papers from the International Railway Conferences
These are without question the most important sources of information about early railways and early locomotives to emerge since Dendy Marshall, and in many cases change our perspectives of this period without diminishing the significance of George Stephenson. The involvement of the Beamish Open Air Museum and its staff has been highly significant. There have been four conferences so far, and the proceedings for three are available and have been examined. One paper from the first conference by Andy Guy introdues a paradigm shift and has been quoted at considerable length, albeit without the wealth of citations in the original. There is only one minor quibble about the proceedings: the cover illustrations on all three are highly significant and really deserved to have been reproducced in colour within the body of the work.
The first was reviewed by Michael
Rutherford in Backtrack, 2001, 15, 543.:
For your reviewer, not present at the Conference, it has been a long wait for these papers - two and a half years but the wait has been worthwhile. (Further conferences, Manchester this year and another in 2004, are planned). Not all the papers read are included here but alternatilve references are given for some of the others. The period covered is from the ancient world up to a cut-off at 1840 and the geographical coverage (potentially) worldwide. The range of subjects is good but the papers are something of a mixed bag, many being of the type found in specialist railway and transport history journals. Some would struggle even to find a place in the latter but the best are absolutely superb and essential foundations for much inevitable revisionism. In particular in this respect are the two papers prepared by the editors; Andy Guy's work on huge quantities of primary source papers held by the Tyne & Wear, Durham and Northumberland archive in his "North Eastern Locomotive Pioneers 1805 to 1827: A Reassessment" and Jim Rees' "The Strange Story of the Steam Elephant" a once mysterious early six-wheeier, now so familiar it seems that a fullsize working reproduction is under construction at Beamish should at last rescue the early history of the locomotive in the North East from the historical treacle of Hedley-Stephenson (George)-Hackworth mythology. This is truly new work where the epithet 'exciting' is not inflated rhetoric. Colin Mountford's paper on rope haulage is a timely reminder of the longevity of the practice insofar as incline operations are concerned but the crucial importance in the period dealt with as an alternative to the locomotive for public railways is sadly left out. The London & Blackwall Railway is not mentioned and the 'reciprocating system' of Benjamin Thompson is mentioned but briefly and nothing said of the details and schemes such as the Newcastle & Carlisle and Liverpool & Manchester Railways.
The Conference was held at Durham University and inevitably there is a concentration on topics in the North East and its claim to be 'cradle of the railways'. Future conferences may temper that assertion!
The major irritant for this reviewer was the paper by Prof. Gamst, "The Transfer of Pioneering British Railroad Technology to North America". Gamst not only confuses 'technology transfer' and 'diffusion of technology', using them interchangeably and even in the same sentence but leads us into paragraph after paragraph of Socio-Cultural babble before resurrecting the Smilesean version of George Stephenson and his invention of Rocket. What does it lead us to? A chronology of the first 25 railways/railroads in the USA in the sort of brief form collected on index cards or nowadays on a simple website. None of this is explained in terms of the opening verbiage and comes as a complete anti-climax.
It is a pity that the publication of the proceedings was left to the Newcomen Society with apparently no assistance or commercial partnership. Although the 'Keynote Address' (printed here with an unnecessary photograph) was by Sir Neil Cossons, then Director of the Science Museum and in overall charge of the National Railway Museum, there sadly appears to be little direct contribution from that organisation and no groundbreaking papers from any of its curatorial staff.
Your reviewer reckoned that nine of the papers were essential to him, seven also very useful and the remainder padding. This is a good score and the book is an essential reference and should be on everyone's bookshelf. Buy it and wait patiently for the next one.
Early railways: a selection of papers from the First
International Railway Conferennce: edited by Andy Guy and Jim Rees.
London: Newcomen Society. 2001. 360 pp.
Cossons, Sir Neil. Keynote address, 1-6.
Begins with a quotation from Sir Arthur Elton who elegantly notes the pivotal siginificance of the opening of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway on 15 September 1830, and the involvement of George Stephenson in that event. Also notes the significance of C.F. Dendy Marshall and Charles E. Lee.
Lewis, M.J.T. Railways in the Greek and Roman world. 8-19.
Rutways, notably the Diolkos developed by Corinth to ship boats across the Isthmus.
Karlsson, Lars Olov: A rediscovered early rail waggon 20-3.
A late 17rh century or eighteenth century mine wagon discovered in Sweden.
van Laun, John. Pre-1840 trackways in south Wales. 27-45.
Gwyn, David. Transitional technology; the Nantlle railway. 46-62.
South Wales, in adopting and adapting the Shropshire philosophy of cast iron plates on wooden rails, pioneered the all-iron edge rail. Its reign here was relatively brief; but the plateway, although it undoubtedly came to dominate the Heads of the Valleys scene, never acquired a monopoly. When many of the Monmouthshire Canal Company lines changed to plateway the Trevil, Rassa, Clydach and Blaenavon Railroads were not converted. For plateways the ubiquitous stone block was favoured, with ear marks and a hole for the fixing nail, particularly for the main lines built to Outram's specifications by his younger cousin John Hodgkinson. Nevertheless, lapped coned plates and eared plates closer to Curr's specification were used in the 1790s. Early sills were of the horned variety and there appears no connection to Curr here. From about 1807 (or possibly earlier) the dovetailed sill derived from Curr's wooden sill was used exclusively up to (and beyond) 1840 by the ironworks at Nantyglo and Rhymney for their quarry railways. Hodgkinson himself adopted the dovetailed sill for the Sirhowy Tramroad branch to Rhymney and for the Hereford Railway. Blaenavon converted to Outram-type plates about 1804, probably to accommodate Clydach Ironworks who had a connecting line to Blaenavon by then, but after 1818 it returned to sills. Tredegar stuck to a modified horned sill until a wholesale change to chairs in the 1850s.
Hills, R.L. The railways of James Watt. 63-81.
Watt disliked locks as they limited capacity and favoured long level routes with wagonways at the end to accommodate the change in height: such canals were planned for Monkland, Strathmore and Campbeltown
Paxton, Roland. An engineering assessment of the Kilmarnock & Troon railway (1807-46). 82-102
Wilmott, Mike: Early railways in Dorset; the industrial railway of Purbeck, 103-13.
Middlebere Plateway which served the Norden clay pits. Involvement of Benjamin Fayle. 3ft 6in gauge.
Guy, Andy. North eastern locomotive pioneers 1805 to 1827; a reassessment. 117-44.
A major review of locomotive engineers in Northumberland and Durham. Contains many significant statements. Mentions Trevithick's Gateshead locomotive constructed by John Whinfield under the control of John Steele: Steele returned to London with Trevitick and was later killed in a boiler explosion on a steam boat in France (p. 119). Considers that Christopher Blackett deserves more credit than hhe is usually given (p. 120): he was one of the few to show any inteest between Trevithick and Blenkinsopp. Notes that there appears to be very little evidence for Blackett's adhesion trials at Wylam: what little is in account book records. Similarly the 1813 locomotive constructed by Waters of Gateshead (p. 120) is only traceable in the account books. The second Wylam locomotive type (Puffing Billy) is much more visible and was mentioned in a letter from Blackett to Hedley. (page 121). In 1814 there was an important wayleave dispute which established that locomotives were not a nuisance. Notes the doubling in the number of wheels to ease the stain on the rails, but also notes the "thick fog of Hedley and Hackworth claims". Matthias Dunn (121) "was a rising Tyneside colliery viewer.... His recently redisccovered diary gives a professional and rerlatively unbiased summary of the locomotive trials going on aroound him in 1815/16. He shows that three locomotives were at work at Wylam by January 1816.
Remarkably, two of these engines survive, as Puffing Billy and Wylam Dilly. Charlton suggested that they were totally new in 1828-30, and not just rebuilt. The account entries are not at all clear, but there is at least as much evidence within them that the .two engines were rearranged and converted to four-wheelers, rather than replaced. A third engine, Lady Mary, apparently survived to be photographed in the late 1850s or early 1860s, but the colliery valuations do clearly show that it had gone by the early 1830s: an anomaly yet to be resolved.
It is recognised that the actual Wylam design was something of a dead end, nor was there substantial development from its original form. It is noticeable for example how little attention it received when locomotives were being examined in the planning of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway. Its major claim to fame was (and is) its remarkable longevity. All the more surprising then to see, during wayleave renegotiations in 1829, the Colliery promising 'that the locomotive engines are to be discontinued' and that 'stationary engines...will be substituted for the locomotive ones38'. A certain lack of commitment is clear, although ultimately they were not removed for another 30 years. As at this same time it had converted half of the line to edge rail, while the other half remained as plate a situation that went on for more than two years a degree of indecision would seem to be nearer the mark. The working arrangements must have been rather interesting.
Kenton & Coxlodge (page 123)
It is generally considered that the first practical, everyday locomotive was that built in 1812 for the Middleton Colliery near Leeds under John Blenkinsop's Patent. Articles in the Tyneside press were followed that August, just weeks after the opening, by a talk on the engine given by the Rev William Turner to the influential Literary & Philosophical Society of Newcastle. The subsequent introduction of the locomotives at the Kenton & Coxlodge (K&C) Colliery just north of Newcastle is well recorded, but the spread of information was more personal than just through the publicity. The owner of Middleton Colliery, Charles Brandling, lived in Newcastle. The engine builder, Matthew Murray was a Tynesider as was Blenkinsop, who took care to keep tabs on developments in his home area.
He wrote to his friend, the K&C viewer John Watson, 'Chapman's Plan is only a mechanical larceny I will thank you for a description of it, if you know his scheme', some six months before its first use at Heaton. When it was about to start testing he commented, 'I don't think by the by that either Chapman or Hedley will succeed in their mode of conveying goods'. A year later, he was rather more concerned:
'I have been told that the Coxlodge Managers are going to adopt the Killingworth Plan of conveying their Coals; shall I beg the favour of you informing me whether their is any Truth in this information or not I shall also be obliged if you will inform me whether the Fawdon Owners intend to adopt the Killingworth Plan or mine Do you think the Killingworth Engine will travel up hill or on a Level during Wet or Frost'.
