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2 corrections, most recently by GJReid-B.Sc.M.Mgmt. - Show corrections



Mr. J. F. Cairns, M.I., Loco. E.. and editor of the English "Railway Magazine," writes :-

On September 27. 1823, the Stockton and Darlington Railway, the "'First Pub- lic Railway " in the British Isles, and, therefore, in the world, was opened for traffic, and next year its centenary is to be celebrated by a special Congress in London of the International Railway As- sociation, and by appropriate proceedings in Stockton, Darlington, and other places.


This centenary is not, however, alto- gether above question. For one thing, there were railways long before 1823, at least 50 years, and some people claim that they can be traced back to the days of Queen Elizabeth, if not to the Assyrians. There were even "public" railways, as distinct from private colliery lines, for the Surrey Iron Railway, from Wandsworth to Merstham, was opened in 1804, the first railway to be constructed under a Parliamentary powers, for the con- veyance of "public" traffic on payment of charges. As for the locomotive engine, its centenary sbould have been celebrat- ed in 1004, one hundred years after Trevi- thick's first railway engine made its in- augural trips at Merthyr Tydfil.

Moreover, George Stephenson'« engine. "Locomotion No. 1," wfhich opened the Stockton and Darlington Railway (it is now at the British Empare Exhibition, after Standing for many years on a pedestal at Dallington mam lino station), was not even his first 1'ocomotivc. That was built in 1812, and bore the name "Blucher." Nor, indeed, was he the "in- ventor" of the. steam locomotive, as is so often stated, frequently by people who should know better. It is contended m some quarters, in fact, that muoh of the credit given to George Stephenson for «he "perfection" and "development" of the locomotive engine rightly belongs to Timothy Hack-vorth, while its "inven- tion" has to be attributed finstlr to Trevi

thick (not to mention Cugnot in France, Watt, and others, w<ho constructed steam load locomotivos); and secondly to Blackett, Hedley, Blenkinsop, and others wflio worked between 1601 and 1825.


Putting all tlhebe argumentative aspects on one side, however, tlie fact remains that the Stockton and Darlington was the first railway of any sufodtontial ac coun^ built under Parliamentary powers, conveying passengers as well as ooa.1 and

goods, to develop into a rail- !

way 6ueäi as we understand to- j

Joy. It was, moreover, the first line of the kind upon which steam locomotives were used regularly, and George Stephen son's "Locomotion No. 1" was the first steam-engine definitely introduced to work "public" traffic.

It was a great day when, on September 27, 1825, his historic engine, preceded   by a rider on horseback carrying a flag, hauled at a speed of six or eight miles an hour a train consisting of six waggons of coal, one passenger carriage (the world's first, though it. was a mere box on wheels), 21 coal trucks fitted with seats, and six more loaded coal waggons. It is said that it then conveyed 450 passengers, including a band, beside the coal- a very good beginning, though how so many people managed to crowd into and on to the small vehicles of that day is not particularly clear. ' At any rate,- ."Loco- motion v No. 1". did good work, though it would now be regarded as a lumber- ing, clanking, erratic conglomeration of old iron, and apparently it did -not break down, a rather frequent occurrence with the engines of- the period.


Although passengers were conveyed by steam on the opening day, it was not

until some years later that this became the rule. The 'locomotives were reserved for the more valuable coal traffic-pas- sengers travelled in a single coach on wheels drawn hy horses, showing that they could not have been regarded as of

much account, or mnny in number.

Four years later, in 1829, the historic Rainhill tests were carried out, the object Doing to decide whether the Liverpool and Manchester Railway_ should be oper- ated by steam locomotives, horses, or cable traction. On that occasion George Stephenson^ "Rocket" proved conclu- sively the possibilities of steam loco- motive traction, and may be said to have originated all essentials in locomotive de- sign. The "Rocket" included several then new features, though it was no1 quite so "novel" a machine as some people make out. It did, however, travel at the "amazing speed of 30 miles an hour," and thus inaugurated the high speed and passenger traffic era.


_Su3jBequent years saw the pToduclioi:

of many qu<er machines. In the 'fortiei was the famous "Battle of the Gauges,' between advocates of the Great Western broad gauge of 7ft., and those of th( narrow gauge, the standard 4ft. 8%in One side endeavoured to prove th.r Brunel was right in adopting a gaugi ot 7ft., and the other that anything prac ticable on the broad gauge could bl equalled on the narrow. Among thi famoiiB ¡broad gauge engines were man: extraordinary machines, including somi with aft. and 10ft. wheels, and one witt Oft._ wheels, geared to be equal to 18ft. engine and boiler liebig on separati



By the 'fifties, however, locomotive en ginp design -had come to include prac tically al! present-day characteristics though naturally there have been manj detail developments, great increases in siz, and power, and the adoption of varioui anecial adjuncts, fittings, and appliances Even In those days, however, enginei could and did travel as fast as they di now, though necessarily with very mucl lighter loads.

From the railway point of view, then have been developments equally remark- able. In early days ¡t was thought thal one railway in each direction would suffice. Thus, for some years, Euston was the de panure station, not only for trains \-ia what--is now known as the West Coas! route of Scotland, but also for York and the East Coaät and placea for whicli Pt- Tañeras is now the terminus in Lon don. Similarly. Dover trains travelled over the Brighton line *o Redhill. This restricted system was soon found to be im- practicable, with the result that London

now have more great railway termini .than any other city in the world.


So far as London railways arc con- cerned, it is, perhaps, not generally known that Fenchurch-strcet was the first railway station in the city. It then ac- commodated the London and Blackwall railway, opened in 1810, and operated by a peculiar system of cable traction. Lon- don's first railway was, however, the London and Greenwich, opened from Tooley-street to Greenwich in 1837. Lon- don can also claim tho "First Under- ground Railway in the World," the Metropolitan, opened in 1SÖ3, considered at the time to be a wonderful concern. Passengers made tours merely for the sake of doing so, although there were many re. strictions, such ag the prohibition of smoking anywhere on tue .company's premises or ¡n the trains, n "regulation which appears strange in these days.

The City and South London Railway, originally intended to be wcrked by cable traction, was not only the "First Tube Railway in the World," but also the "First Underground Electric Railway." Great Britain, if not London,, also claims the "First Overhead Electric Railway in the World," in the Liverpool Overhead.