, really, since Medieval times.
So a lot of the railway builders had to resort to importing foreign timber, particularly from North America, but you certainly wouldn't let a fantastic piece of English oak, like this, go to waste.
PETER: It's starting to open up a bit.
I'm amazed that you or I have never had a hernia! Don't say that, Peter! There's still a lot more wood to cut.
PETER: Oh! That's a proper crack.
- And another one.
ALEX: Going, innit? - It's going.
(Creaking) There she goes! There we have it.
There we have our sleepers.
Two or three in there.
The early railways were built while Britain was still industrialising, so they were constructed using craft and tools that had been around for centuries.
So here's our sluice gate.
And the mechanisation they did have was often water-powered.
ALEX: That is filling up extremely quickly, isn't it? PETER: An endless source of power.
Let's get sawing.
Alex and Peter have come to Gunton Park Sawmill, which was built in the 1820s.
PETER: Hello.
- How do you do, chaps? Good afternoon.
Pleased to meet you.
They're meeting Bev Woolner and his team, who helped restore and now run the mill.
ALEX: We're just going to pull this in? - It's surprisingly easy.
- It's surprisingly easy, is it? I thought this was mechanised! The old men used to do this, so don't worry.
You will be, as a young man, quite capable.
He called me "a young man", Peter! - Put that one in your diary! - You are compared with me! Although the wood was cut using water power, getting the tree into the mill requires muscle power.
All right.
Pull! Come on! Pull! BEV: Well, that is going slowly.
Hang about.
Just go that way a bit.
Pull! Pull! Come on.
You're nearly there.
That should go easy in a minute.
They're doing not at all badly.
Especially for the first time.
Pull! To move the tree weighing three tonnes, the team are using a system of rollers and pulleys, a technique going back millennia.
Pull! That's it.
- Keep going.
- Ohh! Whoa! That's your lot on that one, folks.
ALEX: What's up now, then, Bev? - It's back into the, er the mill, itself and we have yet more work for you to do.
- Right.
- All right? - Let's head off.
- Lead on! In the 1840s, this water-powered sawmill was state-of-the-art.
It was originally built to cut timber into gate posts and house beams, but, such was the demand for railway sleepers, it would have been working round the clock.
In terms of the cutting here, it's not a case of driving the saw through the timber.
What you want to do is drive the timber through the saw.
That's all done by that engine mechanism.
That was the clever bit, they were designed by It was a clockmaker who actually made it.
- Ah.
ALEX: So, you can see here how this is just the work of a clockmaker.
It's just ticking like a clock, isn't it? I mean, I thought it was going to be loud here, but, actually, it's really quite a mellow sound.
ALEX: We're getting there.
Here we go.
Now we are starting to cut.
Even more power now.
This is the only surviving working, water-powered sawmill in the UK.
It's so simple.
Yet so complex.
Such a fine piece of kit.
In its heyday, this mill would process eight trees a day.
This blade is currently set to its lowest setting.
But, back in the 1820s, 1830s, when this was first built, it would have been tearing through this wood at a rate of knots.
It's just incredible power that's in here.
And we're through.
And there we have it.
Another sleeper.
Mills like these relied on being close to a water supply.
So it wasn't long before the railway builders turned to portable steam-powered saws instead.
Wooden sleepers are cut to size.
Now there is just one more job to do, before they're ready to be laid.
They must be protected with a coat of bitumen.
- What is bitumen? - It's actually a form of tar, which you can dig out of the ground and it's almost in-between a coal and an oil.
It was discovered that if you applied heat to it, it had this incredible preservative quality.
It would also bind stone to create sort of tarmacadam, but for our purposes, for the sleepers, this coating was a barrier against the damp.
So, you could extend the life of a sleeper by 30 years, by applying this coating.
So your investment in the railway was made far more secure by this coating of bitumen.
PETER: Right.
(Coughs) PETER: Here we go.
ALEX: Look at that stuff.
Whoa! The bitumen needs to be applied quickly and evenly, before it cools.
ALEX: Too much.
Too much.
