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On the Edge

Coastlines of Britain

Robert Duck

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A first evaluation of the physical impact of railway construction on the British coast

The building of railways has had a profound but largely ignored physical impact on Britain’s coasts. This book explores the coming of railways to the edge of Britain, the ruthlessness of the companies involved and the transformation of our coasts through the destruction or damage to the environment.

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Chapter 1 Cometh the Railway
Chapter 2 Over the Edge
Chapter 3 The Edge of Collapse
Chapter 4 Across Salt Marsh, Mudflat, Slob and Sleech
Chapter 5 Removing Shingle from the Beach is Prohibited
Chapter 6 A Little Exercise of Observation and Reflection

About the Author

Robert Duck is Dean of the School of Environment at the University of Dundee, and Professor of Environmental Geoscience. He is the author of This Shrinking Land:Climate Change and Britain's Coasts, (DUP, 2011). His research specialises in coasts and estuaries, and furthering the public understanding of science and climate change.


Britain’s battle with the sea has left an enduring mark not simply on our coastal fringes but also on the cultural and social legacy along those shores. Academically grounded but powered by verve and anecdote,

- Professor Iain Stewart, Plymouth University