Happy Birthday to Railroads

According to The Writer’s Almanac, September 27, 1825 was the beginning of the first steam-powered passenger railway service in England —

“It brought together the work of George Stephenson, builder of coal mine steam engines, and Edward Pease, who wanted to build a delivery system to bring coal to the market towns of Darlington and Stockton-on-Tees. Some Stockton businessmen advocated a canal system, but the other two towns on the line — Darlington and Yarm — both wanted a railway. Pease was planning to use horse-drawn coal wagons, however, until Stephenson informed him that a steam engine could pull a load 50 times greater than horses could manage. So a proposal for a railway line went before Parliament, and was thrown out twice. In 1821, supporters of the railway submitted a petition with 785 signatures, and the plan was finally approved. As an afterthought, the drafters of the official document added the permission to carry passengers on the train.

“The train’s inaugural journey went from Shildon to Stockton, with a top speed of 12 miles per hour. A man on horseback went before the train, carrying a banner that read Periculum privatum utilitas publica (“The private danger is the public good”). About 600 people were aboard, most of them riding in open coal cars. Dignitaries and rich backers rode in the sole passenger coach, which had been dubbed “The Experiment,” and which had been built at a cost of 80 pounds sterling. George Stephenson rode on the footplate. A brass band boarded the train at Yarm to complete the journey, where the first steam-powered passenger train was greeted with a 21-gun salute and “God Save the Queen.”

The Writer’s Almanac, September 27, 2017 ( https://writersalmanac.org/?utm_campaign=Writers+Almanac&utm_medium=email&utm_source=sfmc_&utm_content=).

The illustration is Opening of the Stockton and Darlington Railway, a watercolour painted in the 1880s by John Dobbin.  It was copied from the “Stockton and Darlington Railway entry on Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stockton_and_Darlington_Railway ).

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