Look how quickly that's going cold, though.
This is not easy.
See? Look.
It's just peeling off the wood.
Not wishing to be critical, but that's a little bit lumpy there and so there's bitumen along there, which isn't actually needed for the purpose of preserving the timber.
But what's amazing from our perspective is we just don't know how people did this in the very early days of track-laying.
Just by doing it here in freezing conditions, we're learning that, in fact, we've got to get the timber warmer or get this warmer.
But to get that coat applied nice and evenly, we certainly need a little bit more heat here.
- There is another option.
- Go on.
We work faster! OK, then.
Let's get on.
Here we go.
PETER: Here we go.
One two Building railways was big business.
Navvies worked in gangs, competing for employment on the ever-growing number of passenger routes being built across the country.
But you understand that you get paid by the number you do? Not the time it takes you.
And, also, if you were to use, you know, more bitumen than rival gangs, then you would be out of favour, you could lose work, because there's, you know, competition right across the country.
If you're using too much material and you're too slow, you're out on your ear.
Let's get this right.
Two more opportunities here.
ALEX: So I've got to just keep the brush now - What brush? - This brush.
- That's not a brush! - Left it in the pot a bit long.
- (Chuckles) - It's seen better days.
I'll give it a clean-up, it'll be fine.
Don't worry.
PETER: Right.
There we go.
Although a navvy's life was tough, they earned three times more than an agricultural labourer.
ALEX: Yeah.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
PETER: What's that over there? The navvies, they worked hard, but they also played hard and they needed, sort of, a contrast to the effort they were putting in during the day and alcohol was an escape, really.
Do you want to try a little snifter? - One.
- One? - One.
- You always say that.
Yes, I know.
Isolated on a camp, away from society, navvies were heavy drinkers.
Records show they drank an average of nine pints of beer a day.
Some even resorted to making their own illegal moonshine, using home-made stills.
To flavour it, they used anything to hand.
Nuts, berries, even carrots.
This is our finished product.
But distilling was a risky business.
The first alcohol to be produced by a still contained ethanol, which causes blindness and even death.
The carrots are good for your eyesight! - The moonshine is bad for it.
- On days like this, you can really see the appeal of drinking a very, very strong spirit.
(Coughs) It's It's good.
(Coughs) Ooh.
Ooh, that's rocket fuel.
By 1844, 104 separate privately-owned companies were operating passenger services with little regulation.
The Government intervened, forcing new companies to abide by strict rules on ticket pricing, reliability and safety.
The converted coal wagons had to be replaced with fully-enclosed carriages.
Keighley and Worth Valley Railway have one of the earliest examples of these new state-of-the-art carriages from the 1870s.
RUTH: Now, the early wagons, the guard actually even had a little seat up here.
Just like he had on the stagecoaches.
And, on this wagon, somebody was meant to come and service the oil lamps.
They just lift out of the They lift out.
And there's a Well, it looks like a plug and a chain.
It just slots in place to stop there being a draught.
So he can clean them, replace the oil I feel like I'm in a Western, running along the roof of a railway train! Hauling out my lamps.
- This one was built in 1876.
- Right.
Ruth's come to meet carriage engineer, Chris Smith.
Ah! Oh, it's quite sort of basic still, isn't it? It's basic, but at least you got a seat.
It's starting to feel more like a railway carriage.
There's no doubt.
With wooden seats.
They were actually based on church pews.
- Familiar surroundings, yeah.
- Which helps you sort of cope with the weirdness of the technology, really, doesn't it? Yes, I mean, it's completely a new thing.
You'd get a lot of people in it.
Get six along each of these.
- Oh, yeah, yeah.
- A 12-person Per compartment, yeah.
By the 1870s, trains were capable of going over 65 miles per hour.
This was the first time the Victorian working classes had access to high-speed, long-distance travel.
There's There's no corridor in this train, at all, is there? No, there's no interconnection.
No, not at all.
So how did you get from one compartment to the next? - Well, you don't.
- You don't? You stay in the compartment, so it's probably a wise move to be friends with the people you're travelling with.
