Working Lives on Britain's Railways: Railway History and Heritage




University of Strathclyde


Future Learn


Free (certificate fee: USD$ 59, optional)

Available in



This course describes Britain's industrial heritage in the context of the lives of British railway workers from 1840-1914. It is offered by the University of Strathclyde through Future Learn, an online education platform.

The four categories of railway workers discussed in the course engine-drivers, signallers, navvies, and the clerks. From Irish Catholic navvies to female office clerks based in industrial cities, the course illustrates the diversity and complexity of the railway workforce. Using archival materials from the National Railway Museum, participants will learn about the mental and physical hardship endured by railway workers, as well as the risks and pleasures that came with working in this new industry.

Some of the learning outcomes of the course are:

  • Understanding the range of activities involved in working on the railways in the long nineteenth century
  • Exploring written and oral material on workers’ lives within the appropriate historical and material contexts
  • Assessing representations of working lives on the railways and railway artefacts to discuss how they relate to wider questions of class, gender, and professional identity
  • Performing searches in the online resources of the National Railway Museum and other archives for material relevant to railway history and workers’ lives