The Stephensons IV.
Home Up James Brindley Boulton and Watt Smeaton and Rennie Metcalfe & Telford Invention & Industry Brief Biographies Self Help Miscellanea Main Index Site Search


 

[Previous Page]


CHAPTER VII.

GEORGE STEPHENSON'S FARTHER IMPROVEMENT IN THE LOCOMOTIVE—THE HETTON RAILWAY—ROBERT STEPHENSON AS VIEWER'S APPRENTICE AND STUDENT.


    STEPHENSON'S experiments on fire-damp, and his labours in connection with the invention of the safety-lamp, occupied but a small portion of his time, which was necessarily devoted, for the most part, to the ordinary business of the colliery.  From the day of his appointment as engine-wright, one of the subjects which particularly occupied his attention was the best practical method of winning and raising the coal.  Nicholas Wood has said of him that he was one of the first to introduce steam machinery underground with that object.  Indeed, the Killingworth mines came to be regarded as the models of the district; and when Mr. Robert Bald, the celebrated Scotch mining engineer, was requested by Dr. (afterward Sir David) Brewster to prepare the article "Mine" for the "Edinburgh Encyclopaedia,'' he proceeded to Killingworth principally for the purpose of examining Stephenson's underground machinery.  Mr. Bald has favoured us with an account of his visit made with that object in 1818, and he states that he was much struck with the novelty, as well as the remarkable efficiency of Stephenson's arrangements, especially in regard to what is called the underdip working.

"I found," he says,


"that a mine had been commenced near the main pit-bottom, and carried forward down the dip or slope of the coal, the rate of dip being about one in twelve; and the coals were drawn from the dip to the pit-bottom by the steam machinery in a very rapid manner.  The water which oozed from the upper winning was disposed of at the pit-bottom in a barrel or trunk, and was drawn up by the power of the engine which worked the other machinery.  The dip at the time of my visit was nearly a mile in length, but has since been greatly extended.  As I was considerably tired by my wanderings in the galleries, when I arrived at the forehead of the dip, Mr. Stephenson said to me, 'You may very speedily be carried up to the rise by laying yourself flat upon the coal-baskets,' which were laden and ready to be taken up the incline.  This I at once did, and was straightway wafted on the wings of fire to the bottom of the pit, from whence I was borne swiftly up to the light by the steam machinery on the pit-head."


    The whole of the working arrangements seemed to Mr. Bald to be conducted in the most skilful and efficient manner, reflecting the highest credit on the colliery engineer.

    Besides attending to the underground arrangements, the improved transit of the coals above ground from the pit-head to the shipping-place demanded an increasing share of Stephenson's attention.  Every day's experience convinced him that the locomotive constructed by him after his patent of the year 1815 was far from perfect, though he continued to entertain confident hopes of its complete eventual success.  He even went so far as to say that the locomotive would yet supersede every other traction-power for drawing heavy loads.  It is true, many persons continued to regard his travelling engine as little better than a dangerous curiosity; and some, shaking their heads, predicted for it "a terrible blow-up some day."  Nevertheless, it was daily performing its work with regularity, dragging the coal-wagons between the colliery and the staiths, and saving the labour of many men and horses.

    There was not, however, so marked a saving in the expense of haulage as to induce the colliery masters to adopt locomotive power generally as a substitute for horses.  How it could be improved, and rendered more efficient as well as economical, was constantly present to Stephenson's mind.  He was fully conscious of the imperfections both in the road and the engine, and gave himself no rest until he had brought the efficiency of both up to a higher point.  Thus he worked his way inch by inch, slowly but surely, and every step gained was made good as a basis for farther improvements.

    At an early period of his labours, or about the time when he had completed his second locomotive, he began to direct his particular attention to the state of the road, perceiving that the extended use of the locomotive must necessarily depend in a great measure upon the perfection, solidity, continuity, and smoothness of the way along which the engine travelled.  Even at that early period he was in the habit of regarding the road and the locomotive as one machine, speaking of the Rail and the Wheel as "Man and Wife."

    All railways were at that time laid in a careless and loose manner, and great inequalities of level were allowed to occur without much attention being paid to repairs.  The consequence was a great loss of power, as well as much wear and tear of the machinery, by the frequent jolts and blows of the wheels against the rails.  Stephenson's first object, therefore, was to remove the inequalities produced by the imperfect junction between rail and rail.

    At that time (1816) the rails were made of cast iron, each rail being about three feet long; and sufficient care was not taken to maintain the points of junction on the same level.  The chain, or cast-iron pedestals into which the rails were inserted, were flat at the bottom, so that whenever any disturbance took place in the stone blocks or sleepers supporting them, the flat base of the chair upon which the rails rested being tilted by unequal subsidence, the end of one rail became depressed, while that of the other was elevated.  Hence constant jolts and shocks, the reaction of which very often caused the fracture of the rails, and occasionally threw the engine off the road.

 


    To remedy this imperfection, Mr. Stephenson devised a new chair, with an entirely new mode of fixing the rails therein.  Instead of adopting the butt joint which had hitherto been used in all cast-iron rails, he adopted the half-lap joint, by which means the rails extended a certain distance over each other at the ends like a scarf-joint.  These ends, instead of resting on the flat chair, were made to rest upon the apex of a curve forming the bottom of the chair.  The supports were also extended from three feet to three feet nine inches or four feet apart.  These rails were accordingly substituted for the old cast iron plates on the Killingworth Colliery Railway, and they were found to be a very great improvement on the previous system, adding both to the efficiency of the horse-power (still used on the railway) and to the smooth action of the locomotive engine, but more particularly increasing the efficiency of the latter.

    This improved form of the rail and chair was embodied in a patent taken out in the joint names of Mr. Losh, of Newcastle, iron founder, and of Mr. Stephenson, bearing date the 30th of September, 1816.  Mr. Losh being a wealthy, enterprising iron-manufacturer, and having confidence in George Stephenson and his improvements, found the money for the purpose of taking out the patent, which in those days was a very costly as well as troublesome affair.  At the same time, Mr. Losh guaranteed Stephenson a salary of £100 per annum, with a share in the profits arising from his inventions, conditional on his attending at the Walker Iron-works two days a week—an arrangement to which the owners of the Killingworth Colliery cheerfully gave their sanction.

    The specification of 1816 included various important improvements in the locomotive itself.  The wheels of the engine were improved, being altered from cast to malleable iron, in whole or in part, by which they were made lighter as well as more durable and safe.  The patent also included the ingenious and original contrivance by which the steam generated in the boiler was made to serve as a substitute for springs—an expedient already explained in a preceding chapter.

 


    The result of the actual working of the new locomotive on the improved road amply justified the promises held forth in the specification.  The traffic was conducted with greater regularity and economy, and the superiority of the engine, as compared with horse traction, became still more marked.  And it is a fact worthy of notice, that the identical engines constructed by Stephenson in 1816 are to this day in regular useful work upon the Killingworth Railway, conveying heavy coal-trains at the speed of between five and six miles an hour, probably as economically as any of the more perfect locomotives now in use.

    George Stephenson's endeavours having been attended with such marked success in the adaptation of locomotive power to railways, his attention was called by many of his friends, about the year 1818, to the application of steam to travelling on common roads.  It was from this point, indeed, that the locomotive had started, Trevithick's first engine having been constructed with this special object.  Stephenson's friends having observed how far behind he had left the original projector of the locomotive in its application to railroads, perhaps naturally inferred that he would be equally successful in applying it to the purpose for which Trevithick and Vivian had intended their first engine.  But the accuracy with which he estimated the resistance to which loads were exposed on railways, arising from friction and gravity, led him at a very early stage to reject the idea of ever applying steam-power economically to common road travelling.  In October, 1818, he made a series of careful experiments, in conjunction with Mr. Nicholas Wood, on the resistance to which carriages were exposed on railways, testing the results by means of a dynamometer of his own contrivance.  The series of practical observations made by means of this instrument were interesting, as the first systematic attempt to determine the precise amount of resistance to carriages moving along railways.  It was then for the first time ascertained by experiment that the friction was a constant quantity at all velocities.  Although this theory had long before been developed by Vince and Coulomb, and was well known to scientific men as an established truth, yet, at the time when Stephenson made his experiments, the deductions of philosophers on the subject were neither believed in nor acted upon by practical engineers.  To quote again from the MS. account supplied to the author by Robert Stephenson for the purposes of his father's "Life:"


    "It was maintained by many that the results of the experiments led to the greatest possible mechanical absurdities.  For instance, it was maintained that, if friction were constant at all velocities upon a level railway, when once a power was applied to a carriage which exceeded the friction of that carriage by the smallest possible amount, that same small excess of power would be able to convey the carriage along a level railway at all conceivable velocities.  When this position was put by those who opposed the conclusions at which my father had arrived, he felt great hesitation in maintaining his own views; for it appeared to him at first sight really to be—as it was put by his opponents—an absurdity.  Frequent repetition, however, of the experiments to which I have alluded, left no doubt upon his mind that his conclusion that friction was uniform at all velocities was a fact which must be received as positively established; and he soon afterward boldly maintained that that which was an apparent absurdity was, instead, a necessary consequence.  I well remember the ridicule that was thrown upon this view by many of those persons with whom he was associated at the time.  Nevertheless, it is undoubted, that, could you practically be always applying a power in excess of the resistance, a constant increase of velocity would of necessity follow without any limit.  This is so obvious to most professional men of the present day, and is now so axiomatic, that I only allude to the discussion which took place when these experiments of my father were announced for the purpose of showing how small was the amount of science at that time blended with engineering practice.  A few years afterward, an excellent pamphlet was published by Mr. Silvester on this question; he took up the whole subject, and demonstrated in a very simple and beautiful manner the correctness of all the views at which my father had arrived by his course of experiments.

    "The other resistances to which carriages were exposed were also investigated experimentally by my father.  He perceived that these resistances were mainly three—the first being upon the axles of the carriage; the second, which may be called the rolling resistance, being between the circumference of the wheel and the surface of the rail; and the third being the resistance of gravity.

