The Stockton and Darlington Railway.

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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 line was opened in 1825 a replica of this machine drew the first train.

For some years the steam-drawn trains of the company, carrying goods only, and private horse-drawn traffic, shared the line between them; then the company, having acquired some better engines, bought out the private coach-owners and became sole carriers on their own line, both of goods and passengers The first railway in the modern sense had come into existence.

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The First Steamers

Across the Atlantic, too, on the Hudson River, there was launched in 1807 a first small and primitive paddle-wheel steamer, the Clermont, which found a British counterpart five years later in the Clyde-Wilt Comes, and in 1818 a hybrid cargo-boat, the Savannah, crossed the Atlantic partly under steam power and partly under sail.

But these three were comparatively distant fore-runners of the modern steamer.

In water as in land transport, the new power was only slowly feeling its way towards maturity.

... see: The First Steamers

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