Thursday, 28 March 2013

Reshaping of British railways

Last night on the news there was a report on the Dr Beeching’s controversial report into the reshaping of the British railways. This was published 50 years ago and a copy of this report is held in the Official Publications in the National Library of Scotland, the shelfmark is GTD.1/1.

In the foreword I noted this paragraph

“In general, people who wish to base a choice between alternative modes of transport upon consideration of quality of service and the cost of obtaining it. It must be recognised, however, that in the transport field more than in many others, the judgement of some quality factors is largely subjective, that individual convenience and total social benefit are not necessarily compatible, and that competing forms of transport cannot be costed on strictly comparable bases. For these reasons, none of the major proposals for reshaping the railway system which are made in this report is based upon attempted close judgements between ratios of quality to cost for competing systems of transport.”

This report is in two parts, the first being the report, the second containing maps including the proposed withdrawal of passenger train services.

Meet me and my microbes

Wednesday 10th April is when I will be giving my final talk dedicated to the fine collection, the Medical History of British India. Exploring the more gruesome aspect of life in British India, the talk explores the diseases the British attempted to combat and how their medicine moved into the lives of the indigenous population. Come along to the National Library of Scotland on George IV Bridge at 6pm and meet me and my microbes! Book online here. It is a free event.

Shot in the arm for Medical History website

A new collection of medical documents from the British Raj is now available to browse and search on the Medical History of British India website. 'Medicine - Vaccination' shows British efforts to vaccinate the Indian population against smallpox using the latest 19th and 20th century western scientific techniques. Over 60 reports reveal the complex nature and the scale of ambition of the vaccination programme in India as well as the conflict between western colonial medicine and indigenous society, culture and systems. The project was generously funded by a grant from the Wellcome Trust.