Page:Rivers, Canals, Railways of Great Britain.djvu/18

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xii
PREFACE

situation in the mine, they became a part of the machinery on the surface, making a communication between one mine and another, or between a series of mines and the place for depositing the minerals dug from them; as they became better understood, they were made more generally useful, till at last combined with inclined planes and other machinery connected therewith, they formed a communication not only between the mines and their depots, but also between these latter and the vessels, whereon the minerals were to be embarked for the purpose of conveyance to distant parts. Here the railway or tramroad appeared to have reached the extreme point of application, and here for several years it remained unaltered, except as to some trifling changes in the materials of which it was constructed, and the form into which those materials were shaped. But as the other branches of mechanical science became more extended, and particularly when the application of that powerful agent, Steam, became so generally practicable, a new era commenced with respect to railways and tramroads.

We believe we are correct in assigning to Mr. Treventhick, of Cornwall, the honour of first applying the steam engine to the propelling of loaded waggons on railways; his scheme was improved upon by Mr. John Blenkinsop, manager of the collieries at Middleton, near Leeds, belonging to the late Charles Brandling, Esquire, of Gosforth House, Northumberland, who obtained a patent for the construction of the railway, and the steam carriage thereon, which he immediately put in practice on the road from Middleton to the coal staith at Leeds, a distance of about four miles, on which road the coals for supplying that town are daily conveyed by steam. Since his application of the principle, most of our eminent engineers have turned their attention to the subject, and the consequence is, that in a few years we may expect travelling in steam carriages to be of as common occurrence as the conveyance of coal by the same means is now. The late experiments, made with the carriages of Messrs. Gurney, Stephenson, Errickson, Braithwaite, and other celebrated engineers, on the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, have proved with what speed the distance between different places may be traversed, and the numerous applications to parliament, for acts to legalize the construction of