That final question points to the advantages he considered his rack drive held over the adhesion system, but particularly all these comments demonstrate that Blenkinsop was clearly both aware of and concerned by the spate of trials in the region.
As for the supposed loan of the first engine from Middleton to the K&C, the accounts show that it was paid for in full, not lent, and state its name Lord Wellington. The engine dimensions have been found, suggesting the later K&C locomotives were altered from the Leeds design - adapted for longer distances with harder work.
The first of the Tyneside engines was damaged very quickly, with Watson having to request a new piston and set of gears. It was to be some time before they were settled at work. As for the engines going out of use, there is an amount of misunderstanding in the texts. In short, Watson claimed compensation from his partner in the Colliery for their absence from 1815 to 1817, not because they then returned to use, but because he was selling his share in the colliery, and hence that was the extent of his alleged loss. And they were not just put aside. Watson's Chancery case claimed that they had worked well, but interference from another viewer had 'placed improper and ignorant men to work the said engines, so that by their mismanagement the Engines have been rendered unserviceable and laid entirely aside.' This seems to stem from their work being concentrated on a bank that was at times 1 in 24. Even though the design did not rely on wheel adhesion, that must have been a stern test indeed.
The Colliery was sold to Brandling in 1817. He considered fully reinstating the engines, but apparently decided to use them no more than from the pit to the start of the bank, if at a1l. Blenkinsop's system had had a rather inglorious outing in his home area, victim in part of an uncompleted line, over ambitious loading and allegedly systematic abuse.
Heaton and Lambton
William Chapman of Tyneside was an unlikely candidate for Blenkinsop's accusation of 'mechanical larceny'. As two major papers for the Newcomen Society (see Forward's Chapman's locomotives vol. 28 page 1 and Skempton' s William Chapman vol. 46 p. 45) have shown, he had a full and distinguished career as a leading civil engineer, specialising in canal, harbour and drainage schemes. He is regarded as the first to explain if not invent the masonry skew bridge. Less well known was his deep involvement in mechanical engineering, which led to the patenting of a successful rope-making machine, the advocacy of the Boulton & Watt engine designand recognition as an authority on the earliest steam boat engines.
Even more relevant were his colliery interests, ranging from the patent coal drop to the preservation of mining records. No mere theorist, he sunk Wallsend Colliery and had leases on Tyneside collieries, including the Kenton & Coxlodge, for which he had built a major new iron waggonway in 1808. As early as 1813, he proposed a Sheffield railway where 'long carriages, properly constructed, and placed on two separate sets of wheels, 8 in all, may take 30 or 40 people with their articles to market' - a remarkably advanced concept with a similar design proposed in 1825 for restaurant cars.
He had then a deeper mechanical, engine, colliery and railway experience than has been credited. As already mentioned, he may have had an early Trevithick locomotive, and probably inspired conversion of the Wylam engines to eight- wheelers.
His patent of December 1812 covered bogies and a chain-haulage locomotive system. The Butterley Company drawings for February 1813 give designs and description for building such an engine. Known only as copies, doubts have been cast on the document but the text has now been found in Chapman's own hand for the same date.Completed that August for Heaton Colliery, the short time scale suggests that the drawings must be similar to the engine as built, hence a six-wheel, bogie, chain locomotive. The engine arrived in September, was assembled by Butterley's fitter, Thomas Grice, and ready in October 1813.(page 124)
A supposed 'eye witness account' exists of the first trial, published by R N Appleby-Miller. However, this has so many fundamental flaws that it must be considered highly suspect. It is known that the engine was tested right through 1814 and into 1815 until disastrous flooding closed the colliery in that May. It finished life pumping and winding at the shaft, a particularly easy conversion for a chain haulage locomotive.
There is some evidence that it was demonstrated on the Lambton waggonway south of the Wear early in 1814. Approved by the Colliery Board that May, they agreed to order an engine and to adapt for it the whole Lambton waggonway system. In fact, the engine had already been designed. Built by Phineas Crowther, it was ready and tested by the end of the year as an eight-wheel joint chain and adhesion locomotive. However, the trials had to be extended as the new iron waggonway was slow to complete, and were still continuing at the start of 1816. It seems never to have done useful work, with the railway later redesigned for self-acting inclines and stationary engines.
Newbottle (page 125)
If Chapman's engines are now considered rather eccentric, William Brunton's 'iron horse', propelled by steam-powered legs, is seen as famously mad. It was realised some time ago that the design shown in the patent and subsequent prints could not have worked. But work it certainly did clearly it is not known what the locomotive was like as built. Brunton himself described it later as resembling a man pushing a weight forward, although the Patent drawings suggest that it more nearly relates to a man with his back to the boiler pushing with his legs.
The Butterley Company of Derbyshire where Brunton was engineer made the first engine, for use in their Crich limeworks. The quarry was served by a plateway some 1¼ miles long down to the Cromford Canal at Amber Wharf, a gradient of up to 1 in 50 generally in favour of the loaded waggons, and with a gauge of 3 feet 6 inches. Although Butterley owned the limeworks, both it and its waggonway had been leased to operators, including Edward Banks, the contractor for the Surrey Iron Railway.
The Butterley account book entry for the locomotive, often mentioned in the texts, answers many of the questions on the engine when seen in the full original. It states that it was built for Brunton personally, not, as has been assumed, for the Company. The completion date is shown as March 1814, although he had published details of it supposedly at work at Crich some four months before, when he described it as having a single six-inch cylinder, supplied by a wrought iron boiler of unusual construction, capable of a pressure of 4-500 lbs/ sq inch, but normally working at 40-45 lbs (a comment that will seem sadly relevant later) and it 'performs very well'.
Crucially, this engine was not then sent on to the Newbottle Colliery on Wearside as state many of the texts. That was a second 'horse engine', purpose built, constructed some six months later. Again debited personally to Brunton, not to the Colliery, it cost £540 to Crich's £240. Brunton had described his first machine as just two and a quarter tons, but later implied Newbottle was nearer five, and it was probably twin-cylindered. It would seem then to have been twice the price, twice the weight and twice the cylinders, compared to Crich. It was finished in September and assembled at the Colliery by Thomas Grice in October 1814.
The Newbottle waggonway was a major iron railway, built by the viewer Edward Steel for colliery owner John Douthwaite Nesham and opened in 1812. For 10 years it would be the only line direct to the collier staithes at Sunderland, so avoiding the expensive use of keels and the transhipment they involved. However, at over 6 miles in length, with a difficult incline and costly wayleaves, it was itself considered something of an extravagance.
The Butterley Company had already supplied machinery to the Colliery, but it is likely that Brunton's approach was more direct. In a letter to his brother in late April 1813, just before the patent, he spoke of 'going in about a fortnight into the north'. Less than a month later, the Count de Scepeaux wrote that 'the gentleman who hath taken out a Third patent to convey coal waggons with a steam engine, hath been in this country. His engine instead of drawing, push before it the waggons & I am told is not upon wheels. Scepeaux was writing from Lambton, the neighbouring estate to Newbottle. It seems quite possible then that Brunton may have personally interested Nesham in his invention and persuaded him to either order or to test a machine.
For Newbottle Colliery and John Douthwaite Nesham, 1815 was to be a year of remarkable misfortune. The Wear keelmen, rightly judging the railway a threat to their livelihood, rioted and burned down the Sunderland staithes. A two months seamen's strike stopped all shipments of coal, the Colliery's bank collapsed, and in June one of the pits was devastated in an explosion that killed 57 miners. Finally, on July 31st, surrounded by a great crowd, Brunton's engine blew up.
Contemporary accounts disagreed about whether the spectators had come to see the first ever outing of the locomotive or that following a new boiler. The Butterley entry confirms the boiler version, as did Brunton himself later. This was the first major railway disaster, killing a dozen or more people, and, with a humility unusual in engineers, the source of profound regret to him for the rest of his life.
The joke design had a tragic punchline then. However, the explosion was due not to an inherent flaw, but to the enthusiasm of the driver overloading the boiler. And the assumption that the engine must have been quite useless is not as clear cut as may be thought. As said, the detailed arrangement remains unknown. The Crich machine was built and tested when Brunton was the principal engineer of a leading firm. It was promising enough to build another, much larger version some months later for Newbottle. It was later described as working there with a load, up a gradient of 1 in 36, throughout the winter of 1814 :(page 127). "It would seem that amongst contemporaries Bruton's enging was given due attention" (p. 128).
Killingworth (page 128)
A note considers the veracity of the name My Lord for George Stephenson's first locomotive. Guy considers that this locomotive was "quite successful". and the cost of moving coal was halved. Notes the importance of the patent taken out with the colliery viewer Ralph Dodds. The Killingworth owners were pleased and paid the patent expences and paid Stephenson a bonus. Notes how Stephenson was "a very well regarded man in a field of experts". Matthias Dunn singled him out as the only unqualified success of the many locomotive pioneers of 1815: " George Stephenson has completely succeeded in gatting two travelling enginnes into complete work which save about 8 horses each. Eighteen fifteen was a seminal year. It saw engines at Wylam, Killingworth, Kenton & Coxlodge, Heaton, Lambton, Newbottle and later at Wallsend. By the end of that year, of these seven sites, only at Wylam and Killingworth had it become established. This was due as much to misfortune as to failure. The Blenkinsops had been abused and broken, Heaton colliery laid off due to flooding, Newbottle had suffered an overloaded boiler, the track at Wallsend proved unsuitable. So ended, with very mixed fortunes, the first experimental period in the North East.
George Stephenson (page 129)
Traditionally, the era of Stephenson followed. The main texts agree that there was no other figure continuing locomotive development in the north east, if not the country, for the next decade (cites Dendy Marshall).
