Full Steam Ahead (2016) s01e06 Episode Script

Episode 6

(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) (Blows whistle) on Britain's 500 miles of preserved railway.
This is the way to experience train travel.
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.
For all the changes the railways made to our working lives, just as revolutionary were the changes they made to our lives outside of work.
This is a period when mass tourism really took off, and I'm interested in seeing just how the railways catered for this exciting new industry.
The steam engine transformed how we spent our spare time (Hooter) and where we spent it.
Good day.
I'm really interested in how exactly the railways created in the nation's mind's eye, a sense of what Britain was and what the different parts of Britain looked like and what character they had.
I'm interested in all the other ways that people used the railways.
To explore what it was that Britain's cities, towns and countryside had to offer, to see how people used the railway to gain a new sort of freedom.
By the middle of the 19th century, the rhythms of machines dictated the rhythms of working life.
Even your body movement had to adapt to the machinery, even your speech.
Is it any wonder, then, that people were looking for a new form of break from all this? Productivity and efficiency had become a national obsession and with that, a new division between work and leisure began to emerge.
Just as you could clock on, you could clock off.
The business-owning elites had finally come to realise that an efficient, productive workforce was one that had a chance to rest, recuperate.
And this new-found separate leisure time was one that allowed people to think about doing more complex things, more challenging things in their leisure time, things further away from home.
And the railways jumped on the bandwagon.
And nowhere was this more true than with the lines rail companies built to carry millions of holidaymakers to seaside resorts around the British coast.
Now, this is what I call a holiday.
This is my kind of holiday.
And this line still carries 200,000 people a year.
That's a staggering number of people and essentially it provides a service running people all the way down to Swanage, many of whom are going there for their holidays.
Before the arrival of a rail line to the Dorset coast, Swanage was a small and remote community of only 2,000 residents.
By connecting the town via a branch line to the main network, Swanage more than doubled in size and population, as fishing and light industry made way for the tourist trade.
Today, drivers and firemen like Andy Croggan continue to ferry visitors to the Dorset resort.
Have you ever seen the beach in Swanage? Once or twice, I never go to it, though.
I visited Corfe Castle the other day for the first time.
How many years have I been coming? Going past it on the train, never going in.
What better view could you have of Corfe Castle? Look at that view, it's fantastic.
Like the Swanage line, as the railways connected once-isolated regions of the country, coastal villages and towns around Britain became thriving holiday destinations.
In the Southwest, the impact of these new rail lines was deep and long lasting.
The Paignton and Dartmouth Steam Railway opened up the south Devon coast to travellers from all over the British isles.
Where tourism had previously been the preserve of the upper classes, now with more leisure time, and an affordable means of transport, Victorians from all walks of life could escape polluted and overcrowded cities for fresh air in the countryside.
In the 18th century, a whole new fashion arises amongst the poets and the novelists of the era, talking about the sublime beauty of Britain's wild places, the lake districts, the moors, the heathlands, but that was very much an elite pleasure.
It was for people who could afford a carriage of their own to go and see.
With the railways, suddenly opportunities open up for the rest of us to get out into the fresh air and the sunshine and all the plants and the sea and the hills to enjoy, to take pleasure in the beauty of Britain's landscapes.
Not all Victorians welcomed the arrival of the masses to the countryside.
"Is there no nook of English ground secure from rash assault?" Wrote the poet William Wordsworth.
Such objections lost out to the economic benefits of the railways, as tourism regenerated impoverished rural communities, providing much-needed employment.
There's an expression: Millionaire for a week.
When you go on holiday, you spend a lot of money, but there's a lot of people running around after you, looking after you, and that's what I'm doing.
I'm here at the Swanage railway, seeing exactly what went into making this such a great holiday destination.
It's gonna be oily, it's gonna be sooty, it's gonna be dirty, it's gonna be sweaty.
I think I'm gonna need a holiday.
As the railways paved the way for the summer holiday season, extra services were laid on between London and Swanage, creating additional pressures for the workforce of the small coastal branch line.
So you're just trying to get the loco over that centre point? Get them perfectly balanced.
Makes it easier to push around.
On a single-track line, for general manager Matt Green, fast and efficient turnarounds are vital.
We then get our bars out this end and try and find as many people as we can to push her around.
- We bring that out, do we? - That's the one.
- Ready? - Ready.
Big push to get her going.
There we go.
Tremendous amount of effort to get her going, but once she's off, she's off.
