Podcast: Parallel histories

Harry Beck's 1933 tube map. Image: public domain.

“Is there a podcast this week?” Someone tweeted me yesterday. “Is it about trains? I’d like it to be about trains.” Oh boy have I got good news for you.

The first half is very much about trains – or at least, the tracks they run on, as I tell Stephanie what I learned when I accidentally wrote a history of the London Underground. (Honestly, I just meant to do the line names but it kind of got out of control.) Quick précis: there’s a huge gap in the 20th century, and the British state is obsessed with bloody royalty.

Then Stephanie tells me about her favourite crazy article she’s read this week: this 2015 piece in the Daily Mail which imagines what London would look like had the Gunpowder plot succeeded in 1605, thus undoing the Reformation and turning these islands back into a Catholic country. 

Never mind that the last 400 years of British, European and World history would have been different, the article says – let’s just assume that a few if London’s buildings would look a bit French.

Then I get a bit ranty for reasons you’ll understand when we get there.

The episode itself is below. You can subscribe to the podcast on AcastiTunes, or RSS. Enjoy.



Podcast: The Great Northern Rail Crisis

Manchester Victoria station during a 2017 strike. Image: Getty.

You wouldn’t necessarily know it reading the news from London, but the north of England’s railway network is in a bit of a mess. Delayed electrification work, a new timetable, mass cancellations, the whole shebang.

To explain how bad things are, and how they got that way, I’m joined by Jen Williams, political and social affairs editor for the Manchester Evening News. She tells me why nobody seems sure who’s to blame for this mess, and whether there’s any realistic chance of anyone tidying it up any time soon. All that, and we talk about Andy Burnham, too.

The episode itself is below. You can subscribe to the podcast on AcastiTunes, or RSS. Enjoy.

Skylines is supported by 100 Resilient Cities. Pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation, 100RC is dedicated to helping cities around the world become more resilient to the physical, social and economic challenges that are a growing part of the 21st century.

Jonn Elledge is the editor of CityMetric. He is on Twitter as @jonnelledge and on Facebook as JonnElledgeWrites.

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