Frederick was educated at University College, London, and entered New College, St. John’s Wood, in 1850, as a student for the ministry. In 1857 he became pastor of the newly formed congregation at Claughton, near Birkenhead, but, resigning the charge some years later, he resided for a time with his father at Sibbertoft. Upon the formation of the Congregational Institute in 1861 Williams became tutor in conjunction with the principal, the Rev. John Brown Paton, and remained in that position until his death. He died at Nottingham on 26 Oct. 1886, and was buried in the church cemetery on 30 Oct. He left a widow and eight children.
Williams was widely known as a writer on English railways. In 1852 while still a 23 year old student, he published his most important work, ‘Our Iron Roads: their History, Construction, and Social Influences’ which reached a seventh edition in 1888. In 1876 appeared ‘The Midland Railway: its Rise and Progress’, (written while Williams was a tutor at the Congregatioal Institute) which attained a fifth edition in 1888.
“Midland Railway” was ã pioneering work, the first detailed history of a major British railway as it was approaching maturity, having disentangled itself from the Hudson imbroglio, completed an extension to London, and the Settle to Carlisle line, opened one of the biggest and most luxurious hotels in the capital, and forced other railways to improve conditions for third class travellersby abolishing “second”.
Williams describes how this was achieved. One can not but admire the sheer volume of research work, let alone writing the MS, with no modern aids like word processors, photo copiers, telephones to help. And of course he did have the advantage of writing at a time when many f the pioneers of the Midland’s predecessor companies, or people who had worked with them were still alive to interview.
It has to be admitted that this book is a bit of a “door stopper” weighing in at over 3lbs., so it is not an easy read, unless sitting at a table. However modern technology comes to the aid of strained wrists. Downloaded onto a memory stick, it can be slipped into a pocket and read on a tablet ot lap top for a comfortable bed time read or the ideal way of passing time on a boring flight or other journey.
PREVIEW BELOW – MAY TAKE A WHILE TO LOAD.