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RAILWAY SYSTEM AND ITS RESULTS. 547
valuable as those nearer to the centres of consumption. Nor is this all. Railways, by facilitating the transit of artificial manures, enable the farmers of poor land to compete with those who till superior soils; thus tending still further to equalise the value of the land, and thereby giving increased employment to, and improving the condition of, all classes of the population.
People are too apt to think and talk of railways as mere machines, whereby the speed of conveyance from one point to another is increased. You have seen them to-night in other and more important points of view. Let us look at them in other phases.
As stimulating national industry, perhaps the most familiar illustration will be the hard-metal trade. Look at the boilerplate manufacture—comparatively insignificant before iron vessels and steam locomotion came into existence, and now one of the most important elements of the trade to which it appertains. Such is the extent of this branch of manufacture, that, extensive as they are, the iron-works are not even yet able to render the supply equal to the demand.
Again, before railways existed, the inland counties of England were unsupplied with fish from the coast. Now, fresh sea-fish enters into the consumption of almost every family of the middle class, in every considerable town. In the fish trade, indeed, railways have caused and are causing a prodigious revolution. Large fishing establishments have been formed at different parts of the east coast. Before the Norfolk railway was constructed, the conveyance of fish from Yarmouth to London was entirely conducted in light vans with post-horses, and was represented by a bulk of about 2,000 tons a year. At present 2,000 tons of fish are, not unfrequently, carried on the Norfolk railway, not in a year, but in a fortnight.
But perhaps there is no respect in which railways contribute so greatly to the public advantage as in the inland coal traffic; still in its infancy, but becoming most rapidly developed. The waggons which carry chalk from one county, return home laden with coals from another. Large reductions are being effected in the price of this prime necessary of life. Districts in which the peasantry, only a few years since, made their fires with a few scanty sticks gathered from a hedge, are now abundantly and cheaply supplied with the fuel which is so important to comfort
and civilisation. Railways have been already presented to you as public educators; here you have thera as agents of benevolence and ameliorators of the condition of the human race; for it may be safely said that there is no contribution to the social comfort of society equal to warmth. Comfort, indeed, implies warmth; and warmth, chemically considered, is an addition to the supply of food.
Before railways were brought into existence, the internal communication of this country was restricted by its physical circumstances. Canals, apparently, allow an infinite series of boats to pass along them; but it must bo borne in mind, that Nature opposes a practical limit to that description of transit. Every canal-boat has to pass a summit more or less abundantly supplied with water. Without a steam-engine at every lock, the extent of the traffic by this inland navigation must, therefore, be dependent upon the supply of water which can be commanded at the summits to be traversed. But, more than this, all canals are subject to the vicissitudes of dry seasons, which may occur at periods when the traffic is at a maximum, and to the frost of severe seasons, during which Nature may compel a total cessation of traffic for several weeks. In comparison with these difficulties, railway communication has none; and hitherto, whatever barriers Nature has opposed, Science has entirely surmounted.
Before concluding this address, I am desirous of adding a few words by way of practical application of the great subject we have been considering.
I have directed attention to our railway system as it is. I have endeavoured to show you the importance of that system, as regards the works which have been executed, the capital invested, and the multitudes to whom it gives employment. I have endeavoured to point out some of the defects of the system, and to indicate the causes from which those defects arise. I have shown you the magnitude and importance of the results attained, and that the system under which they have been achieved must inevitably be progressive. There is, however, a great duty still unperformed, which devolves less upon myself than upon you. It should be one of the most earnest efforts of Civil Engineers to improve and perfect this vast and comprehensive system.
It is not merely upon works of magnitude that your attention should be fixed: the railway system is so vast, that every item, RAILWAY SYSTEM AND ITS BESULT8. 549
however minute in itself, becomes of the greatest importance' when multiplied by the extent of work performed. You must consider that every farthing saved upon the train mileage of our country represents to the railways no less an aggregate than £80,000 per annum. This fact may help to realise to you how important it is that your attention should be directed carefully to every department of the railway system. The perfection of the permanent way, its maintenance in sound condition, the durability of materials of construction, the simplification and improvement of locomotives, the economy of fuel, — even the consumption of grease and cotton waste, — all these are items in which economical arrangements may be turned to the highest advantage.
There are other points which will, doubtless, suggest themselves to many who are present; and I can only say, for my own part, that nothing will afford me higher satisfaction, than to feel that any observations I have addressed to you may elicit practical suggestions for the improvement of the system with which my name, chiefly in consequence of my Father's works, is so intimately associated. For it is my great pride to remember, that whatever may have been done, and however extensive may have been my own connection with railway development, all I know and all I have done, is primarily due to the Parent whose memory I cherish and revere.
When I consider how intimately associated is the railway system with the profession to which I have the honour to belong — when I reflect, not only how much that system owes to the profession, but also how much the profession owes to railways, I cannot doubt that the Civil Engineers of England will fulfil their duty. For, looking around to-night, who can doubt that, whilst Railways owe their construction to Civil Engineers, they, in return, owe to railways a large proportion of that improved position, that increased intelligence, and that familiar knowledge of abstract science, which within the last twenty years, has so largely developed itself both within and without theso walls? Our business, from a craft, has become a profession; and that profession, I rejoice to say, is daily exhibiting itself, not only as one of increased importance, but also as one of increasing cordiality and co-operation. There was a time, amid the many exciting competitions occasioned by railway enterprise, when tho spirit of rivalry amongst tho Civil Engineers of England was carried so far as to occasion some feelings of estrangement. I am happy to think that those feelings have given way to more friendly and confidential relations amongst us all; that our intercourse is now characterised by mutual forbearance and conciliation; and that, if rivalry does exist, it is no longer entertained in an unbecoming spirit, but is an honourable competition in the path of enterprise, and for the fair rewards of successful skill. To this Institution, and to the opportunities afforded by these meetings, we are mainly indebted for this improved spirit.
Accidents in mines, 97. 133.
Babbage, Mr., on scientific culture, 147.
285. 291. 300.
Boilers (locomotive), 286.
Booth, Mr. Henry, 211. 289. 290. 494.
Bradshaw, Mr., 210. 216.
Biaithwaite, Mr., C.E., 296. 312. 322.
Brakesman at Callerton, 23; at Wil-
Brake, invention of railway, 411. 486.
Brandling, Messrs., 121. 429.
Bridges, railway, 517.
Bridgewater, Duke of, and canal, 63.
Broad gauge, 401. 442.
Bruce's school, Newcastle, 50. 151.
Brunei, Mr., C.E., 322. 399. 428.
Brunton's locomotive, 76.
Brusselton incline, 196. 198.
Brussels, railway celebration at, 457.
Buckland, Dr., 477.
Burrell, Mr., partnership with, 171.
Callerton, Black, 9. 23.
Canal opposition to railways, 210. 216.