    "The amount of friction and gravity he accurately ascertained; but the rolling resistance was a matter of greater difficulty, for it was subject to great variation.  He, however, satisfied himself that it was so great, when the surface presented to the wheel was of a rough character, that the idea of working steam-carriages economically on common roads was out of the question.  Even so early as the period alluded to he brought his theoretical calculations to a practical test; he scattered sand upon the rails when an engine was running, and found that a small quantity was quite sufficient to retard and even stop the most powerful locomotive engine that he had at that time made.  And he never failed to urge this conclusive experiment upon the attention of those who were wasting their money and time upon the vain attempt to apply steam to common roads.

    "The following were the principal arguments which influenced his mind to work out the use of the locomotive in a directly opposite course to that pursued by a number of ingenious inventors, who, between 1820 and 1836, were engaged in attempting to apply steam-power to turnpike roads.  Having ascertained that resistance might be taken as represented by 10 lbs. to a ton weight on a level railway, it became obvious to him that so small a rise as 1 in 100 would diminish the useful effort of a locomotive by upward of fifty per cent.  This fact called my father's attention to the question of gradients in future locomotive lines.  He then became convinced of the vital importance, in an economical point of view, of reducing the country through which a railway was intended to pass to as near a level as possible.  This originated in his mind the distinctive character of railway works as contra-distinguished from all other roads; for in railroads he early contended that large sums would be wisely expended in perforating barriers of hills with long tunnels, and in raising low ground with the excess cut down from the adjacent high ground.  In proportion as these views fixed themselves upon his mind, and were corroborated by his daily experience, he became more and more convinced of the hopelessness of applying steam locomotion to common roads; for every argument in favour of a level railway was an argument against the rough and hilly course of a common road.  He never ceased to urge upon the patrons of road steam-carriages that if, by any amount of ingenuity, an engine could be made which could by possibility traverse a turnpike road at a speed at least equal to that obtainable by horse-power, and at a less cost, such an engine, if applied to the more perfect surface of a railway, would have its efficiency enormously enhanced.  For instance, he calculated that if an engine had been constructed, and had been found to travel uniformly between London and Birmingham at an average speed of 10 miles an hour—conveying, say, 20 or 30 passengers at a cost of 1s. per mile, it was clear that the same engine, if applied to a railway, instead of conveying 20 or 30 people, would have conveyed 200 or 300 people, and instead of a speed of 10 or 12 miles an hour, a speed of at least 30 to 40 miles an hour would have been obtained."


    At this day it is difficult to understand how the sagacious and strong- common-sense views of Stephenson on this subject failed to force themselves sooner upon the minds of those who were persisting in their vain though ingenious attempts to apply locomotive power to ordinary roads.  For a long time they continued to hold with obstinate perseverance to the belief that for such purposes a soft road was better than a hard one—a road easily crushed better than one incapable of being crushed; and they held to this after it had been demonstrated in all parts of the mining districts that iron tram-ways were better than paved roads.  But the fallacy that iron was incapable of adhesion upon iron continued to prevail, and the projectors of steam-travelling on common roads only shared in the common belief.  They still considered that roughness of surface was essential to produce "bite,'' especially in surmounting acclivities; the truth being that they confounded roughness of surface with tenacity of surface and contact of parts, not perceiving that a yielding surface which would adapt itself to the tread of the wheel could never become an unyielding surface to form a fulcrum for its progression.

    Although Stephenson's locomotive engines were in daily use for many years on the Killingworth Railway, they excited comparatively little interest.  They were no longer experimental, but had become an established tractive power.  The experience of years had proved that they worked more steadily, drew heavier loads, and were, on the whole, considerably more economical than horses.  Nevertheless, eight years passed before another locomotive railway was constructed and opened for the purposes of coal or other traffic.

    It is difficult to account for this early indifference on the part of the public to the merits of the greatest mechanical invention of the age.  Steam-carriages were exciting much interest, and numerous and repeated experiments were made with them. The improvements effected by McAdam in the mode of constructing turnpike roads were the subject of frequent discussions in the Legislature, on the grants of public money being proposed, which were from time to time made to him.  Yet here at Killingworth, without the aid of a farthing of government money, a system of road locomotion had been in existence since 1814, which was destined, before many years, to revolutionize the internal communications of England and of the world, but of which the English public and the English government as yet knew nothing.

    But Stephenson had no means of bringing his important invention prominently under the notice of the public.  He himself knew well its importance, and he already anticipated its eventual general adoption; but, being an unlettered man, he could not give utterance to the thoughts which brooded within him on the subject.  Killingworth Colliery lay far from London, the centre of scientific life in England.  It was visited by no savans nor literary men, who might have succeeded in introducing to notice the wonderful machine of Stephenson.  Even the local chroniclers seem to have taken no notice of the Killingworth Railway.  The "Puffing Billy" was doing its daily quota of hard work, and had long ceased to be a curiosity in the neighbourhood.  Blenkinsop's clumsier and less successful engine—which has long since been disused, while Stephenson's Killingworth engines continue working to this day—excited far more interest, partly, perhaps, because it was close to the large town of Leeds, and used to be visited by strangers as one of the few objects of interest in that place.  Blenkinsop was also an educated man, and was in communication with some of the most distinguished personages of his day on the subject of his locomotive, which thus obtained considerable celebrity.

 

William Hedley's "Puffing Billy", 1814, Wylam Colliery,
the world's oldest surviving steam locomotive.


    The first engine constructed by Stephenson to order, after the Killingworth model, was made for the Duke of Portland in 1817, for use upon his tram-road, about ten miles long, extending from Kilmarnock to Troon, in Ayrshire.  It was employed to haul the coals from the duke's collieries along the line to Troon harbour.  Its use was, however, discontinued in consequence of the frequent breakages of the cast-iron rails, by which the working of the line was interrupted, and accordingly horses were again employed as before. [p.207]

    There seemed, indeed, to be so small a prospect of introducing the locomotive into general use, that Stephenson—perhaps conscious of the capabilities within him—again recurred to his old idea of emigrating to the United States.  Before entering as sleeping partner in a small foundry at Forth Banks, Newcastle, managed by Mr. John Burrell, he had thrown out the suggestion to the latter that it would be a good speculation for them to emigrate to North America, and introduce steam-boats on the great inland lakes there.  The first steamers were then plying upon the Tyne before his eyes, and he saw in them the germ of a great revolution in navigation.  It occurred to him that the great lakes of North America presented the finest field for trying their wonderful powers.  He was an engineer, and Mr. Burrell was an iron-founder; and between them, he thought they might strike out a path to fortune in the mighty West.  Fortunately, this idea remained a mere speculation so far as Stephenson was concerned, and it was left to others to do what he had dreamed of achieving.  After all his patient waiting, his skill, industry, and perseverance were at length about to bear fruit.

    In 1819, the owners of the Hetton Colliery, in the county of Durham, determined to have their wagon-way altered to a locomotive railroad.  The result of the working of the Killingworth Railway had been so satisfactory that they resolved to adopt the same system.  One reason why an experiment so long continued and so successful as that at Killingworth should have been so slow in producing results perhaps was, that to lay down a railway and furnish it with locomotives, or fixed engines where necessary, required a very large capital, beyond the means of ordinary coal-owners; while the small amount of interest felt in railways by the general public, and the supposed impracticability of working them to a profit, as yet prevented the ordinary capitalists from venturing their money in the promotion of such undertakings.  The Hetton Coal Company were, however, possessed of adequate means, and the local reputation of the Killingworth engine-wright pointed him out as the man best calculated to lay out their line and superintend their works.  They accordingly invited him to act as the engineer of the proposed railway.  Being in the service of the Killingworth Company, Stephenson felt it necessary to obtain their permission to enter upon this new work.  This was at once granted.  The best feeling existed between him and his employers, and they regarded it as a compliment that their colliery engineer should be selected for a work so important as the laying down of the Hetton Railway, which was to be the longest locomotive line that had, up to that time, been constructed in the neighbourhood.  Stephenson accepted the appointment, his brother Robert acting as resident engineer and personally superintending the execution of the works.

    The Hetton Railway extended from the Hetton Colliery, situated about two miles south of Houghton-le-Spring, to the ship-places on the banks of the Wear, near Sunderland.  Its length was about eight miles; and in its course it crossed Warden Law, one of the highest hills in the district.  The character of the country forbade the construction of a flat line, or one of comparatively easy gradients, except by the expenditure of a much larger capital than was placed at Stephenson's command.  Heavy works could not be executed; it was therefore necessary to form the line with but little deviation from the natural conformation of the district which it traversed, and also to adapt the mechanical methods employed for its working to the character of the gradients, which in some places were necessarily heavy.

    Although George Stephenson had, with every step made toward its increased utility, become more and more identified with the success of the locomotive engine, he did not allow his enthusiasm to carry him away into costly mistakes.  He carefully drew the line between the cases in which the locomotive could be usefully employed and those in which stationary engines were calculated to be more economical.  This led him, as in the instance of the Hetton Railway, to execute lines through and over rough countries, where gradients within the powers of the locomotive engine of that day could not be secured, employing in their stead stationary engines where locomotives were not practicable.  In the present case, this course was adopted by him most successfully.  On the original Hetton line there were five self-acting inclines—the full wagons drawing the empty ones up—and two inclines worked by fixed reciprocating engines of sixty-horse power each.  The locomotive travelling engine, or "the iron horse," as the people of the neighbourhood then styled it, worked the rest of the line.  On the day of the opening of the Hetton Railway, the 18th of November, 1822, crowds of spectators assembled from all parts to witness the first operations of this ingenious and powerful machinery, which was entirely successful.  On that day five of Stephenson's locomotives were at work upon the railway, under the direction of his brother Robert; and the first shipment of coal was then made by the Hetton Company at their new staiths on the Wear.  The speed at which the locomotives travelled was about four miles an hour, and each engine dragged after it a train of seventeen wagons weighing about sixty-four tons.

