19th October 1839. Bradshaw’s.


1862 Edition.


Victorian Greeting Card.








Today saw the first Bradshaw railway timetables, routes and maps, dated 10th Mo. 19th 1839, a guide necessary for the new and confusing railway networks.

The name of the month was not shown as Bradshaw was a Quaker and the Society of Friends did not approve of pagan names in calendars.(1)

Bradshaw was published before Standardized Railway Time-coming in November 1840: ‘London Time is kept at all stations which is 4 minutes earlier than Reading; 7 ½ m. than Cirencester; 11 m. than Bath and Bristol and 18 minutes than Exeter’.

Bristol showing two minute hands.

Bristol showing two minute hands for different times.

Paddington Clock.

Paddington  Station Clock.







The Guide began as a local timetable for the north of England in 1838,the National Guide coming in two parts, north and south, a year later.

The first issue at 2 ½d was a cloth-bound book for schedules for The Liverpool and Manchester Railway, the first twin-track, inter-urban passenger railway with all trains time-tabled and ticketed.

On 25th October a similar Guide was issued for the London and Birmingham Railway, the first ‘inter-city’ at 1 shilling. (2)

Bradshaw’s was a fund of information for Sherlock Holmes, amongst other fictional characters, though it was usually left to Watson to consult it. In the ‘Copper Beeches’, Holmes tells Watson: ‘Just look up the trains in Bradshaw’.

At first only main stations were listed but with the increase in lines from 1856, all stations were shown in the index and by attracting adverts the price was held, at one shilling, until 1916.(3)

Bradshaw 3.4.1961.

Bradshaw 3.4.1961, advertising Bovril.

2nd Mo (Feb) 1863.

2nd Mo (Feb) 1863. Note date.










Sometimes Bradshaw’s precision failed, dropping a ‘howler’ in 1936 when it noted that the 10.45 from Paddington had a ‘Buffer Car’.

Bradshaw’s was such a representative item in Victorian times that a copy, among other articles, was sealed in the pedestal of Cleopatra’s Needle on the Thames Embankment.

The last Bradshaw’s was published in 1961 as British Railways now produced its own simplified timetable after the loss of much of the network.

Ironically George Bradshaw, cartographer, printer and publisher, born in 1801. died of cholera in Oslo in 1853, on one of his journeys, as he was to produce a Continental Version.

His memory was perpetuated by Michael Portillo on BBC TV, accompanied by a Bradshaw.(4)

(1) The Quakers used the ancient terminology of the Bible.

(2) The first one-volume Guide came out in December 1841 and despite religious scruples, was dated ‘For December 1841’. The only extant copy is in the Bodleian Library, Oxford.

(3) Front covers also saw adverts for: Lea & Perrins Sauce, Stephens Ink, Martells Brandy, Chubbs Safes and Waring & Gillow furniture.

(4) Its main rival was the Alphabetical Railway Guide (ABC) which began in 1853 and featured in Agatha Christie’s, ABC Murders; others like the Intelligible Railway Guide followed.


ebay.co.uk/Pic of 1961.

mwgerard.com/Pic of 1863.

wikipedia.org/railway_time/Pics of clocks.

europeantravellers.net/Pic of Handbook.



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About colindunkerley

My name is Colin Dunkerley who having spent two years in the Royal Army Pay Corps ploughed many a barren industrial furrow until drawn to the 'chalk-face' as a teacher, now retired. I have spent the last 15 years researching all aspects of life in Britain since Roman times.

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