Although some locos work just as well tender first, for many, top speed was slower in reverse so a turntable was used at Swanage to point the engine in the right direction.
Little bit more, little bit more.
Little bit more.
That's it.
- Lock on? - Put the lock in now.
That's just this lever? Pull him over and that just stops the table moving.
She's ready now to go down onto her coaching stock.
Tie onto the train ready to take the next lot of visitors out.
By day on the Swanage line, trains ran non-stop.
Workers had to tend to the engines around the clock, keeping the locomotives in steam for the early morning services.
These engines would have worked very hard during the day and at the end of the day, the fire needs to come out because obviously the fire is dirty.
This clinker shovel gets right to the back of the fire box.
Means that fire that's in there can be dragged out, that old fire, that dirty fire, the fire with the impurities, and thrown out.
But, once the fire's out of there, this is gonna start cooling down and we need to use this tomorrow so we've got to keep it warm, which means bedding it in.
We'll just drop a little bit of coal behind the fire door and that'll keep the whole thing ticking over, keep the fabric of the fire box up to a high temperature, and means in the morning this can get a head of steam quickly and start running people back down to the seaside.
Below! Rail travel for many Victorians was still an adventure into the unknown.
Journeys had to be planned in meticulous detail.
Even the idea of a timetable was an unfamiliar concept for the novice traveller.
Get up! A trip to the seaside might have begun with a wake-up call from a knocker-upper.
I'm up, Mr Willoughby.
For most people in Britain, travel by rail was still very much a rarity.
It was a treat for special occasions but it was still a very daunting experience.
But fortunately I have the Railway Traveller's Handy Book from 1862 to guide me through the process of travelling by rail.
It's full of hints, suggestions and advice for the anxious Victorian traveller.
The first thing I need to get right is I need to make sure that I'm on time.
And I've already arranged for my knocker-upper to give me my morning call.
- So I've made a good start.
- Get up! But most importantly to get me started it's got advice on travelling costume.
"The dress which a person wears when travelling by railway need not be an object of solicitude so far as fashion is concerned.
The end to be achieved is comfort and ease.
One of the most sensible articles of travelling attire is a shirt of flannel which is much warmer than the linen or cotton shirt ordinarily worn.
The best costume is one of those suits fashioned in such a manner as to leave the body and limbs free and unconstrained.
Patent leather boots.
They can be cleaned by the wearer himself with a little oil or milk.
It would be as well for the traveller to provide himself with pockets for books, newspapers, sandwiches, pocket flask, et cetera.
It is of the utmost importance to keep the feet warm.
No matter what the season, in our variable climate, sunshine may at any moment be interrupted by rain.
" As working life became increasingly regulated, most Victorians worked a six-day week, clocking off midday on a Saturday and resuming on a Monday.
The notion of a weekend break, or a day trip, began to develop, providing new financial opportunities for rail companies.
Are you taking the dog with you? Yeah, I'm taking the dog.
With more spare time and more money in their pockets, dog-owning took off in late Victorian Britain.
This was the era within which the Kennel Club was founded and railway companies were quick to exploit this new-found obsession amongst the British public.
So it wasn't just humans that were charged for their fare, it was also dogs.
Return to Swanage, please.
And the rail companies didn't stop there.
Not content to make money only from tourists and their pets, some ploughed considerable funds into supplying the main attractions of the destinations they served.
At the end of the Paignton and Dartmouth line, passengers could board a paddle steamer for a cruise up the river Dart, built for and run by the Great Western Railway Company.
From one steam engine to another, this is steam entirely for the purpose of having fun.
Paddle steamers like the Kingswear Castle became a popular attraction at Victorian seaside resorts up and down the country.
We need a nice level fire, a nice covering of coal on the embers more than anything.
- OK, so more coal then? - Yeah, that's right.
Getting the boat up to steam for its daily river excursion is a three-hour process for ship's engineer Dan Wheldon.
Oh, I haven't got the hang yet.
DAN: A little bit of a flick.
You kind of have to throw it in.
That's it, there we go.
Normal operating pressure is 110psi, so that's what we're aiming for, really.
So while we're waiting for that to build pressure, I presume there's other jobs to be done.
Lead on.
Yeah, that one there and we did that one, didn't we? We did the top.
Just like a steam locomotive, before and even during the river cruise, every moving part of the engine has to be greased.
There's a heck of a lot of this, little tiny touches and things.
It's like nursing it along the whole time.
A little bit of oil, a little bit of this and that.
It's satisfying to actually start the engine moving, it's like bringing something to life.
