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Praise for Preston’s war effort

03 May 2013

Rachel Atkinson

UCLan lecturer’s new book highlights the vital role played by city’s volunteers

Caption: UCLan journalism lecturer Michael Williams on Preston railway station.

Photo credit: Laura Kureczko

Preston’s war effort has been praised in a new book by a University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) academic.

In Steaming to Victory: How Britain's railways won the war; train enthusiast Michael Williams has highlighted how volunteers at the city’s railway station produced 12 million cups of tea for the troops.

The Senior Lecturer and Head of Media Ethics in the School of Journalism and Digital Communication said: “Preston was at the heart of the effort during World War Two. Volunteers in the buffet at Preston Station served 12 million cups of tea to troops passing through on the key route between London and Scotland.”

Michael’s latest work is a tale of how ordinary people fought with enormous self-sacrifice, not with tanks and guns but with elbow grease and determination to defeat the enemy. It focusses on Britain's railways, and the outstanding men and women who kept the nation moving between 1939 and 1945 and whose courage, in Winston Churchill's words, contributed so largely to Britain's final victory.

“Thankfully such institutions like that at UCLan are here to deploy modern resources to use the past to tell us about our future.”

He has interviewed many of the final survivors of the conflict – now in their late 80s and 90s. They recalled vivid first-hand recollections of the great evacuations and the Blitz, of Dunkirk and D-Day, and recounted the horror, and sometimes the humour, of war.

He has also drawn on a wide range of original research material to shed new light on the strategic importance of the railways in Britain's war effort and credits UCLan’s archives with playing a major role.

Michael added: “I owe an enormous debt of gratitude to the UCLan library for helping me research key unpublished material about the war and its impact on the North West. Thankfully such institutions like that at UCLan are here to deploy modern resources to use the past to tell us about our future.”

Steaming to Victory: How Britain's railways won the war is published by Preface, a division of Random House, and is available to purchase for £25 from 13 May.