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About Me


I have always had an interest in railways, ever since my grandfather took me to a steam railway at the age of 2. I completed my undergraduate degree in history at St. Mary’s University College, Twickenham, and a Masters degree in War Studies at King’s College London. I then chose to undertake a PhD in Railway Studies with the University of York and National Railway Museum’s Institute of Railway Studies and Transport History. I submitted my thesis and passed my viva in 2013.

I am currently employed by the University of York’s Centre for Lifelong Learning as a Associate Lecturer. I am teaching a completely on-line Postgraduate Diploma in railway studies, which will cover many aspects of British railway history. The first intake of students began their studies in late September of this year.

My thesis was on the management of the London and South Western Railway between 1870 and 1911, and focussed on strategic and operational decision-making within the company over this period. For this reason, my academic interest in the railways is focused on management of Britain’s railways between 1870 and 1914. I am currently working on a number of academic projects and papers in the following areas:

  • Railway marketing between 1870 and 1914
  • The interlocking directorships of Britain’s railway directors, 1880-1914.

I am also currently working with Dr. Kevin Tennent of the University of York’s Management School on a project to investigate the management of early British tram networks. At the moment we are working on a paper on strategic decision-making within the London County Council’s Tramways before the First World War.

News, July 2016: I have just been awarded the Business Archives Council’s bursary for research into business archives, which will be used to look at the relationship between the railways and the brewers of Whitbread of London and Bass of Burton-on-Trent.

Over the last four and and a half years or so this interest has been reflected in my popular TurnipRail blog, on which I have posted about all sorts of topics, including, amongst other things, railwaywomen before 1914, labour relations, complaints of the Victorian traveller and the efficiency of British Rail in 1990s. Furthermore, I am working – sometimes slowly – towards publishing academic papers in the following areas of historical discourse:

  • Female clerical labour on Britain’s railways, 1850-1914
  • The complaints of the Victorian railway passenger before 1914
  • The role, purpose and content of railway company magazines, 1881-1914


In addition to being a working academic, I am also available for consultancy work for production companies and publishers. My specialism is the railways of the Victorian and Edwardian period, encompassing the following areas:

  • The construction of the railways.
  • The railways’ impact on British society.
  • Railways and the economy, trade and industry.
  • The development of British railway operating practice and management.
  • The relationship between government, politics and the railways.

I am also open to undertaking on-screen work.



  1. JOHN KING says:

    Dear Dr David Turner
    I have just stumbled across your interesting website which somehow I found by googling the words Szlumper and New York. I was trying to see if I could get any more info on Gilbert Szlumper’s trip to America in 1925 when he was Southern Railway Docks & Marine Manager. I already knew the basic facts from various sources – the trip was to get business for Southampton.

    I should explain my interest. I came across Szlumper’s diaries – but only from 1936 – in the imperial War Museum about four years ago. I was interested in Szlumper as he was also a director of Railway Air Services in the 1930s and played some part negotiations to develop a site at Lullingstone in Kent to be London’s airport. Earlier in the year I gave a talk to the Railway & Canal Historical about his diaries together with the diaries of SR director L S Amery. Over fifteen years ago I gave a paper to a conference at the NRM about the railway involvement in air transport.

    I should also explain that I have worked in both British Airways and the railways – I retired from Network Rail in 2006. I know quite well Colin Divall – I last saw him a few months ago at a records conference at the PRONI in Belfast.

    With regard to brewing, In 1963 I worked for Whitbread for a few weeks in the summer of 1963. More recently I examined the archives of Kemp Town Brewery as the company owned the land at Lullingstone.

    With best wishes
    John King
    London SE12 9SU 020-8857 1819


    • Dear John

      Many thanks for your message. I am not sure at all why my site came up on your search, but I am just glad it did. Personally, I was not aware Gilbert Szlumper went to the United States, so I am afraid I cannot be of much use. Indeed, my period of study is, usually, between 1870 and 1914, so 1925 is just a bit out of my range, and I certainly have never turned up anything. If you find anything more, I would be very interested though, as I am aware other companies’ officials went on trips overseas and am interested in such visits in the late 1890s/early 1900s. Have you tried searching the British Newspaper Archive? You would be surprised what you may turn up.

      So do you have a goal for your project at the moment?

      Very best wishes



  2. JOHN KING says:


    Not sure if I have replied before. I am still writing a book based on the diaries of Szlumper and Avery.

    Incidentally would it be better to remove our exchanges from here?



  3. pIxieMum says:

    Hi David, on Sunday I was talking to one of your York postgraduate diploma students which later led me to your website, then I realised that I knew John King when we both worked at British Airways. He would have known me as Madeleine Bailey when I worked in BA Engineering Library and later in the Public Relations Department.

    Have you abandoned blogging? Blogs are so much better than FB or Twitter, information and content is so much easier to find.

    Madeleine Swann.


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