But the ultimate luxurious experience was reserved for the upper classes.
- Now what a difference! - Yeah.
We've definitely gone up-market now.
Notice the difference.
Oh, yes, and no more of this trying to get 12 people in here.
- You've got section seating.
- Six seats.
Look at the space in the compartment now, a lot wider.
You're right, it has got wider.
There's more leg room.
Plenty of room to stretch your legs.
- And a carpet.
- And a carpet.
It does actually feel warmer in here.
They travelled in style.
Travelling in style.
Yes, it does feel quite stylish.
- Wow! - Good.
For the railway companies, it wasn't all about comfort.
Image was just as important.
One thing that I really like about so many of these is all this beautiful sign-writing.
And it's all hand sign-written and gilded, gold leaf.
And I suppose, something that had been exclusively for the super-rich, you're getting a flavour of it, even when you're in third class.
There was a lot of competition.
They were very at each other.
They had to do things that stood out above the next railway company.
If you're competing for passengers, it's about what it's like to be a passenger, isn't it? I mean, it's not just about the ticket price.
The whole experience of the journey.
How you're treated.
If people are happy, they'll travel with the company again.
- Use your company - Rather than somebody else's.
Every type of craft and skill was required to build the railways.
The blacksmith, as he had been in the pre-industrial village, was at the heart of the navvy camp.
The railway was an engineering entity and you always needed to bend metal.
So, if you had a portable forge, you could follow the railway and whatever needed to be made, to be shaped, to be bent, you could do it.
And this was your passport to earning a living.
COLIN: Now take the heat out of the shaft.
- Through the hole? - Yeah.
Colin and the boys are forging coach screws.
These are the metal bolts, which connected the rails to the sleepers, and each railway line needed millions of them.
Gonna try and mushroom over the head and then we'll put the screw on.
It sounds quite easy.
It's not gonna be.
In the early days of railway building, they were individually made.
We're making a hook.
Is that right? (Laughter) It's starting to get dark on our first day as navvies and we know that we're gonna need about three-quarters of a million sleepers for a single line between London and Glasgow.
Now, if you need eight of these per sleeper OK? and it's a double line We're looking at something in the region of around 12 million of these bolts.
Easy! So, if you quench again Yep.
What Colin's doing now is he's just squaring that head off.
What it's ultimately gonna have to do is take a spanner.
We'll need that square head, so that we can wind that screw down into that oak.
That's That's pretty good.
The last job is to twist the screw to make an even thread.
Right, OK.
We've got the right angle there.
Square on.
You've got that tight? There it goes.
ALEX: Perfect.
And you can see that thread, can't you? - You can.
- That's amazing.
There it is, look.
PETER: Keep it going there.
There you go.
ALEX: That's the one.
That's good.
Keep going.
Yeah, yeah.
That's brilliant.
So there we go.
We've got our thread.
COLIN: Just a simple twist.
It's amazing how you've got something that is produced through craft, by hand and by eye, which is then going on to create the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution.
That's what I find so fascinating.
As the rate of railway construction boomed, hand-crafted items, like coach screws, were instead mass-produced in factories.
The days of the blacksmith on the navvy camp were numbered.
The railways drove innovation in practically every area of manufacturing.
Even textiles.
Carriages needed hard-wearing seats for the ever-increasing passenger traffic.
The solution was fabric made from a material abundant in Victorian Britain.
Horse hair.
Duncan Brummell is the Production Manager at John Boyd Textiles in Castle Cary, Somerset.
They've been making horse-hair fabric for over 150 years.
What we're doing is pulling out the broken hairs and any weak hairs that break off and also combing it through.
So when it goes through the loom it's nice and free to weave.
Working horses from the local area had their tails cropped every couple of years.
The hair was then sorted by colour and length, before being combed, a process known as "hackling".
That is a hair length, isn't it? It doesn't get any longer? Yeah, we're limited in what width cloth we can do.
So you're gonna get a piece of cloth a bit like that? - 26-inch cloth off of that.
- Right.
What are the advantages of using horse hair? It's very strong.
