Isambard Kingdom Brunel

Best known for building dockyards, the Great Western Railway, steamships, bridges, tunnels and revolutionising public transport and modern engineering, the British mechanical and Civil Engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, FRS sadly died 15 Spetember 1859 after having a Stroke. He was born 9 April 1806. When Brunel was eight he was sent to Dr Morrell’s boarding school in Hove, where he learned the classics. His father, was determined that Brunel should have access to the high-quality education he had enjoyed in his youth in France; accordingly, at the age of 14, the younger Brunel was enrolled first at the College of Caen in Normandy, then at Lycée Henri-Quatre in Paris. Sadly his because his Father Marc sent him to expensive schools, he encountered financial problems, however because he was a Prominent engineer the Government intervened on his behalf.When Brunel completed his studies at Henri-Quatre in 1822, he was due to attend the renowned engineering school École Polytechnique, however Brunel studied under the prominent master clockmaker and horologist Abraham-Louis Breguet instead, after he praised Brunel’s potential in letters to his father. In 1822 after having completed his apprenticeship, Brunel returned to England. Brunel worked for several years as an assistant engineer on the hazardous project to create a tunnel under London’s River Thames near Rotherhithe, alongside his Father, who was chief engineer. However cave-ins and severe flooding in 1828 killed a number of Miners a delayed work, with Brunel narrowly escaping death himself.

During Brunel’s life, the use of railways began to take off as a major means of transport for goods. This influenced Brunel’s involvement in railway engineering, including railway bridge engineering. In 1833, before the Thames Tunnel was complete, Brunel was appointed chief engineer of the Great Western Railway, one of the wonders of Victorian Britain, running from London to Bristol and later Exeter.The company was founded at a public meeting in Bristol in 1833, and was incorporated by Act of Parliament in 1835. It was Brunel’s vision that passengers would be able to purchase one ticket at London Paddington and travel from London to New York, changing from the Great Western Railway to the Great Western steamship at the terminus in Neyland, South Wales.He surveyed the entire length of the route between London and Bristol himself, with the help of many including his Solicitor Jeremiah Osborne of Bristol Law Firm Osborne Clarke who one occasion rowed Isambard Kingdom Brunel down the River Avon himself to survey the bank of the river for the route.

Brunel used broad gauge of 7 ft 1⁄4 in (2,140 mm) for the track, despite almost all other railways using standard Gauge, because he believed Standard Gauge would offer superior running at high speeds; he also proved through both calculation and a series of trials that his broader gauge was the optimum size for providing both higher speeds, greater stability, comfort for passengers, and allowed for larger carriages and thus greater freight capacity. Drawing on Brunel’s experience with the Thames Tunnel, the Great Western designed many viaducts such as the one in Ivybridge, specially designed stations, and vast tunnels including the Box Tunnel, which was the longest railway tunnel in the world at that time. Brunel also ordered many Locomotives to his own specification including “North Star” and 20-year-old Daniel Gooch (later Sir Daniel) was appointed as Superintendent of Locomotive Engines. Brunel and Gooch chose to locate their locomotive works at the village of Swindon.

Brunel also designed many bridges including the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol. Spanning over 700 ft (210 m), and nominally 200 ft (61 m) above the River Avon, after submitting his designs to a committee headed by Thomas Telford, who rejected all entries, in favour of his own design, until the Public voted in favour of Brunel’s design. Brunel also designed the Maidenhead Railway Bridge. Work also started on the Clifton suspension bridge in 1831, but was suspended due to the Queen Square Riots, However Thanks to colleagues at the Institute of Civil Engineers Work recommenced in 1862 and was completed in 1864, five years after Brunel’s death. The Clifton Suspension Bridge still stands today and over 4 million vehicles traverse it every year. In 1855 Brunel also designed the Royal Albert Bridge Which spans the River Tamar at Saltash near Plymouth. This bridge consists of two main spans of 455 ft (139 m), 100 ft (30 m) above mean high spring tide, plus 17 much shorter approach spans. Opened by Prince Albert on 2 May 1859, it was completed in the year of Brunel’s death. Brunel also designed Somerset Bridge (an unusual laminated timber-framed bridge near Bridgwater, the Windsor Railway Bridge. The Maidenhead Railway Bridge over the Thames in Berkshire is still carrying main line trains to the west, even though today’s trains are about ten times heavier than in Brunel’s time. In 1845 Hungerford Bridge, was opened. This was a suspension footbridge across the Thames near Charing Cross Station in London, however this was replaced by a new railway bridge in 1859, and the suspension chains were used to complete the Clifton Suspension Bridge.

In 1830, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society and On 5 July 1836, Brunel married Mary Elizabeth Horsley (b. 1813), who came from an accomplished musical and artistic family, being the eldest daughter of composer and organist William Horsley. They established a home at Duke Street, Westminster, in London. In 1843, while performing a conjuring trick for the amusement of his children, Brunel accidentally inhaled a half-sovereign coin, which became lodged in his windpipe. A special pair of forceps failed to remove it, as did a machine devised by Brunel to shake it loose. At the suggestion of his father, Brunel was strapped to a board and turned upside-down, and the coin was jerked free. He recuperated at Teignmouth, and enjoyed the area so much that he purchased an estate at Watcombe in Torquay, Devon. Here he designed Brunel Manor and its gardens to be his retirement home. Sadly He never saw the house or gardens finished, as he died before it was completed. Brunel, a heavy smoker, suffered a stroke Just before the Great Eastern made her first voyage to New York. He died ten days later at the age of 53 and was buried, like his father, in Kensal Green Cemetery in London.He left behind his wife Mary and three children: Isambard Brunel Junior (1837–1902), Henry Marc Brunel (1842–1903) and Florence Mary Brunel (1847–1876). Henry Marc followed his father and grandfather in becoming a successful civil engineer.