You're nursing it, and then all of a sudden And you've spent three hours doing that.
There we go, and then that one's done.
Oh, we're already over the 100.
That's right, so we're about ready to start warming through the engine now.
What we're gonna do is just crack open the steam.
- The sleeper awakes.
- It's alive! (Ruth laughs) That is quite special, the way that it just sort of quietly, when it's ready, just starts to move on its own.
It is, it's extremely like an animal.
It's a little bit touchy in the mornings, but I think I would be at 112 years old as well.
Only in control of manoeuvring the paddle steamer, skipper Ritchie Swinglehurst must communicate power instructions - down to the engine room.
- (Whistles) There we go, there's the pipe.
If you pull the pipe out and stick your ear to it We're just gonna do a telegraph test, so I'll go full ahead.
Full ahead! RITCHIE: I'll go slow ahead.
Slow ahead.
And then stop.
It really is just a speaking tube, like two kids with a pair of cups and a bit of string between.
That's right, yeah.
And the telegraph here just lets me know what engine movements Rich wants up in the wheelhouse.
(Whistle) We're off.
Luckily me and Rich have developed a kind of relationship now where I can almost anticipate what he's gonna ring.
And in a couple of seconds Rich will ring slow astern.
There we go.
There's the slow astern.
You are more than welcome to take your drinks from the bar but please return your cups and glasses.
Time, I think, for a little bit of the passenger experience.
Paddle steamers were all part of the many changes that tourism brought to the countryside, as the landscapes of fishermen and farmers became playgrounds for Victorian pleasure-seekers.
The whole concept, the whole idea of messing about on boats for fun only really starts after the railways.
That as steam-powered boats and steam-powered railways begin to make older sailing somewhat obsolete, that's the moment when people begin to see it as a leisure activity, and the whole idea of a pleasure trip really takes hold.
Providing both the transport and sometimes the entertainment, the railways planted the seeds of what became the British seaside holiday.
But that wasn't its only legacy.
Racing along at this speed, the train traveller was able to see the English landscape in a way they'd never seen it before.
But they were also able to take in Great Britain's great antiquaries - these ancient sites, ruined castles, ruined monasteries and medieval bridges.
These places had been the stuff of myth and legend for years and now people were able to come and visit them.
They became tangible visitor attractions.
As Britain became a nation of sightseers and day-trippers, The National Trust was founded in 1885 to protect the country's rich heritage from the effects of all this mass tourism.
But for me, it's time to swat up on what I need to do when I get to the other end.
"As a matter of course, a railway traveller should, on reaching his destination, look after his luggage as speedily as possible.
As the luggage is delivered from the vans, porters are standing near to convey it to such place as the owner may direct.
It is an extremely awkward affair to be detected in the act of walking off with some other person's property.
And although the mistake may be explained subsequently, it yet entails a considerable amount of mortification, humiliation and delay.
" Paul McDonald worked on the Swanage line when it was still part of the national network.
You would have had thousands and thousands of people in the summer and each of them may have had They would all probably have at least one case.
They would have done.
Two at least.
The wealthy would have had a lot of luggage and the average worker would have had just a couple of suitcases with the children in one hand and the suitcases in the other, eager to get to their hotel and get on to the beach.
The luggage must have been a nightmare, trying to sort all that.
It would all have paper labels where its destination was.
All managed by the guard and the porters on the station.
Or it would have gone into the goods shed maybe to be delivered out to the hotels.
I suppose I should get this luggage to its rightful owners.
Yeah, let's get going.
Hello, Peter.
- How are you, all right? - Yeah, very good.
Good stuff.
Moving the luggage around.
Where you off to? I'm off for some hard-earned leisure pursuits, I think.
- You picked a nice day for it.
- I have indeed.
I'm going to need my walking boots.
- Do you see your case? - Yeah.
They're similar but that is definitely my case.
So, well, you have a good time with the loco.
I will do.
As well as catering for bucket-and-spade tourists Good day.
in an age of new discoveries and advancements in scientific understanding, the Swanage line became a gateway for scholars and amateur enthusiasts to explore the geology of one of the country's most unique landscapes: The Jurassic Coast.
She sells sea shells by the seashore.
She Sells Sea Shells is a famous tongue-twister, referring to Mary Anning, the Dorset entrepreneur who made a living selling fossils to Victorian scientists and holidaymakers.
You can see a slight change in colour here.
That's actually reflecting changing geology.
