"The Railway Service, its Exigencies, Provisions, and
Requirements." By W. F. Mills. London, 1867.
"Lives of the Engineers," vols. i. and ii.
Harleian MSS, vol. iii, 269.
"Six Months' Tour," vol. iii, p.
"Travels in England, Scotland and the Hebrides," vol.
"Railway Locomotion and Steam Navigation, their
Principles and Practice." By John Curr. London, 1847.
A curious account of this early project is to be
found in the library of the British Museum, under the name "Stevin,
The writer adds—"I believe he (Sir Humphry Mackworth)
is the first gentleman in this part of the world that hath set up
sailing engines on land, driven by the wind; not for any curiosity
or vain applause, but for real profit; whereby he could not fail of
Bishop Malkin's blessing on his undertakings, in case he were in a
capacity to bestow it. *"
See farther, "Lives of the Engineers, "vol. iv.,
Boulton and Watt, p. 182-4.
"Portfeuille du Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers,"
Livraison 1, p. 3.
This statement is made in "The Life of John Fitch,"
by Thompson Westcott, Philadelphia, 1857. Mr. Thompson there
states that the idea employing a steam-engine to propel carriages on
land occurred to John Fitch at a time when, he avers, "he was
altogether ignorant that a steam-engine had ever been invented!" (p.
120). Such a statement is calculated to damage the credibility
of the entire book, in which the invention of the steam-boat, as
well as of the screw propeller, is unhesitatingly claimed for John
Horne's "Memoirs of the Most Eminent American
Mechanics," New York, 1868, p. 76.
Weale's "Papers on Engineering," vol. i. "On the
Dredging Machine,'' p. 7.
Paper read by Henry Boaze, Esq., "On Captain
Trevithick's Adventures," at the Anniversary Meeting of September,
1817.—"Transactions of Royal Geological Society of Cornwall," vol.
On the 12th of August, 1831, by which time the
Liverpool and Manchester line was in full work, Trevithick appeared
as a witness before the select committee of the House of Commons on
the employment of steam-carriages on common roads. He said "he
had been abroad a good many years, and had had nothing to do with
steam-carriages until very lately. He had it now, however, in
contemplation to do a great deal on common roads, and, with that
view, had taken out a patent for an entirely new engine, the
arrangements in which were calculated to obviate all the
difficulties which had hitherto stood in the way of travelling on
A tradition exists in the family that Robert
Stephenson's father came across the Border on the loss of
considerable property. Miss Stephenson, the daughter of
Robert's third son, John, has stated that a suit was commenced for
recovery of the property, but was dropped for want of the requisite
means to prosecute it.
The family Bible of Robert and Mabel Stephenson,
which seems to have come into their possession in November, 1790,
contains the following record of the births of these children,
evidently written by one hand and at one time:
"A Rechester of the children belonging Robert and Mabel
"James Stepheson Was Born March the 4 day 1779
"George Stepheson Was Born June 9 day 1781
"Elender Stepheson Was Born April the 10 day 1784
"Robert Stepheson Was Born March the 10 day 1788
"John Stepheson Was Born November the 4 day 1789
"Ann Stepheson Was Born July the 19 day 1792."
Of the two daughters, Eleanor married Stephen Liddell, afterward
employed in the Locomotive Factory in Newcastle. Ann married
John Nixon, with whom she emigrated to the United States; she died
at Pittsburg in 1860. John Stephenson was accidentally killed
at the Locomotive Factory in January, 1831.
Father of Mr. Locke, M.P., the engineer. He afterward
removed to Barnsley, in Yorkshire.
The Stephenson Memorial Schools have since been
erected on the site of the old cottage at Willington Quay
represented in the engraving at the head of this chapter. A vignette
of the Memorial Schools will be found at the end of the volume.
No register was made of Robert Stephenson's birth,
and he himself was in doubt whether he was born in October,
November, or December. For instance, a dinner was given to him
by the contractors of the London and Birmingham Railway on the 16th
of November, 1839, that day being then supposed by his father to
have been his birthday. When preparing the "Life of George
Stephenson," Robert stated to the author that the 16th of December
was the correct day. But, after the book had passed through
four editions, he desired the date to be corrected to the 16th of
October, which, on the whole, he thought the right date, and it was
so altered accordingly.
The congregation in a church near Newcastle were one
Sunday morning plentifully powdered with chips from the white
ceiling of the church, which had been crept under, being
above an old mine. "It is only the pit a-creeping," said the
parish clerk, by way of encouragement to the people to remain.
