Bradshaw, George 1801 - 1853

George Bradshaw was born at Windsor Bridge, Pendleton on 29 July 1801. He was apprenticed to J. Beale, a Manchester engraver, on leaving school. In 1820 he went to Belfast with his parents and established himself as an engraver and printer. He returned to Manchester in 1821, due to lack of work. He set up a business in Market Place, Manchester. From 1827 he focused on engraving maps. The first map projected, engraved, and published by him was of Lancashire. This was followed in 1830 by his map of the canals of Lancashire, Yorkshire, and the surrounding region. This map eventually became one of a set of three known as Bradshaw's Maps of Inland Navigation.

In 1830, Bradshaw had moved premises to Cope's Court, Manchester. Here he employed William Blacklock as an apprentice. Blacklock made such an impression that in 1838, aged 21, he was made a partner in Bradshaw's company. The business became known as Bradshaw & Blacklock. The following year, the company moved premises to Brown Street, Manchester.

Bradshaw married Martha Darbyshire of Stretton, near Warrington in May 1839. They had two sons, Christopher and William. The same year, Bradshaw & Blacklock began to produce Bradshaw's Railway Time Tables, followed in 1840 by a fuller edition under the new title of Bradshaw's Railway Companion, which included sectional maps. In December 1841, the company produced the first issue of Bradshaw's Monthly Railway Guide, which became famous worldwide. Other publications included Bradshaw's Continental Railway Guide, known colloquially as ‘the foreign Bradshaw’, and Bradshaw's General Railway Directory and Shareholders' Guide.

The small format and small print of the Monthly Railway Guide led to ‘Bradshaw’ becoming a byword for incomprehensibility: the guide was mocked in Punch and Vanity Fair and was the subject of music-hall jokes. Actress Fanny Kemble was asked what she read to send her to sleep, and replied: ‘Why, the foreign Bradshaw, of course.’ The monthly Bradshaw was published until 1961 and played a large part in making the British time-conscious.

Bradshaw was active in the Quaker movement, and was largely responsible for organizing ‘Friends of Peace’ congresses in Brussels (1848), Paris (1849), and Frankfurt (1850). He also established schools for the poor.

Bradshaw joined the Institution of Civil Engineers as an associate in February 1842.

In August 1853 he toured Norway and, while visiting a friend in Christiana, contracted cholera. He died on 6 September 1853 and was buried in Christiana.