Full Steam Ahead season 1
Full Steam Ahead season 1 episodes list:
The introduction of steam railways in the early 19th century changed Britain in a way no one could have predicted. This episode explores how they created a domestic revolution, changing the way we lived, from the houses we lived in to the food we ate. In the middle of winter, the team arrive at the Ffestiniog Railway in Snowdonia to find out how millions of tons of slate were moved down the mountain. This is the slate that covers roofs in every corner of the country, and all of it was moved by rail. Underground, Alex experiences the brutal conditions faced by miners in Llechwedd quarry who would have endured 12-hour shifts suspended from iron chains. It's an exhilarating ride down the narrow winding track aboard the 'gravity train' with the whole crew hanging on to the brakes all the way. At Foxfields Railway in Staffordshire, built to transport coal to the nearby mainline, Ruth gets on the loco's footplate as it is driven up the steepest railway in Britain. Coal was to change everything in our day-to-day lives, right down to the way we cooked, the shape of our pots and the role of women who had to deal with the tyranny of keeping clothes clean in this dirty industrial world.
Historians Ruth Goodman, Alex Langlands and Peter Ginn visit Beamish in County Durham to examine how railway companies began to develop ways of moving people, rather than just stone, coal and iron, around the country. The comfort of the early passenger wagons are put to the test on one of the earliest steam trains, and Ruth finds out how people were moving further than ever before. Peter and Alex are put through their paces discovering what life was like for the railway navvies, the people that built thousands of miles of iron roads across the country and in all weather conditions. They come face to face with the harsh realities faced by countless workmen. A demand for building railways transcended across other industries, even reviving many. Ruth finds out what impact they had on cottage industries and looks at the role that horsehair played in making the carriages as people-friendly as possible. With the railways opening up plenty of new job roles, Ruth finds out what the role of the guard would have entailed at the Bluebell Line. The team take a flying visit to a refreshment room, using the Railway Travellers Handy Book to guide them through the necessary etiquette. The team also discover the downside of compartment-only carriages, come face to face with a cardsharp and find out what precautions you could take should you go on a long train journey that was yet to include the necessary facilities!
This time, the team find out how the railways transformed the British diet, rescuing a nation that was struggling to feed itself. Putting theory into practice, Alex and Peter load a flock of sheep onto a train, discovering how the mass transportation of livestock by rail transformed the quality and quantity of meat available to Victorian consumers. This new capability gave birth to the traditional British roast. Ruth follows in the footsteps of Britain's herring girls, revealing how the North Yorkshire Moors Railway revived the fortunes of Whitby, turning it into a thriving fishing town, supplying the country's kippers. Alex looks at how pioneering farmers attempted to use steam power to increase production, getting to grips with the latest steam-ploughing technology. Peter discovers how steam-powered engines revolutionised production at Britain's oldest brewery and how the traction engine worked alongside the locomotive to distribute beer across the country. In Yorkshire, Ruth sees how farmers created a monopoly on rhubarb, growing the crop in dark sheds and transporting it nightly to London on the rhubarb express. Meanwhile, Alex boards a locomotive on the watercress line in Hampshire, discovering how the railway brought the nutritional salad to the masses.
At the National Railway Museum, Alex and Peter help get the most famous locomotive in the world, the Flying Scotsman, into steam. The team take a ride of a lifetime as the loco travels along its original route, connecting the two most important financial capitals of the empire - London and Edinburgh - and Alex finds out what it is like for catering staff with 250 hungry mouths to feed. Peter heads to the Great Central Railway to find out how the railways revolutionised the delivery of mail right across Britain and is put to task on the travelling post office, where time is of the essence. The boys visit the Milton Keynes Museum to find out how the railways facilitated the first ever electrical communication service - instantaneous messaging over a hundred years before the arrival of emails. With the railways opening up many new and interesting titled jobs, Ruth finds out what the role of the wheel-tapper entailed and helps to tyre a wheel with a steel band at the South Devon Railway workshop. In Bristol, Alex discovers how the railways were responsible for bringing the nation into sync, as he visits a clock with not one, but two minute hands! Meanwhile, Peter learns how the railways brought Britain current news, hot off the press, for the first time.
In this episode, the team head to the South Devon Railway to explore the life of the branch line before the Beeching cuts of the 1960s. Ruth hand-milks a local breed of cow and discovers how the railways came to the rescue when a deadly disease wiped out almost the entire stock of London cattle. After undergoing an eyesight test, Victorian-style, Peter joins the footplate crew on the South Devon line. But it is not all plain sailing when it comes to driving the milk train through the night. We meet Dave Knowling, a steam-engine driver of 63 years' experience, who shows Peter how it is done and why it is so important to keep one eye closed when shovelling coal. Working on the Victorian railways was dangerous - 500 lost their lives and 16,000 were injured in one year alone. Ruth discovers those who lost a limb on the Great Western Railway were catered for by a special prosthetic limbs workshop. Alex and Peter take a trip to Strathspey Railway and find out about one of Scotland's most lucrative exports, while at the Gwili Line, Ruth finds out why a young, Welsh entrepreneur became the first person to introduce mail order catalogues - thanks to the railways.
In the final episode, the team find out how the combination of increased leisure time and affordable rail transport brought a new kind of freedom for working-class Victorians. Ruth travels along the beautiful south Devon coast from Paignton to Kingswear, where she helps get a paddle steamer prepared for a journey up the River Dart. At Swanage, Peter finds out what it was like to work on the excursion trains and the impact mass tourism had to the area. Alex discovers how railways enabled geologists and amateur fossil-hunters to explore Britain's prehistoric past. In the heart of the capital, Ruth visits the landmark hotel built by the Midland Railway at St Pancras Station and finds out how the railways made London a tourist destination, before embarking on a Victorian shopping spree. The steam fair comes to town and Peter helps prepare the gallopers, while Alex takes to the road in a steam car and discovers just how fast they could go.