From 1815 his reputation grew apace, bolstered by his 1816 patent and the general working success of the Killingworth engines. Repeatedly developed, improved and quantified by Stephenson and Nicholas Wood, they became the Tyneside engines that informed and influential visitors wished to see. By 1820, he is considered as a consulting authority on railways in the region and beyond, surveying a number of lines. At this stage he was not locomotive fixated they are recommended for straight and level lines with heavy traffic otherwise he suggests inclined planes, stationary engines and/or horses
In 1813, when manager of the Vane Tempest group of collieries, Arthur Mowbray had unsuccessfully promoted plans for a railway from the Rainton pits to Sunderland. As seen, he tried again in 1815, suggesting a line on the Newbottle/Brunton scheme. Edward Steel's proposals included estimates that strongly imply the use of locomotives. They were rejected. In 1819 he employed George Stephenson, 'a Man of great reputation and much experience in the making of Rail Roads, and particularly in the use of Machinery', to survey a line. The plans, which did not include locomotives, were again turned down. Stephenson then made a remarkably bold offer. He would supply the machinery, run the railway for a year at the old rates and then hand the line back for no payment, on the basis that the savings would exceed his entire costs in that time. However, the new controller of the colliery, Lord Stewart (later Marquess of Londonderry) had taken violently against Mowbray. Within weeks he had been replaced by John BuddIe and all his proposals put aside. (page 130)
The irrepressible Mowbray quickly renewed his interest in the proposed Hetton Colliery nearby. With his previous connection with Stephenson, the scene is now set for this famous railway over the hills to Sunderland. Again however the story is considerably less straightforward than the texts suggest. As early as September 1819 Stephenson submitted estimates for the railway they do not include locomotives. Other estimates were made that year for joining the new Colliery to the Newbottle line but using horses and inclined planes. In July 1820 Edward Steel was noticed surveying the line to Sunderland and three months later Benjamin Thompson was claiming that he had been approached to build and run the railway on contract, presumably on his reciprocating system.
Mowbray finally returned to George Stephenson, who worked with his brother Robert on all the colliery and waggonway engines. But it has been seen that this, supposedly the first railway built for purely mechanical haulage, could well have taken a quite different route, could well have been constructed instead by Steel or Thompson. Even Stephenson had initially considered using horses rather than locomotives on the two short sections for which they were suited. And Robert, the resident engineer, was sacked by the owners after little more than a year, in acrimonious circumstances. On one of the locomotive-hauled sections they were never very satisfactory, being replaced by stationary engines in mid-1827 and only barely surviving on the remaining section.
Hetton's initial success considerably enhanced George's reputation. Killingworth led on to the national platform that was the Stockton & Darlington Railway. Exactly how locomotives were decided upon there has always been anecdotal. But that, and an account of the deliberate marketing of George Stephenson, is contained in an important archive at Durham the Hodgkin letters. All are from Edward Pease in Darlington to his cousin Thomas Richardson, the London banker. The following extract comes from a letter dated 10 October 1821.(page 131)
......... the more we see of Stephenson, the more we are pleased with him, he commences the setting out of the line in a few days he is altogether a self taught genius, a man thee would be remarkably pleased with, there is such a scale of sound ability without anything assuming, Cousin Jonathan [Backhouse], Joseph & myself went to see his works about 5 miles from N Castle, & were exceedingly pleased with the correctness of every thing he had designed and executed don't be surprised if I should tell thee, there seems to us after careful examination no difficulty of laying a rail road from London & to Edinburgh on which waggons would travel & take the mail at the rate of 20 miles per hour, when this is accomplished Steam vessels may be laid aside! we went along a road upon one these Engines conveying about 50 tons at the rate of 7 or 8 miles per hour, & if the same power had been applied to speed which was applied to drag the waggons we should have gone 50 mile per hour previous to seeing this Loco motive Engine I was at a loss to conceive how the Engine could draw such a weight, without either having a rack with teeth laid in the Ground & wheels with teeth to work into the same, or something like legs but in this Engine there is no such thing, the way and wheels are exactly same as a common Rail way & by the Cranks of the Engine first propelling the fore wheels of the waggon & then the hind wheels the loaded waggons are impelled forward from all this judicious man says & all we can yet see, no doubt has yet entered my mind but we shall make a good thing of this concern.'
This must surely be one of the most important railway letters. If ever a clear explanation was wanted why locomotives were adopted for the S&DR, it is here. The extraordinary, almost boyish, enthusiasm of this supposedly dour and practical Quaker businessman, the grasp of the possibilities, the complete faith given to Stephenson are all here. And it is addressed to Richardson, the money man who will partner Pease in the railway through its troubles, who will back both Robert Stephenson & Co and George Stephenson & Son.
The letters of 1824 and 1825 that follow give a major insight in the making of George Stephenson. Pease and Richardson determine to market the man in the most modern way they were his spin doctors then as much as Smiles would be later. They cover everything from his scale of fees to the essential need for fresh patents, from the advantages of a new address to his actual dress:
'he is a clever man, but he must have leading straight'; 'he should always be a gentleman in his dress, his clothes real and new, and of the best quality, all his personal linen clean every day his hat and upper coat conspicuously good, without dandyism'.
Increasingly, inevitably, they also reflect the frustrations of his
absence from the engine works and from their railway. The control they hoped
for slips away as the success they promoted takes him on elsewhere - to his
great railway incontinence of the later 1820s and beyond.
John Buddle (page 132)
The conventional story of this pioneering work in the north east to 1815 and it was happening virtually nowhere else is capable then of some modification, as are elements of the early career of Stephenson. However, to approach that initial problem of the rogue engines entails the reappearance of a forgotten character.
The driving force of the colliery was the viewer part manager part mechanical engineer, mining engineer, surveyor responsible both for the pit and the waggonway arrangements. In the north east in our period, there was a viewer so dominant that in his own lifetime he was known as the 'King of the Coal Trade'. Renowned as one of the first so-called' scientific viewers' he was the major instigator of new techniques in the industry, including segmental iron tubbing, district working and pillar robbing. He promoted the experiments of Davy into the safety lamp and was the first viewer to order it. In addition, he was a great believer in mechanisation in general, introducing underground engines, the first Tyne steam boat, and tub transport a form of containerisation new to the region. His name was John Buddle. If that name is not familiar, then it is hardly surprising. The locomotive texts give him no more than a passing mention at best. So, by the early years of the 19th Century this inventive colliery viewer, this promoter of mechanisation, an authority on waggonways, has apparently no significant role in the remarkable flush of experiments taking place on his patch. This appears inconsistent and unlikely.
According to Ottley (who does not make a claim KPJ and it be entry 242), the first publication dedicated to steam locomotives was an 1813 pamphlet by the Chapman brothers describing their patent chain engine. Enquiries were directed to themselves and to John BuddIe. In fact, his account books show that BuddIe paid for that patent. When the engine was tried at Heaton, it was BuddIe who designed the necessary railside kettle. He prepared the chains for the track, he paid for fitting up the engine, he paid a share of its purchase price, he conducted its trials and oversaw its modifications.
He was a partner in and the viewer of Heaton. He was also the viewer for the Lambton Colliery Board' and within days of discussing a new engine design with Chapman, he has their agreement to ordering a locomotive and to the waggonway rebuilding necessary. The Board pays for the engine, but via BuddIe personally and again he conducts its trials
So, he is very intimately concerned with these two Chapman engines in the patent, in the waggonways they need, in the collieries they serve, in their trials and in their cost. It may be more realistic to see these as Chapman-BuddIe locomotives. But this remains within the known engines.
One of the potential rogue locomotives mentioned in the Introduction comes from an account book held at Beamish. This gives a kit of mechanical parts made by Hawks of Gateshead for an unnamed colliery from late 1814 to early 1815 a six-wheeler, and so does not fit any of the available early engines. The internal evidence in this book shows clearly that this locomotive was built for Wallsend Colliery. The manager and viewer was John BuddIe. The existence of this important new locomotive is confirmed by the invaluable Matthias Dunn, who stated that 'Wallsend have also started a Travelling Engine, but the wood ways obstruct it much'. In May 1816, he noted that it had been removed to the sister colliery at Washington - another BuddIe pit and another previously unrecorded location but that it 'cannot be made to answer any good purpose, and is for the present set by'. (page 133)
It would seem that it was subsequently not only reinstated, but may have been joined by another. The well known complaint in 1821 from Losh to Pease about Stephenson's choice of malleable rails stated, 'At Wallsend they have long employed the Travellers...', but, with no known engine there, that clear statement has been understood to mean the neighbouring slaithes at Willington for the Killingworth line. There is now however sufficient evidence from the colliery accounts, the Dunn diary and the Losh letter to establish this new locomotive, introduce Hawks & Co as a builder, and to locate it at Wallsend and Washington.
Another has long been suspected as working at Whitehaven. Dendy Marshall suggested that it may have been built by Taylor Swainson, but in 1978, Peter Mulholland clearly showed (The first railway locomotive in Whitehaven, J. Cumberland Rlys Ass, 1978) that the locomotive had been ordered by the resident viewer, John Peile, under the supervision of BuddIe as consultant for the colliery. It was constructed by Phineas Crowther of Newcastle, to the designs of William Chapman. A somewhat confused mention of it at work has also recently been found,
'Several carts being loaded and linked together in a long line, a machine of iron, called, from the office it performs, and also from its shape, a horse, is fastened before the first. This horse contains a steam engine inside, which causes the wheels on which it is raised to run in a toothed groove below, and thus to drag along the rest of the waggons to the place where they are to lay down their burden. This is one of the wonders of modern invention..
Most importantly, the drawings survive, both for the construction
in 1816 and its conversion to a stationary engine two years later, so that,
for the first time, a clear view can be given of a Chapman engine as built.
See Jim Rees below
L.G. Charlton The Steam Elephant J. Stephenson Loco. Soc., 1980, p. 330 noted a further Chapman-BuddIe engine. In 1820, BuddIe bought back the Lambton locomotive to use on a new line he was constructing at Heaton. After some trials on the old route, he found the major fault to be lack of steam capability, and so completely rebuilt the engine. The boiler was lengthened fully three feet and fitted with a single tube, the eight-wheel double chassis reduced to a single frame four-wheeler, and he connected the wheels with an endless chain. This 'Heaton II' is nearer a new engine than just minor adaptations, and the redesign was John BuddIe's. It must be the long-queried 'large travelling Engine' at Heaton mentioned by Losh in 1821, who says that they have now put springs to it and so suggests that it is BuddIe who first fitted a locomotive with solid springing. John Birkenshaw confirmed the existence of the engine in an open letter to Chapman in 1824 .