Her important discoveries have inspired generations of palaeontologists like Simon Penn to comb the Jurassic Coast for the remains of Britain's prehistoric past.
What we're looking for is the sort of shale, wave-cut platforms along here.
It's effectively a really muddy seabed that's just been compressed and turned into rock.
And it's within that kind of deposit that we're going to find our fossils, you think? - Hopefully.
- Let's have a look around.
Let's have a hunt.
Here we go, what we have got there? SIMON: Ah, there you go.
That's an ammonite, and this part here that's hollow is actually where the animal lived.
You had a squid-like animal living inside there.
Goodness me.
That's quite phenomenal.
And with the railways allowing so many more people to travel, you would have had very many more amateurs on the case.
It must have meant that the whole science just increased massively, the whole understanding of the science.
Yes, it was a complete renaissance really in that sort of palaeontological thinking.
This was the age of Darwin, whose theories on evolution helped make fossil hunting a popular Victorian pastime.
What kind of things are we getting here? This is the vertebra of a big carnivorous dinosaur.
This is actually from the neck.
So you get a perspective on the size of these huge animals.
It's called Baryonyx.
- Baryonyx? - Baryonyx, yeah.
- That's just amazing.
- It's a huge Amazing.
To think of the excitement those Victorian day-trippers had coming down here, the possibility themselves of finding some of these things.
Of course.
There were new things being found cos it's such a young science.
When they actually cut the railways through the landscape, it revealed a huge book of geology that they read, and went from environment to environment collecting fossil insects to dinosaurs, to sharks and ammonites.
I'm thinking about a deeply Christian society, a society that thinks effectively that God created the planet.
How is this shaking things up for them? Quite a lot.
Darwin was obviously key.
The idea of evolution sort of starts in those mid- sort of Victorian times.
People lock on to it and go, "We've got something here, this is a breakthrough.
" From my perspective, you've got, you know, day-trippers can come down here and actually see it for themselves.
Evolution in action, yeah.
The railway was expanding people's horizons in ways that the early pioneers of steam could never have imagined.
- A return to London, please.
- Certainly.
For the first time, the nation at large was able to fully appreciate and understand what Britain was and what it looked like.
(Steam whistle blows) And the railways would enable Queen Victoria's husband Prince Albert to organise a national event, bringing the country together in a way that had never been possible before.
The Great Exhibition of 1851 was always intended by Prince Albert to showcase British manufacturing to an international audience.
But when it came to it, the ticket sales to the overseas visitors were a little disappointing.
That could not be said, however, of the British public, who responded in an unprecedented way.
A third of the population, yeah, a third of the population, the entire population, visited the Great Exhibition within a six-month period.
Such was the success of the exhibition that the main venue, the Crystal Palace, was moved to a permanent new site with its own station, drawing rail travellers from across the isles to events on a national scale.
I think perhaps this one excites me more than any other.
On this occasion, there were 500 musicians and a choir of 4,000 voices.
And what makes it even more special is that this event in 1888 was the first-ever live performance to be recorded.
(Old recording plays) Between 1854 and 1884, an average two million visitors travelled to the Crystal Palace each year.
Celebrating British culture and identity, this was the time when the very term "Victorian" began to be commonly used, and when London itself became the nation's number one tourist destination.
Almost from the very moment the Crystal Palace opened, Prince Albert and his cronies were planning this, the Victoria and Albert Museum, which was intended from the very start to bring together the finest art and design from all over the world - intended for the inspiration and pleasure of the British working man, and woman.
When the Natural History Museum opened next door, even the world of palaeontology was granted a brand new space to showcase its collections and latest discoveries.
As the skyline of London was transformed, more and more rail travellers flocked to the capital.
This was when a weekend shopping trip to town became a leisure activity for increasing numbers of Victorians with more spare time and cash in their pockets.
(Laughs) It is still possible to just get that little flavour of Victorian London shopping.
And the railways made a big difference to these sorts of businesses.
Look at all these sticks here.
The new freedom that the railways gave people allowed them to get out and enjoy a whole new world of walking holidays out in the fresh air, and that obviously provided a new market for small businesses.
I think it's really telling this particular little business Before the railways, one tiny little shop, but within 20 years of the railways arriving, six emporiums.
And they're still surviving.
More than surviving.
Doing all right.
As the railways brought people to London from all over Britain, the fashions and trends of the capital were exported nationwide.
I could rock this look, definitely.
(Laughs) Established in 1840, bespoke shoemakers Foster & Son also thrived off the back of London's railway boom.
- So - One on each side.
