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The West Highland Railway:
Plans, Politics and People

John McGregor

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Subject: Railway History
Royal Octavo
Illustrated: B/w plate section
300 pages
ISBN: 1 86232 197 3
Paperback £20

Centred on the West Highland Railway, which opened to Fort William in 1894 and to Mallaig in 1901, this book describes the late nineteenth-century ‘railway mania’ in the Highlands – and the immediate consequences. It addresses the general politics of promotion and the disputes over state assistance for the Fort William-Mallaig line, rather than the heroics and the romance of construction and operation. It reviews other schemes, more or less successful. And it examines the expectations bound up with railway development, asking how far these had been achieved, or remained relevant, by 1914.

‘I think I have sometimes made two blades of grass grow where only one grew before, and that is … perhaps the highest function a man can do for his country.’ Charles Forman, civil engineer, evidence in support of the Invergarry & Fort Augustus Railway, 1896.

Author: John McGregor teaches at Langside College, Glasgow.