In 1819 BuddIe gave up many of his other colliery interests to become viewer, and later manager, of the important Londonderry collieries based at Rainton and Penshaw in Durham. Their account books show that' a travelling Engine for leading Coals' was built for them by Joseph Smith, payments on account being made in early and late 1822. Smith, a previously umecorded maker, was engine wright at Heaton, and so had already rebuilt that engine for BuddIe. He would shortly go on to succeed the sacked Robert Stephenson as engineer at Hetton.
This engine would have mixed fortunes. It was included in the estimates for the planned Seaham railway in 1823, but construction was postponed. Thomas Wood of Hetton, in the L&MR Parliamentary hearings of 1825, said that it had been laid aside and BuddIe would appear to have made a similar comment that same year. In 1826 it underwent trials near Rainton, but broke the rails and suffered Slip - it was apparently purely an adhesion engine. The following year, it must have been this locomotive that was shown to the Duke of Wellington by Lord Londonderry and BuddIe on the Rainton line. The Smith engine would seem then to tie up a number of long standing questions.(page 134)
Even less detail is known of what may have been the first locomotive crane. In 1822, Londonderry was committed to the building of an extravagant country house at Wynyard, north of Stockton. BuddIe made the arrangements for getting the very large amounts of stone to the site, by ship and then cart. Once there, he used a temporary railway and some form of locomotive fitted with a crane. It seems that neither was used much, if at all, and the railway was sent back to Rainton early in 1825.
This use matches the machinery specified for the building of Londonderry's new harbour at Seaham, of which Chapman was engineer and BuddIe the manager. For the construction work itself, Chapman proposed both a travelling crane and a locomotive engine with a winding apparatus. It might be imagined that this was perhaps an adaptation of his Lambton design, which used both adhesion and chain haulage. When harbour construction started in 1828, that engine was in use, lifting rock from the shore and transferring it along the site. BuddIe wrote proudly to Londonderry, that it had taken its station and how it 'gives an appearance of civilisation to the place. Nothing I think gives such a finish to a Scene of this sort as to see an engine smoking upon it'. Shortly after, there is a reference to using 'one of our locomotive engines to keep the basin workably dry'
Now it may well be that the Wynyard and Seaham engines are the same there is certainly the same purpose to them. Clearly however, the belief that it was Stephenson alone who continued the development of the locomotive is misplaced. BuddIe and Chapman continued it in 1815 with the Wallsend/Washington engine, in 1816 with Whitehaven, 1820 with the rebuilt Heaton II, 1822 with Rainton, followed by the dual-purpose Wynyard/Seaham locomotive cranes.
Buddle, Chapman & Stephenson (page 136)
Despite this, it remains hard to deny the dominant role of George Stephenson. It is his promising first engine that founds a dynasty of locomotives, it is his design of 1815 that will be the most successful arrangement of locomotives for the next decade, that will be lead on to Hetton, the Stockton & Darlington, will allow him the platform to press for locomotives on the Liverpool & Manchester. A formidable pedigree.
Even here, however, there is some evidence for reconsidering the story. No one has pretended that the first Stephenson engine in 1814, the geared My Lord, was hugely original. Rather, it was a synthesis of locomotives he had had the chance to examine, especially the Blenkinsop of the Kenton & Coxlodge. Such a pragmatic approach was sensible and effective, but this practical solution may not have been his alone.
There is an unpublished collection of letters at Durham that may be significant, in which Doctor Joseph Hamel writes to John Buddle. Hamel is the agent, the information gatherer, for Emperor Alexander of Russia. In the first letter, he refers to a visit he made to Newcastle which is known from another source to be in early November 1814 the time of My Lord and some months before the 1815 patent engine. He asks for a model of Stephenson's locomotive and some exact drawings. Does Mr BuddIe object to this request? Will Mr Chapman assist or give his consent?
This seems a remarkable situation. Why should BuddIe or Chapman have such control over the design of Stephenson's first engine, and in particular why is their permission necessary? Stephenson works for neither of them, nor are they associated with him. One interpretation is that they have given some direct assistance to the inexperienced Stephenson in his first design, the drawings for which BuddIe is later able to send on to Hamel. They may be in the Russian archives yet.
That leaves the seminal 1815 patent that followed, the essential Killingworth and Hetton design that made his reputation, and which everyone came to see. Charlton's Locomotive engineers noted a remarkable entry in Nicholas Wood's private view diary which stated that a locomotive of the' same construction' as the patent engine had been tried before that patent was dated, and so had made it null and void. It had been run by Nowell & Co of Sunderland and by Grimshaw of Fatfield Colliery, and tried on Nesham's Newbottle railway. Such a statement made by Stephenson's closest collaborator, must carry weight.
Charlton got little further than this. In fact, John Grimshaw was an experienced engineer who would later play a significant part in persuading the businessmen of Stockton and Darlington to opt for a railway rather than canal. 'Nowell' is a misreading for William Norvell a millwright, later to adapt a famous rope-making patent of Grimshaw's. The real question is, what engine or design could have been of the' same construction' as Stephenson's?
In essence, if the similarity was based on the patent claim to an endless chain connecting the wheels, then there is certainly a design that predates it. Chapman's pamphlet was the first publication dedicated to steam locomotives. The second was an anonymous proposal for a train of locomotive and waggons with all the wheels driven. The coupling was by endless chain :
'rotatory motion to be communicated to the wheels by means of an endless chain which passes over toothed and grooved pulleys fixed on some convenient part of the axles of the wheels.. . Respecting the chain...it is composed of circular and oval links, placed alternately, and may easily be repaired or lengthened by means of shackles with screw-bolts, etc. We conceive it to be of new and advantageous construction, and calculated for general use in mechanism [sic].'
The pamphlet was a reprint of a letter to the Royal Society of Arts
written by two Scarborough men, William Tindall and John Bottomley, and dated
4 June 1814. That is to say, not only eight months before Stephenson's Patent,
but even before his first, the geared engine, had drawn breath. Stephenson's
preference in his improved design had been for a crank to couple the wheels,
and only when that had proved impractical had an endless chain been substituted.
It would seem that he might have borrowed the idea.
The Scarborough connection initially appears unpromising. The area had no waggonways, and so the inspiration for the design and its translation to the Wear seems unlikely. But there is a common link, and that is William Chapman.
As suggested before, Chapman may well have worked with Stephenson in 1814. During that year, he was also down at Scarborough, where he was the engineer for the new harbour works. It was the area that his wife came from, and he had encouraged his contacts there to invest with him in the Kenton & Coxlodge colliery some years before. A major partner with him and its banker was James Tindall of Scarborough uncle to both William Tindall and John Bottomley.
In short, it is suggested that the Newbottle engine may have stemmed from the Scarborough proposal, hence its chain connection nullified the Stephenson patent. The original idea probably came from Chapman, the great chain man and the link between them all. When reporting in 1824 on what would become the Newcastle & Carlisle Railway, Chapman suggested a design of train in which adhesion could be increased without additional weight if one or more of the carriages were to be coupled to the locomotive drive.
This evidence is essentially circumstantial, but there is a case to be made, for there can be no doubt that Nicholas Wood knew of a built design that had ruined a patent seen as the embodiment of Stephenson's Killingworth and Hetton engines.
Conclusion (page 138)
It is quite possible then to review this period with the aid of significant new sources. Most have been found in the County Record Offices, principally of Durham and Northumberland, but document extracts familiar from the texts have yielded a surprising amount of fresh information when seen in the full original. There can be little doubt that further valuable material remains to be unearthed, and will reconfigure this apparently well-known history.
In general terms, a significant but seldom stated facet of the domination of the region in the development of the locomotive is its remarkably small area. Before 1825, all the north eastern waggonways discussed were within a diameter of just 15 miles. Even on foot, any interested party in 1815 could have seen the engines at Coxlodge, Heaton, Wallsend and Killingworth in less than an hour. These trials then were on local, familiar ground and in the open air, not distant, remote or secret. The choices that Arthur Mowbray had at his fingertips for Rainton and Hetton are a case in point.
It has been seen how intertwined were some of the relationships between the pioneers, and how aware they were of each other's progress. For the viewers this was emphasised by the nature of their profession as resident, group, consultant or check viewers they were constantly involved with the affairs of collieries other than their own and regularly came together at the meetings of the Coal Trade. Rather than happening in isolation, the progress of the various tests must have been common knowledge and the subject of detailed discussion between them.
More specifically, it has been possible to add information to the well known trials at Gateshead, Wylam, Kenton & Coxlodge, Heaton, Lambton, Newbottle and Killingworth. As for the 'mystery' engines, new evidence can be offered for the identification of the locomotive seen by the Duke of Wellington, the Stephenson patent breaker, the Wallsend and Rainton engines.
The early career of George Stephenson can be reconsidered the first engine, the first patent, the enchantment of Edward Pease, the conscious marketing of the man. Nicholas Wood played his part in selling the Stephenson story as well. His 'Treatise' conceals his own knowledge of the nullification of the Patent, fails to mention the experiments by others after 1815 or the dreadful Newbottle explosion that year. Prior to publication, Longridge warned Pease that 'Wood's Book must undergo a strict censorship before it is published and I fear this will be a work of considerable delicacy, but it must be done.' A fortnight later, Wood wrote placatingly to Edward Pease that the book would be worthwhile and necessary 'if it only be done judiciously and without injuring my friends', in particular George Stephenson. When so many later histories of these experimental years were understandably based on his expert, contemporary account, it is unfortunate that it is at best incomplete and at worse quite knowingly misleading.
