Railways: The Making of a Nation: Time airs Tuesday 16 May 2023 on BBC Four.
Liz McIvor, a historian, investigates how the development of Britain’s rail network in the 1800s sparked a cultural shift that persists to the present day. Our fast transport system has influenced not only where and how we live and work but also what we eat and how we enjoy leisure time in our industrialised nation.
In addition to spurring economic growth, railways altered the very nature of commerce. They altered how we view time and how clocks are adjusted. While our railroads undoubtedly mirrored existing class differences, they also brought Americans closer together than ever before, ultimately contributing to the development of a distinctive national identity.
In this episode, we examine the challenges of coordinating a rail system in a nation where there are no standard time zones or schedules. Our country was split in two before the railroads, and each region had its own distinct way of keeping time.
The time in the west was a few minutes later than it was in the east. The railroads pushed for a synchronised national dance to precise schedules and timetables that reflected Greenwich Mean Time. Not everyone was happy to fall in line, and some even grumbled about the new strict schedules and uniform time zone.
Railways: The Making of a Nation: Time airs Tuesday 16 May 2023 at 7.00pm on BBC Four
Featured Image Credit: BBC Four
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