One on each side.
Chairman Richard Edgecliffe-Johnson and last maker John Spencer are still making made-to-measure shoes as they would have done in the company's Victorian heyday.
You're taking a lot of different measurements.
- Yeah.
- John describes this as his ordnance survey map of your foot.
When you think that usually you just walk in and all it gives you is one number, a size so-and-so and that's all you get.
So this is the picture of my feet.
What happens next? Well, next, John's going to take that map of your feet and he's going to make a last.
- And that's one of these? - That's one of those.
And that happens to be Charlie Chaplin's last from quite a few years ago - see, he had quite a strong foot.
So you make these sort of wooden moulds, models? This doesn't represent the foot.
It's actually the shape of the shoe you want to finish up with.
The other thing I noticed was this little thing.
What are you doing with miniature shoes in your shop? That's got a bit of industrial history behind it, because this shoe was used for travelling.
As the country opened up, we could go and see our customers.
You didn't want to carry great big heavy shoes in your case so if you took a little one like that So just as the railways were encouraging people to come to London for high-quality leisure shopping, it's also allowing London specialists to go out into the country and offer a bespoke service in the Highlands of Scotland or wherever.
You could do that.
- Such a sweet little thing.
- It is a nice piece of history.
As shoemaking became increasingly mechanised in the 19th century, smaller high-end businesses were able to specialise, using the railways to sell bespoke products to individual customers all over Britain.
The influence of the railways on shoemakers didn't end there.
As people had more ability to travel, sporting events came right to the fore.
From the 1890s onwards, you begin to see the rise of the football leagues.
Football boots.
Grand, aren't they? A whole new market for shoemakers.
More and more people travelling to more and more events and more and more sports.
These? Golf or tennis shoes.
Ice skates, anyone? With a new thirst for leisure pursuits, the railways enabled people to travel far and wide to public events and sporting fixtures.
But the railways were also used to transport entertainments to the masses on high days and holidays, in the form of travelling theatre groups, freak shows or steam fairs.
(Steam organ plays) Travelling fairs and carnivals were a common visitor to many towns across Britain, and although many of them have an ancient heritage, it's the lights, the sound and the movement of those huge rides that have their origins in the Age of Steam.
The steam rides could be packed away, loaded onto trains, ready to be reassembled at the next stop.
Joby Carter is the son of the founder of Carter's Steam Fair.
- This is gallopers, isn't it? - This is gallopers, yes.
- You wouldn't call it carousel.
- Had you spoken to my dad, "Have you got a carousel?" "No, sorry, can't help you.
" He'd put the phone down, genuinely.
He wouldn't entertain the fact that he perceived it as the wrong name for a galloper.
It's such a lovely word, isn't it, galloper? It's very English.
Now there are differences.
- A galloper goes clockwise.
- Right.
A carousel goes anti-clockwise and it's relevant to the side of the road you drive on.
- I'll accept merry-go-round.
- Merry-go-round, yeah.
Merry-go-round I'll accept.
Never carousel.
Anyone who calls it that is a sell-out.
(Laughs) The galloper is connected to a portable steam engine - How's it looking? - (Engine hoots) adapted from those used in factories and on farms, to power the ride.
When we purchased the ride, it was working but it didn't have an engine.
My dad saw its potential, fell in love with it and went about trying to find an engine.
A friend of his had an engine which my dad purchased off him.
The day he put it on, it went straight on, the bolts fitted and the cogs lined up.
So the chances of it not being from that ride are very remote.
We're incredibly lucky.
We've run it on steam ever since.
We've been back in steam for 40 years now.
That's amazing.
- That's meant to be, isn't it? - Yeah, definitely.
(Steam organ plays) It's like being a child again, and steam power is such a fantastic invention.
It was designed for work, it was designed for the factories, it was designed for moving people.
But the Victorians, they became steam junkies and if it could be harnessed to a steam engine, it was.
In the wake of the railways, Victorians had become used to a faster, more exciting world.
And some of the wealthiest in society began looking for new ways to take the steam engine to the next level.
If you could afford it, you may very well stretch to one of these, a steam-powered car.
The first thing I need to do is to open up my throttle.
The problem is, just like a steam locomotive, it takes time to warm one of these things up.
I also need to check the pilot, is she alight? Yes, she's alight so I'm happy with that.
Day-tripping was very definitely not a spontaneous affair.
Steam cars predated the steam railways but it wasn't until the second half of the 19th century that the technology gained momentum.
So I'm happy with that.