Shrewsbury Steam Rally

Shrewsbury Steam Rally takes place at Onslow Park, Shrewsbury, over August Bank Holiday Sunday and Monday. 26-27 August. The event features Over 1,000 exhibits including steam-powered vehicles of all kinds either static or in action, from Steam Rollers, Traction Engines, Fairground showman’s Engines, Sentinel Steam Lorries, classic motorbikes, Steam-powered tractors, Historic military vehicles, Vintage tractors, Veteran and classic cars, motorbikes and commercial vehicles, threshers, oil, steam-powered static engines and miniature Traction Engines. Plus an olde Time Fairground fairground featuring organs and gallopers.

The highlight of the two days, is A Grand Parade of Steam Engines which takes The Main Arena featuring many diverse vehicles, from historic lorries and classic cars. Convoy of Historic Commercial Vehicles, Working Horses on Parade, Pre-World War II Cars, Vintage Cycles and Perambulators, Grand Parade of Steam Engines, a cavalcade of Classic Motor Cycles and Post-World War II Cars, a miniature Steam Engines Parade

There is also an agricultural display On the working field bringing the past back to life with a range of demonstrations including teams of shire horses which will plough part of the site, as well as steam-powered cultivation showing the history of farming as it has changed through the last century. Plus a Tug of War and a birds of prey demonstration in the main arena. Food and drink is also on offer from many stalls around the ground, as well as a licensed bar Plus a craft and hobbies marquee and 6 acres of trade stands.

James Watt

Scottish inventor, mechanical engineer, and chemist James Watt FRS FRSE Sadly died 25 August 1819 at his home “Heathfield” in Handsworth, Staffordshire (now part of Birmingham) at the age of 83. He was born 30 January 1736 (19 January 1736 OS in Greenock, Renfrewshire. His father was a shipwright, ship owner and contractor, and served as the town’s chief baillie,while his mother, Agnes Muirhead, came from a well educated distinguished family. Watt’s grandfather, Thomas Watt, was a mathematics teacher and baillie to the Baron of Cartsburn. Watt did not attend school regularly; initially he was mostly schooled at home by his mother but later he attended Greenock Grammar School. He exhibited great manual dexterity, engineering skills and an aptitude for mathematics, but is said to have suffered prolonged bouts of ill-health as a child.

When he was eighteen, his mother died and his father’s health began to fail. Watt travelled to London to study instrument-making for a year, then returned to Scotland, settling in Glasgow intent on setting up his own instrument-making business. He made and repaired brass reflecting quadrants, parallel rulers, scales, parts for telescopes, and barometers, among other things. However Because he had not served at least seven years as an apprentice, the Glasgow Guild of Hammermen (which had jurisdiction over any artisans using hammers) blocked his application, despite there being no other mathematical instrument makers in Scotland.

However the arrival of astronomical instruments, bequeathed by Alexander Macfarlane to the University of Glasgow which required expert handling, Allowed Watt to bypass this stalemate. These instruments were eventually installed in the Macfarlane Observatory. He was offered the opportunity to set up a small workshop within the university by two of the professors, the physicist and chemist Joseph Black and Adam Smith. At first he worked on maintaining and repairing scientific instruments used in the university, helping with demonstrations, and expanding the production of quadrants. In 1759 he formed a partnership with John Craig, an architect and businessman, to manufacture and sell a line of products including musical instruments and toys. This partnership lasted for the next six years, and employed up to sixteen workers.

While working as an instrument maker at the University of Glasgow, Watt became interested in the technology of steam engines After noticing the steam from a boiling kettle forced the lid to move. His friend, John Robison, then suggested steam could be used as a source of motive power. He realized that contemporary steam engine designs wasted a great deal of energy by repeatedly cooling and reheating the cylinder. Watt introduced a design enhancement, the separate condenser, which avoided this waste of energy and radically improved the power, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness of steam engines. Eventually he adapted his engine to produce rotary motion, greatly broadening its use beyond pumping water. Watt dramatically improved on the efficiency of Thomas Newcomen’s 1712 Newcomen steam engine with his Watt steam engine in 1781, which was fundamental to the changes brought by the Industrial Revolution in both his native Great Britain and the rest of the world.

The design of the Newcomen engine, in use for almost 50 years for pumping water from mines, had hardly changed from its first implementation. Watt began to experiment with steam, though he had never seen an operating steam engine. He tried constructing a model. He realised the importance of latent heat—the thermal energy released or absorbed during a constant-temperature process—in understanding the engine, which, unknown to Watt, his friend Joseph Black had previously discovered some years before. In 1763, Watt was asked to repair a model Newcomen engine belonging to the university. Even after repair, the engine barely worked. After much experimentation, Watt demonstrated that about three-quarters of the thermal energy of the steam was being wasted heating the engine cylinder on every cycle.

Watt decided to condense the steam in a separate chamber apart from the piston, and to maintain the temperature of the cylinder at the same temperature as the injected steam by surrounding it with a “steam jacket.Thus very little energy was absorbed by the cylinder on each cycle, making more available to perform useful work. Sadly Watt had financial difficulties constructing a full scale engine to demonstrate his findings. Luckily backing came from John Roebuck, the founder of the celebrated Carron Iron Works near Falkirk, with whom he now formed a partnership. Roebuck lived at Kinneil House in Bo’ness, during which time Watt worked at perfecting his steam engine, however the Piston and cylinder could not be manufactured with sufficient precision. Watt also worked first as a surveyor, then as a civil engineer for eight years to finance his work. Sadly

Sadly Roebuck went bankrupt, however salvation came in the form of Matthew Boulton, who owned the Soho Manufactory works near Birmingham, and acquired his patent rights. Through Boulton, Watt finally had access to some of the best iron workers in the world. The difficulty of the manufacture of a large cylinder with a tightly fitting piston was solved by John Wilkinson, who had developed precision boring techniques for cannon making at Bersham, near Wrexham, North Wales. Watt and Boulton formed a hugely successful partnership (Boulton and Watt) which lasted for the next twenty-five years.In 1776, the first engines were installed and working in commercial enterprises. These first engines were used to power pumps and produced only reciprocating motion to move the pump rods at the bottom of the shaft. The design was commercially successful, and for the next five years Watt installed more engines, mostly in Cornwall for pumping water out of mines. These early engines were not manufactured by Boulton and Watt, but were made by others according to drawings made by Watt, who served in the role of consulting engineer. The field of application for the invention was greatly widened when Boulton urged Watt to convert the reciprocating motion of the piston to produce rotational power for grinding, weaving and milling. Although a crank seemed the obvious solution to the conversion Watt and Boulton were stymied by a patent for this, whose holder, James Pickard, and associates proposed to cross-license the external condenser. Watt adamantly opposed this and they circumvented the patent by their sun and planet gear in 1781.

