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cHAP. xx.] THE RAILWAY NAVVY. 259

to be collected, before the mass of labour to be employed could be efficiently set in motion at the various points of the line. There were not at that time, as there are now, large contractors possessed of railway plant, capable of executing earthworks on a large scale. The first railway engineer had not only to contrive the plant, but to organise the labour, and direct it in person. The very labourers themselves had to be trained to their work by him; and it was on the Liverpool and Manchester line that Mr. Stephenson organised the staff of that formidable band of railway navvies, whose handiworks will be the wonder and admiration of succeeding generations. Looking at their gigantic traces, the men of some future age may be found ready to declare, of the engineer and of his workmen, “that there were giants in those days.” These navvies were men drawn by the attraction of good wages from all parts of the kingdom; and they were ready for any sort of rough work. Many of the labourers employed on the Liverpool line were Irish; others were from the Northumberland and Durham railways, where they had been accustomed to similar work; a few were from the Fen districts of Lincoln and Cambridge, where they had been trained to execute works of excavation and embankment; the best and most powerful came from the neighbouring hilly districts of Lancashire and Yorkshire, where men of the finest physical development in England are to be found; and some were drawn from the loose and unemployed population of the surrounding counties. Working together, eating, drinking, and sleeping together, and daily exposed to the same influences, they soon began to assume a distinct and well-defined character, strongly marking them from the population of the districts in which they laboured. Reckless alike of his life as of his earnings, the navvy worked hard and lived hard. For his lodging, a hut of turf would content him ;

but he required large quantities of flesh meat, and what remained of his wages was often spent in drink. With few or no domestic ties to bind him, or family affections to soften his nature, wanting in moral and religious training, and placed suddenly in the receipt of high wages, paid at unusually long intervals, the navvy shortly became distinguished by a sort of savage manners, which contrasted strangely with those of the surrounding population. His pay-night was often a saturnalia of riot and disorder, dreaded by the inhabitants of the quiet villages along the line of works. Yet these brawny labourers, with their powerful bones and muscles, ignorant and violent though they might be, were usually good-hearted fellows in the main,_frank and open-handed with their comrades, and ready to share their last penny with those in distress. As for their powers of endurance, probably no class of labourers in the world can compete with them : they have been toiled after in vain by French and German workmen, who have failed to justify the claim to be paid a similarly high rate of wages. Their pluck is wonderful, and their contempt for danger almost proverbial. Indeed the most dangerous sort of labour — such as working horse-barrow runs, in which accidents are of constant occurrence — has always been most in request amongst them, the danger seeming to be one of its chief recommendations. It was some time, however, before Mr. Stephenson could, out of the raw material of labourers attracted to the Liverpool and Manchester line, form an efficient body of workmen of this sort. The principal difficulty was experienced in pushing on the works connected with the formation of the tunnel under Liverpool, 2200 yards in length. The blasting and hewing of the rock was vigorously carried on night and day; and the engineer's practical experience in the collieries here proved of great use to him. Many obstacles had to be encountered

chap. xx.] DIFFICULTY IN FORMATION OF TUNNEL. 261

and overcome in the formation of the tunnel, the rock varying in hardness and texture at different parts. In some places the miners were deluged by water, which surged from the soft blue shale found at the lowest level of the tunnel. In other places, beds of wet sand were cut through; and there careful propping and pinning were necessary to prevent the roof from tumbling in, until the masonry to support it could be erected. On one occasion, while Mr. Stephenson was absent from Liverpool, a mass of loose moss-earth and sand fell from the roof, which had been insufficiently propped. The miners withdrew from the work; and on Mr. Stephenson's return, he found them in a refractory state, refusing to re-enter the tunnel. He induced them, however, by his example, to return to their labours; and when the roof had been secured, the work went on again as before. When there was danger, he was always ready to share it with the men; and gathering confidence from his fearlessness, they proceeded vigorously with the undertaking, boring and mining their way towards the light. By the end of 1828, the directors found they had expended 460,000l. on the works, and that they were still far from completion. They looked at the loss of interest on this large investment, and began to grumble at the delay. They desired to see their capital becoming productive; and in the spring of 1829, they urged the engineer to push on the works with increased vigour. Mr. Cropper, one of the directors, who took an active interest in their progress, said to him one day, “Now, George, thou must get on with the railway, and have it finished without further delay: thou must really have it ready for opening by the first day of January next.” “Consider the heavy character of the works, sir, and how much we have been delayed by the want of money, not to speak of the wetness of the weather: it is impossible.” “Impossible!” rejoined Cropper; “I wish I could get Napoleon to thee—he

would tell thee there is no such word as ‘impossible’ in the vocabulary.” “Tush!” exclaimed Stephenson, with warmth; “don’t speak to me about Napoleon! Give me men, money, and materials, and I will do what Napoleon couldn't do— drive a railroad from Liverpool to Manchester over Chat Moss | " And truly, the formation of a high road over that bottomless bog was, apparently, a far more difficult task than the hewing even of Napoleon's far-famed road across the Simplon. The directors had more than once been pressed by want of funds to meet the heavy expenditure. The country had scarcely yet recovered from the general panic and crash of 1825; and it was with difficulty that the calls could be raised from the shareholders. A loan of 100,000l. was obtained from the Exchequer Loan Commissioners in 1826; and in 1829 an Act was obtained enabling the company to raise further capital, to provide working plant for the railway. Two Acts were also obtained during the progress of the works, enabling deviations and alterations to be made, one to improve the curves and shorten the line near Rainhill, and the other to carry the line across the Irwell into the town of Manchester. Thanks to the energy of the engineer, the industry of his labourers, and the improved supply of money by the directors, the railway made rapid progress in the course of the year 1829. Double sets of labourers were employed on Chat Moss and at other points, in carrying on the works by night and day, the night shifts working by torch and fire-light; and at length, the work advancing at all points, the directors saw their way to the satisfactory completion of the undertaking. It may well be supposed that Mr. Stephenson's time was fully occupied in superintending the extensive and, for the most part, novel works connected with the railway, and that even his extraordinary powers of labour and endurance were

chap. xx.] ROUTINE OF HIS LIFE AT THIS TIME. 263

taxed to the utmost during the four years that they were in progress. Although he had able helpers in the young engineers whom he had selected to take charge of the different “lengths” of the line, every detail in the plans was directed and arranged by himself. Every bridge, from the simplest to the most complicated, including the then novel structure of the “skew bridge,” iron girders, siphons, fixed engines, the machinery for working the tunnel at the Liverpool end, had all to be thought out by his own head, and reduced to definite plans by his own hands. Besides all this, he had to design the working plant in anticipation of the opening of the railway. He planned the waggons, trucks, and carriages, and himself superintended their manufacture. The turntables, switches, crossings, and signals, in short, the entire structure and machinery of the line, from the turning of the first sod to the running of the first train of carriages upon the railway,+went on under his immediate supervision. He had no staff of experienced assistants, not even a staff of draughtsmen in his office,—but only a few young pupils learning their business; and frequently he was without even their help. The time of his engineering inspectors was fully occupied in the actual superintendence of the works at different parts of the line; and he directed all their more important operations in person. It was in the midst of this vast accumulation of work and responsibility that the battle of the locomotive engine had to be fought, a battle, not merely against material difficulties, but against the still more trying obstructions of deeply-rooted mistrust and prejudice on the part of a considerable minority of the directors. The usual routine of his life at this time — if routine it might be called — was, to rise" early, by sunrise in summer and before it in winter, and thus “break the back of the day's work” by mid-day. Before breakfast he would visit

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