A History in Drawings


A compendium of magnificent engineering drawings that gives a unique overview of the history of railways


ISBN: 9780500021675 Category:

Christopher Valkoinen


The advent of railways in Britain was a fundamental part of its economic and social revolution in the 19th century, with technical advances that were the envy of the world and chronicled from the beginning through meticulous drawings. Detailed plans were created of locomotives, carriages and wagons, as well as of stations, bridges and tunnels, to facilitate the manufacturing process and the maintenance of the rapidly expanding railway network.

Miraculously, about a million of these magnificent drawings have survived and are held in the National Railway Museum in York. Christopher Valkoinen has selected over 130 examples that tell the engineering history of great innovations and triumphs, such as the Forth Bridge, and reveal the work of famous pioneers, including Richard Trevithick, George Stephenson, and Nigel Gresley of Flying Scotsman fame. Other plans range from Queen Victoria’s royal saloon and a travelling post office to a station tea-room at York and modern experiments with a hovertrain. There are also drawings for railways around the world: the USA, Russia, Japan, India, Australia and Egypt, among others, as well as contemporary photographs and posters.

Throughout, Valkoinen provides valuable insights into the social and political impact of the railways. He also reveals how these drawings are more than a reference tool for the historian or modelmaker; they are exquisite works of art, painstakingly produced by highly skilled artists, which can be appreciated in their own right.

With 300 illustrations

Additional information

Weight 2307 g
Dimensions 24.8 x 33.9 cm
Publisher name Thames and Hudson Ltd
Publication date 9 August 2021
Number of pages 306
Format Hardback
Contributors Foreword by Judith McNicol
Dimensions 24.8 x 33.9 cm
Weight 2307 g


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Christopher Valkoinen works in the Search Engine library and archives at the National Railway Museum in York, where he manages the digitization of engineering drawings and other archive materials. He is also a qualified steam locomotive fireman.