The Railways That Built Britain with Chris Tarrant

Boom, Bust and Blood

Series 1 - Episode 1 Boom, Bust and Blood



Recently Britain’s railways have been grinding to a halt but they’ve never been so popular on television. In this three-parter, Chris Tarrant chronicles how they revolutionised Britain, fuelling the Industrial Revolution and turning us into a nation of day-tripping fish and chip-scoffing city dwellers.

The first 50 years of rail rarely ran smoothly, with the working class jammed into open-air wagons like sheep. Then an anti-drink campaigner called Thomas Cook accidentally invented the package holiday when he arranged a train to take a group to a temperance rally and sold a lot of tickets.


The broadcaster examines how trains transformed the nation and shaped modern Britain. He begins in the cab of Puffing Billy, the world's oldest-surviving steam locomotive, which was built in 1813 and designed to move coal along a five-mile stretch of track from a Northumberland mine to the docks. Chris also tells the story of Henry Booth, who not only championed George Stephenson's famous Rocket, but also helped finance it, and talks about the work of the navvies who dug the tunnels and laid the tracks.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Chris Tarrant
Director Tim Usborne
Executive Producer James Hayes
Producer Tim Usborne
Series Producer Ed Booth