The first story, Permanent Way, is about Robbie Grant, who, together with his father, arrives in the village of Arley in order to build the railway in the 1860s.
Robbie and his father, John, are railway navvies. Robbie’s whole life had been spent in the makeshift shanty towns which sprung up on site and he was as strong and as skilled as anyone until the day he crushed his leg in an accident and everything changed.
When he returns from the Infirmary, permanently injured and limping, Robbie finds other changes. His father has moved into lodgings in the village and it is a new and very different world at Tambour Cottage with Miss Martha – his father’s redoubtable landlady – and her niece Deborah. This new world is a stark contrast to the rough, hard world he has been used to and the grim, uncertain future he faces.
Robbie’s story is set against the growing pressures and excitement as the new Severn Valley Railway nears completion. As it cuts a path through fields and villages it changes the lives of the people living there forever.
The God’s Wonderful Railway series follows the fortunes of three generations of the same railway family who live and work on the Severn Valley Railway in the Midlands.