Finally, it can be suggested that John BuddIe be given due recognition. He is intimately concerned with Heaton and Lambton. He is responsible for the locomotives used at Wallsend and Washington, Whitehaven, Heaton II, Rainton, Wynyard and Seaham; he places Hawks and Joseph Smith in the list of engine builders. And it is not just the totals of BuddIe and Chapman which are impressive, it is the sheer variety. They are built with four wheels, or six, or eight; connected by gears, connected by chain; bogie frames, single frames; adhesion, chain, and both together; first use of solid springs, first locomotive crane. Such a richness of thought, such open-minded pragmatism is hard to match in the contemporary pioneers. BuddIe's contribution has long been unknown and Chapman's underestimated. Both richly deserve reassessment.
Rees, Jim: The strange story of the Steam Elephant. 145-70.
The papers at this conference in general and that by Andy Guy in particular, are striking confirmation that, with honourable exceptions such as Dendy Marshall and Charlton, the history of locomotives as it has evolved from the informed but selective Nicholas Wood onwards is in need of continued study and reanalyses of participation, innovation and influence. This paper sets out it is now quite clear that the locomotive now known as the Steam Elephant is the locomotive of 1815 built at Wallsend by John BuddIe and William Chapman, for use on its colliery waggonway, the machined metalwork being supplied by Hawks of Gateshead. After a shaky start the locomotive had a working life longer than many of the other early engines. It was fitted with slide valves rather than plug cocks. The main initial sources were (1) a vignette on a map recorded by R.N. Appleby-Miller in The Engineer (18 September 1931) and subsequently in J. Stephenson Loco Soc. (1942): tis was suffiocient for Forward's Chapman's locomotives vol. 28 page 1 ; (2) a water-colour painting discovered and exhibited in 1965 and (3) an oil-painting acquired by Beamish in 1995. The last is very important and clearly identifies the location as Wallsend, incorporates Carville Hall and probably Chapman''s skew arch. Rees also indicates that the painting appears to contradict Jack Simmons' assertion that there were no early paintings. Notes the significance of Peter Mulholland's research (The first locomotive in Whitehaven, Ind. Rly Rec., 1978 (75)) which showed the involvemnt of Phineas Crowther for John Peile, the Earl of Lonsdale's viewer in 1814. This was not successful and by 1818 was beinng used as a stationary engine at a quarry. Another notable source is the Wallsend. Account Book which includes "six waggon wheels for a locomotive engine".
On 3 November 1821 William Losh wrote to Edawrd Pease telling him where he could see locomotives performing on his patent rail in addition to Killingworth:
'At Wallsend thet have long employed the Travellers and one of them the enormous weight of nearly nine tons and without springs or pistons [meaning steam springs], and yet the Patent Rails of the above weight stand without an instance of breakage, altho' the engine goes with a velocity of at least 7 miles an hour very frequently down a Plane.'
The letter is of immense importance and the use of a selective quote
from it by Dendy Marsha1l which is then dismissed as 'by which he means
Killingworth', shows that Marshall cannot have seen the complete original
letter, for this interpretation negates the very point it is making. Losh
was a local man and when he said 'Wallsend,' he meant it.
The Dunn Viewbook, 'Wallsend...have started a Travelling Engine.'
In 1997 Beamish acquired the view book of Matthias Dunn for the years 1815-2464. As well as being of immense importance in the field of mining history, the book contains an astonishing summary of locomotive working in the north east for the year 1815. In it he states, 'Wallsend...have started a Travelling Engine, but the wood ways obstruct it much,' and on 17 May 1816 'The Travelling Engine removed from Wallsend to Washington cannot be made to answer any good purpose, and is for the present set by.' Perfect confirmation of the account book date and location and when taken with the reappraisal of the Losh letter, suggests that the engine returned to Wallsend and useful work, following conversion of the way to Losh's iron rails, in order to have been 'long employed' by 1821.
The issue of locomotive working on wooden rails is neither rare nor surprising, yet has become presumed to a be problem, or impossible65. The logging railways of late 19th Century America and Canada should be sufficient to dismiss the thoughtless belief that wooden rails cannot support a locomotive66. By 'wooden rails' I am referring to the simplest 4 by 4 inch hardwood rails as revealed by the Lambton 'D' Pit excavation of 1998 rather than iron-topped wood rail. As late as 1819 Stephenson accepts their use for the Garesfield and Pontop, where he says
'N.B. Between Winlaton Mill and the staithes, the Road is composed of Wood two thirds of the Way; but as the locomotive Engine need only travel with 8 waggons at a time, this it can do, notwithstanding the friction arising from the wood rails. Iron can be substituted as opportunities offer, or, as the wood fails68.'
Certainly on anything other than a straight line, running any length
of train on a curve on wooden rail would soon grind to a halt through excessive
friction. It is more likely, however, that the problem with wooden rails
was that, when wet, they could rapidly prove impossible on any sort of incline.
One can easily imagine the thundering wheelslip of the Steam Elephant on
the short and vicious Wallsend plane with a full load of empties on a wet
A letter from Chapman to BuddIe on 16 May 1814, regarding the first Heaton engine throws some contemporary light on the issue' ...although the Way does not complain, yet 3 wheels carrying nearly all of the Weight destined for four...Must indent or depress the Fibres of the Wood and create an artificial hil1...' (a nice pre-Whyte description of an 0-6-0 versus an 0-8-0).
It is worth remembering also that the use of wooden rail would to some extent have mitigated the worst effects, on engine and track, of running completely unsprung locomotives with cast iron wheels.
Dunn's account of the movement of the locomotive to Washington for trials at the owners colliery there, is something which is otherwise entirely unrecorded. Clearly the engine was no more successful there than it had been at Wallsend, but some aspect of the operation at Washington must have appeared more favourable to the locomotive, possibly iron rails or easier gradients, for the move to be considered. Washington shipped coals from both the Tyne and the Wear. If running the four miles to the Tyne, both rail and gradient may have been acceptable, but the distance simply unreasonable for the steaming capacity of the boiler. Whatever the facts may have been the engine was obviously not long in returning to Wallsend.
The Hetton Tentale Account; 1834.
Just when it appeared that the 'mystery of the Steam Elephant' had been tidily solved and independently confirmed from contemporary sources, came the discovery of a further illustration of the locomotive, from a most unexpected time and place. A volume of tentale accounts for the Hetton Lyons, Elemore and Eppleton group of collieries in Durham for the year 1834, showing a fine illustration of the locomotive, apparently in an updated and rebuilt state, on the title page . The volume revealed no other recognisable reference to the locomotive.
What could a BuddIe and Chapman Wallsend locomotive of 1815 be doing, nearly 20 years old, on a Stephenson line, the early locomotive history of which is apparently well known? The Hetton illustration is a fascinating codicil to the story of the Wallsend Elephant. It could be, of course, that the engine is simply being used in an iconlike manner, not simply as our engine, but as the engine. Examination of the possibilities, however, may lead us into tackling some Hetton mysteries and misconceptions too.
A close look at the illustration appears to show the engine rebuilt with a much longer boiler (as Buddle did with the Heaton II locomotive)?!, at the same time bringing the cylinders from over the crankshafts to the front and rear driving wheels and converting it to direct drive to crankpins mounted on the wheels; the gears are simply retained for their coupling function.
As previously discussed, the engine as built may be estimated at some 7½ tons weight, with a top speed of 4½ - 5 miles an hour; in the condition illustrated here, the locomotive is much more in line with Losh's figures of 9 tons and seven miles per hour, giving the possibility that the rebuild took place while still at Wallsend, possibly even on return from Washington. In general terms the rebuild would have given much higher speed, much greater steaming capacity, but reduced haulage capacity and incline climbing capabilities (although sufficient with iron rails?). There are enough otherwise insignificant details, such as the plating lines on the feedwater heater to confirm that this is the same engine and not just the same ~ of engine, and enough differences to suggest that it has not been simply copied from some older illustration.
However, a closer consideration of the Losh letter reveals an odd implication, 'At Wallsend they have long employed the Travellers and one of them the enormous weight of nearly nine tons'(my underlining). Implying at least two Elephants, if not a herd; one or both with the noted modifications.
Wallsend and Hetton were held by different coal owners between whom there was often the most intense rivalry, and the movement of equipment from one to the other not just a matter of need on one side and surplus on the other, but a more notable and unusual step.
Firstly then a look at the earliest motive power situation at Hetton and perhaps the suggestion that we may not know what we thought we knew. The common knowledge that Hetton opened with five of Mr Stephenson's fourwheeled patent engines seems to be everyone simply repeating Sykes and Richardson, who are in turn repeating newspaper accounts, yet a valuation in 1823 by none other than Nicholas Wood lists only four locomotives. The Hetton coal bill mentioned earlier shows an apparent Stephenson six-wheeler above the words 'The Locomotive Steam Engine which draws 100 Tons Weight of Coals from Hetton Colliery'. It may be worth observing that this would be highly unlikely unless the engine were geared, however it is probably best dismissed as boastful exaggeration as the same wording appears under another bill from the 1820s under a four-wheeler!
Certainly in October 1821 in a letter to William James, Stephenson said that he was about to start building three locomotives for a local colliery (Hetton, which opened just 13 months later), and therefore could not make one for James. Comparison with sources such as the Watson papers for Murray or Robert Stephenson & Co's later problems producing Locomotion on time for the Stockton and Darlington, would suggest that Stephenson would have been doing very well to produce three in the time available! Perhaps he did build three as he said and the line then acquired first one, then another, secondhand. There is no doubt that by the time of an 1827 valuation there were five engmes.
It is sometimes considered that in this era before the standardisation of gauges, the movement of locomotives between one railway and another would have caused considerable difficulties. Some consideration of the mechanical work however, shows that regauging an in-line cylindered engine has by no means the massive implications that are created with a more modern 'conventional' framed steam locomotive, but simply requires the lengthening of beams and axles.
There is no doubt that there are odd references which repeatedly divide the Hetton engines into groups of three and two. Rastrick in 1829 talks of the three he saw in 1825 having moved - they are supposed to be identical. Three are named, as were other Killingworth engines, after racehorses, as Dart, Tallyho and Star. An 1831 valuation gives two spare and at a lower value than the three at work.