    While thus advancing step by step—attending to the business of the Killingworth Colliery, and laying out railways in the neighbourhood—he was carefully watching over the education of his son.  We have already seen that Robert was sent to school at Newcastle, where he remained about four years.  While Robert was at school, his father, as usual, made his son's education instrumental to his own.  He entered him a member of the Newcastle Literary and Philosophical Institute, the subscription to which was three guineas a year.  Robert spent much of his leisure hours there, reading and studying; and when he went home in the afternoons, he was accustomed to carry home with him a volume of the "Repertory of Arts and Sciences," or of some work on practical science, which furnished the subject of interesting reading and discussion in the evening hours.  Both father and son were always ready to acknowledge the great advantages they had derived from the use of so excellent a library of books; and, toward the close of his life, the latter, in recognition of his debt of gratitude to the institution, contributed a large sum for the purpose of clearing off the debt, but conditional on the annual subscription being reduced to a guinea, in order that the usefulness of the Institute might be extended.

    Robert left school in the summer of 1819, and was put apprentice to Mr. Nicholas Wood, the head viewer at Killingworth, to learn the business of the colliery.  He served in that capacity for about three years, during which time he became familiar with most departments of underground work.  His occupation was not unattended with peril, as the following incident will show.  Though the use of the Geordy lamp had become general in the Killingworth pits, and the workmen were bound, under a penalty of half a crown, not to use a naked candle, it was difficult to enforce the rule, and even the masters themselves occasionally broke it.  One day Nicholas Wood, the head viewer, Moodie, the under viewer, and Robert Stephenson, were proceeding along one of the galleries.  Wood with a naked candle in his hand, and Robert following him with a lamp.  They came to a place where a fall of stones from the roof had taken place, on which Wood, who was first, proceeded to clamber over the stones, holding high the naked candle.  He had nearly reached the summit of the heap, when the fire-damp, which had accumulated in the hollow of the roof, exploded, and instantly the whole party were blown down, and the lights extinguished.  They were a mile from the shaft, and quite in the dark.  There was a rush of the work-people from all quarters toward the shaft, for it was feared that the fire might extend to more dangerous parts of the pit, where, if the gas had exploded, every soul in the mine must inevitably have perished.  Robert Stephenson and Moodie, on the first impulse, ran back at full speed along the dark gallery leading to the shaft, coming into collision, on their way, with the hind quarters of a horse stunned by the explosion.  When they had gone half way, Moodie halted, and bethought him of Nicholas Wood.  "Stop, laddie!" said he to Robert, "stop; we maun gang back and seek the maister."  So they retraced their steps.  Happily, no farther explosion took place.  They found the master lying on the heap of stones, stunned and bruised, with his hands severely burnt.  They led him to the bottom of the shaft; and he afterward took care not to venture into the dangerous parts of the mine without the protection of a Geordy lamp.

    The time that Robert spent at Killingworth as viewer's apprentice was of advantage both to his father and himself.  The evenings were generally devoted to reading and study, the two from this time working together as friends and co-labourers.  One who used to drop in at the cottage of an evening well remembers the animated and eager discussions which on some occasions took place, more especially with reference to the growing powers of the locomotive engine.  The son was even more enthusiastic than his father on the subject.  Robert would suggest numerous alterations and improvements in detail.  His father, on the contrary, would offer every possible objection, defending the existing arrangements—proud, nevertheless, of his son's suggestions, and often warmed and excited by his brilliant anticipations of the ultimate triumph of the locomotive.

    These discussions probably had considerable influence in inducing Stephenson to take the next important step in the education of his son.  Although Robert, who was only nineteen years of age, was doing well, and was certain, at the expiration of his apprenticeship, to rise to a higher position, his father was not satisfied with the amount of instruction which he had as yet given him.  Remembering the disadvantages under which he had himself laboured through his ignorance of practical chemistry during his investigations connected with the safety-lamp, more especially with reference to the properties of gas, as well as in the course of his experiments with the object of improving the locomotive engine, he determined to furnish his son with a better scientific culture than he had yet attained.  He also believed that a proper training in technical science was indispensable to success in the higher walks of the engineer's profession, and he determined to give Robert the education, in a certain degree, which he so much desired for himself.  He would thus, he knew, secure an able co-worker in the elaboration of the great ideas now looming before him, and with their united practical and scientific knowledge he probably felt that they would be equal to any enterprise.

    He accordingly took Robert from his labours as under viewer in the West Moor Pit, and in October, 1822, sent him for a short coarse of instruction to the Edinburgh University.  Robert was furnished with letters of introduction to several men of literary eminence in Edinburgh, his father's reputation in connection with the safety-lamp being of service to him in this respect.  He lodged in Drummond Street, in the immediate vicinity of the college, and attended the Chemical Lectures of Dr. Hope, the Natural Philosophy Lectures of Sir John Leslie, and the Natural History Class of Professor Jameson.  He also devoted several evenings in each week to the study of practical Chemistry under Dr. John Murray, himself one of the numerous designers of a safety-lamp.  He took careful notes of the lectures, which he copied out at night before he went to bed, so that, when he returned to Killingworth, he might read them over to his father.  He afterward had the notes bound up and placed in his library.

    Long years after, when conversing with Thomas Harrison, C.E, at his house in Gloucester Square, he rose from his seat and took down a volume from the shelves.  Mr. Harrison observed that the book was in MS., neatly written out.  "What have we here?" he asked.  The answer was, "When I went to college, I knew the difficulty my father had in collecting the funds to send me there.  Before going I studied short-hand; while at Edinburgh I took down verbatim every lecture; and in the evenings, before I went to bed, I transcribed those lectures word for word.  You see the result in that range of books."  From this it will be observed that the maxim of "Like father, like son," was one that strictly applied to the Stephensons.

    Robert was not without the pleasure of social intercourse either during his stay at Edinburgh.  Among the letters of introduction which he took with him was one to Robert Bald, the mining engineer, which proved of much service to him.  "I remember Mr. Bald very well," he said on one occasion, when recounting his reminiscences of his Edinburgh college life.  "He introduced me to Dr. Hope, Dr. Murray, and several of the distinguished men of the North.  Bald was the Buddle of Scotland.  He knew my father from having visited the pits at Killingworth, with the object of describing the system of working them in his article intended for the 'Edinburgh Encyclopaedia.'  A strange adventure befell that article before it appeared in print.  Bald was living at Alloa when he wrote it, and when finished he sent it to Edinburgh by the hands of young Maxton, his nephew, whom he enjoined to take special care of it, and deliver it safely into the hands of the editor.  The young man took passage for New Haven by one of the little steamers which then plied on the Forth; but on the voyage down the Frith she struck upon a rock nearly opposite Queen's Ferry, and soon sank.  When the accident happened, Maxton's whole concern was about his uncle's article.  He durst not return to Alloa if he lost it, and he must not go on to Edinburgh without it.  So he desperately clung to the chimney chains with the paper parcel under his arm, while most of the other passengers were washed away and drowned.  And there he continued to cling until rescued by some boatmen, parcel and all, after which he made his way to Edinburgh, and the article duly appeared."

    Returning to the subject of his life in Edinburgh, Robert continued: "Besides taking me with him to the meetings of the Royal and other societies, Mr. Bald introduced me to a very agreeable family, relatives of his own, at whose house I spent many pleasant evenings.  It was there I met Jeannie M――.

    She was a bonnie lass, and I, being young and susceptible, fairly fell in love with her.  But, like most very early attachments, mine proved evanescent.  Years passed, and I had all but forgotten Jeannie, when one day I received a letter from her, from which it appeared that she was in great distress through the ruin of her relatives.  I sent her a sum of money, and continued to do so for several years; but the last remittance not being acknowledged, I directed my friend Sanderson to make inquiries.  I afterward found that the money had reached her at Portobello just as she was dying, and so, poor thing, she had been unable to acknowledge it."

    One of the practical sciences in the study of which Robert Stephenson took special interest while at Edinburgh was that of geology.  The situation of the city, in the midst of a district of highly interesting geological formation, easily accessible to pedestrians, is indeed most favourable to the pursuit of such a study; and it was the practice of Professor Jameson frequently to head a band of his pupils, armed with hammers, chisels, and clinometers, and take them with him on a long ramble into the country, for the purpose of teaching them habits of observation, and reading to them from the open book of Nature itself.  The professor was habitually grave and taciturn, but on such occasions he would relax and even become genial.  For his own special science he had an almost engrossing enthusiasm, which on such occasions he did not fail to inspire into his pupils, who thus not only got their knowledge in the pleasantest possible way, but also fresh air and exercise in the midst of glorious scenery and in joyous company.

    At the close of this session, the professor took with him a select body of his pupils on an excursion along the Great Glen of the Highlands, in the line of the Caledonian Canal, and Robert formed one of the party.  They passed under the shadow of Ben Nevis, examined the famous old sea-margins known as the "parallel roads of Glen Roy," and extended their journey as far as Inverness, the professor teaching the young men, as they travelled, how to observe in a mountain country.  Not long before his death, Robert Stephenson spoke in glowing terms of the great pleasure and benefit which he had derived from that interesting excursion.  "I have travelled far, and enjoyed much," he said, "but that delightful botanical and geological tour I shall never forget; and I am just about to start in the Titania for a trip round the east coast of Scotland, returning south through the Caledonian Canal, to refresh myself with the recollection of the first and brightest tour of my life."

    Toward the end of the summer the young student returned to Killingworth to re-enter upon the active business of life.  The six months' study had cost his father £80—a considerable sum to him in those days; but he was amply repaid by the additional scientific culture which his son had acquired, and the evidence of ability and industry which he was enabled to exhibit in a prize for mathematics which he had won at the University.

 


    We may here add that by this time George Stephenson, after remaining a widower fourteen years, had married, in 1820, his second wife, Elizabeth Hindmarsh, the daughter of a respectable farmer at Black Callerton.  She was a woman of excellent character, sensible, and intelligent, and of a kindly and affectionate nature.  George's son Robert, whom she loved as if he had been her own, to the last day of his life spoke of her in the highest terms; and it is unquestionable that she contributed in no small degree to the happiness of her husband's home.

    The story was for some time current that, while living at Black Callerton in the capacity of engine-man, twenty years before, George had made love to Miss Hindmarsh, and, failing to obtain her hand, in despair he had married Paterson's servant.  But the author has been assured by Mr. Thomas Hindmarsh, of Newcastle, the lady's brother, that the story was mere idle gossip, and altogether without foundation.


