PROJECTS

Picturing the imaginary geography of the Great Western Railway, 1903-39

Award Holder

Professor Colin Divall, University of York

Partner Organisation

National Railway Museum

Doctoral Student

Matt Thompson

Why do we move around? Sometimes because we have to; sometimes because we choose to. Why do we choose to visit some places and not others? Partly because some places are more desirable than others. This project looks at how a major British railway company used photographs in the early 20th century to persuade people that the places it served were desirable places to visit.

You can find out more about Professor Divall's research in this article from the Yorkshire Post.

Professor Divall can also be heard talking about the role of the railways in BBC Radio 4's The Long View. You can hear him on Listen Again.


St Michaels Mount, Cornwall, c1910. Cornwall was opened up to large numbers of tourists by the Great Western Railway in the latter half of the 19th century. Locations such as this would become iconic images that are redolent of the region to this day.Chiseldon village, Wiltshire, c1928. The GWR would take many hundreds of photographs of villages and scenes from rural life. In the inter-war period many people identified 'Englishness' as essentially rural.

Arts & Humanities Research Council: Each year the AHRC provides approximately £100 million from the Government to support research and postgraduate study in the arts and humanities, from archaeology and English literature to design and dance. In any one year, the AHRC makes approximately 700 research awards and around 1,000 postgraduate awards. Awards are made after a rigorous peer review process, to ensure that only applications of the highest quality are funded. Arts and humanities researchers constitute nearly a quarter of all research-active staff in the higher education sector. The quality and range of research supported by this investment of public funds not only provides social and cultural benefits but also contributes to the economic success of the UK. See Arts & Humanities Research Council website.