It's also relatively flame-resistant.
It smoulders, rather than burns.
It's just like your own hair.
If you go near a flame, your hair will singe, but it doesn't burn.
If it's used for chairs, it polishes where people sit on it, so you get more and more shine the older it is.
And I suppose the other thing is that hair doesn't stain.
It is gonna make the perfect fabric for a railway carriage.
Something that's in constant use, people coming and going.
I can see the appeal of horse hair.
The sorted horse tails are then dyed, a process which can take up to a week.
So this is the natural black hair that we're gonna dye black.
And these are the colours you can achieve? Yeah, we can achieve yeah, many colours.
Oh, my goodness, that's a violent colour.
Look at the blue on that.
Really vivid, aren't they? Next, the dyed horse hair is woven into cloth.
Anna Smith is the director of the mill.
RUTH: I really like this one.
ANNA: It's an old design from about 1900.
The colour is an original colour from that time.
The looms date back to 1870.
Really? 1870, and they're still functioning in a commercial business? Yeah.
Still the original looms.
The green cotton runs the length of the loom known as "the warp" and the black horse hair runs across, known as "the weft".
Originally, it was hand-woven and children sat on the loom, presenting one hair at a time to the weaver.
So you've got a man sat here, who would be doing the - Usually a lady, actually.
- Was it a woman? And then a child is passing her - Yeah, passing her the hair.
the hair.
The Education Act of 1870 ruled that every child had to attend school, taking away the main source of cheap labour.
It was too expensive to have two adults per loom.
So that's why they developed a mechanical loom and we still use the same one today.
This is very beautiful, this fabric that's coming off, for something made out of horses' tails.
Yes, it is.
It's mainly an upholstery fabric.
In fact, Chippendale said you should only ever cover a dining chair in horse hair or leather, because they didn't stain or absorb the smell of food.
Not absorbing smells, that would be really important in a railway carriage, wouldn't it? To keep up with the increasing demand for passenger services, industries across the country began to replace manpower with machine power.
Building this rapidly-expanding passenger network demanded huge resources of raw materials.
The foundation of any railway line was the ballast, and millions of tonnes of it were needed.
The ideal material was a very hard stone, called "basalt".
I think you've proved the point that that is solid.
For ballast, it's ideal, because with the weight and the constant vibration of trains going over them, it's not going to compact.
Once it's settled in position, then these angular pieces are gonna lock together and form a very strong platform for the heavy engines and rolling stock.
3,000 tonnes of crushed stone was needed for every mile of track and, by the 1870s, over 13,000 miles had been laid.
Stuart, I'm Alex.
- Hello, Alex.
- Nice to meet you.
- I'm Peter.
- Hello, Peter.
Traditionally, stone crushing would have been done by hand, but using steam power, a task which required hundreds of navvies, could now be done using a single machine.
As soon as you've got a steam engine, you've got power and then you can do things like this.
That's right.
We've got a steam winch to pull it up there for us.
Right, OK.
- You're not pushing it, Peter.
- Makes a change, doesn't it? Stuart Tomlins and his team have set up a mobile stone-crusher, powered by a steam tractor.
We're turning this into this, using that machine.
- How does it work? - It's a jaw-crusher.
Basically, there's one fixed plate.
The other is going backwards and forwards and it crushes it, as it goes down to the lowest point and it gives you the size.
And then to make this bigger or smaller, you just You just adjust the, er adjust the one jaw and it'll allow bigger material to go through.
Feel the power.
You can feel the power of that steam engine.
You can feel the power of this kit.
And, as those railways got bigger, they got more infrastructure and small navvy gangs like ours would have been absorbed into much bigger organisations.
- Right, if we just pull it out.
- Yeah.
PETER: And there we have it, all the ballast.
Now this is I mean, it's quite angular, isn't it? It's gonna lock it together.
It's gonna allow for drainage.
It's gonna bed the sleepers in.
It's gonna keep those in place, keep them dry.
And this is essential stuff to building the railways.
And that machine makes it relatively pretty easy.