――――♦――――

 
CHAPTER VIII.

GEORGE STEPHENSON ENGINEER OF THE STOCKTON AND DARLINGTON RAILWAY.


    IT is not improbable that the slow progress made by railways in public estimation was, in a considerable measure, due to the comparative want of success which had attended the first projects.  We do not refer to the tram-roads and railroads which connected the collieries and iron-works with the shipping-places.  These were found convenient and economical, and their use became general in Durham and Northumberland, in South Wales, in Scotland, and throughout the colliery districts.  But none of these were public railways.  Though the Merthyr Tydvil Tram-road, the Sirhoway Railroad, and others in South Wales, were constructed under the powers of special acts, they were exclusively used for the private purposes of the coal-owners and iron-masters at whose expense they were made. [p.216]

    The first public Railway Act was that passed in 1801, authorizing the construction of a line from Wandsworth to Croydon, under the name of "The Surrey Iron Railway."  By a subsequent act, powers were obtained to extend the line to Reigate, with a branch to Godstone.  The object of this railway was to furnish a more ready means for the transport of coal and merchandise from the Thames to the districts of south London, and at the same time to enable the lime-burners and proprietors of stone-quarries to send the lime and stone to London.  With this object, the railroad was connected with a dock or basin in Wandsworth Creek capable of containing thirty barges, with an entrance lock into the Thames.

    The works had scarcely been commenced ere the company got into difficulties, but eventually 26 miles of iron-way were constructed and opened for traffic.  Any person was then at liberty to put wagons on the line, and to carry goods within the prescribed rates, the wagons being worked by horses, mules, and donkeys.  Notwithstanding the very sanguine expectations which were early formed as to the paying qualities of this railway, it never realized any adequate profit to the owners.  But it continued to be worked, principally by donkeys for the sake of cheapness, down to the passing of the act for constructing the London and Brighton line in 1837, when the proprietors disposed of their undertaking to the new company.  The line was accordingly dismantled; the stone blocks and rails were taken up and sold; and all that remains of the Wandsworth, Croydon, and Merstham Railway is the track still observable to the south of Croydon, along Smitham Bottom, nearly parallel with the line of the present Brighton Railway, and an occasional cutting and embankment, which still mark the route of this first public railway.

    The want of success of this undertaking doubtless had the effect of deterring projectors from embarking in any similar enterprise.  If a line of the sort could not succeed near London, it was thought improbable that it should succeed anywhere else.  The Croydon and Merstham line was a beacon to warn capitalists against embarking in railways, and many years passed before another was ventured upon.

    Sir Richard Phillips was one of the few who early recognized the important uses of the locomotive and its employment on a large scale for the haulage of goods and passengers by railway.  In his "Morning Walk to Kew" he crossed the line of the Wandsworth and Croydon Railway, when the idea seems to have occurred to him, as it afterwards did to Thomas Gray, that in the locomotive and the railway were to be found the germs of a great and peaceful social revolution:

    "I found delight," said Sir Richard, in his book published in 1813,


"in witnessing at Wandsworth the economy of horse labour on the iron railway.  Yet a heavy sigh escaped me as I thought of the inconceivable millions of money which have been spent about Malta, four or five of which might have been the means of extending double lines of iron railway from London to Edinburgh, Glasgow, Holyhead, Milford, Falmouth, Yarmouth, Dover, and Portsmouth.  A reward of a single thousand would have supplied coaches and other vehicles, of various degrees of speed, with the best tackle for readily turning out; and we might, ere this, have witnessed our mail-coaches running at the rate of ten miles an hour drawn by a single horse, or impelled fifteen miles an hour by Blenkinsop's steam-engine.  Such would have been a legitimate motive for over-stepping the income of a nation, and the completion of so great and useful a work would have afforded rational ground for public triumph in general jubilee."


    There was, however, as yet, no general recognition of the advantages either of railways or locomotives.  The government of this country never leads in any work of public enterprise, and is usually rather a drag upon industrial operations than otherwise.  As for the general public, it was enough for them that the Wandsworth and Croydon Railway did not pay.

    Mr. Tredgold, in his "Practical Treatise on Railroads and Carriages," published in 1825, observes:


    "Up to this period railways have been employed with success only in the conveyance of heavy mineral products, and for short distances where immense quantities were to be conveyed. In the few instances where they have been intended for the general purposes of trade, they have never answered the expectations of their projectors. But this seems to have arisen altogether from following too closely the models adopted for the conveyance of minerals, such modes of forming and using railways not being at all adapted for the general purposes of trade."


    The ill success of railways was generally recognized.  Joint-stock companies for all sorts of purposes were formed during the joint-stock mania of 1821, but few projectors were found daring enough to propose schemes so unpromising as railways.  Hence nearly twenty years passed between the construction of the first and the second public railway in England; and this brings us to the projection of the Stockton and Darlington, which may be regarded as the parent public locomotive railway in the kingdom.

    The district lying to the west of Darlington, in the county of Durham, is one of the richest mineral fields of the North.  Vast stores of coal underlie the Bishop Auckland Valley, and from an early period it was felt to be an exceedingly desirable object to open up new communications to enable the article to be sent to market.  But the district lay a long way from the sea, and, the Tees being unnavigable, there was next to no vend for the Bishop Auckland coal.

    It is easy to understand, therefore, how the desire to obtain an outlet for this coal for land sale, as well as for its transport to London by sea, should have early occupied the attention of the coal-owners in the Bishop Auckland district.  The first idea that found favour was the construction of a canal.  About a century ago, in 1766, shortly after the Duke of Bridgewater's Canal had been opened between Worsley and Manchester, a movement was set on foot at Darlington with the view of having the country surveyed between that place and Stockton-on-Tees.

    Brindley was requested to lay out the proposed line of canal; but he was engrossed at the time by the prosecution of the works on the Duke's Canal to Liverpool, and Whitworth, his pupil and assistant, was employed in his stead; George Dixon, grandfather of John Dixon, engineer of the future Stockton and Darlington Railway, taking an active part in the survey.  In October, 1768, Whitworth presented his plan of the proposed canal from Stockton by Darlington to Winston, and in the following year, to give weight to the scheme, Brindley concurred with him in a joint report as to the plan and estimate.

    Nothing was, however, done in the matter.  Enterprise was slow to move.  Stockton waited for Darlington, and Darlington waited for Stockton, but neither stirred until twenty years later, when Stockton began to consider the propriety of straightening the Tees below that town, and thereby shortening and improving the navigation.  When it became known that some engineering scheme was afoot at Stockton, that indefatigable writer of prospectuses and drawer of plans, Ralph Dodd, the first projector of a tunnel under the Thames, the first projector of the Waterloo Bridge, and the first to bring a steam-boat from Glasgow into the Thames, addressed the Mayor and Corporation of Stockton in 1796 on the propriety of forming a line of internal navigation by Darlington and Staindrop to Winston.  Still nothing was done.  Four years later, another engineer, George Atkinson, reported in favour of a waterway to connect the then projected Great Trunk Canal, from about Boroughbridge to Piersebridge, with the Tees above Yarm.

    At length, in 1808, the Tees Navigation Company, slow in their movements, obtained an act enabling them to make the short cut projected seventeen years before, and two years later the cut was opened, and celebrated by the inevitable dinner.  The Stockton people, who adopted as the motto of their company "Meliora speramus," held a public meeting after the dinner to meditate upon and discuss the better things to come.  They appointed a committee to inquire into the practicability and advantages of forming a railway or canal from Stockton by Darlington to Winston.  Here, then, in 1810, we have the first glimpse of the railway; but it was long before the idea germinated and bore fruit.  The collieries must be got at to make the new cut a success, but how for a long time remained the question.

    Sixteen months passed, and the committee at Stockton went to sleep.  But it came up again, and this time at Darlington, with Edward Pease as one of the members.  The Darlington committee met and made their report, but they could not decide between the respective merits of a railroad and a canal.  It was felt that either would be of great advantage.  To settle the question, they determined to call the celebrated engineer, John Rennie, to their aid, and he was ready with his report in 1813.  His report was not published, but it is understood that he was in favour of a canal on Brindley and Whitworth's line, though he afterward inclined to a tram-road. Still nothing was done.  War was on foot in Europe, and enterprise was every where dormant.  The scheme must therefore wait the advent of peace.  At length peace came, and with it a revival of former projects.

    At Newcastle, a plan was set on foot for connecting the Tyne with the Solway Frith by a canal.  A county meeting was held on the subject in August, 1817, under the presidency of the high sheriff.  Previous to this time, Sir John Swinburne had stood up for a railway in preference to a canal; but when the meeting took place, the opinion of those present was in favour of a canal—Mr. William Armstrong (father of the present Sir William) being one of the most zealous advocates of the water-road.  Yet there were even then railroads in the immediate neighbourhood of Newcastle, at Wylam and Killingworth, which had been successfully and economically worked by the locomotive for years past, but which the Northumbrians seem completely to have ignored.  The public head is usually very thick, and it is difficult to hammer a new idea into it.  Canals were established methods of conveyance, and were every where recognized; whereas railways were new things, and were straggling hard to gain a footing.  Besides, the only public railway in England, the Wandsworth, Croydon, and Merstham, had proved a commercial failure, and was held up as a warning to all speculators in tram-ways.  But, though the Newcastle meeting approved of a canal in preference to a railway from the Tyne to the Solway, nothing was really done to promote the formation of either.

    The movement in favour of a canal was again revived at Stockton.  A requisition, very numerously signed by persons of influence in South Durham, was presented to the Mayor of Stockton in May, 1818, requesting him to convene a public meeting "to consider the expediency of forming a canal for the conveyance of coal, lime, etc., from Evenwood Bridge, near West Auckland, to the River Tees, upon a plan recently made by Mr. George Leatham, engineer."  Among the names attached to the petition we find those of Edward, John, and Thomas Pease, and John Dixon, Darlington.  They were doubtless willing to pull with any party that would open up a way, whether by rail or by water, between the Bishop Auckland coal-field and Stockton, whether the line passed through Darlington or not.