The period between the withdrawal of the first engines at Hetton and the introduction of the first bought-in engine in 1857 needs further study and clarification. The two engines built in the colliery workshops in the early 1850s have considerably obscured and confused our view of the 'Stephenson' engines. Roger Lawson, who worked on the line from the 1850s, spoke in June 1908 of one of the 'old' engines being called the old Fox. One wonders at its relationship with Tallyho. A nick-name for the same, or a working partner? His account is confused and self contradictory, but one of the only insights we have. He appears to be saying that one of the' old' engines as well as one of the home-made ones was called the Lady Barrington. Thus potentially giving us five names for the five 'original' engines Dart, Tallyho, Star, and Fox and Lady Barrington. The Barrington family have limited connection to the Lyons of Hetton, but specifically Lady Barrington has a direct line to the Liddells who part-owned Killingworth, the obvious potential source for the 'other' second hand engine. Remembering that 'Steam Elephant' was a contemporary generic rather than individual name, this leaves the slim but real possibility that, at least while at Hetton, our Wallsend engine was named Fox; the first name discovered for any Chapman engine.
The Stephensons rapidly fell from grace at Hetton and the ousting of Robert (the brother) an embarrassing fiasco. Numerous reports were commissioned by the owners, even including a detailed one from Chapman in July 1823, which was at times highly critical and, interestingly, included the suggestion that another locomotive may be needed. Soon, however and for some time to come the railway had more engines than it needed, as increased output from the group favoured the introduction of more stationary engines to avoid bottlenecking. It is possible that the opening of Elemore, under way in 1825, could well have prompted the acquisition of a suitable banking engine to help out until the rope haulage system was in place.
Interestingly this date coincides with another change at Hetton which may be of significance. The little-known Joseph Smith is first encountered as an enginewright in 1813 at Heaton colliery and is almost certainly responsible for rebuilding the Chapman/BuddIe engine there to BuddIe's specification in 1821 to become Heaton II. In 1822 he is recorded building a BuddIe and Chapman 'travelling engine' for Rainton and Pensher collieries. As a previously unrecognised locomotive builder Smith requires much greater study.
By April 1824 Smith was working at Hetton, indicating that the rigid demarcation between BuddIe and Stephenson spheres of influence may have started to fade. Matthias Dunn wrote 'Joseph Smith is making very extensive alterations with the machinery of this Colliery - particularly with the double engines, so whimsically erected by Stephenson...91', the double engines being the stationary engines there. On 25 June 1824 Mowbray writes to Wood 'I have engaged a man...'92 - the man is Joseph Smith and by December 1825 he is 'Company Engineer'93 at Hetton, in succession to Robert Stephenson. By 1827, he is described as 'Master of the Engine Wrights and Machine Makers' at Hetton with 12 men under him and being paid £150 pa94. When dining with George Stephenson in 1828, Horatio Allen was given one side of the events and wrote,
'His son [sic] was desirous of being the chief Agent on the road, but the manoeuvres of a Mr Smith succeeded in obtaining for himself the situation. The result of the contest was a good deal of ill will between the parties. And when a new engineer was appointed in the interest of Mr Smith, their great desire was to do away as much as possible with the work and plans of Mr Stephenson, their predecessors.'
If the 'Steam Elephant' did indeed get to Hetton as a second hand
locomotive, here we have the perfect agent to effect the move.
In 1825, Buddle was busy gathering evidence against the Liverpool and Manchester Railway Bill, on behalf of the canal company. He wrote to Chapman on the subject of railway operating costs and suggests that, as a source of information, 'Joe who managed our locomotive on the Hetton way may be as fit as any'96 (my emphasis).
At present much of this evidence remains circumstantial, although Buddie's letter makes no sense at all if not confirming the presence of a Buddle and Chapman engine at Hetton. By Rastrick's visit in 1825, there are five engines at Hetton and an 1833 valuation of Wallsend colliery98 showed no locomotives left there; in other words if our Elephant did still exist at that date, it had gone somewhere else. So perhaps in 1825, as events further south dominated the railway stage, assisted by Smith, 'Nellie' had packed her trunk and slipped away...
The final discovery to date is another illustration, in the private collection of the railway historian John Fleming. Again a title page vignette, this time on an unsigned manuscript book Sections of Different Seams of Coal in the Counties of Durham and Northumberland. The paper is watermarked 'Whatman 1819' but otherwise there is once again no specific reference to provenance or locomotive. The illustration gives no more insight than to clearly show the same type of locomotive in a riverside colliery setting and to further emphasise the regional location.
There is much work still to be done on the Buddle and Chapman' school' of locomotive building, both to more fully understand their numerous engines and applications, and the reasons why they fell into obscurity. BuddIe was a giant in his own field; Chapman was highly respected, but principally known as a civil engineer, and already an old man in the pioneering period. Neither had families who would fire off a broadside of biased claims on their behalf later in the century as others did, neither were trying to establish railway 'systems' or indeed make their fortunes. They were simply introducing a new technology in a variety of forms of application, into an industry which was growing at an unprecedented rate of investment and innovation and at a scale hitherto unimagined.
Wallsend colliery was at the forefront of this new order, and as an unequalled generator of wealth was, in many ways, the epitome of it. When a symbol of this was required, what more natural than the new form of haulage to be seen there? It is in this way that these puzzling and unexplained images have come down to us, not necessarily as the most famous engine of its day, but as the one at the most famous colliery .
Mountford, Colin E. Rope haulage; the forgotten element of railway history. 171-91.
The author overstates the neglect of his topic: anyone who used the East Coast main line was well aware of the rope-worked inclines fron Ferryhill northwards. Nevertheless, it does need to be restated that rope haulage was quite normal in County Durham and it lasted longer than main line steam. There were two types of self-acting incline: the less common employed two ropes and two drums; the more common type employed a single rope and a large drum with brakes at the top of the incline. There were also powered inclines: some used stationary engines supplied by locomotive builders (Hawthorn, Joicey and Braclay) whilst others came from general engine builders, e.g. Robey of Lincoln. Electric haulers gradually took over. Powered lines often included curves. Two specific lines are noted: Starrs Bank Head at Wrekenton and Ravensworth ann Colliery where the line traversed the Great North Road at Low Fell. Inclines are preserved on the Bowes Railway. On lines which both ascended and descended amin-and-tail haulage was practiced. Endless ropes were also applied which were used frequently underground..
Boyes, Grahame: An alternative railway technology; early monorail systems. 192-207.
Joseph von Baader (1763-1835) was granted a British Patent 3959/1815 (15 November 1815) An improved plan of constructing railroads and carriages to be used on such improved railroads. To use one or two cast iron rails (if two not greater tah 24 inches apart) to peovide horizontal guidance and reduce friction. Henry Robinson Palmer patented a suspended monorail on 22 November 1821: 4618/1821. Systems developed at Royal Victualling Yard, in Deptford and at Cheshunt in Hertfordshire. Latter used to convey bricks andd lime ¾ mile down to River Lea and return with timber and coal. Opened on 25 June 1825. Maxwell Dick of Irvine patented a high level system on 21 May 1829 (5790/1829). This was claimed to avoid blockage by snow and permit mail to be conveyed at 60 mile/h. Also mentions the Royal Panarmonium Gardens, near King's Cross where a passenger carrying suspended monorail operated in a fairground mannar from 4 March 1830..
Gibbon, Richard: Rings, springs, strings and things; the national collection pre 1840. 208-16.
Early safety valves: weighted systems led to serious loss of steam. Hackworth designed spring loaded systems and these were subjected to test and hysteresis loops were produced. A modern locomotive safety valve was also tested.
Clarke, Mike: The first steam locomotives on the European mainland. 219-32.
In 1814-15 two Prussian engineers, Eckhardt and Krigar visited Leeds and Newcastle to inspect Blenkinsop locomotives. This led to the construction of two locomotives of the type in Berlin. These were smaler than the British locomotives, but very detailed drawings survive. The first was sent to the Chorzow Ironworks and the other to the Saarland.
Cowburn, Ian: The origins of the St Etienne rail roads, 1816-38; French ndustrial espionage and British technology transfer. 233-50.
Gamst, Frederick C: The transfer of pioneering British railroad technology to North America. 251-65.
MacDonald, Herb: The Albion Mines railway of 1839 - 1840; some British roots of Canada's first industrial railway. 266-77..
Bailey, Michael R. and Glithero, John P: Learning through restoration; the Samson locomotive project. 278-93.
Samson was built at Shildonby Hackworrth under sub-contract from George & John Rennie in 1838 for use on the export of coal from minees at Stellarton to the port at Pictou in Nova Scotia. The value of a detailed survey was demonstrated. Not only has new light been thrown onto 1830s locomotive manufacturing practice, and specifically that at the Soho Works in Shildon, but also of mid-nineteenth century maintenance practices, about which very little has been recorded. As has also been demonstrated with the surveys of Albion and Braddyll, it was the practice of early industrial railways to seek to keep their locomotives operating for as many years as possible without the costly replacement of boilers and other major components. The maintenance artisans were inventive and adopted practices that were, for the most part, not recorded, but were passed down from master to apprentice and improved upon with each generation. The longevity of industrial locomotives contrasted with main line railways, whose locomotives were given extended lives, usually through rebuilding or component replacement, to meet enhanced operating specifications. The few surviving pre-1840 industrial locomotives therefore provide a remarkable opportunity to add to our knowledge of materials and manufacturing processes, providing a most informative second resource to add to archive-based research into manufacturing history.
Banham, John. Coal, banks and railways. 297-310.
There were two Darlington banks: the Darlington & Durham Bank of Mowbray & Co in which Arthur Mowbray (1755-1840) was a senior partner and the Quaker bank of Backhouse & Co.. The latter was a model of probity, the former was involved in entrepreneurial activity which included mining and railways. Finance from Backhouses' Bank was vital to keeping Hetton going in 1823 when Mowbray's initial capital raised two years before in London was exhausted. It is also clear that Backhouses' Bank expertise and finance were fundamental to ensuring that the |Stockton & Darlington Railway was a success in 1826.
Stokes, Winifred. Early railways and regional identity. 311-24.
