The Liverpool and Manchester Railway.

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The Liverpool and Manchester Railway.

A great step forward, both in scale and technique, came with the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, opened in 1880; for it was, the directorate of this line which offered a prize of %pound;500 for the best locomotive, and so encouraged Stephenson to construct his famous "Rocket " - which was capable of a speed of 29 miles an hour with a load of seventeen tons.

With the opening of the Manchester and Liverpool Railway it became clear to most knowledgeable people that steam traction had come to stay and to develop.

But no one yet realized how fast and far that development was to go, or what it would mean.

The opposition from the ignorant, the conservative and the spokesmen of vested interests was formidable.

Each new railway company had to fight for the necessary Parliamentary authorization against canal interests afraid of losing their monopoly, land-owners fearing the effects of noise and fright on their cattle, noble lords defending the sanctity of their fox and pheasant coverts, and general panic-mongers who foretold for all future passengers, even if they were miraculously spared from fatal accidents, a certain death by apoplexy. The landed proprietors exacted fancy prices for their land and still more fantastic sums as "compensation"; and Parliamentary proceedings might cost as much as %pound;14,000 a mile. But the history of the coming of the railway age, from 1830 on, is one more of finance and State policy than of technique. In a sense, the year 1880 marks the end of a stage in the Industrial Revolution. Within three generations road and water transport had been revolutionized, a new and apparently unlimited source of power had been tapped, textiles, metallurgy and mining had multiplied their output many times, and factory production and machine methods had begun to spread to other industries. What was to come was chiefly an increase in speed and in scale with slow and often painful adjustment of political, social and financial institutions to meet the new conditions.


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The Stockton and Darlington Railway

In 1821 a number of business men interested in finding an outlet for South Durham coal formed a company to build a railway from Stockton to Darlington.

It might have been, in the upshot, no more important or successful than the Surrey Iron Railway; but by good luck or good judgment the engineer chosen for the line was George Stephenson, and Stephenson was a steam enthusiast.

He had already designed, constructed and successfully run for some years at the Killing-worth mines, a colliery locomotive which was, although still very primitive, an improvement on Trevithick's; and when the... see: The Stockton and Darlington Railway


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