Watt made a number of other improvements and modifications to the steam engine. Such as A double acting engine, in which the steam acted alternately on the two sides of the piston. He also described methods for working the steam “expansively” (i.e., using steam at pressures well above atmospheric). He designed A compound engine, which connected two or more engines, a steam indicator which prevented these primative boilers from exploding and parallel motion which was essential in double-acting engines as it produced the straight line motion required for the cylinder rod and pump, from the connected rocking beam, whose end moves in a circular arc. He also created a throttle valve to control the power of the engine, and a centrifugal governor, all of which made his Steam Engines far more efficient than the Newcomen Engine. In order to minimaze the risk of exploding boilers, Watt restricted his use of high pressure steam and all of his engines used steam at near atmospheric pressure. Watt entered a partnership with Matthew Boulton in 1775. The new firm of Boulton and Watt was eventually highly successful and Watt became a wealthy man.

Watt retired in 1800, the same year that his fundamental patent and partnership with Boulton expired. The famous partnership was transferred to the men’s sons, Matthew Robinson Boulton and James Watt Jr. Watt continued to invent other things before and during his semi-retirement though none was as significant as his steam engine work. He invented and constructed several machines for copying sculptures and medallions. He maintained his interest in civil engineering and was a consultant on several significant projects. He proposed, for example, a method for constructing a flexible pipe to be used for pumping water under the Clyde at Glasgow. He and his second wife travelled to France and Germany, and he purchased an estate in mid-Wales at Doldowlod House, one mile south of Llanwrthwl. In 1816 he took a trip on the paddle-steamer Comet, a product of his inventions, to revisit his home town of Greenock. James Watt’s improvements to the steam engine converted it from a prime mover of marginal efficiency into the mechanical workhorse of the Industrial Revolution. The availability of efficient, reliable motive power made whole new classes of industry economically viable, and altered the economies of continents. This brought about immense social change, attracting millions of rural families to the towns and cities.

Following his death He was buried on 2 September in the graveyard of St Mary’s Church, Handsworth. However he received many honours for his pioneering work during his lifetime. In 1784 he was made a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and was elected as a member of the Batavian Society for Experimental Philosophy, of Rotterdam in 1787. In 1789 he was elected to the elite group, the Smeatonian Society of Civil Engineers. In 1806 he was conferred the honorary Doctor of Laws by the University of Glasgow. The French Academy elected him a Corresponding Member and he was made a Foreign Associate in 1814. The watt is named after James Watt for his contributions to the development of the steam engine, and was adopted by the Second Congress of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in 1889 and by the 11th General Conference on Weights and Measures in 1960 as the unit of power incorporated in the International System of Units (or “SI”).Boulton and Watt also feature on a Bank of England £50 note. the two industrialists pictured side by side with images of Watt’s steam engine and Boulton’s Soho Manufactory. Quotes attributed to each of the men are inscribed on the note: “I sell here, sir, what all the world desires to have—POWER” (Boulton) and “I can think of nothing else but this machine” (Watt). In 2011 he was one of seven inaugural inductees to the Scottish Engineering Hall of Fame.

Sir John Fowler KCMG LLD

English civil engineer Sir John Fowler, 1st Baronet KCMG LLD was born 15 July 1817. in Wadsley, Sheffield, Yorkshire, England, to land surveyor John Fowler and his wife Elizabeth (née Swann). He was educated privately at Whitley Hall near Ecclesfield. He trained under John Towlerton Leather, engineer of the Sheffield waterworks, and with Leather’s uncle, George Leather, on the Aire and Calder Navigation an railway surveys. From 1837 he worked for John Urpeth Rastrick on railway projects including the London and Brighton Railway and the unbuilt West Cumberland and Furness Railway. He then worked again for George Leather as resident engineer on the Stockton and Hartlepool Railway and was appointed engineer to the railway when it opened in 1841. Fowler initially established a practice as a consulting engineer in the Yorkshire and Lincolnshire area, but, a heavy workload led him to move to London in 1844. He became a member of theInstitution of Mechanical Engineers in 1847, the year the Institution was founded, and a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1849

He specialised in the construction of railways and railway infrastructure . In 1853, he became chief engineer of the Metropolitan Railway in London, the world’s first underground railway, which opened between Paddington and Farringdon in 1863. Fowler was also engineer for the associated Metropolitan District Railway and the Hammersmith and City Railway. They were built by the “cut-and-cover” method under city streets. To avoid problems with smoke and steam overwhelming staff and passengers on the covered sections of the Metropolitan Railway, Fowler proposed a fireless locomotive. The locomotive was built by Robert Stephenson and Company and was a broad gauge 2-4-0 tender engine. The boiler had a normal firebox connected to a large combustion chamber containing fire bricks which were to act as a heat reservoir. The combustion chamber was linked to the smokebox through a set of very short firetubes. Exhaust steam was re-condensed instead of escaping and feed back to the boiler. The locomotive was intended to operate conventionally in the open, but in tunnels dampers would be closed and steam would be generated using the stored heat from the fire bricks.