Makes it a lot easier than it used to be.
It's a lot easier than breaking it by hand, anyway.
In 1825, just a few hundred people had travelled by rail, but, by the 1880s, it was millions and demand for new railways was still growing.
In 1882, the Lewes and East Grinstead Railway opened, linking the South East coast to the nation's capital.
For passenger lines, the public face of the railway company was the station buildings.
In cities, they were built without regard for cost or consequence.
Such was the scale of London's St Pancras Station, 4,000 houses were demolished to build it.
Even small rural stations were lavishly decorated.
They boasted the most up-to-date facilities and, to run them, they required an army of staff.
By 1901, over 600,000 people were employed by the railways.
Five per cent of the working population.
Companies in the beginning called their staff "servants".
You were a servant of a railway company.
And they insisted upon uniforms.
They insisted upon certain manners of speech.
They insisted upon certain behaviour and they insisted on absolute loyalty to the company, much like a great stately home would have expected of their servants.
The station master was at the head of this new workforce.
Ticket clerks, porters, refreshment-room staff, signalmen, wheel tappers, engineers, carpenters and boilermakers were all needed to run a station.
Then there were the train staff: Engine drivers and firemen.
And responsible for passenger safety was the guard.
There were guards on trains right from the first.
Passengers, however, added an extra layer of complexity and importance to the guard's job.
I mean, if there was an accident with a goods train, well, very sad and all that, but, mostly, what got hurt were the goods, not so many people.
But a passenger train? The the potential for disaster, for bad publicity, was that much greater.
So guards were given more and more responsibility and they became a more important person on the railway, guaranteeing the safety of all those travelling.
The guard in charge of this train is Graham Aitken.
And so my job, as the guard, is to check that what he has done has been done correctly.
RUTH: Happy with that lot? I've checked it.
The coupling's there.
If the engine moves, we're gonna go with it.
I'm happy.
- All good? - Yeah.
The famous guard's van.
Your very own little home on rails.
In we go.
My compartment, my domain.
Originally, one of the main roles of the guard was to operate the brakes, located in his van at the back of the train.
As carriages in the 1880s had no corridors, once the train had left the station, the guard was cut off from his passengers.
Even if you say you can try and get in touch with the driver, he's gotta be looking, if you're waving flags, blowing whistles.
That's exactly right.
The way you attract his attention is by partially putting on the brake, not enough to stop it, unless you mean to stop it in an emergency, but he will notice the guard's trying to get his attention.
He'll then look out, either him or the fireman, probably both, to look back, and then the guard will be displaying either a red flag or a red light or whatever.
One toot or two? (Guard's whistle) (Steam whistle) The guard was also responsible for everyone's safety, so he had to be constantly on the look-out for dangers, such as landslides or fires, and, of course, passengers in distress.
It's one of the reasons why there's no nice, comfy seats.
The idea is that the guard has to stay alert, stay on his feet, always checking.
Drivers and firemen will tell you they have the difficult job.
All the guard does is sit down and enjoys the ride.
- Wrong! - Not quite like that.
The guard's actually there for a very real purpose.
He's got to stay alert and he's got to check the train, because he's responsible for the train, not the driver or the fireman.
If the train had to stop in an emergency, miles from any station or signal box, it was the guard's job to alert the following train crew of the obstruction ahead.
He needed something to grab their attention.
- So, detonators.
- Excellent.
Thank you.
Invented in 1841, railway detonators were used as a last resort to alert the next train, so that it could make an emergency stop.
They were placed on the rails at intervals, three-quarters of a mile back from the stranded train.
- About here, I reckon.
- That'll do.
It doesn't have to be precise, does it? The train from here now is just over half a mile away.
That gives plenty of time for the driver to stop.
The weight of the train triggers the detonator, alerting the driver, over the sound of the engine.
(Detonators explode) (Wheels screech) The detonators did everything they were supposed to do.
They did.
You would notice that.
That engine was making quite a noise.
The bangs went off and the driver heard it instantly.
With the three of them there, there's no mistaking them.
