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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 :
Richard Trevithick

The Development of the Steam Locomotive :
John Blenkinsop

The Development of the Steam Locomotive :
George Stephenson

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

Building the Railways : Introduction

For the steam locomotive to work efficiently the railway track needed to be as level as possible. This meant that, when the track was to be laid through hilly country, there would be considerable earth works. Railway builders needed to construct tunnels and cuttings through hills. They also used bridges or embankments to cross valleys. The men who worked to build these structures were called 'navvies' - the original name for the 'navigators' or canal builders.

 

Narrow Gauge Railways

In very mountainous districts, such as those found in North Wales, narrower gauges were used. A Frenchman named Lois de Gallois made a survey of British railways in 1818. He recorded that the Ffestioniog railway was built to a gauge of only 60 centimetres. This railway was used to take slate from the mines in the mountainous  down to the coast. The train rolled down the mountainside for 25 kilometres with gravity. Its speed was controlled by one man who sat on the front truck working a brake. Once the slate had been loaded onto the waiting ships, the empty trucks were pulled back up the mountainside by a horse.

The Ffestioniog engineer, James Spooner, asked George Stephenson to build a steam locomotive for the line. Stephenson told him that it would be impossible since no locomotive would be able to remain on the narrow track. Spooner turned to another engineer, George England, who was more optimistic that a locomotive could be built which would remain stable on a narrow gauge track. England built an engine, which he called "Prince", that became operational in 1863. "Prince" was so successful that many more similar engines were built. (The original engine is still running 132 later on the same stretch of railway. It is now a tourist line).

 

An excerpt from De Gallois report on the British railways

"Horses or steam engines are used to haul wagons up a slope. In Wales, where small wagons are commonly used, horses are employed to pull wagons up hills. The laden wagons are coupled together and a single horse pulls a number of them. Bur when the hill is reached the horse hauls only one wagons up at a time. When all the wagons are at the top they are coupled together again and one horse pulls all of them. If the hill is long or very steep - and this does occur in the Newcastle district - a steam engine is installed at the top of the hill and the wagons are hauled up by means of a cable.

If the road is level, or nearly so, then a high pressure steam engine is fixed upon a wagon and this locomotive can pull as many as 20 wagons with a load of 500 metric quintals. That is the power of a locomotive built by Messrs. Losh and Stephenson and used at the Killingworth mines. The workers call these machines the 'iron horses'.

The type of power used to draw wagons on rails varies according to the slope. Many different methods may be used on different sections of the same railway. The change from one method to another is made quite smoothly without delaying the service."

 

Narrow gauge railways were used extensively in difficult country or where only lightly-laid track and small engines could be used. In France, the Decauville company developed narrow gauge railways for mines, quarries and the transport of rural goods. During World War I, the narrow was chosen in France to supply the trenches with men, arms, equipment and other supplies. It was also used for the ambulance carriages to bring the dead and injured back from the front line to the field hospitals. Narrow gauge track was easy to move around as the battle fronts moved back and forth.

In 1835 Joseph Locke designed a new type of rail, called a bulkhead rail, that enabled heavier and faster trains to operate. At the same time steam locomotive design and construction was improving. Engineers, such as Isambard Kingdom Brunel, were daily pushing back the frontiers of civil engineering.

 

 

 

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