    An enthusiastic meeting was held at Stockton, and a committee was appointed, by whom it was resolved to apply to Parliament for an act to make the intended canal "if funds are forthcoming."  Never was there greater virtue in an if.  Funds were not forthcoming; the project fell through, and a great blunder was prevented.  When the Stockton men had discussed and resolved without any practical result, the leading men of Darlington took up the subject by themselves, determined, if possible, to bring it to some practical issue.  In September, 1818, they met under the presidency of Thomas Meynell, Esq.  Mr. Overton, who had laid down several coal railways in Wales, was consulted, and, after surveying the district between the Bishop Auckland coal-field and the Tees, sent in his report.  Mr. Rennie also was again consulted.  Both engineers gave their opinion in favour of a railway by Darlington in preference to a canal by Auckland, "whether taken as a line for the exportation of coal or as one for a local trade."  The committee accordingly reported in favour of the railway.

    It is curious now to look back at the modest estimate of traffic formed by the committee.  They considered that the export trade in coal "might be taken, perhaps, at 10,000 tons a year, which is about one cargo a week!"  It was intended to haul the coal by horse-power; a subsequent report stating "on undoubted authority" that one horse of moderate power could easily draw downward on the railway, between Darlington and Stockton, about ten tons, and upward about four tons of loading, exclusively of the empty wagons.  No allusion was made to passengers in any of the reports; nor did the committee at first contemplate the accommodation of traffic of this description.

    A survey of the line was then ordered, and steps were taken to apply to Parliament for the necessary powers to construct the railway.  But the controversy was not yet at an end.  Stockton stood by its favourite project of a canal, and would not subscribe a farthing toward the projected railway; but neither did it subscribe toward the canal.  The landlords, the road trustees, the carriers, the proprietors of donkeys (by whom coals were principally carried for inland sale), were strenuously opposed to the new project; while the general public, stupid and sceptical, for the most part stood aloof, quoting old saws and keeping their money in their pockets.

    Several energetic men, however, were now at the head of the Stockton and Darlington Railway project, and determined to persevere with it.  Among these, the Peases were the most zealous.  Edward Pease might be regarded as the back-bone of the concern.  Opposition did not daunt him, nor failure discourage him.  When apparently overthrown and prostrate, he would rise again like Antæus, stronger than before, and renew his efforts with increased vigour.  He had in him the energy and perseverance of many men.  One who knew him in 1818 said, "He was a man who could see a hundred years ahead."  When the author last saw him in 1854, a few years before his death, Mr. Pease was in his eighty-eighth year; yet he still possessed the hopefulness and mental vigour of a man in his prime.  Still sound in health, his eye had not lost its brilliancy, nor his cheek its colour, and there was an elasticity in his step which younger men might have envied.

 


    In getting up a company for surveying and forming a railway, Mr. Pease had great difficulties to encounter.  The people of the neighbourhood spoke of it as a ridiculous undertaking, and predicted that it would be ruinous to all concerned in it.  Even those most interested in the opening up of new markets for the sale of their coal were indifferent, if not hostile.  Mr. Pease nevertheless persevered in the formation of a company, and he induced many of his friends and relations to follow his example.  The Richardsons and Backhouses, members, like himself, of the Society of Friends, influenced by his persuasion, united themselves with him; and so many of the same denomination (having confidence in these influential Darlington names) followed their example and subscribed for shares, that the railway obtained the designation, which it long retained, of "The Quakers' Line."

    The Stockton and Darlington scheme had to run the gauntlet of a fierce opposition in three successive sessions of Parliament.  The application of 1818 was defeated by the Duke of Cleveland who afterward profited so largely by the railway.  The ground of his opposition was that the line would interfere with his fox-covers, and it was mainly through his influence that the bill was thrown out, but only by a majority of thirteen, upward of one hundred members having voted for the bill.  A nobleman said, when he heard of the division, "Well, if the Quakers in these times, when nobody knows any thing about railways, can raise such a phalanx in their support, I should recommend the country gentlemen to be very wary how they oppose them in future."

    The next year, in 1819, an amended survey of the line was made, and, the duke's fox-cover being avoided, his opposition was thus averted; but, on Parliament becoming dissolved on the death of George III., the bill was necessarily suspended until another session.

 


    In the mean time the local opposition to the measure revived, and now it was led by the road trustees, who spread it abroad that the mortgagees of the tolls arising from the turnpike-road leading from Darlington to West Auckland would be seriously injured by the formation of the proposed railway.  On this, Edward Pease issued a printed notice, requesting any alarmed mortgagee to apply to the company's solicitors at Darlington, who were authorised to purchase their securities at the prices originally given for them.  This notice had the effect of allaying the alarm spread abroad; and the bill, though still strongly opposed, passed both houses of Parliament in 1821.

    The preamble of the act sets forth the public utility of the proposed line for the conveyance of coal and other commodities from the interior of the county of Durham to Stockton and the northern parts of Yorkshire.  Nothing was said about passengers, for passenger-traffic was not yet contemplated; and nothing was said about locomotives, as it was at first intended to work the line entirely by horse-power.  The road was to be free to all persons who chose to place their wagons and horses upon it for the haulage of coal and merchandise, provided they paid the tolls fixed by the act.

    The company were empowered to charge fourpence a ton per mile for all coal intended for land sale, but only a halfpenny a ton per mile for coal intended for shipment at Stockton.  This latter proviso was inserted at the instance of Mr. Lambton, afterward Earl of Durham, for the express purpose of preventing the line being used in competition against his coal loaded at Sunderland; for it was not believed possible that coal could be carried at that low rate except at a heavy loss.  As it was, however, the rate thus fixed by the act eventually proved the vital element of success in the working of the undertaking.

    While the Stockton and Darlington Railway scheme was still before Parliament, we find Edward Pease writing letters to a York paper, urging the propriety of extending it southward into Yorkshire by a branch from Croft.  It is curious now to look back upon the arguments by which Mr. Pease sought to influence public opinion in favour of railways, and to observe the very modest anticipations which even its most zealous advocate entertained as to their supposed utility and capabilities:


    "The late improvements in the construction of railways," Mr. Pease wrote, "have rendered them much more perfect than when constructed after the old plan.  To such a degree of utility have they now been brought that they may be regarded as very little inferior to canals.

    "If we compare the railway with the best lines of common road, it may be fairly stated that in the case of a level railway the work will be increased in at least an eightfold degree.  The best horse is sufficiently loaded with three quarters of a ton on a common road, from the undulating line of its draught, while on a railway it is calculated that a horse will easily draw a load of ten tons.  At Lord Elgin's works, Mr. Stevenson, the celebrated engineer, states that he has actually seen a horse draw twenty-three tons thirteen cwt. upon a railway which was in some parts level, and at other parts presented a gentle declivity!

    "The formation of a railway, if it creates no improvement in a country, certainly bars none, as all the former modes of communication remain unimpaired; and the public obtain, at the risk of the subscribers, another and better mode of carriage, which it will always be to the interest of the proprietors to make cheap and serviceable to the community.

    "On undertakings of this kind, when compared with canals, the advantages of which (where an ascending or descending line can be obtained) are nearly equal, it may be remarked that public opinion is not easily changed on any subject.  It requires the experience of many years, sometimes ages, to accomplish this, even in cases which by some may be deemed obvious.  Such is the effect of habit, and such the aversion of mankind to any thing like innovation or change.  Although this is often regretted, yet, if the principle be investigated in all its ramifications, it will perhaps be found to be one of the most fortunate dispositions of the human mind.

    "The system of cast-iron railways is as yet to be considered but in its infancy.  It will be found to be an immense improvement on the common road, and also on the wooden railway.  It neither presents the friction of the tram-way, nor partakes of the perishable nature of the wooden railway, and, as regards utility, it may be considered as the medium between the navigable canal and the common road.  We may therefore hope that as this system develops itself, our roads will be laid out as much as possible on one level, and in connection with the great lines of communication throughout the country."


    Such were the modest anticipations of Edward Pease respecting railways in the year 1821.  Ten years later, an age of progress, by comparison, had been effected.

    Some time elapsed before any active steps were taken to proceed with the construction of the railway.  Doubts were raised whether the line was the best that could be adopted for the district, and the subscribers generally were not so sanguine about the undertaking as to induce them to press it forward.

    One day, about the end of the year 1821, two strangers knocked at the door of Mr. Pease's house in Darlington, and a message was brought to him that some persons from Killingworth wanted to speak with him.  They were invited in, on which one of the visitors introduced himself as Nicholas Wood, viewer at Killingworth, and then turning to his companion, he introduced him as George Stephenson, engine-wright, of the same place.

    Mr. Pease entered into conversation with his visitors, and was soon told their object.  Stephenson had heard of the passing of the Stockton and Darlington Act, and desiring to increase his railway experience, and also to employ in some larger field the practical knowledge he had already acquired, he determined to visit the known projector of the undertaking, with the view of being employed to carry it out.  He had brought with him his friend Wood for the purpose at the same time of relieving his diffidence and supporting his application.

    Mr. Pease liked the appearance of his visitor: "there was," as he afterward remarked when speaking of Stephenson, "such an honest, sensible look about him, and he seemed so modest and unpretending.  He spoke in the strong Northumbrian dialect of his district, and described himself as 'only the engine-wright at Killingworth; that's what he was.'"

    Mr. Pease soon saw that our engineer was the very man for his purpose.  The whole plans of the railway were still in an undetermined state, and Mr. Pease was therefore glad to have the opportunity of profiting by Stephenson's experience.  In the coarse of their conversation, the latter strongly recommended a railway in preference to a tram-road.  They also discussed the kind of tractive power to be employed, Mr. Pease stating that the company had based their whole calculations on the employment of horse-power.  "I was so satisfied," said he afterward, "that a horse upon an iron road would draw ten tons for one ton on a common road, that I felt sure that before long the railway would become the king's highway."