So he did the right thing, shut off the steam, applied the brakes and the train stopped.
This simple safety measure proved so effective, they're still used today, if all other communication fails.
By 1899, the frenzy of construction was over.
20,000 miles of railway had been built, spanning the length and breadth of the nation.
But the work didn't stop there.
A new band of workers were needed to maintain the colossal infrastructure of track, tunnels and bridges, known as "the permanent way".
- Feeling strong? - Feeling strong.
PETER: Strong enough.
Under constant traffic, sleepers, rails and ballast would all eventually need replacing.
To do this, railway companies employed specially-designed, steam-powered cranes.
ALEX: What a beast! - It is.
It's lovely, isn't it? It was built for the LNER as a permanent-way crane.
And, er it's still doing today what it was built to do back in those days.
Keith and Margaret Bonner are responsible for maintaining and operating this steam-powered crane at the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway.
In fact, before we go any further, I will give you the obligatory rag.
We've got to have an oily rag? You've gotta have your oily rag.
It becomes attached to you, does this rag, for the full day.
Will you need a loco to move this thing? There's a set of gears we can engage underneath the carriage, which allows the crane to travel under its own power.
Crucially, that power is steam-power.
They're ready to go! There we go.
So, Keith, you're gonna raise up the derrick? Yeah, gonna use the jib.
It's a very proud moment, taking our tarred sleepers and putting them down by the railway.
Operating the steam crane is a two-person job.
A banksman on the ground and a driver controlling the crane.
The banksman communicates with the driver using a series of hand signals.
PETER: Up they come.
The critical thing, when you're banking your crane, is that your banksman - in this case, it's Margaret - maintains eye contact all the time with the crane operator.
And there's other obstacles, as well, people that might step in the way.
He's just asking you to do what he wants you to do, but he's not aware of what's going on around.
So you've got to have three or four sets of eyes.
You know? Well, you have to have your wits about you, basically, yeah.
A bit more.
Wooden sleepers were used right up until the 1940s, when reinforced concrete began to take over.
Here are our sleepers in place, dropped here by the crane.
The gang would work with this crane, all the way along the permanent way, to lay down not just sleepers, but, of course, they'll be bringing ballast in, as well, and then the cleats and the coach bolts would all be put in place to hold these rails.
This is the means by which you both built and maintained the permanent way, the railways of Britain.
By the 1880s, for many, rail travel had become a way of life.
To experience it first-hand, Alex and Peter are travelling on the Lewes to East Grinstead railway.
In preparation for the journey, Peter is getting to grips with the latest fashion of the day.
Well, Macassar Oil is one of the first mass-advertised products.
It comes about in the 19th century.
(Sniffs) It's a blend of coconut oil and palm oil.
It should give you added virility.
Not that you need it.
And it should help regenerate hair growth.
It does give your hair a certain sheen, doesn't it? This hair oil stained even tough horse-hair fabric.
To protect the seats, antimacassars were fitted.
If, particularly on a business commuter line, you did nothing, you'd soon get nasty, greasy patches, where people rested their heads, so the answer, just like it was in the domestic home, was an antimacassar.
Which are small, easy to launder cloths, but they do have to be laundered.
Peter's dirty footprints.
Where are these going, then? PETER: Hi, Ruth.
- Hiya.
What have you done to your hair? - I haven't done anything.
- Are you sure? I haven't had a chance to style it this morning.
Well, you'd better get a ticket.
Ah, good afternoon, sir.
When the very first trains began to carry passengers, the tickets were sort of handwritten affairs and included information like the name and address of the passenger.
As you can imagine, it took ages to make out the tickets for a train.
With commuter numbers rising, the laborious process of handwriting tickets was not only inefficient, but open to forgery.
What was needed was a quick and efficient, fraud-proof device.
It was a station master, Thomas Edmondson, who devised a solution.
Printed tickets, each with a unique serial number.
Thank you very much.
Right, OK.
Ruth, have you got any money? In the 1880s, for many people, travelling by train was still a daunting experience Just want a carriage to ourselves, Peter.
