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  • Published: 15 May 2015
  • ISBN: 9781847947444
  • Imprint: Random House Books
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 384
  • RRP: $37.99

Three Men and a Bradshaw

Three Men and a Bradshaw is a collection of the irresistibly witty holiday journals of John George Freeman and his brothers, who were early passengers during the boom years of the Victorian railway tourism industry.

Wryly humorous and quintessentially British, Three Men and a Bradshaw collects the previously unpublished holiday journals of John Freeman, who travelled Britain with his brothers during the 1870s. Each year the trio would settle upon a destination, buy their tickets and set off – armed, of course, with their trusty Bradshaw's Descriptive Railway Hand-book.

John's delightful records of their trips contain much that will resonate with the modern traveller, from the eccentricities of fellow passengers and locals to the tender mercies of the British climate. At the same time they offer insights into the experiences particular to a Victorian tourist, and are full of valuable local history on everywhere from Devon and Jersey to Scotland and Wales.

Beautifully illustrated throughout with John’s original drawings, this is a fascinating and uniquely personal historical artefact, as well as an enchanting and frequently hilarious evocation of a distant but still wholly recognisable Britain.

  • Published: 15 May 2015
  • ISBN: 9781847947444
  • Imprint: Random House Books
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 384
  • RRP: $37.99

About the author

John George Freeman

John George Freeman was born in 1846 in Marylebone, London. A cloth merchant by trade, he and his brothers, Charles and Joseph, were keen proponents of the burgeoning mass-transit tourism of the late nineteenth century. The three brothers travelled widely across Britain in the 1870s, with John keeping beautifully illustrated diaries of their adventures throughout. John died shortly after their last holiday in 1883, at the age of thirty-six.

Praise for Three Men and a Bradshaw

If you're stuck for something to read on your next train journey you'd have to go a long way to find a more diverting way to pass the time.


Moments of beautifully clear-eyed observation… [and] superb, darkly comic little drawings.

Andrew Martin, Spectator

Personal and quirky, accompanied by brilliant pen drawings of the characters and landscapes encountered, these diaries give us an authentic voice from the past and take us on a journey back in time to a country at once so familiar, yet at the same time so distant … a fascinating slice of Victorian life.

Scotland on Sunday

A gem of a book, which entertainingly describes rail travel in the 1870s, with some remarkable similarities to today's journeys. As the author himself would have put it, "a capital volume".

Christian Wolmar

A treasure trove of Victorian delights – an undiscovered classic of rail travel.

Michael Williams, author of On The Slow Train

A vivid insight into the late Victorian world.

The Tablet

Much more than a travelogue, this book is a remarkable study on the way that the railway enabled modern tourism.


A great look at the social history of travel.

The Bookbag

[A] witty journal full of pithy observations.

CSMA Club Magazine

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