Prehistoric man may have invented the wheel but it wasn't until the 20th century that travel became accessible to the masses. It was a century, as Mr Harrison explains, "that saw Britain lose its status as an island, when it was joined to mainland Europe by the Channel Tunnel and a century that saw the Atlantic Ocean shrink to the three-hour plane journey".
From the beginnings of the century with Henry Ford producing what has become the boom and the bane of the century to the Wright brothers taking the world airborne, transport has exploded (and more recently, imploded). For Britain, as Mr Harrison wisely notes, the concept of travel has been spurred by war and celebrated for what it has done to open the world to classes beyond the elite. Britain's part--Thomas Cook's package tour, Rolls Royce, the Comet plane and the Mini, among others--makes it clear that an era began and ended in a single century.
Through The Times series picture book the author keeps track of the comings and going of automobiles and petrol prices as well as disasters in the air, on the rail and the road. Mr Harrison's research brings out facts and trivia that would delight any transport enthusiast. This though is the weakness. The hefty picture book: is not a travel book, it is a chronological snapshot of transport. The images range from seminal shots: Wright brothers flight, the Titanic and the explosion of the spaceship Challenger to more intimate images of people and, mostly, their cars. It is unknown who actually snapped these images, though the picture book makes efforts at copyright acknowledgements. For the train spotter--or in this case--the transport spotter--this is a must-have book. And for the rail commuter ("the first commuters in Britain traveled the Liverpool & Manchester Railway", 1842) or those caught in the nightmare that is the M1 (the country's first motorway, 1959) and frustrated with going nowhere ("hundreds of years ago it could take an hour to cross London Bridge") the book gives some relief to know that whatever the means of transport--grand or gridlocked--you are not alone. --Kathleen Buckley [via]