September 2021 newsletter: a (sort of) return to normal

Life is returning to around 50 per cent normal, so this newsletter is focussing on various events I am speaking at and on what I am writing. It is indeed going to be a busy month, which is welcome and most will be live or hybrid – hopefully not many more talking to my computer though there  will be a few!

First, I will be speaking at the Families in British India Society on my Railways and the Raj book over the weekend of 24th – 26th September in Oxford. Details here. The on the following Monday September 27th (breaking off from the Labour Party conference where I will be helping out on the Labour Cycles stall) I am giving a talk at the British Library on Cathedrals of Steam – bookable here  – and signing copies of the new paperback version which  is just about to be published.  I will also be giving that talk to Brendon Books in Taunton on the evening of Friday October 8th – book here.

And a new venture: I will be giving a free online seminar on ‘Writing for a living’ in association with CNT associates on 28th October with the opportunity of having a one to one session with me later– book free here:

And on November 4th, I will be giving an online talk on my history of US railways to the One Day University, a brilliant concept of providing high quality lectures to a wide audience.

Details will follow next month but you can sign up to the university here


Like most of you, I have found lockdowns hard even though I have been fortunate in having books to write which kept me busy but I dearly missed the routine contact of seeing my friends and colleagues in the transport world. Journalism cannot be done over Zoom!

In the first lockdown, I wrote Cathedrals of Steam, the history of the London railway terminuses, which happily has sold very well, and prompted further commissions. In the second lockdown, I wrote a book on the history of British Railways – needs a title, suggestions welcome – which suggests the organisation was actually far more successful than it has been given credit for. Penguin will publish the book in the summer, which is timely given the debate about the future of the railways.

Meanwhile, I am now working on an updated version of my Crossrail book, published in time for the expected launch in December 2018 which, of course, was postponed. Now to coincide with the hoped for opening date of February 2022, I have interviewed many of the key people in Crossrail

I am now working on a synopsis for a book on the role of the railways in the aftermath of the Normandy invasion and there are also a couple of other ideas in the offing.


Hopefully lots of you will be able to sign up to one or more of these events – I will have stock of Cathedrals paperbacks by the end of the month if you want one sent direct.


In terms of the website, there are only a couple of new Rail columns, here and here




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