The Railway Girl is a fictional love story set in the 1850s around an actual historical incident in Brierley Hill (in Staffordshire in those days). The incident in question was a tragic railway crash in which a dozen people were killed and about a hundred hurt, some seriously. The inquest went on for some weeks and was of massive interest at the time.
I learned about the accident when I was researching pubs in the area for my earlier novel, Poppy’s Dilemma. It transpired that one of the pubs I was interested in – called the Whimsey – was used as a makeshift hospital for the dead and seriously injured passengers, as it was close to the scene of the crash. I needed to do some research on the accident, and when I googled “Whimsey”, the first item that appeared was the transcript of the inquest – so I’d got all the information I needed in one fell swoop!
The main characters of The Railway Girl are Lucy Piddock and Arthur Goodrich. Arthur, prone to one calamity after another, is in love with Lucy, but Lucy’s eyes, her hopes and dreams are focused on another chap, Dickie Dempster, a dishy guard on the newly-constructed railway that passes close to her home. Frustrated with Lucy’s half-heartedness and a pathological dislike of his own father, Arthur leaves the area to start a new life in Bristol, and maybe meet another girl.
Bristol meant making a visit there to determine locations and authentic possibilities for work for poor Arthur, who was a stonemason by trade. As luck would have it, the church of St Mary Redcliffe was perfect, as at the time the book was set, a massive programme of renovation had been set in motion – so I was able to find Arthur a job right away!
I thoroughly enjoyed writing A Railway Girl. Even though it covers a horrendous railway accident, there is a lot of humour in the story, particularly emanating from Arthur and his antics.
I do hope those of you who read the book will enjoy it.