« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
—slow though it was in those days—was regarded as something marvellous; a race actually came oft' between No. I. engine, the "Locomotion," and one of the stage
coaches travelling from Darlington to Stockton by the ordinary road; and it was regarded as a great triumph of mechanical skill that the locomotive reached Stockton first, beating the stage coach by about a hundred yards! The same engine continued in good working order in the year 1846, when it headed the railway procession on the opening of the Middlesborough and Eedcar Eailway, travelling at the rate of about fourteen miles an hour. This engine, the first that travelled upon the first public railway, has recently been placed upon a pedestal in front of the railway station at Darlington.
For some years, however, the principal haulage of the line was performed by horses. The inclination of the gra
Chap. VIII. SUCCESS OF THE LINE. 143
dients being towards the sea, this was perhaps the cheapest mode of traction, so long as the traffic was not very large. The horse drew the train along the level road, until, on reaching a descending gradient, down which the train ran by its own weight, the horse was unharnessed, and, when loose, he wheeled round to the other end of the waggons, to which a " dandy-cart" was attached, its bottom being only a few inches from the rail. Bringing his step into unison with the speed of the train, the horse leapt, nimbly into his place in this waggon, which was usually fitted with a well-filled hay-rack. Mr. Clephan relates the story of a sagacious grey horse, which was fertile in expedients when emergencies arose:—" On one occasion, perceiving that a train, which had run amain, must rush into his dandy-cart, he took a leap for life over the side and escaped. In a similar peril, a, leap over the side being impracticable, he sprung on to the coal waggon in front, and stood like an equestrian statue on a pedestal. But the time came, at last, when there was no escape; and the poor old grey was destroyed."
The details of the working were gradually perfected by experience, the projectors of the line being at first scarcely conscious of the importance and significance of the work which they had taken in hand, and little thinking that they were laying the foundation of a system which was yet to revolutionise the internal communications of the world, and confer the greatest blessings on mankind. It is important to note that the commercial results of the enterprise were considered satisfactory from the opening of the railway. Besides conferring a great public benefit upon the inhabitants of the district and throwing open entirely new markets for the almost boundless stores of coal found in the Bishop Auckland district, the profits derived from the traffic created by the railway enabled increasing dividends to be paid to those who had risked their capital in the undertaking, and thus held forth an encouragement to the projectors of railways generally, which was not without an important effect in stimulating the projection 144 TOWN OF MIDDLESBOROUGH. Chap. VIII.
of similar enterprises in other districts. These results, as displayed in the annual dividends, must have been eminently encouraging to the astute commercial men of Liverpool and Manchester, who were then engaged in the prosecution of their railway. Indeed, the commercial success of the Stockton and Darlington Company may be justly characterised as the turning-point of the railway system. With that practical illustration daily in sight of the public, it was no longer possible for Parliament to have prevented its eventual extension.
Before leaving the subject of the Stockton and Darlington Eailway, we cannot avoid alluding to one of its most remarkable and direct results—the creation of the town of Middlesborough-on-Tees. When the railway was opened in 1825, the site of this future metropolis of Cleveland was occupied by one solitary farm-house and its outbuildings. All round was pasture land or mud banks; scarcely another house was within sight. But when the coal export trade, fostered by the halfpenny maximum rate imposed by the legislature, seemed likely to attain a gigantic growth, and it was found that the accommodation furnished at Stockton was insufficient, Mr. Edward Pease, in 1829, joined by a few of his Quaker friends, bought about 500 or 600 acres of land, five miles lower down the river—the site of the modern Middlesborough—for the purpose of there forming a new seaport for the shipment of coals brought to the Tees by the railway. The line was accordingly shortly extended thither; docks were excavated; a town sprang up; churches, chapels, and schools were built, with a custom-house, mechanics' institute, banks, shipbuilding yards, and iron factories; and in a few years the port of Middlesborough became one of the most important on the northeast coast of England. In ten years a busy population of about 6000 persons (since swelled into 15,000) occupied the site of the original farmhouse. More recently, the discovery of vast stores of ironstone in the Cleveland Hills, close adjoining Middlesborough, has tended still more rapidly to augment the population and increase the com
TOWN OF MIDDLESBOROUGH.
mercial importance of the place. Iron furnaces are now blazing along the, vale of Cleveland; and new smelting works are rising up in all directions, fed by the railway, which brings to them their supplies of fuel from the Durham coal-fields.
It is pleasing to relate, in connexion with this great work—the Stockton and Darlington Eailway, projected by Edward Pease and executed by George Stephenson,—that afterwards, when Mr. Stephenson became a prosperous and a celebrated man, he did not forget the friend who had taken him by the hand, and helped him on in his early days. He always remembered Mr. Pease with gratitude and affection, and that gentleman, to the close of his life, was proud to exhibit a handsome gold watch, received as a gift from his celebrated protige, bearing these words :—" Esteem and gratitude: from George Stephenson to Edward Pease."
146 GROWTH OF TRADE IN SOUTH LANCASHIRE. Chap. IX.
Sdbvby Of The Liverpool And Manchester Bailway.
The rapid growth of trade and manufactures in South Lancashire, involving the necessity for largely increased means of transit, gave rise, about the year 1821, to the project of a tramroad between Liverpool and Manchester. The increase in the business between these towns during a few years had been something marvellous. In nine years, the quantity of raw cotton sent from the one town to the other had increased by fifty millions of pounds weight; and all other raw materials had increased in proportion. Around Manchester, hamlets had expanded into towns, and towns had assumed the dimensions of cities, the inhabitants of which were for the most part dependent for their means of subsistence upon the regularity of the supply of cotton from Liverpool. Up to this time the Duke of Bridgewater's Canal and the Irwell and Mersey Navigation had principally