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Full Steam Ahead

It’s Full Steam Ahead for historians Ruth Goodman, Alex Langlands and Peter Ginn as they bring back to life the golden age of steam and explore how the Victorian railways created modern Britain.

  • Updated Monday 9th April 2018
  • Introductory level
  • Posted under TV, History
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Steam train with Alex Langlands, Peter Ginn, Ruth Goodman Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: LION TV Join us for our new Open University series in partnership with the BBC Full Steam Ahead where historians Ruth Goodman, Alex Langlands and Peter Ginn re-live the golden age of steam and explore how the Victorian railways created modern Britain.

To complement the series, we've complied a range of fantastic learning resources to take your knowledge of the railways further. You can:

The first episode of Full Steam Ahead was broadcast on BBC Two on Thursday 21st July 2016 at 8.00pm. There are often repeats of the series on BBC and other channels. Details on BBC broadcasts, and links to watch again where available, can be found on the BBC programme pages

Download your free poster

Select the image below to download your free poster. 

Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: The Open University

How did the railways transform the British Isles since their introduction in the 19th century? What impact did they have on lives, work and travel for people living in the Victorian era and nowadays? Find out the answers to these questions and much more by downloading this free, double-sided poster produced by The Open University. 

Find out more about the fascinating history of the railways

Try a free course on the railways and heritage

Take it further with The Open University

Episode three

This week the team find out how the railways transformed the British diet, rescuing a nation that was struggling to feed itself. 

Putting theory into practice Alex and Peter load a flock of sheep onto a train, discovering how the mass transportation of livestock by rail transformed the quality and quantity of meat available to Victorian consumers.

Ruth follows in the footsteps of Britain’s ‘herring girls’, revealing how the North Yorkshire Moors Railway revived the fortunes of Whitby, turning it into a thriving fishing town, supplying the country’s kippers. 

Alex looks at how pioneering farmers, attempted to use steam power to increase production, getting to grips with the latest steam ploughing technology.

Peter discovers how steam powered engines revolutionised production at Britain’s oldest brewery and how the traction engine worked alongside the locomotive to distribute beer across the country.

In Yorkshire, Ruth sees how farmers created a monopoly on rhubarb, growing the crop in dark sheds and transporting it nightly to London on the 'rhubarb express’.

Meanwhile Alex boards a locomotive on the ‘watercress line' in Hampshire, discovering how the railway brought the nutritional salad to the masses.

Episodes in this series

Episode Description
Episode one The first episode of Full Steam Ahead looks at the way Britain changed in the 19th century due to the railways Read more
Episode two This episode looks at when railway companies realised there was money to be made from moving people as well as goods. Read more
Episode three Find out how the railways saved many people from being malnourished and transformed the British diet. Read more
Episode four This episode focuses on the most famous locomotive in the world, the Flying Scotsman as well as the railways' role in... Read more
Episode five The team head to the South Devon Railways, in this episode, and looks at the milk trains. Read more
Episode six The final episode of Full Steam Ahead looks at how more free time and rail transport allowed Victorians to travel... Read more