The Rail Chronology website

Chronology: Defined by The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (third edition) (with the earliest appearence they have traced quoted in parentheses): "1. The science of computing time or periods of time, and of assigning events to their true dates (1593). 2. A chronological table, list or treatise (1614)." .

Chronologer or chronologist? Some linguistic purists and dictionaries do not recognise "chronologer" - but The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (third edition) is perfectly happy with this word (giving its earliest appearance as 1572) and, indeed, defines "chronologist" as "a chronologer". We have no preference and will use whichever version each contributor prefers.

A chronology is no substitute for a history - it gives the "what" and "when" (and sometimes "where") but not the "who" and "why". Nevertheless, it should certainly form the skeleton on which the flesh of a story can sensibly be hung. There seems little market, these days, for rail chronology as such - presumably because publishers find picture books easier to sell - so a tentative listing of British publications which are essentially railway "chronologies" rather than rounded "histories" is one of the resources at this site.

It is also a truism that as soon as a chronology (or history) is committed to print a date (or some data) that has eluded the compiler will emerge - or some element of the published material will be questioned (with or without substantiated provenance!). And once in print, a "fact" which subsequently becomes discredited also becomes exceedingly difficult to dislodge as it gets picked up and retailed by others.

This site provides opportunites for railway chronologists or chronologers to:
  • publish completed work without the need for the up-front capital (the compiler's or a publisher's), and
  • put chronological "work in progress" in public view to seek like-minded researchers, or to invite comment or correction before committing to the definitive version.

    There is no copyright in information - only in the form in which it is expressed - and publishing chronology in printed form seems not to be viable, so chronologists seem to have nothing to lose by putting their researches on the internet (preferably on this site), and we hope that interested chronologists will feel free to take advantage of the facility.

    The material on this and associated web pages is made freely available for personal use, in the furtherance of the interest in railway history and also in the hope that it may encourage others to contribute similar material. No authority to republish the information is implied and any rights which may subsist in any of the material are fully reserved by the various authors/compilers/cartographers and webmasters.

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