Lovely work. Despite my affection for rail travel and appreciation of Victorian endeavour I’ve not seen Portillo’s series (perhaps partly due to household political bias – though I do enjoy his pragmatic commentary on the Daily Politics). Will have to rectify that.
I was disappointed at first that the Midlands seem to be largely omitted from Mr Bradshaw’s guide, but enjoyed some of the nostalgia from remembering my childhood in Berkshire. I spent some time getting the train from Bracknell (incredible to think of it as a village with a population of 108!) to school in Ascot, regularly visiting Windsor and on a few occasions the Tussaud’s exhibition at the old Windsor and Eton Station (now, predictably, a shopping centre).
As someone who enjoys gazing from the carriage window and seeing perspectives of Britain you can only get from the train, I’m regularly using the ‘my location’ button on my phone map app to see where I am, and where that church spire/interesting building/canal/folly was (and usually forgetting by the end of my journey as I rush off to find a cab/tube). I love the signs you get on French motorways, advising you of the main product of the region you’re passing into, or what that building or geological feature is – quite often with an appropriately situated rest area to be able to stop and picnic while enjoying the view.
It would be great if the modern Bradshaw’s guide were able to make use of the location-aware technology in our pocket to inform and educate us of the countryside we’re passing through. I don’t know if there is an app for that already, but I bet it wouldn’t have the charm and genteel delivery of Mr Bradshaw.