Early Steam Trains, 1700-1840 The struggle to build and run the World’s first steam locomotives
The First Railways
Before 1700, trucks ran on wooden rails in Cornish tin mines
By about 1780, coal trucks in the North-East were running on wooden and stone tracks. A few tracks were made of iron
All these ‘waggonways’ were drawn by horses
By 1800, fixed steam engines were working in mines and factories
The next step was the Locomotive – a moving steam engine that pulled coal trucks
Between 1800-1830, a number of ‘engineers’ tried to build a locomotive but their machines often broke down or were very weak
In 1804, Trevithick ran his new steam locomotive in Wales
It pulled 10 tonnes of iron for a bet
It travelled at 3½ m.p.h. for 100 yards and then broke down
… .but he won his bet!
New Cogs & ‘Puffing Billy’
In 1811, John Blenkinsop invented a locomotive with an extra wheel. It had cogs on it that gave the machine extra grip on the track
Then in 1813, John Hedley built his ‘Puffing Billy’ to haul coal in Northumberland
‘ Puffing Billy’ ran for 50 years
Liverpool to Manchester Railway
There was a competition in 1829 to see who’s locomotive was best. Stephenson won
He was chosen to build the Liverpool to Manchester railway
400,000 people used the new railway in the first year. They were thrilled to travel at 18 m.p.h.
After 1830, there was a rush to build railways
London & Birmingham linked in 1838
All the main cities were linked by 1850
The face of Britain changed, criss-crossed by railway lines, bridges and tunnels
There was a mad rush to invest in railways in the 1840s. Some people made fortunes, many went bust or were swindled
Railways created jobs for ‘navvies’, train drivers & staff, train builders, iron makers, coal miners and more!
Journey times from London (in hours)
Each part of the country had its own time when the first railways were built. It caused such confusion that station clocks began using London time. In 1880, Greenwich Mean Time became everyone’s time in Britain.
The ‘modern world’ took off with the coming of the railways. The world was never the same again after 1830.