The first trial on the Great Western Railway in October 1861 was a failure. The condensing system leaked, causing the boiler to run dry and pressure to drop, risking a boiler explosion. A second trial on the Metropolitan Railway in 1862 was also a failure, and the fireless engine was abandoned, becoming known as “Fowler’s Ghost”. The locomotive was sold to Isaac Watt Boulton in 1865; he intended to convert it into a standard engine but it was eventually scrapped. On opening, the Metropolitan Railway’s trains were provided by the Great Western Railway, but these were withdrawn in August 1863. After a period hiring trains from the Great Northern Railway, the Metropolitan Railway introduced its own Fowler designed, 4-4-0 tank engines in 1864. The design, known as the A class and, with minor updates, the B class, was so successful that the Metropolitan and Metropolitan District Railways eventually had 120 of the engines in use and they remained in operation until electrification of the lines in the 1900s. Today these railways form the majority of the London Underground’s Circle line

Fowler established a busy practice, working on many railway schemes across the country. He became chief engineer for the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway and was engineer of the East Lincolnshire Railway, the Oxford, Worcester and Wolverhampton Railway and the Severn Valley Railway. Other railways that Fowler consulted for were the London Tilbury and Southend Railway, the Great Northern Railway, the Highland Railway and the Cheshire Lines Railway. Following the death of Isambard Kingdom Brunel in 1859, Fowler was retained by the Great Western Railway. His various appointments involved him in the design of Victoria station in London, Sheffield Victoria station, St Enoch station in Glasgow, Liverpool Central station and Manchester Central station.The latter station’s 210-foot (64 m) wide train shed roof was the second widest unsupported iron arch in Britain after the roof of St Pancras railway station. Fowler’s consulting work extended beyond Britain including railway and engineering projects in Algeria, Australia, Belgium, Egypt, France, Germany, Portugal and the United States. He travelled to Egypt for the first time in 1869 and worked on a number of, mostly unrealised, schemes for the Khedive, including a railway to Khartoum in Sudan which was planned in 1875 but not completed until after his death.

Victoria Bridge

In 1870 he provided advice to an Indian Government inquiry on railway gauges where he recommended a narrow gauge of 3 feet 6 inches (1.07 m) for light railways.He visited Australia in 1886, where he made some remarks on the break of gauge difficulty. Later in his career, he was also a consultant with his partner Benjamin Baker and with James Henry Greathead on two of London’s first tube railways, the City and South London Railway and the Central London Railway. As part of his railway projects, Fowler also designed numerous bridges. In the 1860s, he designed Grosvenor Bridge, the first railway bridge over the River Thames,and the 13-arch Dollis Brook Viaduct for the Edgware, Highgate and London Railway. He is credited with the design of the Victoria Bridge at Upper Arley, Worcestershire, constructed between 1859 and 1861,and the near identical Albert Edward Bridge at Coalbrookdale, Shropshire built from 1863 to 1864. Both remain in use today carrying railway lines across the River Severn. In the 1880s, he was chief engineer for the Forth Railway Bridge, which opened in 1890 and Following the collapse of Sir Thomas Bouch’s Tay Bridge in 1879, Fowler, William Henry Barlow and Thomas Elliot Harrison were appointed in 1881 to a commission to review Bouch’s design for the Forth Railway Bridge. The commission recommended a steel cantilever bridge designed by Fowler and Benjamin Baker, which was constructed between 1883 and 1890

Fowler stood unsuccessfully for parliament as a Conservative candidate in 1880 and 1885. His standing within the engineering profession was very high, to the extent that he was elected president of the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1865, its youngest president. Through his position in the Institution and through his own practice, he led the development of training for engineers. In 1857, he purchased a 57,000 acres (23,000 ha) estate at Braemore in Ross-shire, Scotland, where he spent frequent holidays and where he was a Justice of the Peace and a Deputy Lieutenant of the County.He listed his recreations in Who’s Who as yachting and deerstalking and was a member of the Carlton Club, St Stephen’s Club, the Conservative Club and the Royal Yacht Squadron. He was also President of the Egyptian Exploration Fund.In 1885 he was made a Knight Commander of the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George as thanks from the government for allowing the use of maps of the Upper Nile valley he had had made when working on the Khedive’s projects.

They were the most accurate survey of the area and were used in the British Relief of Khartoum. Following the successful completion of the Forth Railway Bridge in 1890, Fowler was created a baronet, taking the name of his Scottish estate as his territorial designation. Along with Benjamin Baker, he received an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws from the University of Edinburgh in 1890 for his engineering of the bridge. In 1892, the Poncelet Prize was doubled and awarded jointly to Baker and Fowler. Fowler died in Bournemouth, Dorset, at the age of 81 and is buried in Brompton Cemetery, London. He was succeeded in the baronetcy by his son, Sir John Arthur Fowler, 2nd Baronet sadly he died 25 March 1899 and The baronetcy became extinct in 1933 on the death of Reverend Sir Montague Fowler, 4th Baronet, the first baronet’s third son.

George Stephenson

Renowned as being the “Father of Railways”, The English civil engineer and mechanical engineer George Stephenson was born on 9 June 1781 in Wylam, Northumberland, near Newcastle upon Tyne. At 17, Stephenson became an engineman at Water Row Pit, Newburn. George studied at night school learning reading, writing and arithmetic. In 1801 he began work at Black Callerton colliery as a brakesman’, controlling the winding gear of the pit. In 1811 Stephenson fixed the pumping engine at High Pit, Killingworth. He did so with such success that he was soon promoted to enginewright for the neighbouring collieries at Killingworth, responsible for maintaining and repairing all of thec olliery engines. He soon became an expert in steam-driven machinery.