    But Mr. Pease was scarcely prepared for the bold assertion made by his visitor, that the locomotive engine with which he had been working the Killingworth Railway for many years past was worth fifty horses, and that engines made after a similar plan would yet entirely supersede all horse-power upon railroads.  Stephenson was daily becoming more positive as to the superiority of his locomotive, and hence he strongly urged Mr. Pease to adopt it. "Come over to Killingworth," said he, "and see what my engines can do; seeing is believing, sir."  Mr. Pease accordingly promised that on some early day he would go over to Killingworth, and take a look at the wonderful machine that was to supersede horses.

    The result of the interview was, that Mr. Pease promised to bring Stephenson's application for the appointment of engineer before the directors, and to support it with his influence; whereon the two visitors prepared to take their leave, informing Mr. Pease that they intended to return to Newcastle "by nip;" that is, they expected to get a smuggled lift on the stage-coach by tipping Jehu—for in those days the stage-coachmen regarded all casual roadside passengers as their proper perquisites.  They had, however, been so much engrossed by their conversation that the lapse of time was forgotten, and when Stephenson and his friend made inquiries about the return coach, they found the last had left, and they had to walk eighteen miles to Durham on their way back to Newcastle.

    Mr. Pease having made farther inquiries respecting Stephenson's character and qualifications, and having received a very strong recommendation of him as the right man for the intended work, he brought the subject of his application before the directors of the Stockton and Darlington Company.  They resolved to adopt his recommendation that a railway be formed instead of a tram-road; and they farther requested Mr. Pease to write to Stephenson, desiring him to undertake a resurvey of the line at the earliest practicable period.

    A man was dispatched on a horse with the letter, and when he reached Killingworth he made diligent inquiry after the person named on the address, "George Stephenson, Esquire, Engineer."  No such person was known in the village.  It is said that the man was on the point of giving up all farther search, when the happy thought struck some of the colliers' wives who had gathered about him that it must be "Geordie the engine-wright" the man was in search of, and to Geordie's cottage he accordingly went, found him at home, and delivered the letter.

    About the end of September Stephenson went carefully over the line of the proposed railway for the purpose of suggesting such improvements and deviations as he might consider desirable.  He was accompanied by an assistant and a chainman, his son Robert entering the figures while his father took the sights.  After being engaged in the work at interval for about six weeks, Stephenson reported the result of his survey to the Board of Directors, and showed that, by certain deviations, a line shorter by about three miles might be constructed at a considerable saving in expense, while at the same time more favourable gradients—an important consideration—would be secured.

    It was, however, determined in the first place to proceed with the works at those parts of the line where no deviation was proposed, and the first rail of the Stockton and Darlington Railway was laid with considerable ceremony, near Stockton, on the 23d of May, 1822.

    It is worthy of note that Stephenson, in making his first estimate of the cost of forming the railway according to the instructions of the directors, set down, as part of the cost, £6200 for stationary engines, not mentioning locomotives at all.  It was the intention of the directors, in the first place, to employ only horses for the haulage of the coals, and fixed engines and ropes where horse-power was not applicable.  The whole question of steam-locomotive power was, in the estimation of the public, as well as of practical and scientific men, as yet in doubt.  The confident anticipations of George Stephenson as to the eventual success of locomotive engines were regarded as mere speculations; and when he gave utterance to his views, as he frequently took the opportunity of doing, it even had the effect of shaking the confidence of some of his friends in the solidity of his judgment and his practical qualities as an engineer.

    When Mr. Pease discussed the question with Stephenson, his remark was, "Come over and see my engines at Killingworth, and satisfy yourself as to the efficiency of the locomotive.  I will show you the colliery books, that you may ascertain for yourself the actual cost of working.  And I must tell you that the economy of the locomotive engine is no longer a matter of theory, but a matter of fact."  So confident was the tone in which Stephenson spoke of the success of his engines, and so important were the consequences involved in arriving at a correct conclusion on the subject, that Mr. Pease at length resolved on paying a visit to Killingworth in the summer of 1822, in company with his friend Thomas Richardson, a considerable subscriber to the Stockton and Darlington undertaking to inspect the wonderful new power so much vaunted by their engineer. [p.230-1]

    When Mr. Pease arrived at Killingworth village, he inquired for George Stephenson, and was told that he must go over to the West Moor, and seek for a cottage by the roadside with a dial over the door—"that was where George Stephenson lived."  They soon found the house with the dial, and, on knocking, the door was opened by Mrs. Stephenson.  In answer to Mr. Pease's inquiry for her husband, she said he was not in the house at present, but that she would send for him to the colliery.  And in a short time Stephenson appeared before them in his working dress, just as he had come out of the pit.

    He very soon had his locomotive brought up to the crossing close by the end of the cottage, made the gentlemen mount it, and showed them its paces.  Harnessing it to a train of loaded wagons, he ran it along the railroad, and so thoroughly satisfied his visitors of its power and capabilities, that from that day Edward Pease was a declared supporter of the locomotive engine.  In preparing the Amended Stockton and Darlington Act, at Stephenson's urgent request Mr. Pease had a clause inserted, taking power to work the railway by means of locomotive engines, and to employ them for the haulage of passengers as well as of merchandise. [p.230-2]  The act was obtained in 1823, on which Stephenson was appointed the Company's engineer, at a salary of £300 per annum; and it was determined that the line should be constructed and opened for traffic as soon as practicable.

    He at once proceeded, accompanied by his assistants, with the working survey of the line, laying out every foot of the ground himself.  Railway surveying was as yet in its infancy, and was slow and difficult work.  It afterward became a separate branch of railway business, and was intrusted to a special staff.  Indeed, on no subsequent line did George Stephenson take the sights through the spirit-level with his own hands and eyes as he did on this railway.  He started very early—dressed in a blue tailed coat, breeches, and top-boots—and surveyed until dusk.  He was not at any time particular as to his living; and, during the survey, he took his chance of getting a little milk and bread at some cottager's house along the line, or occasionally joined in a homely dinner at some neighbouring farm-house.  The country people were accustomed to give him a hearty welcome when he appeared at their door, for he was always full of cheery and homely talk, and, when there were children about the house, he had plenty of humorous chat for them as well as for their seniors.

    After the day's work was over, George would drop in at Mr. Pease's to talk over the progress of the survey, and discuss various matters connected with the railway.  Mr. Pease's daughters were usually present; and, on one occasion, finding the young ladies learning the art of embroidery, he volunteered to instruct them. [p.231]  "I know all about it," said he, "and you will wonder how I learned it.  I will tell you.  When I was a brakesman at Killingworth, I learned the art of embroidery while working the pitmen's button-holes by the engine fire at nights."  He was never ashamed, but, on the contrary, rather proud, of reminding his friends of these humble pursuits of his early life.  Mr. Pease's family were greatly pleased with his conversation, which was always amusing and instructive; full of all sorts of experience, gathered in the oddest and most out-of-the-way places.  Even at that early period, before he mixed in the society of educated persons, there was a dash of speculativeness in his remarks which gave a high degree of originality to his conversation; and he would sometimes, in a casual remark, throw a flash of light upon a subject which called up a train of pregnant suggestions.

    One of the most important subjects of discussion at these meetings with Mr. Pease was the establishment of a manufactory at Newcastle for the building of locomotive engines.  Up to this time all the locomotives constructed after Stephenson's designs had been made by ordinary mechanics working at the collieries in the North of England.  But he had long felt that the accuracy and style of their workmanship admitted of great improvement, and that upon this the more perfect action of the locomotive engine, and its general adoption, in a great measure depended.  One principal object that he had in view in establishing the proposed factory was to concentrate a number of good workmen for the purpose of carrying out the improvements in detail which he was from time to time making in his engine; for he felt hampered by the want of efficient help from skilled mechanics, who could work out in a practical form the ideas of which his busy mind was always so prolific.  Doubtless, too, he believed that the manufactory would prove a remunerative investment, and that, on the general adoption of the railway system which he anticipated, he would derive solid advantages from the fact of his establishment being the only one of the kind for the special construction of locomotive engines.

    Mr. Pease approved of his design, and strongly recommended him to carry it into effect.  But there was the question of means; and Stephenson did not think he had capital enough for the purpose.  He told Mr. Pease that he could advance £1000—the amount of the testimonial presented by the coal-owners for his safety-lamp invention, which he had still left untouched; but he did not think this sufficient for the purpose, and he thought that he should require at least another £1000.  Mr. Pease had been very much struck with the successful performances of the Killingworth engine; and, being an accurate judge of character, he believed that he could not go far wrong in linking a portion of his fortune with the energy and industry of George Stephenson.  He consulted his friend Thomas Richardson in the matter, and the two consented to advance £500 each for the purpose of establishing the engine factory at Newcastle.  A piece of land was accordingly purchased in Forth Street, in August, 1823, on which a small building was erected—the nucleus of the gigantic establishment which was afterward formed around it; and active operations were begun early in 1824.

    While the Stockton and Darlington Railway works were in progress, our engineer had many interesting discussions with Mr. Pease on points connected with its construction and working, the determination of which in a great pleasure affected the foundation and working of future railways.  The most important points were these: 1. The comparative merits of cast and wrought iron rails.  2. The gauge of the railway.  3. The employment of horse or engine power in working it when ready for traffic.

    The kind of rails to be laid down to form the permanent road was a matter of considerable importance.  A wooden tram-road had been contemplated when the first act was applied for; but Stephenson having advised that an iron road should be laid down, he was instructed to draw up a specification of the rails.  He went before the directors to discuss with them the kind of material to be specified.  He was himself interested in the patent for cast-iron rails, which he had taken out in conjunction with Mr. Losh in 1816, and, of course, it was to his interest that his articles should be used.  But when requested to give his opinion on the subject, he frankly said to the directors, "Well, gentlemen, to tell you the truth, although it would put £500 in my pocket to specify my own patent rails, I can not do so after the experience I have had.  If you take my advice, you will not lay down a single cast-iron rail."  "Why?" asked the directors.  "Because they will not stand the weight, and you will be at no end of expense for repairs and relays."  "What kind of road, then," he was asked, "would you recommend?"  "Malleable rails, certainly," said he; "and I can recommend them with the more confidence from the fact that at Killingworth we have had some Swedish bars laid down—nailed to wooden sleepers—for a period of fourteen years, the wagons passing over them daily, and there they are, in use yet, whereas the cast rails are constantly giving way." [p.233]

    The price of malleable rails was, however, so high—being then worth about £12 per ton as compared with cast-iron rails at about £5 10s.—and the saving of expense was so important a consideration with the subscribers, that Stephenson was directed to provide in the specification that only one half of the rails required—or about 800 tons—should be of malleable iron, and the remainder of cast iron.  The malleable rails were of the kind called "fish-bellied," and weighed 28 lbs. to the yard, being 2¼ inches broad at the top, with the upper flange ¾ inch thick.  They were only 2 inches in depth at the points at which they rested on the chairs, and 3¼ inches in the middle or bellied part.