Baldwin, J.H. The Stanhope and Tyne railway; a study in business failure.325-41.
Considers two key factors: the excessive reliance placed upon the conveyance of lime for agriculture, and the excessive length of the line. It is interesting in that it shows a link between J.F. Harrison and William Harrison (who was in business in London), both of who were involved in financing the Stanhope & Tyne and T.E. Harrison via William Harrison, the Younger, wsho was T.E. Harrison's father
Hopkin, Dieter W. Reflections on the iconography of early railways. 342-54.
In 1990 the NRM purchased a blue and white earthenware jug decorated witha train of chaldron wagons hauled by a primitive locomotive possibly inspired by the Middleton Railway. In 1996 the NRM acquired a manuscript letter from Lerighton Dalrymple which concerned at early visit to the Middleton Railway in 1812. These images are compared with some well-known ones: that which appeared in the Leeds Mercury of 18 July 1812; George Walker's The costumes of Yorkshire (!814): The collier and Christ Church and the Coal Staith, Leeds published in London by J.T. Hinton in 1829. The last was engraved by T. Owen: the locomotive possibly had two chimneys and was located in the middle of the train. Another earthenware jug is in the Elton Collection at the Ironbridge Gorge Museum: this appears to show a square shed over the boiler, similar in height to the Dalrymple sketch and a double chimney similar to the engraving. Also considers work of Samuel Russell who appeared to produce accurate images of the North Midlands Railway.
Early Railways 2: papers from the Second International
Railway Conference; ed. M.J.T. Lewis. London: Newcomen Society,
Reviewed Harry Paar J. Rly Canal Hist. Soc., 2004, 34, 639.
Keynote address Divall, Colin : Beyond the history of early railways. 1-9
Trinder, Barrie Recent research on early Shropshire railways. 10-25
Roper, Robert Stephenson. Robert Stephenson, senior, 1788 - 1837 . 26-36
That is one of George Stephenson's brothers and his involvement in railway work at Stratford on the Stratford & Moreton Railway, the Nantlle Railway and on the Bolton & Leigh Railway. Includes a letter from Robert junior to "Dear Uncle"
Gwyn, David Artists, Chartists, railways and riots. 37-51
Reproduction of oil painting (on cover and endpapers) which hangs on the east staircase of the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff and shows two long coal trains each drawn by four horses on Samuiel Homfray's tramroad near Court y Bella. The tramroad was involved in Chartist riots in 1839, and the paper ends with Frith's The railway station to show that "social harmony was eventually restored.".
Hodgkins, David Success and failure in making the transition to a modern railway:the Liverpool & Manchester and the Cromford & High Peak 52-63.
Guy, Andy Early railways: some curiosities and conundrums 64-78
This puts up many "hares": comment on the William Hedley adhesion test carriage as illustrated in British Geological Survey Archives; and on the similarity of this to William Chapman's rope-making machine of about 1800. One of the difficulties with very early locomotives is that they sometimes had a protracted lives as stationary engines: The Trevithick Gateshead locomotive may have been used as a stationary engine until 1870. George Hardy's The Londonderry Railway was published by Goose in Norwich in 1973 (Ottley 12406 not in Norwich branch library), but further manuscript material is housed in the Beamish Museum which records the following: two locomotives were used in the construction of the Stanhope & Tyne Railway and that locomotives were constructed at the Stanhope & Tyne workshops in South Shields from 1852. A condensing locomotive was built at the Elswick works of W. Armstrong in 1848 (earlier than some otrher sources, but not Lowe quote for any locomotive manufacture by Armstrong). Thomas Dunn Marshall constructed a mechanical excavator to assist with the construction of the Brandling Junction Railway between 1836 and 1839. Thomas Wardropper greatly assisted with the relative success of the Stephenson locomotive supplied to Russia for the St Petersburg & Pavlosk railway in 1836: Wardropper's diary also notes that the other locomotives supplied by Hackworth, accompanied by his 16 year old son John Wesley Hackworth, and another by Cockerill experienced serious problems. Finally, Guy notes that William Strickland's Reports on canals, railways, roads... is well known, but a later report of 1838 reported on a loaomotive which purported to be for the Great Western (but does not appear to be one of the initial oddities!): illustration of locomotive with lion on smokebox p. 73...
Stokes, Winifred Who ran the early railways? The case of the Clarence. 79-92
Influence of the Loan Commissioners and London interests in the management, also the importance of the local Secretary and the relative insignificance of the engineer.
van Laun, John In search of the first all-iron edge rail . 93-101.
Lewis, M.J.T. Bar to fish-belly: the evolution of the cast-iron edge rail. 102-17.
Mountford, Colin E. Researching rope haulage - a case study: the Lambton Railway, 1800 - 1835. 118-33.
Bye, Sheila John Blenkinsop and the patent steam carriages. 134-48.
At the time, the fame and influence of John Blenkinsop's Machines was immense. Within three months of them being in regular use, the Rev William Turner was lecturing the Newcastle Literary and Philosophical Society on 'the moveable Steam Engine lately introduced in the colliery at Middleton, near Leeds. By 1814, Sir Richard Philips was suggesting that if a network of railways was built, the mail coaches could be 'impelled 15 miles an hour by Blenkinsop's steam-engine'; and a Leeds Mercury reader was suggesting the building of a full-scale railway from Leeds to Selby using the Blenkinsop system. By the early 1820s, Thomas Gray was portraying just how versatile a Blenkinsop steam railway might become, with passenger coaches, goods waggons and mail coaches. Travellers from abroad came to see the Machines, and their written accounts are an important source of firsthand information. Many of the visitors subsequently tried to persuade their own countrymen to build railways. Some of them advocated use of the Blenkinsop system though, by the early 1820s, the introduction of malleable iron rails was making adhesion locomotives commercially viable. George Stephenson saw the Kenton & Coxlodge Machine in September 1813, and was inspired to copy it extensively. His biographer, Samuel Smiles, claimed a haulage power of thirty tons for Stephenson's earliest locomotive:. Blenkinsop's Patent Steam Carriages, dismissed by Smiles as 'clumsier and less successful', regularly hauled one hundred tons, well over twenty times their own weight. When Walker and Rastrick arrived to observe them in January 1829, on behalf of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway Company, they saw one of the Machines haul thirty eight loaded waggons: a total load of around 140 tons including the Machine's own weight.Clumsy they might have been but, even after at least a decade and a half of unremitting hard work, John Blenkinsop's Patent Steam Carriages could still give a spectacular demonstration.
Crompton, John The Hedley mysteries. 149-64.
Author from National Museums of Scotland where Hedley's Wylam Dilly is a prime exhibit in the Royal Museum, Edinburgh. Sifts through existing information about William Hedley and his locomotives Lady Mary, Puffing Billy and Wylam Dilly. Includes a detailed examination of the boilers of the last two mentioned lcomotives, and the routes by which they were preserved..
Reynolds, Paul George Stephenson's 1819 Llansamlet locomotive. 165-76.
William and Sampson Sandys reported the sight of a steam locomotive working on Scott's Railway near Swansea in October 1819: the author attempts fairly successfully to show that George Stephenson was involved and supplied the locomotive with Robert Mills and Philip Maddison, both of whom originated in Killingworth.
Rees, Jim The Stephenson standard locomotive (1814--1825): a fresh appraisal. 177-201
draw attention to the inadequacy of our understanding of George Stephenson's locomotive engineering, despite the enormity of his standing in received history and as a cultural legend.
bring the existence of the Strickland model to wider awareness and hopefully to a closer examination.
establishment of a sound historiography of the Hetton Colliery locomotive it is a fine, rare and interesting survivor from an underrepresented period, but it is just not what it has been thought to be.
focus attention on Killingworth Billy, whatever it truly is, in the hope that it may be given the attention which it warrants and hopefully at some point a full archaeological examination.
Liffen, John The Patent Office Museum and the beginnings of railway locomotive preservation. 202-20.
Author employed by Science Museum. Patent Office Museum acquired its first two locomotives in 1862. Brompton Boilers. Involvement of the LNWR in transport of more than one exhibit. Specific locomotives: Puffing Billy, Rocket, Sans Pareil and John Hic's involvement in its preservation), and the Agenoria
Hills, Richard L. Richard Roberts' experiments on the friction of railway waggons. 221-31.
Gibbon, Richard and Richard Lamb: 'Running wi'. your breeks down': an investigation of coupling rod resistance in a four-coupled locomotive 232-40.
An attempt to establish moderately scientifically Patrick Stirling's claims for the reduced friction of single locomotives.
Maggi, Stefano An early railway in Tuscany: Follonica - Montebamboli 241-52.
MacDonald, Herb Reconsidering the origins of Canada's first locomotive-powered railway: the Champlain & St Lawrence, 1825 - 34. 253-76.
Early Railways 3: papers from the Third International Railway Conference; ed. Michael R. Bailey. Sudbury: Six Martlets, 2006.
Several of the papers relate to very early railways, that is long before Trevithick, and even long before iron rails.
Scott, Andrew. 'First' impressions some reflections on 2004, early railways' year of anniversaries: Keynote address. 3-7.
Lewis, M.J.T. Reflections on 1604. 8-22.
Early wooden waggonways, notably that organized by Huntingdon Beaumont to connect his coal pit at Wollaton, near Nottingham, to the River Trent, and those at Broseley in the Severn Gorge in Shropshire, and the subsequent spread of these technologies, especially to the North East. Also includes waggons (hund) on earlier systems in use in parts of Austria and Germany and imported into the Lake District, and later more advanced systems in Transylvania and Lower Hungary.
van Laun, John. New light on the wooden waggonways at Whitehaven harbour. 23-39.
Influence of Sir James Lowther (1674-1755) who encouraged Hennry Winship or Winshopp of Newcastle to develop a waggonway to replace packhorse transport from coal mines at HowGill, Saltom and Whingill to the improved harbour.
Goodchild, John. The Lake Lock Rail Road. 40-50.
In spite of the name it connected collieries near Flockton with the Aire near Stanley in what was the West Riding of Yorkshire, north of Wakefield.