In 1815, Stephenson began to experiment with a safety lamp that would burn without causing an explosion in the mine. At the same time, Cornishman Sir Humphry Davy, the eminent scientist was also looking at the problem. Despite his lack of any scientific knowledge, Stephenson, by trial and error, devised a lamp in which the air entered via tiny holes. Stephenson demonstrated the lamp himself to two witnesses by taking it down Killingworth colliery and holding it directly in front of a fissure from which fire damp was issuing. This was a month before Davy presented his design to the Royal Society. The two designs differed in that, the Davy’s lamp was surrounded by a screen of gauze, whereas Stephenson’s lamp was contained in a glass cylinder. For his invention Davy was awarded £2,000, whilst Stephenson was accused of stealing the idea from Davy. A local committee of enquiry exonerated Stephenson, proved that he had been working separately and awarded him £1,000 but Davy and his supporters refused to accept this. They could not see how an uneducated man such as Stephenson could come up with the solution that he had. In 1833 a House of Commons committee found that Stephenson had equal claim to having invented the safety lamp. Davy went to his grave believing that Stephenson had stolen his idea. The Stephenson lamp was used exclusively in the North East, whereas the Davy lamp was used everywhere else. The experience with Davy gave Stephenson a life-long distrust of London-based, theoretical, scientific experts. There is a theory that it was Stephenson who indirectly gave the name of Geordies to the people of Tyneside. By this theory, the name of the Geordie lamp attached to the pit men themselves. By 1866 any native of Tyneside could be called a Geordie.

Cornishman Richard Trevithick is credited with the first realistic design of the steam locomotive in 1802. Later, he visited Tyneside and built an engine there for a mine-owner. Several local men were inspired by this, and designed engines of their own. Stephenson designed his first locomotive in 1814, a travelling engine designed for hauling coal on the Killingworth wagonway, and named Blücher after the Prussian general Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher. This locomotive could haul 30 tons of coal up a hill at 4 mph (6.4 km/h), and was the first successful flanged-wheel adhesion locomotive: its traction depended only on the contact between its flanged wheels and the rail. The new engines were too heavy to be run on wooden rails, and iron rails were in their infancy, with cast iron exhibiting excessive brittleness. Together with William Losh, Stephenson improved the design of cast ironrails to reduce breakage; these were briefly made by Losh, Wilson and Bell at their Walker ironworks. According toRolt, he also managed to solve the problem caused by the weight of the engine upon these primitive rails.He experimented with a ‘steam spring’ (to ‘cushion’ the weight using steam pressure), but soon followed the new practice of ‘distributing’ weight by utilising a number of wheels. For the Stockton and Darlington Railway, however, Stephenson would use only wrought iron rails.

Stephenson was hired to build an 8-mile (13-km) railway from Hetton colliery to Sunderland in 1820. The finished result used a combination of gravity on downward inclines and locomotives for level and upward stretches. It was the first railway using no animal power. In 1821, a parliamentary bill was passed to allow the building of the Stockton and Darlington Railway (S&DR). This 25-mile (40 km) railway was intended to connect various collieries situated near Bishop Auckland to the River Tees at Stockton, passing through Darlington on the way. The original plan was to use horses to draw coal carts on metal rails, but after company director Edward Pease met Stephenson he agreed to change the plans. Stephenson surveyed the line in 1821, assisted by his eighteen-year-old son Robert. That same year construction of the line began. A company was set up to manufacture locomotives for the railway, It was named Robert Stephenson and Company, and George’s son Robert was the managing director. In September 1825 the works at Forth Street, Newcastle completed the first locomotive for the new railway: originally named Active, it was soon renamed Locomotion. It was followed by “Hope”, “Diligence” and “Black Diamond”.

The Stockton and Darlington Railway opened on 27 September 1825. Driven by Stephenson, Locomotion hauled an 80-ton load of coal and flour nine miles (15 km) in two hours, reaching a speed of 24 miles per hour (39 km/h) on one stretch. The first purpose-built passenger car, dubbed Experiment,was attached, and carried dignitaries on the opening journey. It was the first time passenger traffic had been run on a steam locomotive railway. Although Richard Trevithick had demonstrated the idea back in 1808 using catch-me-who-can on a circular track which was situated near the present day Euston Station.The rails used for the new line were wrought-iron rails which could be produced in much longer lengths than the cast-iron ones and were much less liable to crack under the weight of heavy locomotives and The gauge that Stephenson chose for the line was 4 feet 81⁄2 inches (1,435 mm), and this subsequently came to be adopted as the standard gauge for railways, not only in Britain, but also throughout the world. Stephenson had also ascertained by experiments at Killingworth that half of the power of the locomotive was consumed by a gradient as little as 1 in 260 & came to the conclusion that railways should be kept as level as possible. He used this knowledge while working on the Bolton and Leigh Railway, and the Liverpool and Manchester Railway (L&MR), executing a series ofdifficult cuts, embankments and stone viaducts to smooth the route the railways took.

As the L&MR approached completion in 1829, its directors arranged for a competition to decide who would build its locomotives, and the Rainhill Trials were run in October 1829. Entries could weigh no more than six tons and had to travel along the track for a total distance of 60 miles (97 km). Stephenson’s entry was Rocket, and its performance in winning the contest made it famous. The opening ceremony of the L&MR, on 15 September 1830, was a considerable event, drawing luminaries from the government and industry, including the Prime Minister, the Duke of Wellington. The day started with a procession of eight trains setting out from Liverpool. The parade was led by “Northumbrian” and included “Phoenix”, “North Star” and “Rocket”. The railway was a resounding success and Stephenson became famous, and was offered the position of chief engineer for a wide variety of other railways.1830 also saw the grand opening of the skew bridge in Rainhill as part of the grand opening of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway. The bridge was the first to cross any railway at an angle. This required the structure to be constructed as two flat planes (overlapping in this case by 6′) between which the stonework forms a parallelogram shape when viewed from above. This has the effect of flattening the arch and the solution is to lay the bricks forming the arch at an angle to the abutments (the piers on which the arches rest). This technique, which results in a spiral effect in the arch masonry, provides extra strength in the arch to compensate for the angled abutments.