I now need to check my fuel pressure.
Basil Craske is the owner of this later 1910 model which used kerosene rather than coal, the fuel of the jet engine.
- All up to steam? - Yes, we're all ready to go.
- OK, so shall I climb on board? - Climb on board.
Well, that is comfy, that is.
- Handbrake off.
- Handbrake is off.
- Footbrake.
- No brake.
Yeah, open her up.
Off we go.
(Laughs) (Toots horn) I mean, this really was a sort of gentleman-of-leisure car.
Very much so.
You had to have a few bob to lay your hands on one of these.
Well, in 1910, these would be over £1,000.
1910, £1,000 I dread to think what it relates to today.
- But it's not Mr Average.
- No.
That is an extortionate amount of money.
And it was all about pleasure-seeking, really.
I mean, these weren't being purchased as vehicles for functional use in society.
This was all about leisure, wasn't it? Yes.
This was going out, going for a drive, maybe going out for picnics.
Yeah, seeing a bit of the world that you'd never seen before.
Yeah, it was purely a leisure thing.
Purely a leisure pursuit.
The steam car was remarkably quiet and surprisingly fast.
Achieving a new land speed record in 1906, one steam car was clocked at 127 miles per hour.
But there was one major drawback.
- Here we go.
- Right.
Ready to pick up some water.
So you don't need to stop at a petrol station but you do need to stop to collect water.
- Yes.
Very regularly.
- (Laughs) - 25, 30 miles is the maximum.
- Every 25, 30 miles, right.
They do a mile to the gallon.
If it gets into the water, I'll know - OK, so if I come into there - Yeah.
(Steam hisses) Oh, yeah, I can feel the suction actually in the pipe.
It's sucking it out into the water.
Maybe a few tadpoles in the tank now.
The water level's coming up on our side indicator gauge.
There we are.
Out she comes.
There we are.
We're now good for another 25 miles or more.
That was 10 or 12 gallons, as quick as that.
10 or 12 gallons! - Quick as that.
- Just like that! See if we can't find ourselves a nice country pub.
Over long distances, the steam car was never a match for the steam locomotive.
And with nothing to compete with the train, in the 19th century, tourism remained a captive market for rail companies.
At major junctions and stations on the rail network, old coaching inns made way for grand hotels for the weary and usually wealthy passenger.
And none were more palatial or luxurious than the Midland Grand at London's St Pancras.
I've just stepped through the first public revolving door in all of Europe, and you might notice it's got three compartments, not four, to make space for all those huge dresses.
And I've stepped into well, it's like stepping into a palace, isn't it? A great, enormous, exuberant mix of the Gothic and the Renaissance and the Persian.
And this this is a railway hotel for railway passengers.
Opened in 1873, no expense was spared to create a landmark building in the heart of the nation's capital city - a monument to the success of its owner, the Midland Railway Company.
And this was the gentlemen's coffee room, redecorated for 1901 just for coffee.
A vision of architect George Gilbert Scott, the Midland Grand epitomised 19th-century elegance and sophistication.
Now, this is swanky, isn't it? There's even a grand piano over there.
Imagine it playing as you ascend.
(Piano plays softly) In the Victorian mind-set, the railways had become much more than just a fast and efficient means of transport.
This was where the dreams and aspirations of a nation on the move played out.
There's a great big shield painted on the wall with emblems of the six cities the Midland Railway served - Leeds, Lincoln, Leicester, Birmingham, Derby, Bristol.
And right at the top is a sort of dragon-like creature.
That's what the Midland Railway adopted as their sort of logo.
It was all part of the plan to give that flavour of aristocratic elegance to all railway travellers, at least their wealthy customers.
It was a sort of democratisation: "You too can buy into the myths of Old England.
You too, even if you come from Leeds or Birmingham or Bristol and have to live a fairly workaday life.
You too can be part of this glamorous future an echo of a glamorous past.
" The hotel did, however, have one major design fault.
Built before the age of the en suite, guests relied on an army of servants to scuttle through corridors with bowls and hip baths.
Unable to easily modernise because its floors were built from solid concrete, the Midland Grand closed its doors in 1935.
But since the arrival of the Eurostar, the hotel and station have been reborn for the 21 st century.
I love the detail here.
This used to be the booking office, where you came to buy your ticket.
Obviously it's a posh restaurant now.
Up here, on the capitals, are sculptures of railway people.
There's a crossing keeper and an engine driver and a signalman and a guard, both of them in their uniforms from the 1870s.