    When forming the road, the proper gauge had also to be determined.  What width was this to be?  The gauge of the first tram-road laid down had virtually settled the point.  The gauge of wheels of the common vehicles of the country—of the carts and wagons employed on common roads, which were first used on the tram-roads—was about 4 feet 8½ inches.  And so the first tram-roads were laid down of this gauge.  The tools and machinery for constructing coal-wagons and locomotives were formed with this gauge in view.  The Wylam wagon-way, afterward the Wylam plate-way, the Killingworth railroad, and the Hetton rail-road, were as nearly as possible on the same gauge.  Some of the earth-wagons used to form the Stockton and Darlington road were brought from the Hetton Railway; and others which were specially constructed were formed of the same dimensions, these being intended to be afterward employed in the working of the traffic.

    As the period drew near for the opening of the line, the question of the tractive power to be employed was anxiously discussed.  At the Brusselton incline, fixed engines must necessarily be made use of; but with respect to the mode of working the railway generally, it was decided that horses were to be largely employed, and arrangements were made for their purchase.

    Although locomotives had been regularly employed in hauling coal-wagons on the Middleton Colliery Railway, near Leeds, for more than twelve years, and on the Wylam and Killingworth Railways near Newcastle for more than ten years, great scepticism still prevailed as to the economy of employing them for the purpose in lieu of horses.  In this case, it would appear that seeing was not believing.  The popular scepticism was as great at Newcastle, where the opportunities for accurate observation were the greatest, as anywhere else.  In 1824 the scheme of a canal between that town and Carlisle again came up, and, though a few timid voices were raised on behalf of a railway, the general opinion was still in favour of a canal.  The example of the Hetton Railway, which had been successfully worked by Stephenson's locomotives for two years past, was pointed to in proof of the practicability of a locomotive line between the two places; but the voice of the press as well as of the public was decidedly against the "new-fangled roads."

    "There has been some talk," wrote the "Whitehaven Gazette," "from a puff criticism in the 'Monthly Review,' of an improvement on the principle of railways; but we suspect that this improvement will turn out like the steam-carriages, of which we have been told so much, that were to supersede the use of horses entirely, and travel at a rate almost equal to the speed of the fleetest horse!"  The idea was too chimerical to be entertained, and the suggested railway was accordingly rejected as impracticable.

    The "Tyne Mercury" was equally decided against railways.  "What person," asked the editor (November 16th, 1824), "would ever think of paying any thing to be conveyed from Hexham to Newcastle in something like a coal-wagon, upon a dreary wagon-way, and to be dragged for the greater part of the distance by a ROARING STEAM-ENGINE!"  The very notion of such a thing was preposterous, ridiculous, and utterly absurd.

    When such was the state of public opinion as to railway locomotion, some idea may be formed of the clear-sightedness and moral courage of the Stockton and Darlington directors in ordering three of Stephenson's locomotive engines, at a cost of several thousand pounds, against the opening of the railway.

    These were constructed after Stephenson's most matured designs, and embodied all the improvements which he had contrived up to that time.  No. 1 engine, the "Locomotion," which was first delivered, weighed about eight tons.  It had one large flue or tube through the boiler, by which the heated air passed direct from the furnace at one end, lined with fire-bricks, to the chimney at the other.  The combustion in the furnace was quickened by the adoption of the steam-blast in the chimney.  The heat raised was sometimes so great, and it was so imperfectly abstracted by the surrounding water, that the chimney became almost red-hot.  Such engines, when put to their speed, were found capable of running at the rate of from twelve to sixteen miles an hour; but they were better adapted for the heavy work of hauling coal-trains at low speeds—for which, indeed, they were specially constructed—than for running at the higher speeds afterward adopted.  Nor was it contemplated by the directors as possible, at the time when they were ordered, that locomotives could be made available for the purposes of passenger travelling.  Besides, the Stockton and Darlington Railway did not run through a district in which passengers were supposed to be likely to constitute any considerable portion of the traffic.

    We may easily imagine the anxiety felt by George Stephenson during the progress of the works toward completion, and his mingled hopes and doubts (though his doubts were but few) as to the issue of this great experiment.  When the formation of the line near Stockton was well advanced, the engineer one day, accompanied by his son Robert and John Dixon, made a journey of inspection of the works.  The party reached Stockton, and proceeded to dine at one of the inns there.  After dinner, Stephenson ventured on the very unusual measure of ordering in a bottle of wine, to drink success to the railway.  John Dixon relates with pride the utterance of the master on the occasion.  "Now, lads,'' said he to the two young men, "I venture to tell you that I think you will live to see the day when railways will supersede almost all other methods of conveyance in this country—when mail-coaches will go by railway, and railroads will become the great highways for the king and all his subjects.  The time is coming when it will be cheaper for a working man to travel on a railway than to walk on foot.  I know there are great and almost insurmountable difficulties to be encountered, but what I have said will come to pass as sure as you now hear me.  I only wish I may live to see the day, though that I can scarcely hope for, as I know how slow all human progress is, and with what difficulty I have been able to get the locomotive introduced thus far, not withstanding my more than ten years' successful experiment at Killingworth."  The result, however, outstripped even George Stephenson's most sanguine anticipations; and his son Robert, shortly after his return from America in 1827, saw his father's locomotive adopted as the tractive power on railways generally.

    Tuesday, the 27th of September, 1826, was a great day for Darlington.  The railway, after having been under construction for more than three years, was at length about to be opened.  The project had been the talk of the neighbourhood for so long that there were few people within a range of twenty miles who did not feel more or less interested about it.  Was it to be a failure or a success?  Opinions were pretty equally divided as to the railway, but as regarded the locomotive the general belief was that it would "never answer."  However, there the locomotive was—"No.1"—delivered on to the line, and ready to draw the first train of wagons on the opening day.

    A great concourse of people assembled on the occasion.  Some came from Newcastle and Durham, many from the Aucklands, while Darlington held a general holiday, and turned out all its population.  To give éclat to the opening, the directors of the company issued a programme of the proceedings, intimating the times at which the procession of wagons would pass certain points along the line.  The proprietors assembled as early as six in the morning at the Brusselton fixed engine, where the working of the inclined planes was successfully rehearsed.  A train of wagons laden with coals and merchandise was drawn up the western incline by the fixed engine, a length of 1960 yards, in seven and a half minutes, and then lowered down the incline on the eastern side of the hill, 880 yards, in five minutes.

    At the foot of the incline the procession of vehicles was formed, consisting of the locomotive engine No. 1, driven by George Stephenson himself; after it six wagons loaded with coals and flour, then a covered coach containing directors and proprietors, next twenty-one coal-wagons fitted up for passengers (with which they were crammed), and lastly six more wagons loaded with coals.

    Strange to say, a man on a horse, carrying a flag, with the motto of the company inscribed on it, Periculum privatum utilitas publica headed the procession!  A lithographic view of the great event, published shortly after, duly exhibits the horseman and his flag.  It was not thought so dangerous a place after all.  The locomotive was only supposed to be able to go at the rate of from four to six miles an hour, and an ordinary horse could easily keep ahead of that.

    Off started the procession, with the horseman at its head.  A great concourse of people stood along the line.  Many of them tried to accompany it by running, and some gentlemen on horseback galloped across the fields to keep up with the train.  The railway descending with a gentle incline toward Darlington, the rate of speed was consequently variable.  At a favourable part of the road Stephenson determined to try the speed of the engine, and he called upon the horseman with the flag to get out of the way!  Most probably, deeming it unnecessary to carry his Periculm privatum farther, the horseman turned aside, and Stephenson "put on the steam."  The speed was at once raised to twelve miles an hour, and, at a favourable part of the road, to fifteen.  The runners on foot, the gentlemen on horseback, and the horseman with the flag, were consequently soon left far behind.  When the train reached Darlington, it was found that four hundred and fifty passengers occupied the wagons, and that the load of men, coals, and merchandise amounted to about ninety tons.

 


    At Darlington the procession was rearranged.  The six loaded coal-wagons were left behind, and other wagons were taken on with a hundred and fifty more passengers, together with a band of music.  The train then started for Stockton—a distance of only twelve miles—which was reached in about three hours.  The day was kept throughout the district as a holiday; and horses and gigs, carts, and other vehicles, filled with people, stood along the railway, as well as crowds of persons on foot, waiting to see the train pass.  The whole population of Stockton turned out to receive the procession, and, after a walk through the streets, the inevitable dinner in the Town Hall wound up the day's proceedings.

    All this, however, was but gala work.  The serious business of the company began on the following day.  Upon the result of the experiment now fairly initiated by the Stockton and Darlington Company the future of railways in a great measure depended.  If it failed, like the Wandsworth, Croydon, and Merstham undertaking, then a great check would unquestionably be given to speculation in railways.  If it succeeded, the Stockton and Darlington enterprise would mark the beginning of a new era, and issue in neither more nor less than a complete revolution of the means of communication in all civilized countries.