To help them on their way, a manual was published, leading them through their journey, step by step.
- Afternoon.
- Good afternoon.
Check this out.
The Railway Traveller's Handy Book.
PETER: "Hints, suggestions and advice for the anxious Victorian traveller.
" ALEX: And that's us, at the moment, anxious.
(Steam whistle) This can be a dangerous place.
For some travellers, it might be the first time they'd encountered so many strangers.
The manual gave strict instructions on how to deal with such situations.
"Card-playing, although somewhat difficult in accomplishment, is a pleasant pastime among friends.
" - That's great.
- We're all friends.
"But beware of entering into this amusement with strangers.
" Well, we've haven't got any strangers in here, have we? "It is well-known that a class of swindlers, known as card-sharpers, exist, who live by travelling in railway carriages and taking in the unwary.
" The boys are joined by an expert in Victorian con artistry, who goes by name "Pete Heat".
Typically, they'd pretend to be drunk and quite offensive.
I'd have been making fun of your accents, what you're wearing.
Oh, city boys, are you? So you get a real It's easy to build up a real irritation and you'd want to get one over on me.
Maybe I'd even flash the cards accidentally on purpose.
So you'd know for a fact which one's which.
Of course, at the end, they get you.
You've got to get up early in the morning to catch us out.
That's what I thought, yeah.
Pete has studied the sorts of tricks played on Victorian rail passengers.
Well, this is a little game.
It's based on the old three-card game, Find the Lady, Three-Card Monte.
The kind of thing you've seen on street corners, no doubt.
But to make it a bit easier, I'm just gonna use two cards.
So, card number one is the queen of hearts.
I'm gonna get you to hold onto that for me.
You two gentlemen are unlikely to trust me, we've just met.
So maybe check that it is still there.
The queen of hearts? - It is, yeah.
- All right.
It's all above board.
I have got the queen of diamonds over here.
If I do that, without looking at yours, what would you bet? I'm gonna say it's the queen of hearts.
OK, the queen of hearts on the bottom, diamonds on the top? - Yes.
- Interesting.
Once lulled into a false sense of security, passengers were asked to gamble with something of value.
Just to recap, what would you say? Hearts? Are we going hearts on the top, diamonds on the bottom? - Yeah, I think so.
- Turn your hand over.
Ah! (Chuckles) Right, OK.
- Wow.
ALEX: That was truly amazing.
Now, as a real Victorian conman, I definitely wouldn't have changed both cards at the end into different cards, because that is very clearly a magic trick.
The thing is these carriages must have been perfect for con men of the period.
We're a captive audience.
We can't actually get away.
Essentially in the mid-Victorian period, you're going to have lots of very really quite naive travellers, aren't you? You're in a position to actually stalk your prey and pick off people who you think you'd get money off.
- Yeah, definitely.
- I take my eye off you for a millisecond and you've cost me my pocket watch.
Railway crime went beyond the occasional con.
The first reported murder on a train occurred only two years after the publication of the Traveller's Handy Book.
"Caution in passing through tunnels.
" Now this is interesting.
"Male passengers have sometimes been assaulted and robbed and females insulted in passing through tunnels.
In going through a tunnel, therefore, it is always as well to have the hands and arms ready disposed for defence.
" Unaccompanied women were advised to travel with concealed truncheons.
Even the innocent-looking hatpin could be put to good use.
You read, quite often, of women who are sexually assaulted in tunnels, because it's dark, there's a room full of men.
That's right, that's right, and these are examples of what did happen.
The introduction of electricity on trains allowed the guard to have full control of the carriage lighting.
GRAHAM: There we are, the lights are on.
This made passing through tunnels and travelling at night much safer.
Tunnel! PETER: The lights are on, though.
Oh, right, I didn't notice.
What are you doing with my hat, man? Not on your hair! Victorian trains had no buffet cars or on-board toilets.
So scheduled stops for refreshments were vital.
- Only here for 12 minutes.
- I want to use the toilet.
12 minutes? Station stops were usually brief, often between ten and 15 minutes.
Just enough time to use the station's facilities.