Everywhere you look, little tiny reminders, this is Railway Land.
By the end of the 19th century, there was barely an industry or a community in Britain that hadn't been transformed by the railways.
The livelihoods of millions of Victorians now depended entirely on steam technology and the armies of workers and engineers employed to keep the engines running.
Little bit more.
Bit harder.
That's it.
How often do you do this? We do this every 28 days the engine's been used.
During peak holiday season on the Swanage line, locomotives were pushed to their limits, requiring workers like Billy Johnson to carry out frequent boiler inspections.
So once the boiler's stripped, our next job is to flush it out so we can do the exam afterwards.
So move the tools cos this is gonna get wet, is it? Yes, this will all get wet here.
So if you turn that tap.
Flushing out the boiler removes any corrosive scale.
As you can see, it's quite a wet and dirty process.
- So once a month you do this? - Yeah.
You've done a really good job there, Peter.
I could do with one of these at home.
Operating under extreme pressure, cracks in the boiler have the potential to cause an explosion.
In the hole, as far as you can go.
- Which one, the top one? - Yeah, the top one's fine.
- As you can see, look - Oh, yeah.
So basically what we've got to look out for is to make sure that none of the stays have been cracked as far as we can see.
So we look around.
Just dip it in a bit more paraffin to keep it going.
What we do now is put that in that hole there and we walk to the front.
And as you can see, the channel's more or less clear.
- Yeah.
- You can look all the way down.
This is a little bit like dentistry for locomotives.
It is, yeah.
That's exactly how they've done it.
There's more of these up in the cab, more in the front.
How many inspection points has this got? - Altogether there's about 40.
- 40? Wow.
So we've got quite a lot to look through.
- That's going to take a while.
- It is, yeah.
Boilers were one of the steam engine's greatest weaknesses.
On average they had a lifespan of only ten years, keeping boiler engineers like brothers Hal and Guy Debes in regular work.
Boilermakers in Victorian times earned at least twice as much as other workers in the same industry.
It was an extremely skilled job.
The smallest fault in the fabric of a boiler could have catastrophic and fatal consequences.
There's a famous account of an engine that fell through the parapet of a bridge.
That in itself wouldn't have caused any severe damage - they are very strong, boilers.
However, it fell into a river, and the rapid cooling of the water did make it explode.
They found the safety valve a mile-and-a-half away when it went through a church roof.
- A boiler is actually a bomb.
- Yeah.
- Powerful things.
- Stay away from explosions.
Look after them, don't mess with them.
Before the mechanisation of locomotive production, making a boiler required a lot of heat, a good deal of brawn and a steady aim.
Oof! - (Laughter) - Jesus wept.
So we've done the easy bits now.
The hard bits are the corners.
I have to say the easy bit was quite hard.
I'm not looking forward to the hard bit! It's amazing just thinking how many vehicles were in operation during that age of steam, and all those vehicles, over their lifetime, would have needed boiler repairs.
They'd need to be serviced, not just once but several times.
I mean, they may have only lasted a few years before they needed another one of these end caps.
It's hard, hard work.
You can just see how much pressure and stresses they're under, and how much wear they get over their lives.
A bit like me, to be honest.
I'm starting to feel it.
The steam engine was hugely labour-intensive, requiring a large and highly skilled workforce.
And although by Queen Victoria's death in 1901, the steam railway had a firm grip on almost every aspect of daily life in Britain, a new, more efficient technology was coming along to threaten that dominance.
I've always wanted to be in my own episode of Wind In The Willows.
It feels so fast when you've got no roof on, doesn't it? Wealthier members of society, who could afford the latest petrol-powered motor cars were the first to seize the opportunity to swap the constraints of rail travel for the open road.
I feel slightly two ways about it, to be honest, because at that very moment in which the railways offer everybody freedom the elite start looking around for something different.
So as soon as there's an alternative, they leap at it, leave everybody else behind on the train, you know, "We go off on our own in this very new, expensive form of transport.
" But it also, I guess, enabled all of the very many nooks and crannies of the English countryside to be explored.
That's true.
It does give a new sort of freedom.
But initially, and for quite a long time, - just to the elite.
- Yeah.
Well, that's us today, Ruth, so let's not knock it.
(Ruth laughs) It's quite nice occasionally, - I have to be honest.
- It is.
It's something of an irony that the first mass-produced car, the model TFord, the American vehicle that became a symbol of a new era, and the future demise of the locomotive, was itself a product of steam power.
I wonder how Peter's getting on? That's them.