George Stephenson sadly died 12 August 1848. However he led the world in the development of railways and this acted as a stimulus for the industrial revolution, by facilitating the transport of raw materials and manufactured goods. He is also credited with building the first public railway line in the world to use steam locomotives. the Victorians considered him a great example of diligent application and thirst for improvement, with self-help advocate Samuel Smiles particularly praising his achievements. With

His work on the Stockton and Darlington Railway and the Liverpool and Manchester Railway,  paved the way for the railway engineers who were to follow, such as his son Robert, his assistant Joseph Locke who went on to carry out much work on his own account and Isambard Kingdom Brunel. These men were following in his footsteps. Stephenson was also farsighted inrealising that the individual lines being built would eventually join together, and would need to have the same gauge. The standard gauge used throughout much of the world is His rail gauge of 4 feet 81⁄2 inches (1,435 mm), sometimes called “Stephenson gauge”, is the world’s standard gauge.

The Talyllyn Railway

Trains began running on the 7.25 miles (11.67 k Talyllyn narrow gauge Talyllyn Railway (Welsh: Rheilffordd Talyllyn) in Wales for the first time since preservation on 14 May 1951, from Tywyn on the Mid-Wales coast to Nant Gwernol near the village of Abergonolwyn.

The line was originally opened in 1865 to carry slate from the quarries at Bryn Eglwys to Tywyn, and was the first narrow gauge railway in Britain authorised by Act of Parliament to carry passengers using steam haulage.Slate quarrying began in the hills above Tywyn in the 1830s, but although many small quarries and test levels were established, only one major quarry was developed in the region, at Bryn Eglwys, 7 miles (11 km) north east of the town. Underground working began in the early 1840s, and by 1847 the quarry was being worked by local landowner John Pughe. The finished slates were sent by packhorse to the wharf at Pennal, transferred to boats for a river trip to Aberdyfi (or the Anglicised Aberdovey still commonly used), and then finally loaded into seagoing vessels, a complex and expensive transportation arrangement which limited the quarry’s output. In 1861 the outbreak of the American Civil War cut off supplies of cotton to the mills of the north west of England and as a result a number of prosperous mill owners looked for new business opportunities to diversify their interests. One such owner was William McConnel of Lancashire who, in 1859, had purchased a house near Dolgellau, north of Tywyn. In January 1864, McConnel formed the Aberdovey Slate Company, which leased the land including Bryn Eglwys from the landowner, Lewis Morris of Machynlleth.

McConnel set about improving Bryn Eglwys to increase its output. He focused on providing rail transport for the isolated quarry, and in April 1864 he reached agreement with local landowners to purchase the land necessary to build a railway towards Tywyn and the port of Aberdyfi. Construction was well underway by July 1864. The standard gauge Aberystwyth and Welsh Coast Railway was expanding rapidly from its base at Machynlleth, however, and in 1863 had reached Tywyn, so McConnel decided to build his line from the quarry to Tywyn, as the nearest point where slate could be transferred to the standard gauge railway. This was despite the line’s initial isolation from the rest of the system because of difficulties in bridging the estuary of the River Dover( Afon Dyfi) to the south. An Act of Parliament allowing the company to operate passenger trains as a public railway was given Royal Assent on 5 July 1865, and the company appointed James Swinton Spooner as engineer for the construction. By September 1866 construction of the line climbing steadily from Tywyn to the quarry was progressing nicely

However it was discovered that the loading gauge of the line was too small. The internal width of the overbridges was only 9 ft 1 in (277 cm), but the railway’s passenger carriages were 5 ft 3.5 in (161.3 cm) wide, leaving less than 2 ft (61 cm) clearance on either side, less than the minimum required clearance of 2 ft 6 in (76 cm). To alleviate this problem, McConnel made an unusual alteration, and proposed that the doors on one side of each carriage be permanently barred and the track slewed off-centre beneath the bridges to allow adequate clearance at least on the side with doors, which would allow passengers to get out of the carriages if the train stopped underneath a bridge. Consequently all carriages on the Talyllyn have doors on one side only. Improvements were also made to the railway’s first two steam locomotives, as locomotive No. 1 suffered from excessive “vertical motion” and No. 2 was said to suffer from “horizontal oscillation”. No. 1 was returned to its manufacturer where a set of trailing wheels was added to reduce the rear overhang, and the springs on No. 2 were adjusted and crank pins shortened to reduce oscillation.

The first public passenger timetable was issued in December 1866, and the first purpose-built, steam-worked, narrow gauge public railway in Britain opened for service with two locomotives, one carriage and several goods vehicles in use. It was operated under a “one engine in steam” policy to ensure that two trains could not collide Initially the working locomotive was housed in a wooden shed at Ty Dwr on the mineral line above Abergynolwyn station, while the main engineering works at Pendre were constructed. The Pendre works opened on 17 February 1867 and from then on trains began working from Pendre instead of Abergynolwyn. Stations were provided at Pendre and Abergynolwyn. In 1867, the halt at Rhydyronen opened, followed by Brynglas and Dolgoch in 1873. Some time shortly after the opening of the railway a branch to Abergynolwyn village was provided. A steep incline dropped from the mineral line east of Abergynolwyn station to the village below, where a series of tram lines radiated. Unlike the horse-drawn Corris Railway The Talyllyn Railway used steam locomotives from the start, . The original two locomotives, although of entirely different design, were both purchased from Fletcher, Jennings & Co. of Whitehaven in Cumbria and both are still in service, 150 years on.

. The Talyllyn’s unusual gauge is thought to have been adopted to match that of the Corris Railway, and the line’s two original steam locomotives were among the earliest locomotives built for such a narrow gauge. No. 1 Talyllyn is an 0-4-2ST (saddle tank) and No. 2 Dolgoch is an 0-4-0WT (well tank). The line carried slate from the quarry to the wharf at Tywyn and general goods along its length. Public passenger trains initially ran between Abergynolwyn, Dolgoch and Pendre stations only; quarrymen were carried from Abergynolwyn to the foot of the Alltwyllt incline in Nant Gwernol gorge. The line served the quarry industry and the local district. By 1880, Bryn Eglwys employed 300 workers and was producing 8,000 long tons (8,100 t) of finished slate per year, all shipped via the railway. Passenger traffic rose from 11,500 passengers carried in 1867 to over 23,000 (roughly equivalent to 40,000 passenger journeys) in 1877. From the 1880s onwards the “Grand Tour” was a popular option with tourists. This used charabancs to link the Talyllyn and Corris railways via Tal-y-llyn Lake and Cadair Idris, returning on Cambrian Railways trains.

