Cutting Remarks

By Christopher Hillyard RVM 

Robert Stephenson’s Roade Cutting, almost midway on the London and Birmingham Railway, was one of the last obstacles to the opening of the world’s first long-distance inter-city railway in 1838. The impact of thousands of railway navvies was considerable. The local gentry saw game disappear from their estates, their established fox hunting runs severed, and their authority challenged. The works were fraught with danger and many navvies were to perish.

The two railways through the parish produced a surprising number of newsworthy events. The numerous accidents, incidents and tragedies, many resulting in the loss of life, are offset by recollections of many humorous events, memories of train-spotters and poetry inspired by the engineering achievements. Additional topics include instances of murder, mystery and intrigue, a notable aviation World First, the rise and fall of local industry, the designation of Roade Cutting as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and the award of a Transport Trust Red Wheel in 2018, recognising the Cutting as a Transport Heritage Site.

This is not just a railway book but also the social history of a community, written by Chris Hillyard RVM, retired Royal Train Forman, and the last of several generations to work on the railway.