George Bradshaw

George Bradshaw (29 July 1800 – 6 September 1853) was an English cartographer, printer and publisher. He developed Bradshaw's Guide, a widely sold series of combined railway guides and timetables.

George Bradshaw
G Bradshaw.jpg
George Bradshaw (1800–1853),
by Richard Evans, 1841
Born(1800-07-29)29 July 1800
Windsor Bridge, Pendleton, Lancashire, England
Died6 September 1853(1853-09-06) (aged 53)
Oslo, Norway
Known forBradshaw's guides and timetables


Bradshaw was born at Windsor Bridge, Pendleton, in Salford, Lancashire. On leaving school he was apprenticed to an engraver named Beale in Manchester, and in 1820 he set up his own engraving business in Belfast, returning to Manchester in 1822 to set up as an engraver and printer, principally of maps.[1]

He was a religious man. Although his parents were not exceptionally wealthy, when he was young they enabled him to take lessons from a minister devoted to the teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg. He joined the Society of Friends (the Quakers) and gave a considerable part of his time to philanthropic work.[1] He worked a great deal with radical reformers such as Richard Cobden in organising peace conferences and in setting up schools and soup kitchens for the poor of Manchester.[2]

It is his belief as a Quaker that is quoted as causing the early editions of Bradshaw's guides to have avoided using the names of months based upon Roman deities which was seen as "pagan" usage. Quaker usage was, and sometimes still is, "First month" for January, "Second month" for February and so on. Days of the week were "First day" for Sunday and so on.

In 1841, he founded a high-quality weekly magazine, edited by George Falkner, called Bradshaw's Manchester Journal, described as "a 16-page miscellany of art, science and literature, to sell at the cheap price of a penny-halfpenny a week. ... After the first six months, it was renamed Bradshaw’s Journal: A Miscellany of Literature, Science and Art, and the place of publication moved to London, where the title was taken on by William Strange", but the journal survived only until 1843.[3]

He married Martha Derbyshire on 15 May 1839 and they had six children. While touring Norway in 1853 he contracted cholera and died in September of that year without being able to return to England. He is interred in the Gamlebyen cemetery about a mile from Oslo Cathedral. His gravestone is on the left by the gate near Oslo hospital.[2][4][5][6]

Bradshaw's railway guidesEdit

Bradshaw's was a series of railway timetables and travel guide books published by W. J. Adams of London. George Bradshaw initiated the series in 1839. The Bradshaw's range of titles continued after his death in 1853 until 1961.[7][8]

Television seriesEdit

Former British politician Michael Portillo used a copy of what was described as a Bradshaw's guide (the 1863 edition of Bradshaw's Descriptive Railway Hand-Book of Great Britain and Ireland) for Great British Railway Journeys, a BBC Two television series in which he travelled across Britain, visiting recommended points of interest noted in Bradshaw's guide book, and where possible staying in recommended hotels.

The first series was broadcast in early 2010, a second in early 2011, a third in early 2012, and a fourth in early 2013; series 5 was broadcast in January and February 2014. The success of the series sparked a new interest in the guides and facsimile copies of the 1863 edition became an unexpected best seller in the UK in 2011. In the 14th episode of the series, "Batley to Sheffield", Portillo met a great-great-granddaughter of George Bradshaw, who showed him part of the family archive.

At the end of 2012, a new series, Great Continental Railway Journeys, was broadcast with Portillo using the 1913 edition of Bradshaw's Continental Railway Guide to make journeys through various European countries and territories, prompting two publishers to produce facsimiles of the handbook. A second series was broadcast in 2013.[9] Further series covered Asia, Australia and India.

See alsoEdit


  • Edward H. Milligan. British Quakers in Commerce & Industry 1775-1920. 2007. William Sessions of York. Page 61.


  1. ^ a b Chisholm 1911.
  2. ^ a b Boase, 1886 & p. 175.
  3. ^ Thomas, Trefor. "George Bradshaw and Bradshaw’s Manchester Journal: 1841–1843" Archived 21 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine, Manchester Region History Review, Maidment, 17ii vol. qxd, 24 July 2006, p. 63
  4. ^ The Guardian. Manchester. 7 September 1903. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ The Centenary of Bradshaw Railway Gazette October 1940 page 3
  6. ^ The Railway Magazine, January 1950
  7. ^ John Leighton (3 November 1906), "Early Railway Guides: a Retrospective", Chambers's Journal, 9
  8. ^ "Bradshaw Legacy". Bradshaw's Guides. UK: Old House Books & Maps. Archived from the original on 17 September 2013. Retrieved 24 August 2013.
  9. ^ Kerr, Michael (9 November 2012). "Bradshaw: the man behind the guide". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2 December 2013.



Place of publication is London, unless otherwise specified.

  • Fellows, Canon R. B., "Bradshaw", The Railway Magazine, vol 76 (1935), 391-2
  • Fitzgerald, Percy, The Story of Bradshaw's Guide, Leadenhall Press, 1890, 76 p., ill
  • Guilcher, G, "la restructuration du temps par les chemins de fer, le Railway Time", Cahiers victoriens et édouardiens (Montpellier, France), N° 51 (April 2000), p 61-86
  • Guilcher, G, "Les guides Bradshaw (Londres et Manchester 1844-1939), notes bibliographiques' in Lettre du Marché du livre, Paris, N° 79 ( 26-3-2001), pp. 6–9
  • Lomax, E S, "Bradshaw, the Timetable Man", The Antiquarian Book Monthly Review, vol II, N° 9 and 10 (Sept-Oct 1975), pp. 2–10 and 13–16, ill (extremely well-researched, contains the fullest list of Brashaw publications)
  • Reach, Angus B, The Comic Bradshaw: or Bubbles from the Boiler, illustrated by H. G. Hine, D. Bogue, 1848, 64 p (an extremely funny period piece)
  • Rudolph, K H, "Fun on Bradshaw" The Railway Magazine, vol 102 (1956), pp. 253–4
  • Simmons, Jack, The Express Train and Other Railway Studies, Nairn, David St John Thomas, 1994: "Chapter 12 - Bradshaw", pp. 173–193 (an authoritative study by the dean of railway historians)
  • Smith, G Royde, The History of Bradshaw, a Centenary Review of the Origin and Growth of the Most Famous Guide in the World, London/ Manchester, H. Blacklock, 1939, 76p, many illustrations & facsimile (the official history sponsored by Bradshaw)

The importance of advertisements in the Bradshaw Guides should be stressed. They are an invaluable source of information on all trades of the time, not unlike John Murray's Handbooks, but on a much larger scale (hundreds of pages in a single volume).

External linksEdit