History KS3 & KS4/GCSE: How to build a railway

Dan Snow describes the brilliance, ingenuity and determination of the people who build the country’s railway lines, bridges, tunnels and viaducts that we still use today.

Railways are everywhere, so much a part of our daily lives it’s easy to forget just what incredible pieces of engineering they are.

At the time, the London to Birmingham line was the greatest civil engineering achievement in human history and the Victorians saw it as a feat on par with the building of the pyramids.

This clip is from the series Locomotion: Dan Snow's History of Railways.

Teacher Notes

Students could imagine they have been asked by Network Rail to contribute to a special booklet celebrating the railways.

Network Rail have asked them to write a short article about a piece of railway engineering (for example a bridge or a tunnel) which people use every day but do not realise is of enormous historical significance.

Curriculum Notes

This clip is suitable for teaching History at KS3 and GCSE/KS4 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and National 4 and in Scotland.

More from Locomotion: Dan Snow's History of Railways

Life before railways
Liverpool to Manchester - the world’s first modern railway
The Stockton and Darlington Railway
The world that railways made