Have you got any hot food? - Just soup.
- Just soup.
- Alex will have soup.
- Better have one of those.
With time short, the Handy Book had advice on how to make the most of your refreshment stop.
The Handy Book does say, basically, dispense with pleasantries.
"If you desire a basin of soup, never mind the words 'a basin of', but simply utter the monosyllable, 'soup! ' The same applies for anything else.
" So I got this completely wrong! I should have walked up, no hello.
Just "soup, cake, cake"! Go! Yeah.
Stations would compete with rival companies in creating the most lavish refreshment room.
Some also had licences to serve alcohol and tobacco, putting them in direct competition with local pubs and hotels.
I see you've got cake there, Peter.
Very nice.
They don't do soup spoons here, then? No, they do not.
- Standards! - Be happy with your lot.
Nobody's got any option, there's no catering on the train.
And you're a captive audience, so you can be exploited and, famously, the standard of food at this time was appalling.
RUTH: Oh, dear.
PETER: Goodness me.
- How's that fruit cake, Peter? - A bit dry.
Before the railways existed, travellers by stagecoach would have had the opportunity to eat at coaching inns and could even break their journey by staying the night.
If you were accustomed to eating out, which not many people were, but the wealthy, who were accustomed to eating out, were expecting the full, slow, served at table, silver-service sort of thing.
And then they're faced with just having to Essentially, ordering food in a rugby scrum.
Short on manners.
Short on service.
- It's all quick-fire, isn't it? - Yeah.
It's really interesting that the Handy Book actually has to tell you how to do it.
It's quick-fire, get in there, get your food MAN: Passengers for the 10.
36! - I'll stuff that in my mouth.
- Right, come on! I'm sure that soup would have been nice.
Although The Railway Traveller's Handy Book proved useful when guiding the bewildered passenger through their journey, it didn't hide the fact that the experience may not be for everyone.
It says here, in the Handy Book, "A person in a railway carriage may be likened to a prisoner of state, who is permitted to indulge in any relaxation and amusement to while away the time, but is denied that essential ingredient to human happiness: Personal liberty.
" ALEX: Hm.
(Ruth giggles) We are essentially prisoners in a small box.
- We are, indeed.
- (Guard's whistle) (Steam whistle) For those who didn't make full use of their stop, Victorian entrepreneurs had a novel solution.
Well, this This is the Harrods catalogue.
Look at this.
Attachable external bladders! (Cackles) For ladies and gentlemen.
Oh, my giddy aunt! RUTH: These are PETER: They're pretty good, aren't they? (Laughs) Well, there are other ways, you know, for a lady to manage these problems - look.
Female passengers sometimes resorted to carrying an innocent-looking basket containinga chamber pot.
Goodness me, Ruth! You can do number twosies in there, as well! It wasn't until the 1920s that carriages with corridors became commonplace, enabling trains to be equipped with dining cars and toilets.
Station stops could be shorter, speeding up journey times.
When you look at the carriage we're in, we've effectively reached a style of travelling, which we enjoy today, don't we? It's a bit nostalgic, but, nonetheless, it's recognisable as a modern carriage.
It's comfortable and, certainly, when you look back at Beamish, - when you were in those open - Wagons.
RUTH: It was a beautiful day, so it didn't really matter, but if it had been pouring with rain and the wind howling, and you'd be whistling along, at 20 miles an hour We've reached this level of sophistication, haven't we? Lovely comfy seats, ventilation, it's weather-proof, but we've still got to go that extra hurdle.
We still need toilets on trains and restaurant cars, don't we? We do.
I mean, you could bring a picnic.
And I was thinking that's what that was.
I think you'd get a bit of a surprise, Peter, if you put your hand in that later on in the journey! Next time we see how the railways revolutionised the way the country fed itself And there we have it.
Sheep moving by the power of steam for the first time in at least a generation.
transforming people's diets A railway industry.
Who'd have thought? Rhubarb.
and turning Britain into a nation of fast-food lovers.
I think, if I eat any more, I'm gonna have a heart attack! (Laughter)