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Dave steam 4 (railways)(44)

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part 4 - How mining led to rail 'ways'

part 4 - How mining led to rail 'ways'

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  • 1. Steam Engines
    A series of lessons
    by David C
    Dec 2010
  • 2. Part 4
    Rail ‘ways’
  • 3. Okay, now let’s put you into the picture….
  • 4. Let’s suppose that you’re some wealthy landowner in England, probably in the 1500s or 1600s and you discover that on your land there is a hillside that contains a lot of silver, or maybe tin or some other mineral, like copper.
  • 5. Let’s suppose that you’re some wealthy landowner in England, probably in the 1500s or 1600s and you discover that on your land there is a hillside that contains a lot of silver, or maybe tin or some other mineral, like copper.
    You realise that you can make an awful lot of money by digging it out and selling it to someone who will melt it down and form it into other things. All you have to do is dig it out of that hill.
  • 6. Now at first you’re just digging some little holes and gathering up a little of this stuff.
  • 7. But as time goes by and your business grows, you find yourself digging ever deeper into the ground to get those minerals.
  • 8. So, you hire an engineer who’s good at digging tunnels that don’t collapse, and pay a lot of guys to go down into that tunnel and haul all those heavy rocks out.
  • 9. And then you have to make a deal with a guy who has a boat big enough to carry all those rocks downriver to wherever it is that those rocks will be melted and reformed into other things.
  • 10. And then you have to make a deal with a guy who has a boat big enough to carry all those rocks downriver to wherever it is that those rocks will be melted and reformed into other things.
    You’ll probably need to widen the river a bit, and dredge the bottom too so that the boat will still float when it’s loaded.
  • 11. You can see that already we’re teaming up with a lot of other businesses and that a lot of money is changing hands.
  • 12. But what’s really causing problems is that this hole goes down a long way and the surface of it is strewn with boulders, and in places it’s pretty steep.
  • 13. It’s really hard to push a wagon-load of rocks out of that hole!
  • 14. One thing you could do is smooth out the floor of the tunnel and pave it with something solid, like timber.
  • 15. Or you could save yourself a lot of effort by just laying down two narrow strips for the wheels.
  • 16. Or you could save yourself a lot of effort by just laying down two narrow strips for the wheels.
    You might have some trouble keeping those wheels on top of the ‘rails’.
  • 17. But you can fix that by nailing a couple of guide sticks to the front of the wagon.
  • 18. That’s how they did it in the 1560s.
    The idea seems to have started in Germany and then spread across to England.
  • 19. That’s how they did it in the 1560s.
    The idea seems to have started in Germany and then spread across to England.
    It’s the first evidence we have anywhere in the world, of wagons travelling on rails.
  • 20. Okay, so the next problem is,
    How do you get those rocks down to the river-side?
  • 21. Okay, so the next problem is,
    How do you get those rocks down to the river-side?
    Well, you just build another wagon-way.
  • 22. Okay, so the next problem is,
    How do you get those rocks down to the river-side?
    Well, you just build another wagon-way.
    This one’s outside the mine, where the ground is smoother and there’s more headspace.
  • 23. Okay, so the next problem is,
    How do you get those rocks down to the river-side?
    Well, you just build another wagon-way.
    This one’s outside the mine, where the ground is smoother and there’s more headspace.
    That means it can be sturdier and carry bigger wagons.
  • 24. Now, it’s probably a long way to the riverbank and you probably have to cross over your neighbour’s land.
  • 25. Now, it’s probably a long way to the riverbank and you probably have to cross over your neighbour’s land.
    That means you’ll have to get his permission, and that means he’ll probably want to use the rail ‘way’ as well to haul some of his own goods to the riverside.
  • 26. Now, it’s probably a long way to the riverbank and you probably have to cross over your neighbour’s land.
    That means you’ll have to get his permission, and that means he’ll probably want to use the rail ‘way’ as well to haul some of his own goods to the riverside.
    Pretty soon the whole village is going to want to use this rail ‘way’.
  • 27. Now, it’s probably a long way to the riverbank and you probably have to cross over your neighbour’s land.
    That means you’ll have to get his permission, and that means he’ll probably want to use the rail ‘way’ as well to haul some of his own goods to the riverside.
    But that’s okay because the more people who chip in with some money, the easier it is to build a good, long line.
  • 28. The first overland railway appeared in 1603, in a place called Wollaton, near Nottingham in the English Midlands.
    It was about 3km long, made entirely of wood and was used to move coal.
  • 29. The idea spread to other mining districts around the country
    (notably Newcastle and Wales)
  • 30. Some railways even popped up in places where there weren’t mines.
  • 31. Some railways even popped up in places where there weren’t mines.
    People used them for freighting any kinds of goods to the canals.
  • 32. Some railways even popped up in places where there weren’t mines.
    People used them for freighting any kinds of goods to the canals.
    Do you see how the idea is spiraling?
    More people are getting involved, and using the idea in ways it wasn’t originally intended for.
  • 33. Some of these railways were over 10km long, winding across several properties and connecting towns.
  • 34. Some of these railways were over 10km long, winding across several properties and connecting towns.
    They must have required the savings of a lifetime, and taken years to build.
  • 35. Here’s a picture of one of those wagons. Look at the size of it!
    That horse is pulling at least 10 tonnes of coal.
  • 36. Eventually, (in 1803) someone suggested allowing passengers to travel in special ‘coaches’ built for these railways.
  • 37. The developers were skeptical at first, and were amazed at how many people actually paid to travel like this.
  • 38. The developers were skeptical at first, and were amazed at how many people actually paid to travel like this.
    Eventually, hauling passengers was as much of a money-spinner as hauling rocks.
  • 39. Railways existed for 200 years before steam engines came along. But you can see that now everything is in place so that all we have to do is take the horse out of the picture and put a steam engine in its place.
  • 40. To see where steam engines come from,
    we have to go back in time again to those early days of digging copper, tin and silver out of the ground.
  • 41. Can you see that rainwater is flooding into the mine?
  • 42. This is going to happen anywhere you dig a hole in the ground, and the deeper the hole, the worse it gets.
  • 43. Believe it or not, solving this problem gave us
    the steam engine, and later the industrial revolution.
  • 44. End
    dtcoulson@gmail.com