The last two decades of the 19th century saw a decline in the demand for slate and many smaller quarries fell on hard times, including Bryn Eglwys, where by 1890 production had halved to 4,000 long tons (4,100 t) a year. In 1896, production at the Penrhyn Quarry in north Wales, one of the largest producers of slate, was stopped due to labour disputes, resulting in a temporary increase in demand at other quarries. However In 1910 McConnell’s lease expired and work began on dismantling Bryn Eglwys quarry’s equipment. The Bryn Eglwys quarry had been the primary employer in the Abergynolwyn district, so its closure caused significant distress. In 1910, local landowner Henry Haydn Jones was elected the Liberal MP for Merioneth. He understood the importance of Bryn Eglwys, and purchased the quarry company for just over £5000. The quarry re-opened in January 1911. The first workings reopened were on the “Broad Vein”, which yielded relatively hard slate that was less popular and therefore difficult to sell. The lack of an available market for this output forced the quarry to switch to extracting softer slate from the “Narrow Vein.

Following the First World War A brief construction boom saw production return to around 4,000 long tons (4,100 t) per year and The 1920s also saw an upsurge in holiday traffic, as Britain recovered from the war and tourism gained in popularity. The Talyllyn saw summer passenger numbers grow significantly and regularly had to supplement its formal passenger stock with slate wagons fitted with planks as seats. An unusual tourist service offered by the railway was to hire a slate wagon, which would be left at Abergynolwyn. At the end of the day the tourists would return to Tywyn in the wagon, powered by gravity. However This service was discontinued in the early 1930s. The lease on Bryn Eglwys expired in 1942, but was extended on an annual basis. Sadly on 26 December 1946, several weakened support columns in the quarry gave way, resulting in a significant collapse; the quarry was deemed unsafe and closed immediately. Haydn Jones had promised to continue operating the railway as long as he was alive and so, despite the closure of the quarry, the railway continued to run trains on a shoestring budget. In 1948 the British railway system was nationalized however the Talyllyn was one of the few operating railways not included. Between 1947 and 1949 the railway ran a passenger service two days a week. In 1949 Haydn Jones, who owned the Aberllefenni Slate Quarry purchased 10 tons of rail from the recently lifted Corris Railway.

Sadly Haydn Jones died on 2 July 1950 and closure of the railway seemed inevitable, but the line continued to operate until October and in 1951 it became the first railway in the world to be preserved as a heritage railway by volunteers after the author and biographer Tom Rolt, visited the line in 1949, along with the locomotive engineer David Curwen and wrote a letter to the Birmingham Post newspaper suggesting that a rescue of the Talyllyn be undertaken. He received sufficient positive response for a meeting of interested enthusiasts to be held on 11 October 1950 at the Imperial Hotel in Birmingham. Around 70 people, including Patrick Whitehouse, attended the meeting. The committee – with Rolt as chairman and Whitehouse as Secretary – met for the first time on 23 October and entered into negotiation with Haydn Jones’ executor concerning the legally complex transfer of ownership from Haydn Jones’ estate to a new company called Talyllyn Holdings Ltd which took place on 8 February 1951, henceforth the Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society effectively took control of the Railway and immediately began to publicise its efforts, hoping to raise funds and find further volunteers to help reopen the railway, and by May nearly 650 members had joined the society. The railway re-opened under the control of the Society for the first time on the Whit Monday bank holiday, 14 May 1951, with trains running between Wharf and Rhydyronen stations. Regular trains began to run on 4 June throughout the summer, with David Curwen acting as the first Chief Mechanical Engineer.

During the early years of preservation, the line struggled to operate using the original rolling stock. When the line was taken over in 1950 Dolgoch was the only operating locomotive and it was apparent that it was in need of a major overhaul. To enable operations to continue two further steam locomotives, Nos. 3 and 4, were purchased from the recently closed Corris Railway in 1951 and named Sir Haydn and Edward Thomas respectively. Because both railways were built to the unusual gauge of 2 ft 3 in (686 mm) it was relatively easy to adapt the Corris locomotives to work on the Talyllyn. No. 3 became the first new locomotive to travel on the railway for over 80 years in 1951, but it frequently derailed, and on inspection it turned out that the Talyllyn track was laid approximately half an inch (13 mm) wider than the official gauge, a deliberate policy by the old company to accommodate the long wheelbase of Talyllyn. Both Talyllyn and Dolgoch had unusually wide wheel treads that allowed them to stay on the wide-of-gauge track however This problem was eventually cured. No. 4 was unserviceable when it arrived, but John Alcock, the chairman of the Hunslet Engine Company, was a member of the Preservation Society and had No. 4 overhauled free of charge at his works. No. 4 then began service on the railway in 1952 and worked the majority of the trains that season.

On 22 May 1957 the BBC produced a live outside broadcast from the railway, during which Wynford Vaughan Thomas and Huw Weldon undertook a trip from Dolgoch to Abergynolwyn. The publicity from this broadcast drew substantial numbers of visitors to the railway that summer, with more than 57,500 passengers carried, and this increase in revenue in turn enabled the railway to continue to improve its infrastructure and provide tourists with a better experience. In 1958 No. 1 Talyllyn also returned to steam after an extensive overhaul.