Liffen, John. The iconography of the Wylam waggonway. 51-75.
Very important for images of the Puffing Billy and Wylam Dilly.
Mountford, Colin E. The Hetton Railway Stephenson's original design and its evolution. 76-95.
Worked by a mixture of inclines, with stationary engines (notably at Warden Law) and locomotives.
MacDonald, Herb. The Cape Breton waggonways of the General Mining Association, 1830-1855. 96-117.
Coulls, Anthony. The Corris, Machynlleth & River Dovey tramroad. 118-25.
Levitt, Alan M. How America discovered the railway. 126-52.
A paper in which it is difficult to follow the text for the weight of the footnotes: several methods are proposed, but William Strickland emeges as the major figure.
Withuhn, William L. Abandoning the Stourbridge Lion business decision-making, 1829: a new interpretation. 153-64.
Stokes, Winifred. The importance of the northeast viewers in the development of early railways and locomotives. 165-75.
Nicholas Wood, William Hedley and John Buddle are the key figures in locomotive development.
Ferguson, Niall. Anglo-Scottish transfer of railway technology in the 1830s. 176-90.
Rees, Jim and Guy, Andy. Richard Trevithick and pioneer locomotives. 191-220.
Darsley, Roger. Some considerations on the origins of the chaldron waggon in the northeast of England. 221-41.
Hills, Richard L. The development of machine tools in the early railway era. 242-59..
Stresses that stationary engines and the development of iron rails, as well as the development of steam
Gomersall, Helen. The Round Foundry of Leeds. 260-9.
Mainly interested in the buildings, including those which have survived.
Bailey, Michael R.. Restaging the Rainhill Trials, learning from replicas. 270-1.
Lamb, Richard. Something of a Novelty. 272-83.
Davidson, Peter and Glithero, John. Analysis of locomotive performance. 284-99.
2002 trials staged at Llangollen: The replica Rocket out-performed its rivals: the replicas of Sans Pareil and Novvelty.
Early Railways 4.
The Early Railways Conference 4 was held at University College, London in June 2008 as part of the Trevithick 200 celebrations.
John Liffen Trevithick Bicentenary Address Searching for Trevithicks London Railway of 1808.
Identified with some certainty the location of the site of the Catch-Me-Who-Can demonstration of 1808 (just off the Euston Road, a few hundred yards ftom the conference venue). The illustrations of this event attributed to Thomas Rowlandson appear to be fakes of a century later, but a genuine contemporary drawing (by J.C.Nattes) almost certainly shows the Hazledine boiler of the locomotive.
Chris Down, The Maltese cart ruts as railways: an experimental reconsideration. 30-47
Geoff Smith-Grogan, Rutways in Cornwall. 48-51
Warren Allison, Sam Murphy and Richard Smith. An early railway in the German mines of Caldbeck. 52-69.
excavation of the 16th-century Silvergill mine in Cumbria had revealed remnants identified as wooden rails
Peter King. The first Shropshire railways 70-84
Neil Clarke. John Wilkinson's railway at Willey. 85-90
Michael Messenger. Early railways in the South West. 91-106
Stephen Hughes. The emergence of the public railway in Wales. 107-24
140 miles of early public railways - the Swansea Canal tramroads
David Gwyn. What passes and endures: the early railway in Wales. 125-40
Sheila Bye. Regarding old rails: a Middleton Railway miscellany. 141-50
Robert Hartley. The Coleorton Railway. 151-66
Miles Macnair. The Central Junction Railway of 1820: a study in historical perspective. 167-76
Michael Lewis. Constructional and temporary railways. 177-91
Winifred Stokes. A City job: London shareholders of the Clarence railway. 192-205
Herb MacDonald. The Rideau waggonway that never was: rail vs canal in the defense of Canada, 1815-1825. 206-22
Rideau Waggonway in British Canada, notable in that it was supported by the Duke of Wellington, contrary to his usually perceived views on railroads
Roger Darsley. The Durban Bluff Railway and the early railway scene in South Africa. 223-31
Jim Rees. The 'Sans Pareil' model: a pivotal moment. 232-
Bailey, Michael and John Glithero. Turning a blind eye to Braddyll. 259
engine remains at Darlington recently known as Bradyll is almost certalnIy Nelson
Dieter Hopkin. Timothy Hackworth and the Soho Works, circa 1830-1850. 280
Guy, Andy, 'Just add boiling water': the elusive railway kettle, 1804-25. 302
lineside furnaces provided for preheating boiler water for the earliest locomotives, a virtually forgotten process
Niall Ferguson. Locomotives of the Dundee & Arbroath Railway, timely new evidence? 315.
notes on a longcase clock in Ferguson's possession decorated with contemporaneous illustrations of the Dundee & Arbroath Railway (RCHS Bulletin)
Colin Mountford. The Bank Top engine, Burnhope, Co. Durham. 320
Helen Gomersall and Andy Guy, A research agenda for early railways. 327-56.
Accompanying exhibition of which a highlight was a very early road
locomotive model likely to be by Trevithick himself, brought ftom the Straffen
Steam Museum in Ireland by Robert Guinness. It was also possible to view
the few contemporary illustrations of Trevithick locomotives. Railway
and Canal Historical Society Bulletin No. 415 (September/October 2008)
and RCHS website.
This book was seen at the NRM (albeit briefly) but is unlikely to be seen in the parched bibliographical desert of Norfolk and it may be a long time until KPJ escapes to a more literary landscape herewith what Roger Hennessey says in Backtrack October 2010.
Early railways 4. Graham Boyes. Six Martlets, RH *****
Here is an example of that which the academic wing of railway history can do best, particularly when couched in plain English. The text results from the Fourth International Early Railways Conference held in London, 2008 and sets high standards which might be emulated with profit in some other quarters. These include assertions based on the painstaking investigation of many primary sources; the judicious use of footnotes where they should be (ie at the bottom of the relevant page) and frank admissions, where appropriate, of dead ends or paths requiring further exploration.
These qualities are at the opposite end of the spectrum from mere opinionating, windy reminiscing, and the repeated taking-in of other secondary sources, not unknown in railway history. In addition to two appendices and a voluminous index, there is a helpful 'Research Agenda' for anyone interested in adding afresh to the field of early railways, an undogmatic set of suggestions about the scope and extent of the field, and particular lines of enquiry requiring attention.
The structure of the book is some 22 papers covering a wide, range of subjects all lying within the ambit of early railways. By no means all authors come from academia, although some who do, like Michael Lewis, will probably be well known to the eclectic tendency in railway history.
The work of these primary source detectives is impressive. The collection is set fair by the first paper by John Liffen on 'Searching for Trevithick's railway of 1808', surely the last word on the subjectat least pro tem, for good historians never rest. Liffen has discovered where it ran (South Murrell's field, near Euston), how it was reported on, and represented in art largely by fakes, it turns out, although a recent discovery may illustrate the locomotive boiler in question..
The Celts come rather well out of this and other papers. Papers by Geoff Smith-Grogan ('Rutways in Cornwall'), Michael Messenger ('Early Railways in the South West'), Stephen Hughes ('The Emergence of the Public Railway in Wales') and David Gwyn on the early railway in Wales suggest that the modern railway mechanical traction on fixed formation track was, of course, a Celtic invention, witness the names Trevithick and Pen-yDarren.
Still, it was the Geordies and other Northerners who raised all of this to the necessary high register and they are well represented here, for example in Bailey & Glithero 'Turning a Blind Eye to Braddyll', Jim Rees on a possible model of Hackworth's Sans Pareil and Winifred Stokes on the financing of the Clarence Railway. Further North we have a paper by Niall Ferguson, known to BT readers, 'Locomotives of the Dundee & Arbroath Railway - Timely New Evidence?' - a play upon words in that the evidence is a rare and unusual clock-face. The scope of the collection goes far beyond the UK, to Malta, Canada and South Africa.
Railway and other historians should be grateful, not only to the editor and authors, but also to the conference organisers and the subscribers who backed the enterprise. Alas, for all that it is priced steeply, although in mitigation one might add that it is solid value for money and has demonstrably advanced our knowledge and understanding of the dawn of a saga that runs from rutways to the maglev.
Early Railways 5.
John New. Wollaton or Broseley? - the gap narrows.
Peter King. Seventeenth century footrails: a confusion of terminology
Philip Ashforth. The Harrington waggonway & copperas works & Curwen collieries
Jim Longworth and Phil Rickard. Early Australian railed-ways: 1788-1855
R. Caldwell, D. Campbell and J. Brougham. Australia's first railway - an entrepreneural adaptation
Ian Carter and Ellen Carter. Space, time & early railways: oddities from the other end of the world
David Gwyn. Railways in Gwynedd 1759-1848
Derek Winstanley. Evolution of early railways in Winstanley, Orrell & Pemberston
Michael Messenger. Sources of finance for early Cornish railways
Peter Northover. Buying iron - the case of the Plymouth & Dartmoor railway
John Crompton. A Lancashire colliery railway in transition: the Haydock collieiy railways
Andy Guy. Missing links: some atypical early railways in Britain
Michael Lewis. Early passenger carriage by rail
Dieter Hopkin. William Brunton's walking engines & the Crich rail-road
Sheila Bye. As others saw us: some views of Salamanca
Grahame Boyes. Working the Peak Forest Railway: some revised interpretations
Fred Hartley. Early iron railways and plateways in Leicestershire
Tim Smith. Stoneways
Roland Paxton. The Bell Rock lighthouse railway
Dan McCarthy. Dalkey Quarry tramway
Robert Waterhouse. The Tavistock canal
Clare: Six Martlets.
Andy Guy and Jim Rees.
Early railways, 1569-1830. Oxford: Shire Publications. 2011. 56pp.
Produced in association with the National Railway Museum. Both authors are closely associated with the Early Railways series of conferences (this whole page), papers and proceedings and have been, or are, working with the National Railway and Beamish Museums. This booklet is beautifully produced, but the (mainly colour) illustrations are rather small. There is an index, but no bibliography as such, although some sources are cited. This is a beautiful little book.It has the Steam Elephant on the cover..