Everyone knows that Britain invented the steam
locomotive. Yet while Britain was gripped by the
great period of railway building of the 1830s and
‘40s in which many of our inter-city routes began
to take shape, there were those who believed
that the future lay beyond steam haulage.
Scotsman Robert Davidson built a model electric
locomotive, and followed it up with a fourwheeled
machine, Galavani, that was powered by
zinc-acid batteries. It was the world’s first electric
locomotive. The first English patent for the use of
rails as conductors of electric current was
granted in 1840. But it took until 1882 until
Britain’s first public electric railway was opened, in
Brighton – the Volks Electric Railway.
Expert Robin Jones traces the history of electric
traction in Britain, from these pioneering early
days, through nostalgic underground trains and
the “Brighton Belle”, right up to Eurostar and the
Pendolino in the twenty-first century, when a
large proportion of the national rail network is
In more than 60 images and with a sharp and
incisive text, Electric Trains is the ideal brief guide,
in Halsgrove’s collectable pocket-size format.
A graduate of the University of
Central England, Robin Jones, founding
editor of Heritage Railway magazine,
was a news editor and chief
investigative reporter at the Birmingham
Evening Mail, and over the years
has produced several books and
special publications, along with
historical features for numerous other
newspapers and periodicals.
He has been interested in railways
from a very early age, when his
elder brother Stewart took him
trainspotting at Widney Manor station
in Solihull at the age of four, at the end
of the British Railways steam age.
Imprint: PiXZ Books. ISBN 978 1 906887 81 0, hardnack, 110x155mm, 64 pages. Published September 2010.