Noteworthy as one of the first attempts to write a comprehensive history of the railways serving a major city, the task was perhaps made simpler by the fact that Hull was the end of the line – there were no through routes. MacTurk was a businessman-both he and his father had been concerned in railway promotion in the East Riding, and he is able to provide some insights into the activities of George Hudson. The machinations of this last gentleman in blocking what would become the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway from reaching Hull, would have far reaching implications for relations between the city and the North Eastern Railway, which thus enjoyed a monopoly of rail services for many years.
The end result, after several failed attempts, was the promotion of the Hull, Barnsley and West Riding Junction Railway and Dock Company. This obtained its Act of Incorporation in 1880, which is where this book ends, although Ken Hoole does provide a brief summary of later developments. MacTurk is typical of his period, in that he did not apply quite the rigour which historians apply today. MacTurk – “lease in perpetuity” Hoole – “!,000 year lease” but MacTurk is very entertaining in his verbatim accounts of railway promoters meetings and speeches at celebratory banquets. He also provides a useful introductory chapter on stage coach services before the railways arrived.
Essential reading for all interested in the history of railways in North East England in general, and the history of Kingston-on-Hull in particular.
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