Brunel’s extensive Transport History collection includes books covering British railway history from the earliest times to the 1980s, written for a variety of audiences and ranging from the very technical to the introductory on various topics. Within this collection, there are some surprising finds: books whose purpose is simply to entertain, not to instruct or persuade.
Tales of the Rail, by railwaymen was published in 1904 to raise funds for the Irish branch of the Railway Benevolent Institution. The content ranges from tiny anecdotes to short stories, with a number of writing styles, and the unifying theme is simply that they each have some, however tenuous, connection to railways.
By contrast, The Railway Anecdote Book was published simply for the entertainment of passengers on train journeys: the content is bite-sized, humorous or thought-provoking episodes on a wide range of general topics.
Probably more entertaining to today’s readers is 1905 detective novel The Tunnel Mystery and its solution by Arthur W. A Beckett. This purports to be written by a journalist with a history of solving mysteries in the course of his work, and describes his investigation into the murder of a woman found dead in a railway tunnel.