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Welcome to a departure from Trackmaps normal fare: some early sample pages from a long-term project that will result in a significant new Historic Railway Atlas.
R. Stewart Smith is a mining and tunnelling engineer whose background and training makes for an enquiring mind. Like many, he was fascinated in childhood by railways and his chosen career has taken him closer than many to the hidden facets of railway lines.
In the 1950’s, the acquisition of a Scottish Region timetable intrigued him in the obscure railway station names that he was learning for the first time. Having a motorist’s touring map at the same time led to the discovery that the vast majority of stations did not appear and, being also fascinated by the style of Harry Beck’s London Tube map, he decided he would produce his own map of the railways of Scotland in that format.
This decision was also prompted by his realisation at that time that there were very few books with maps showing the extent of the railway network and those that existed were extremely small scale and often unreadable or included errors in the locations of some of the early stations. By making his own maps, he could also include references to the many station name changes which had occurred over the years. This became the foundation of a hobby that he has pursued for a large part of his working life and on into retirement entirely for his own benefit. His main aim has been to catalogue and map every passenger station, halt and restricted stopping place from 1807 (the generally accepted date of the first fare-paying passenger service in Britain* was inaugurated) to the current day.
* Originally built in 1804 to carry limestone from quarries, The Swansea and Mumbles Railway (or the Oystermouth Railway) carried the world’s first fare-paying passengers from 1807. Operated by horses, it remained open until 1877.
The body of work that Stewart has created for this Atlas comprises nearly 300 A4 map pages covering the whole of Great Britain and Ireland. The map sheets are in two scales, a general scale for the countries as a whole and a series of larger scale maps covering urban areas. In addition, it includes over 700 pages of station notes, an index of Railway Companies, a tunnel index and a listing of bi-lingual station names.
Stewart says that he had no expectations and realised many years ago that this work would be quite difficult and costly to publish. As a consequence, he has continued to maintain and update the information for his own interest, although he was always been prepared to permit it to be used by any genuine researcher.
Brought to Trackmaps attention by his daughter, we now intend to facilitate that. Trackmaps believes that this is a body of work that deserves to brought to public attention for the benefit of researchers and the many other persons interested in the history of the railways of these Islands and we plan to do that by converting the maps and text to a publishable digital format over the next 12 months and make it available online on a free-to-access basis. For anyone possessing one of the authoritative and recognised reference books in this area of study, the maps alone will offer significant benefits to the reader.
The link below provides access to a downloadable PDF set and a read online set of sample maps. There 19 pages in the sample, an Overview map, 16 maps covering the Midlands area at the two main scales and 2 Keys, one of which relates to the historic Railway Companies. Trackmaps expects to add to these pages over the coming months but the whole project is not likely to be complete until late 2021.
Please note that the maps are ©R.S.Smith/Trackmaps and are only for personal private use. It would be appreciated if users respect the copyright.