The Oxford, Worcester & Wolverhampton Railway originated during the 'Railway Mania' years of the mid-1840s, when ambitious landowners and industrialists conceived the idea of a main line link between London and the West Midlands industrial areas. With Isambard Kingdom Brunel as its engineer, the OW&WR was seen as a close ally of the Great Western Railway, but in the event, the two companies became enmeshed in a bitter quarrel. When completed throughout to Oxford in 1853, the OW&WR worked in conjunction with the rival London & North Western Railway. However, relations with the parent Great Western Railway eventually improved and the 'Cotswold Line' became an archetypal GWR route. In recent years, the railway has prospered as a long-distance commuter route, with trains running through from Paddington to Hereford via Oxford, Worcester and Great Malvern.
Stanley C. Jenkins, who was educated at Witney Grammar School, the University of Lancaster and the University of Leicester, has written over 20 books and some 750 articles on local, transport and regional history. Having worked as an English Language teacher at Oxford Air Training School for several years, he returned to Leicester University to retrain as a museum curator in 1986, and was subsequently employed by English Heritage as the Regional Curator for South Western England. He is Curatorial Advisor to the Witney & District Museum, and is also working as a curator for the Soldiers of Oxfordshire Trust, which is at present building a military museum at Woodstock.