I hope they're working him like a dog.
From the supply of the Ford's raw resources to its assembly, from the transportation of its parts across the Atlantic to its distribution in Britain, steam engines in factories, on ships and in trains, were key to its production.
Why does it smell of fish round here? I've got a little surprise for you, Ruth.
Enabling tourists to explore the countryside off the beaten track, the motor car did much to instil in the nation a growing appetite for picnicking even providing a means of cooking a hot meal.
There we go.
Lovely little aftermarket oven which you can sit on the manifold, some fish and potatoes.
Ruth will be happy.
Here we go, Ruth.
(Laughs) Some extremely hot potatoes and some smoked mackerel.
- Smoked mackerel? - Yeah.
It's sort of like cooking things on the shovel in a steam engine, isn't it? It is, only slightly more sophisticated.
I'm interested to know if they taste of petrol.
- Not even a whiff of kerosene.
- There isn't, is there? Lovely Jersey potatoes here, brought here courtesy of the railways.
- Smoked fish as well.
- Smoked fish, true.
Brought all the way down from the north of England.
Actually, when you think about it, the jam will have been railway transported, flour, probably probably most of these ingredients.
- Yep.
- There's a real intermeshing of transport technologies, isn't there? It's, you know, the two systems have found a level.
(Laughs) Especially when it comes to leisure.
I mean, you know, the leisure industry that the car inherited was basically born out of the railways, wasn't it? If it hadn't been for the railways, you wouldn't have seaside towns, or access to the countryside.
Here's to integrated transport! To the integrated transport network.
I can imagine Peter now, though, sweat pouring from his brow.
Let's be honest, though.
That is his natural habitat.
The man is never happier than when he's covered in filth.
Whoops! Oh, sorry.
And I give you a shout when it's near the top? Getting close to the top.
Where the steam locomotive required frequent refills with gallons of water Needed a wash, though.
and when getting an engine up to steam took hours, the internal combustion engine could be started with a turn of a key.
Here we are.
And following the railway's lead, motor companies were quick to produce their own guidebooks.
Well, seeing as you're happy driving, Ruth, I'll consult the Michelin Guide.
Swanage, here we come.
Well, we can always have a drink at the Ship.
That's on the High Street, apparently.
And if we have any problems with the car, there's the Central Garage which is on Station Road.
Station Road! (Laughs) It's always amazed me just how much effort goes in to not just bringing a steam engine up to steam, but in actually driving and firing the thing.
- And it is fantastic - (Whistle blows) but it's hard.
The motor car would have its day, but by then people had already become accustomed to travelling far and wide.
It was the steam railways that had got Britain on the move, changing how we thought about and used our countryside and cities, transforming our shopping habits, what we did in our spare time, and where we spent our holidays.
Well, no sign of them.
Is that Peter's face I can see there? PETER: There they are.
I can see Alex in his little cap, looking smug.
The car was wonderful and clean, Peter, unlike you.
Not for much longer.
You've had a good day? - Give us a hug.
- (Laughs) Do you fancy finishing your day on the beach with an ice cream? Are we next to the sea? I had no idea.
- Haven't you noticed? - No, you never see it! - Oh, this is nice.
- It is, isn't it? - Lovely, isn't it? - It is.
I have really, really enjoyed this exploration of railways.
Not just the doing, which obviously I enjoyed, but also the history of it, you know, just Well, you come away knowing that there is almost no aspect of modern life that doesn't owe this huge debt to the railways.
ALEX: And many of those things as well were really sort of unintended consequences of a design and a plan that was forged at the beginning of the 19th century.
By the time we get to the end of the 19th century, you know, that railway is doing so many things that people had never envisaged it would do.
PETER: But I suppose that's the almost the enigma of the railways, the fact that there was no plan.
This was pioneers.
There was no thought of how this was going to turn out.
Nobody knew.
They went for it, and they went for it in such a way that they created something amazing.
ALEX: And of course, it created the infrastructure of modern Britain.
Most definitely.
Would this seaside town have been here without railways? Probably not.
It would probably still be a fishing village.
But look at it now.
It owes its fortunes all to the railways.
RUTH: And when that steam finally sort of fades away or puffs into the distance, you know, the railways have to develop and change and find a new role in life.
I find it very heartening that here in the modern age there are more trains carrying more people than there have ever been.
There is one thing to be said for you being covered in coal dust - the ice cream shows up more.
Oh, not already? Goodness, you can't take him anywhere.
(Ruth laughs)