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Railway Adventures and Anecdotes extending over more than fifty years   By:

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RAILWAY ADVENTURES AND ANECDOTES: EXTENDING OVER MORE THAN FIFTY YEARS.

EDITED BY RICHARD PIKE.

THIRD EDITION.

“The only bona fide Railway Anecdote Book published on either side of the Atlantic.”— Liverpool Mercury .

LONDON: HAMILTON, ADAMS, AND CO. NOTTINGHAM: J. DERRY.

1888.

NOTTINGHAM: J. DERBY, PRINTER, WHEELER GATE AND HOUNDS GATE.

PREFACE.

Although railways are comparatively of recent date we are so accustomed to them that it is difficult to realize the condition of the country before their introduction. How different are the present day ideas as to speed in travelling to those entertained in the good old times. The celebrated historian, Niebuhr, who was in England in 1798, thus describes the rapid travelling of that period:—“Four horses drawing a coach with six persons inside, four on the roof, a sort of conductor besides the coachman, and overladen with luggage, have to get over seven English miles in the hour; and as the coach goes on without ever stopping except at the principal stages, it is not surprising that you can traverse the whole extent of the country in so few days. But for any length of time this rapid motion is quite too unnatural. You can only get a very piece meal view of the country from the windows, and with the tremendous speed at which you go can keep no object long in sight; you are unable also to stop at any place.” Near the same time the late Lord Campbell, travelling for the first time by coach from Scotland to London, was seriously advised to stay a day at York, as the rapidity of motion (eight miles per hour) had caused several through going passengers to die of apoplexy.

It is stated in the year 1825, there was in the whole world, only one railway carriage, built to convey passengers. It was on the first railway between Stockton and Darlington, and bore on its panels the motto—“Periculum privatum, publica utilitas.” At the opening of this line the people’s ideas of railway speed were scarcely ahead of the canal boat. For we are told, “Strange to say, a man on horseback carrying a flag headed the procession. It was not thought so dangerous a place after all. The locomotive was only supposed to go at the rate of from four to six miles an hour; an ordinary horse could easily keep ahead of that. A great concourse of people stood along the line. Many of them tried to accompany the procession by running, and some gentlemen on horseback galloped across the fields to keep up with the engine. 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 his way! The speed was at once raised to twelve miles an hour, and soon after to fifteen, causing much excitement among the passengers.”

George Stephenson was greatly impressed with the vast possibilities belonging to the future of railway travelling. When battling for the locomotive he seemed to see with true prescience what it was destined to accomplish. “I will do something in course of time,” he said, “which will astonish all England.” Years afterwards when asked to what he alluded, he replied, “I meant to make the mail run between London and Edinburgh by the locomotive before I died, and I have done it.” Thus was a similar prediction fulfilled, which at the time he uttered it was doubtless considered a very wild prophecy, “Men shall take supper in London and breakfast in Edinburgh.”

From a small beginning railways have spread over the four quarters of the globe... Continue reading book >>




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