Full Steam Ahead

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Full Steam Ahead

Series 1 - Episode 3



Extraordinary to think that if Britain hadn’t built a network of railways, fish and chips couldn’t have become a national dish. At the turn of the 20th century, fish caught in, say, Whitby, could be whisked off to any big city, as could the potatoes for the chips. And the working-class ate a lot of fish – the amounts sent down to Billingsgate were staggering. Fresh regional produce such as watercress, rhubarb, clotted cream and Somerset cider were also suddenly available to all.

The historians demonstrate how steam trains transported livestock and produce all over the country cheaply and quickly, totally changing the way we fed ourselves as a nation.


The historians reveal how the railways transformed the British diet, rescuing a nation that was struggling to feed itself. Alex Langlands and Peter Ginn discover how the mass transportation of livestock gave birth to the traditional British roast, and Ruth Goodman is in Whitby, which became a thriving fishing town thanks to the North Yorkshire Moors Railway supplying its kippers. Plus, Hampshire's watercress line, which brought nutritional salad to the masses, and how the use of steam-powered engines revolutionised production at Britain's oldest brewery.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Ruth Goodman
Presenter Alex Langlands
Presenter Peter Ginn
Director Chris Mitchell
Executive Producer Nick Catliff
Producer Chris Mitchell
Producer Emma Randle-Caprez
Producer Georgina Stewart
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