    The circumstances were on the whole favourable, and boded success rather than failure.  Prudent, careful, thoughtful men were at the head of the concern, interested in seeing it managed economically and efficiently; and they had the advantage of the assistance of an engineer possessed of large resources of mother wit, mechanical genius, and strong common sense.  There was an almost unlimited quantity of coal to be carried, the principal difficulty being in accommodating it satisfactorily.  Yet it was only after the line had been at work for some time that the extensive character of the coal traffic began to be appreciated.  At first it was supposed that the chief trade would be in coal for land sale.  But the clause inserted in the original act, at the instance of Mr. Lambton, by which the company were limited to ½p. per ton per mile for coal led to Stockton for shipment, led to the most unexpected consequences.  It was estimated that only about 10,000 tons a year would be shipped, and that principally by way of ballast.  Instead of which, in the course of a very few years, the coal carried on the line for export constituted the main bulk of the traffic, while that carried for land sale was merely subsidiary. [p.239]

    The anticipations of the company as to passenger-traffic were in like manner more than realized.  At first passengers were not thought of, and it was only while the works were in progress that the starting of a passenger-coach was seriously contemplated.  Some eighty years since there was only one post-chaise in Darlington, which ran on three wheels.  There are people still living who remember when a coach ran from Stockton three days in the week, passing through Darlington and Barnard Castle; but it was starved off the road for want of support.  There was then very little intercourse between the towns, though they were so near to each other, and comparatively so populous; and it was not known whether people would trust themselves to the iron road.  Nevertheless, it was determined to make trial of a railway coach, and George Stephenson was authorized to have one built at Newcastle at the cost of the company.  This was done accordingly, and the first railway passenger-carriage was built after our engineer's design.  It was, however, a very modest, and, indeed, a somewhat uncouth machine, more resembling a showman's caravan than a passenger-coach of any extant form.  A row of seats ran along each side of the interior, and a long deal table was fixed in the centre, the access being by means of a door at the back end, in the manner of an omnibus.  This coach arrived from Newcastle on the day before the opening, and formed part of the procession above described.  Stephenson was consulted as to the name of the coach, and he at once suggested the "Experiment;" and by this name it was called.  Such was the sole passenger-carrying stock of the Stockton and Darlington Company in the year 1825.  But "The Experiment" proved the forerunner of a mighty traffic; and long time did not elapse before it was displaced, not only by improved coaches (still drawn by horses), but afterward by long trains of passenger-carriages drawn by locomotive engines.

    The "Experiment" was fairly started as a passenger-coach on the 10th of October, 1825, a fortnight after the opening of the line.  It was drawn by one horse, and performed a journey daily each way between the two towns, accomplishing the distance of twelve miles in about two hours.  The fare charged was a shilling, without distinction of class; and each passenger was allowed fourteen pounds of luggage free.  The "Experiment" was not, however, worked by the company, but was let to contractors, who worked it under an arrangement whereby toll was paid for the use of the line, rent of booking-cabins, etc. [p.241]

 


    The speculation answered so well that several private coaching companies were shortly after got up by innkeepers at Darlington and Stockton for the purpose of running other coaches upon the railroad, and an active competition for passenger-traffic sprang up.  The "Experiment," being found too heavy for one horse to draw, besides being found an uncomfortable machine, was banished to the coal district.  Its place was then supplied by other and better vehicles, though they were no other than old stagecoach bodies purchased by the company, each mounted on an under-frame with flange wheels.  These were let on hire to the coaching companies, who horsed and managed them under an arrangement as to tolls, in like manner as the "Experiment'' had been worked.  Now began the distinction of inside and outside passengers, equivalent to first and second class, paying different fares.  The competition with each other upon the railway, and with the ordinary stage-coaches upon the road, soon brought up the speed, which was increased to ten miles an hour—the mail-coach rate of travelling in those days, and considered very fast.

    Mr. Clephan, a native of the district, has communicated to the author the following account of the competition between the rival coach companies:


    "There were two separate coach companies in Stockton, and amusing collisions sometimes occurred between the drivers, who found on the rail a novel element for contention.  Coaches can not pass each other on the rail as on the road, and, as the line was single, with four sidings in the mile, when two coaches met, or two trains, or coach and train, the question arose which of the drivers must go back.  This was not always settled in silence.  As to trains, it came to be a sort of understanding that empty should give way to loaded wagons; and as to trains and coaches, that passengers should have preference over coals; while coaches, when they met, must quarrel it out.  At length, midway between sidings, a post was erected, and the rule was laid down that he who had passed the pillar must go on, and the 'coming man' go back.  At the Goose Pool and Early Nook it was common for the coaches to stop, and there, as Jonathan would say, passengers and coachmen 'liquored.'  One coach, introduced by an innkeeper, was a compound of two mourning-coaches—an approximation to the real railway-coach, which still adheres, with multiplying exceptions, to the stage-coach type.  One Dixon, who drove the 'Experiment' between Darlington and Shildon, is the inventor of carriage-lighting on the rail.  On a dark winter night, having compassion on his passengers, he would buy a penny candle, and place it lighted among them on the table of the 'Experiment'—the first railway-coach (which, by the way, ended its days at Shildon as a railway cabin), being also the first coach on the rail (first, second, and third class jammed all into one) that indulged its customers with light in darkness."


    The traffic of all sorts increased so steadily and so rapidly that considerable difficulty was experienced in working it satisfactorily.  It had been provided by the first Stockton and Darlington Act that the line should be free to all parties who chose to use it at certain prescribed rates, and that any person might put horses and wagons on the railway, and carry for himself.  But this arrangement led to increasing confusion and difficulty, and could not continue in the face of a large and rapidly-increasing traffic.  The goods trains got so long that the carriers found it necessary to call in the aid of the locomotive engine to help them on their way.  Then mixed trains of passengers and merchandise began to run; and the result was that the Railway Company found it necessary to take the entire charge and working of the traffic.  In course of time new coaches were specially built for the better accommodation of the public, until at length regular passenger-trains were run, drawn by the locomotive engine, though this was not until after the Liverpool and Manchester Company had established this as a distinct branch of their traffic.

    The three Stephenson locomotives were from the first regularly employed to work the coal-trains, and their proved efficiency for this purpose led to the gradual increase of the locomotive power.  The speed of the engine—slow though it seems now—was in those days regarded as something marvellous.  A race actually came off between No. 1 engine, the "Locomotion," and one of the stage-coaches travelling from Darlington to Stockton by the ordinary road, and it was regarded as a great triumph of mechanical skill that the locomotive reached Stockton first, beating the stage-coach by about a hundred yards!  The same engine continued in good working order in the year 1846, when it headed the railway procession on the opening of the Middlesbrough and Redcar Railway, travelling at the rate of about fourteen miles an hour.  This engine, the first that travelled on the first public locomotive railway, has recently been placed upon a pedestal in front of the railway station at Darlington.

    For some years, however, the principal haulage of the line was performed by horses.  The inclination of the gradients being toward the sea, this was perhaps the cheapest mode of traction, so long as the traffic was not very large.  The horse drew the train along the level road until, on reaching a descending gradient, down which the train ran by its own gravity, the animal was unharnessed, when, wheeling round to the other end of the wagons, to which a "dandy-cart" was attached, its bottom being only a few inches from the rail, and bringing his step into unison with the speed of the train, he leaped nimbly into his place in the hind car, which was usually fitted with a well-filled hay-rack.

 


    The details of the working were gradually perfected by experience, the projectors of the line being scarcely conscious at first of the importance and significance of the work which they had taken in hand, and little thinking that they were laying the foundations of a system which was yet to revolutionize the internal communications of the world, and confer the greatest blessings on mankind.  It is important to note that the commercial results of the enterprise were considered satisfactory from the opening of the railway.  Besides conferring a great public benefit upon the inhabitants of the district, and throwing open entirely new markets for the almost boundless stores of coal found in the Bishop Auckland district, the profits derived from the traffic created by the railway enabled increasing dividends to be paid to those who had risked their capital in the undertaking, and thus held forth an encouragement to the projectors of railways generally, which was not without an important effect in stimulating the projection of similar enterprises in other districts.  These results, as displayed in the annual dividends, must have been eminently encouraging to the astute commercial men of Liverpool and Manchester, who were then engaged in the prosecution of their railway.  Indeed, the commercial success of the Stockton and Darlington Company may be justly characterized as the turning-point of the railway system.  With that practical illustration daily in sight of the public, it was no longer possible for Parliament to have prevented its eventual extension.

    Before leaving the subject of the Stockton and Darlington Railway, we can not avoid alluding to one of its most remarkable and direct results—the creation of the town of Middlesbrough-on-Tees.  When the railway was opened in 1825, the site of this future metropolis of Cleveland was occupied by one solitary farm-house and its out-buildings.  All round was pasture-land or mud-banks; scarcely another house was within sight.  The corporation of the town of Stockton being unwilling or unable to provide accommodation for the rapidly increasing coal traffic, Mr. Edward Pease, in 1829, joined by a few of his Quaker friends, bought about 500 or 600 acres of land five miles lower down the river—the site of the modern Middlesbrough—for the purpose of there forming a new sea-port for the shipment of coals brought to the Tees by the railway.  The line was accordingly extended thither; docks were excavated; a town sprang up; churches, chapels, and schools were built, with a custom-house, mechanics' institute, banks, ship-building yards, and iron factories, and in a few years the port of Middlesbrough became one of the most thriving, on the northeast coast of England.  In ten years a busy population of some 6000 persons (since swelled to about 25,000) occupied the site of the original farm-house.  More recently, the discovery of vast stores of ironstone in the Cleveland Hills, close adjoining Middlesbrough, has tended still more rapidly to augment the population and increase the commercial importance of the place.

    It is pleasing to relate, in connection with this great work—the Stockton and Darlington Railway, projected by Edward Pease and executed by George Stephenson—that when Mr. Stephenson became a prosperous and a celebrated man, he did not forget the friend who had taken him by the hand, and helped him on in his early days.  He continued to remember Mr. Pease with gratitude and affection, and that gentleman, to the close of his life, was proud to exhibit a handsome gold watch, received as a gift from his celebrated protégé, bearing these words—Esteem and gratitude: from George Stephenson to Edward Pease."

 


――――♦――――


[CHAPTER IX.]

 



[Home] [Up] [James Brindley] [Boulton and Watt] [Smeaton and Rennie] [Metcalfe & Telford] [Invention & Industry] [Brief Biographies] [Self Help] [Miscellanea] [Main Index] [Site Search]

Correspondence should be addressed to.... Webmaster@Gerald-Massey.org.uk