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220 TRIUMPH OF MR. STEPHENSON. Chap. XII.
to travel at the astonishing rate of thirty-five miles an hour.
The "Eooket " had thus eclipsed the performances of all locomotive engines that had yet been constructed, and outstripped even the sanguine anticipations of its constructors. Above all, it effectually answered the report of Messrs. Walker and Eastrick, and established the superiority of the locomotive for the working of the Liverpool and Manchester Eailway, and indeed all future railways. The success of the experiment, as judged by the public, may be inferred from the fact that the shares of the Company immediately rose ten per cent., and nothing further was heard of the proposed twenty-one fixed engines, engine.houses, ropes, &c. All this cumbersome apparatus had at once been effectually disposed of.
Very different now was the tone of those directors who had distinguished themselves by the persistency of their opposition to Mr. Stephenson's plans. Coolness gave way to eulogy, and hostility to unbounded offers of friendship; after the manner of many men who run to the help of the strongest. Deeply though he had felt aggrieved by the conduct pursued towards him during this eventful struggle, by some from whom forbearance was to have been expected, Mr. Stephenson never entertained towards them in after life any angry feelings; on the contrary, he forgave all. But though the directors afterwards passed unanimous resolutions eulogising "the great skill and unwearied energy" of their engineer, he himself, when speaking confidentially to those with whom he was most intimate, could not help distinguishing between his "foul-weather and fairweather friends."
Chap. XIII. COMPLETION OF THE RAILWAY. 221
Opening Op The Liverpool And Manchester Eailway, And Extension Of Railways From Lancashire To The Metropolis.
The directors of the Eailway now began to see daylight, and they derived encouragement from the skilful manner in which their engineer had overcome the principal difficulties of the undertaking. He had formed a solid road over Chat Moss, and thus achieved one " impossibility;" he had next constructed a locomotive that could run at a speed of thirty miles an hour, and thus overcome a second and even a still more formidable difficulty.
As promised by the engineer, a single line of way was completed over Chat Moss by the 1st of January, 1830; and on that day, the " Eocket " with a carriage full of directors, engineers, and their friends, passed along the greater part ofthe road between Liverpool and Manchester. The remaining works were now pushed on; in the mean time the coal traffic was commenced at different parts of the line; and Mr. Stephenson continued to direct his close attention to the improvement of the details of the locomotive, every successive trial of which proved more satisfactory. In this department, he had the benefit of the able and unremitting assistance of his son, who, in the workshops at Newcastle, directly superintended the construction of the new engines required for the public working of the railway. Mr. Stephenson did not by any means rest satisfied with the success, deoided though it was, which he had achieved in the construction of the "Eocket." He regarded it but in the light of a successful experiment; and every succeeding engine which he placed upon the railway exhibited some improvement upon its predecessors. The arrangement of 222 OPENING OF THE LIVERPOOL Chap. XIII.
the parts, and the weight and proportions of the engines, were altered, as the experience of each successive day, or week, or month, suggested; and it was soon found that the performances of the " Eocket " on the day of trial had been greatly within the powers of the locomotive.
The first entire trip between Liverpool and Manchester was performed on the 14th of June, 1830, on the occasion of a board meeting being held at the latter town. The train was on this occasion drawn by the "Arrow," one of the new locomotives, in which the most recent improvements had been adopted. Mr. Stephenson himself drove the engine, and Captain Scoresby, the circumpolar navigator, stood beside him on the foot-plate, and minuted the speed of the train. A great concourse of people assembled at both termini, as well as along the line, to witness the novel spectacle of a train of carriages dragged by an engine at a speed of seventeen miles an hour. On their arrival in Manchester within two hours, the directors were astonished as well as delighted; and they immediately proceeded to the house of Mr. Gilbert Winter, one of their number, and passed a resolution to this effect: "That the directors cannot allow this opportunity to pass without expressing their strong sense of the great skill and unwearied energy displayed by their engineer, Mr. George Stephenson, which has thus far brought this great national work to a successful termination, and which promises to be followed by results so beneficial to the country at large, and to the proprietors of this concern." On the return journey to Liverpool in the evening, the " Arrow " crossed Chat Moss at a speed of nearly twenty-seven miles an hour, reaching its destination in about an hour and a half.