The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum at Tywyn Wharf station was also built. The first exhibit for what was to become the museum was a locomotive donated in 1952 by Guinness from their recently closed St. James’s Gate Brewery railway. In 1954 the Preservation Society agreed to start work on a formal museum and exhibits from around the United Kingdom were acquired to form the nucleus of the collection. In 1955 work started on converting the old gunpowder store at Wharf station into a temporary museum building, and in 1956 the first exhibit arrived at Tywyn. The preservation society had long held ambitions to extend the railway along the former mineral extension from Abergynolwyn to the foot of the Alltwyllt incline but construction did not start until 1968 when the winding house for the Abergynolwyn village incline was demolished. In 1976, an extension was opened along the former mineral line from Abergynolwyn to the new station at Nant Gwernol by Wynford Vaughan Thomas who drove in the ceremonial “golden spike” to complete the extension. creation of footpaths also began connecting to the new station and A new footbridge was built crossing the Nant Gwernol gorge and connecting the station with the existing path on the east side of the river. The bridge and paths were opened on 3 May 1980 by Lord Parry, the chairman of the Wales Tourist Board

The Preservation Society celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2001, and as part of the year of celebrations a major new project was launched to once more extend and improve facilities at Tywyn Wharf station. semi-permanent buildings existed housing the Narrow Gauge Railway Museum, but the new plans for the station included the construction of a new two-storey building to house the museum and the extension of the existing station building to house a new cafe and booking office these were officially opened by Prince Charles and The Duchess of Cornwall on 13 July 2005. In 2008 a large amount of equipment was purchased from the 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) gauge military railway at RNAD Trecwn, including a large quantity of track components and three diesel locomotives. In 2011, the railway celebrated the 60th anniversary as a heritage line and In April 2012, locomotive No.2 Dolgoch appeared at the Steel Steam and Stars Gala at the Llangollen Railway, running on a temporary section of narrow gauge track. In June 2013 the railway was awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. 2015 was the 150th anniversary of the official opening of the railway. The Talyllyn has also inspired many other people; The fictional Skarloey Railway, which featured in Thomas the Tank Engine by The Rev. W. Awdry, was based on the Talyllyn Railway and preservation of the line inspired the Ealing Comedy film The Titfield Thunderbolt.

GWR 3440/3717 City of Truro

On the 9th May 1904, The steam locomotive City of Truro unofficially becomes the first steam engine in Europe to exceed 100 mph (160 km/h). GWR 3440 (3717) City Of Truro is a Great Western Railway (GWR) 3700 (or ‘City’) Class 4-4-0 locomotive, designed by George Jackson Churchward and built at the GWR Swindon Works in 1903. (It was rebuilt to a limited extent in 1911 and 1915, and renumbered 3717 in 1912). It is one of the contenders for the first steam locomotive to travel in excess of 100 miles per hour (160.9 km/h).

City of Truro was timed at 8.8 seconds between two quarter-mile posts whilst hauling the “Ocean Mails” special from Plymouth to London Paddington on 9 May 1904. This timing was recorded from the train by Charles Rous-Marten, who wrote for The Railway Magazine and other journals. If exact (Rous-Marten’s stopwatch read in multiples of 1/5 second), this time would correspond to a speed of 102.3 mph (164.6 km/h), while 9 seconds would correspond to exactly 100 mph. Initially, mindful of the need to preserve their reputation for safety, the railway company allowed only the overall timings for the run to be put into print; neither The Times report of the following day nor Rous-Marten’s article in The Railway Magazine of June 1904 mentioned the maximum speed.

However the morning after the run two local Plymouth newspapers did report that the train had reached a speed between 99 and 100 miles an hour whilst descending Wellington bank in Somerset. This claim was based on the stopwatch timings of a postal worker, William Kennedy, who was also on the train. After the 1904 speed record, 3440 continued in everyday service until it was rendered obsolete in 1931, being withdrawn from service in March that year. The historical significance of City of Truro led to the locomotive’s survival after withdrawal from service, with the GWR’s Chief Mechanical Engineer Charles Collett asking that the engine be preserved at the London and North Eastern Railway’s Railway Museum at York when she was withdrawn in 1931, after the directors of the GWR had refused to preserve the engine at the company’s expense. It was donated to the LNER, being sent from Swindon on 20 March 1931, and was subsequently displayed at the new museum in York.

In 1957 City of Truro was returned to service by British Railways Western Region. The locomotive was based at Didcot, and was used both for hauling special excursion trains and for normal revenue services, usually on the Didcot, Newbury and Southampton line, and was renumbered back to 3440, and repainted into the ornate livery it carried at the time of its speed record in 1904, despite this being inaccurate due to its minor rebuilding in 1911. She was withdrawn for a second time in 1961. She was taken to Swindon’s GWR Museum in 1962 where, renumbered back to 3717 and in plain green livery with black frames, she stayed until 1984, when she was restored for the GWR’s 150th anniversary celebrations the following year. After that she returned to the National Railway Museum from where she was occasionally used on main line outings. She made a guest appearance in an exhibition called National Railway Museum on Tour which visited Swindon in 1990.

Her latest restoration to full working order was undertaken in 2004, at a cost of £130,000, to mark the 100th anniversary of her record-breaking run, and the loco has subsequently hauled several trains on UK main lines, although due to the lack of certain safety features she no longer operates on the main line. Her latest restoration to full working order was undertaken in 2004, at a cost of £130,000, to mark the 100th anniversary of her record-breaking run, and the loco has subsequently hauled several trains on UK main lines, although due to the lack of certain safety features she no longer operates on the main line.[citation needed] City of Truro is now based semi-permanently at the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway, where she can often be seen hauling trains between Toddington and Cheltenham Racecourse. However she frequently leaves her Toddington base to visit other UK heritage railways. In 2010 as part of the celebrations to mark the 175th anniversary of the founding of the GWR City of Truro was repainted and took up its 3717 guise once again. This is the first time it has carried an authentic livery for its current state whilst operating in preservation.GWR 3717 was withdrawn from traffic at the Bodmin & Wenford Railway in early September 2011 with serious tube leaks, and was moved to Shildon Locomotion Museum and placed on static display (I was lucky enough to see it in steam at the Severn Valley Railway’s 2008 Autumn Steam Gala).