How many times have you seen Michael Portillo on the TV waving a copy of his Bradshaw’s Guide, without realising the connection between Stretton and train timetables? In 1838 the first railway timetable was printed by a George Bradshaw of Manchester. He was an engraver and as the railways expanded, so did the timetables. Bradshaw’s Guide became an indispensable guide to those who used the new and revolutionary form of transport. It quickly became the second most consulted book in the country – after the bible.
George Bradshaw was a spiritual man and joined the Society of Friends in Manchester. Through the Quaker movement met his wife – Martha Darbyshire of Stretton. Martha was the daughter of William Darbyshire and was born in 1817. The couple married at Frandley meeting house in 1839, and had six children. Sadly George did not live long to see them grow up having caught cholera whilst touring Norway in 1853. He is buried in cemetery next to the cathedral in Oslo. Meanwhile Martha lived to a good age and died in Manchester aged 75.
His sons Christopher and William went onto develop the business, and in 1863 produced Bradshaw’s Descriptive Railway Hand-Book of Great Britain and Ireland. In fact the success of Michael Portillo’s series sparked a new interest in the guides and facsimile copies of the 1863 edition became an unexpected best seller in 2011.