At length the line was completed, and ready for the public ceremony of the opening, which took place on the 15th of September, 1830. This important event attracted a vast number of spectators from all parts of the country. Strong palings were erected for miles along the deep cuttings near Liverpool, to keep off the pressure of the multitude, and prevent them falling over in their eagerness to witness the Chap. XIII. AND MANCHESTER RAILWAY. 223
passing trains. Constables and soldiers were there in numbers to assist in keeping the line clear. The completion of the railway was justly regarded as an important national event, and the ceremony of the opening was celebrated accordingly. The Duke of Wellington, then Prime Minister, Sir Robert Peel, Secretary of State, Mr. Huskisson, one of the members for Liverpool, and an earnest supporter of the project from its commencement, were amongst the number of distinguished public personages present.
Eight locomotive engines constructed at the Stephenson works had been delivered and placed upon the line, the whole of which had been tried and tested, weeks before, with perfect success. The various trains of carriages accommodated in all about six hundred persons. The "Northumbrian" engine, driven by Mr. George Stephenson himself, headed the procession; then followed the " Phoenix," driven by Eobert Stephenson; the "North Star," by Eobert Stephenson, senior (brother of George); the "Eocket," by Joseph Locke; the "Dart," by Thomas L. Gooch; the "Comet," by William Allcard; the " Arrow," by Frederick Swanwick; and the " Meteor," by Anthony Harding. The procession was cheered in its progress by thousands of spectators— through the deep ravine of Olive Mount; up the Sutton incline; over the great Sankey viaduct, beneath which a multitude of persons had assembled,—carriages filling the narrow lanes, and barges crowding the river; the people below gazing with wonder and admiration at the trains which sped along the line, far above their heads, at the rate of some twenty-four miles an hour.
At Parkside, about seventeen miles from Liverpool, the engines stopped to take in water. Here a deplorable accident occurred to one of the most distinguished of the illustrious visitors present, which threw a deep shadow over the subsequent proceedings of the day. The " Northumbrian " engine, with the carriage containing the Duke of Wellington, was drawn up on one line, in order that the whole of the trains might pass in review before him and his party on the other. Mr. Huskisson had, unhappily, 224 DEATH OF MR. HUSKISSON. Chap. XIII.
alighted from the carriage, and was standing on the opposite road, along which the " Eocket" engine was observed rapidly coming up. At this moment the Duke of Wellington, between whom and Mr. Huskisson some coolness had existed, made a sign of recognition, and held out his hand. A hurried but friendly grasp was given; and before it was loosened there was a general cry from the bystanders of "Get in, get in!" Flurried and confused, Mr. Huskisso» endeavoured to get round the open door of the carriage, which projected over the opposite rail; but in so doing he was struck down by the " Eocket," and falling with his leg doubled across the rail, the limb was instantly crushed.' His first words, on being raised, were, "I have met my death," which unhappily proved too true, for he expired that same evening in the neighbouring parsonage of Eccles. It was cited at the time as a remarkable fact, that the "Northumbrian" engine conveyed the wounded body of the unfortunate gentleman a distance of about fifteen miles in twenty-five minutes, or at the rate of thirty-six miles an hour. This incredible speed burst upon the world with the effect of a new and unlooked-for phenomenon.
The lamentable accident threw a gloom over the rest of the day's proceedings. The Duke of Wellington and*Sir Eobert Peel expressed a wish that the procession should return to Liverpool. It was, however, represented to them that a vast concourse of people had assembled at Manchester to witness the arrival of the trains; that report would exaggerate the mischief, if they did not complete the journey; and that a false panic on that day might seriously affect future railway travelling and the value of the Company's property. The party consented accordingly to proceed to Manchester, but on the understanding that they should return as soon as possible, and refrain from further festivity.
It is scarcely necessary that we should here speak of the commercial results of the Liverpool and Manchester Eailway. Suffice it to say that its success was complete and decisive. The anticipations of its projectors were, however,