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The Agricultural Revolution Index

Introduction to the Agricultural Revolution

The Industrial Revolution Index

Introduction to the First Industrial Revolution

The Development of Roads and Railways Index

Roads and Railways : Introduction
The Development of Roads
The Development of the Railway
The Development of the Steam Locomotive :
John Blenkinsop

The Development of the Steam Locomotive :
George Stephenson

Building the Railways : Introduction
Building the Railways : Isambard Kingdom Brunel
Railway Mania
The Social and Economic Effects of the Railway

History Chapters Main Index

 

Chronology of the Development of the Railways 1789 - 1890

1760's

Abraham Darby laid an iron plateway

1760's

Nicholas Cugnot invented the first steam propelled vehicle

1760

1786's

William Murdock invented a model road engine similar to Cugnot's

1789's

William Jessop introduced flanged waggon wheels

1780

1801's

Trevithick's first passenger steam vehicle went into operation

1805's

Wandsworth-Croydon public railway opened

1806's

Oystermouth railway - first passenger railway in Wales was built

1808's

Trevithick's 'Catch -me-who-can' locomotive was built

1800

1812's

Blenkinsop's railway locomotive hauled coal from Middleton to Leeds

1813's

Hedley's 'Puffing Billy' was built for use on non-toothed track

1810

1820's

Wrought iron rails used to make railways

1825's

Stockton to Darlington railway line opened

1827's

First railway tunnel built under Liverpool

1829's

Stephenson's 'Rocket' wins Rainhill trials (Britain)
Marc Sequin built first French steam locomotive

1820

1930's

Liverpool to Manchester line opened (Britain)

1832's

First steam locomotive powered railway opened in France

1835's

Joseph Locke designed bulkhead rail

1837's

Telegraph used to connect signal boxes

1830

1840's

First railway excursion

1846's

Standard gauge introduced in Britain

1840

1851's

First refrigerated coaches

1859's

Pullman cars

1850

1863's

First underground railway

1865's

USA adopted standard gauge

1869's

First rack railway (Mount Washington, USA)

1860

1879's

Von Seimen's electric train operated in Berlin

1870

1881's

First electric passenger train used in Germany

1889's

Block signalling and continuous braking in Britain

1880

1890's

First electric underground train

1890

1912's

First diesel electric trains (Sweden)

1910

 

TWO CENTURIES OF REVOLTIONARY CHANGE

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The Industrial Revolution

The Development of the Steam Locomotive :
Richard Trevithick

As is often the case with historical inventions and developments, a number of individuals were working on the same problem in isolation. The problem of producing a steam engine which was small enough to be portable but could do useful work, had occupied the thoughts of engineers and inventors since the 1st century B.C.. At that time, Hero of Alexandria invented a crude form of steam turbine. This had been a simple device which used steam from a boiler to turn a pivoted sphere.

Nearly two thousand years passed before a practical form of steam engine was developed. In 1769, a Frenchman named Nicholas Cugnot was credited with the invention of the first steam propelled vehicle. Unfortunately, his road vehicle, which had three wheels, crashed into a wall and Cugnot was banned from bringing it out on the road again!

In Britain a number of people were also looking for a solution to the problem. These included William Murdock and Richard Trevithick. At first, William Murdock worked with James Watt but found him dismissive of the future of the portable steam engine. When, in 1786, Murdock invented a model road engine similar to Cugnot's, Watt had criticised him for wasting his time! Murdock later set up his own company and employed an apprentice named Richard Trevithick.

Richard Trevithick is said to be the 'father' of the steam locomotive. In 1801 he patented a 'steam carriage' which he developed into a steam engine for use on railway track. His first successful locomotive ran on the Pen-y-Darren tramway in Wales in 1804. This locomotive showed that steam haulage was practical. It pulled five wagons carrying ten tonnes of iron ore and seventy people over nine miles of a level track, at an average of 8 kilometres per hour.

 

Richard Trevithick (1771 - 1833)

Richard Trevithick

Richard Trevithick

 

Richard Trevithick was born at Illogan, near Redruth in Cornwall. In 1796, he exhibited models of high pressure, non-condensing steam engines which improved on Watt's design.

On Christmas Day, 1801, Trevithick drove the very first steam passenger vehicle. By 1804 he had applied steam to hauling loads along a railway. His steam locomotive was used to transport iron from Merthyr Tydfil to Abercynon - a distance of 15kms.

 

Trevithick's first steam engine

Trevithick's first steam engine

 

Trevithick is considered to be the true inventor of the steam locomotive.

 

Trevithick's "Catch-Me-Who-Can" locomotive

Trevithick's "Catch-Me-Who-Can" locomotive (shown above) was built in 1808. Its top speed was 20 kilometres per hour.

 

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