Bradshaw’s Railway Guide from Prince Albert’s HouseholdSKU: 9515
Loosely inserted into this railway guide is a 1952 letter from Bradshaw’s, replying to an enquiry from Gordon C. Dickinson, a former owner of our copy of the Guide. (Gordon Cawood Dickinson taught in the School of Geography at Leeds University between the 1950s and 1980s and wrote on aspects of the history of cartography; he passed away in 2017).
The 1952 letter explains wryly that ‘although no person at present there [at Head Office] can remember as far back as the year 1861... it was a pre-war practice for us to keep several sets of covers in circulation and each month’s issue was returned after use so as to permit re-use of the covers’. No examples appear to have survived in the Royal Collection, but there seems no reason to doubt that this system was in place. Read more
If so, our copy from June 1861 might well have been with Bradshaw’s waiting to be supplied with a fresh timetable when Albert’s death in December made it unnecessary. Albert himself was notably passionate about new technology, and in 1842 persuaded Queen Victoria to make her first train journey.
The royal train became a familiar feature on British railways, sandwiched between two other trains to ensure that the line was clear of other traffic, which required precise time-keeping. Some sort of liaison between the railway companies and the Royal Household seems likely, and in any case not all members of the Royal Household would have travelled by royal train: by 1861 an up-to-date Bradshaw had become a staple of the best regulated Victorian households, starting right at the top.
Condition & Materials
June 1861 Bradshaw from the household of Prince Albert. 8vo. pp. 256, lacks title-page (possibly never bound in?); b/w folding map, with some restoration to folds, in pocket on front pastedown. Bound in full red morocco, with the personal coat of arms of Prince Albert, the Prince Consort, in gilt on the upper cover (these are the arms awarded to him in 1840: the royal coat of arms quartered with the arms of Saxony; above are the the six crests of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, and beneath is Albert's personal motto, the German Treu und Fest). Minor wear to covers, all edges gilt. Read less