But it would not do; for there was a sudden creep out of the
congregation. The clerk went at last, with a powdered head,
crying out, "It's only a creep."—"Our Coal-Fields and our
This incident was related by Robert Stephenson during
a voyage to the north of Scotland in 1857, when off Montrose, on
board his yacht Titania; and the reminiscence was immediately
communicated to the author by the late Mr. William Kell, of
Gateshead, who was present, at Mr. Stephenson's request, as being
worthy of insertion in his father's biography. Mr. George
Elliott, one of the most skilled coal-viewers in the North, was of
the party, and expressed his admiration at the ready skill with the
difficulty had been overcome, the expedient of the boot being then
unknown in the Northumberland and Durham mines. He
acknowledged it to be ''a wrinkle," adding that its application
would, in several instances within his own knowledge, have been of
great practical value.
As different versions have been given of this affair,
it may be mentioned that the above statement is made on the
authority of the late Robert Stephenson, and of George Stephenson
himself, as communicated by the latter to his friend Thomas L.
Gooch, C.E., who has kindly supplied the author with his memoranda
on the subject.
Speech at Newcastle, on the 18th of Jane, 1844, at
the meeting held in celebration of the opening of the Newcastle and
At one part of the road he was once pulled off his
donkey by some mischievous boys, and released by a young man named
James Burnet. Many years after, Burnet was taken on as a
workman at the Newcastle factory, probably owing his selection in
some measure to the above circumstance.
Robert Stephenson was, perhaps, prouder of this
little boyish experiment than he was of many of his subsequent
achievements. Not having been quite accurately stated in the
first edition of this book, Mr. Stephenson noted the correction for
the second, and wrote to the author (Sept. 18th, 1857) as follows:
"In the kite experiment, will you say that the copper wire was
insulated by a few feet of silk cord; without this, the experiment
can not be made."
Evidence given before the Select Committee on
Accidents in Mines, 1835.
The same fallacy seems long to have held its ground
in France; for M. Granier tells us that some time after the first of
George Stephenson's locomotives bad been placed on the Liverpool and
Manchester line, a model of one was exhibited before the Academy.
After it had been examined, a member of that learned body said,
smiling, "Yes, this is all very ingenious, no doubt, but
unfortunately the machine will never move. The wheels will
turn round and round in the same place."
John Steele was one of the many "born mechanics" of
the Northumberland district. When a boy at Colliery Dykes, his
native place, he was noted for his "turn for machinery." He
used to take his playfellows home to see and admire his imitations
of pit-engines. While a mere youth he lost his leg by an
accident; and those who remember him at Whinfield's speak of his
hopping about the locomotive, of which he was very proud, upon his
wooden leg. It was a great disappointment to him when Mr.
Blackett refused to take the engine. One day he took a friend
to look at it when reduced to its degraded office of blowing the
cupola bellows; and, referring to the cause of its rejection, he
observed that he was certain it would succeed, if made sufficiently
heavy. "Our master," he continued, "will not be at the expense
of following it up; but depend upon it the day will come when such
an engine will be fairly tried, and then it will be found to
answer." Steele was afterward extensively employed by the
British government in raising sunken ships; and later in life he
established engine-works at Rouen, where he made marine-engines for
the French government. He was unfortunately killed by the
explosion of an engine-boiler (with the safety-valve, of which
something had gone wrong) when on an experimental trip with one of
the steamers fitted up by himself, and on his way to England to
visit his family near Newcastle.
Thomas Gray, a native of Leeds, was an enthusiastic
believer in the new tractive power, and wherever he went he preached
up railways and Blenkinsop's locomotive. While he was living
at Brussels in 1816, a canal to Charleroi was under consideration,
on which he seized the opportunity of urging the superior merits of
a railway. When he returned to England in 1820, he wrote a
book upon the subject, entitled, "Observations on a General Iron
Railway," in which he strongly advocated the advantages of railways
generally, giving as a frontispiece to the book an engraving of
Blenkinsop's engine. And several years after the opening of
the Liverpool and Manchester Railway we find Thomas Gray, true to
his first love, urging in the ''Mechanic's Magazine" the superiority
of Blenkinsop's cogged wheel and rail over the smooth road and rail
of the modem railway.
Other machines with legs were patented in the
following year by Lewis Gompertz and by Thomas Tindall. In
Tindall's specification it is provided that the power of the engine
is to be assisted by a horizontal windmill; and the four
pushers, or legs, are to be caused to come successively in contact
with the ground, and impel the carriage.
Mr. Hedley took out a patent to secure his invention,
dated the 13th of March, 1813. Specification No. 3666. If it
be true, as alleged, that the wheels of Trevithick's first
locomotive were smooth, it seems strange that the fallacy should
ever have existed.
By the year 1825, the progress made on the Wylam
Railroad was thus described by Mr. Mackenzie in the "History of
Northumberland;" "A stranger," said he, "is struck with surprise and
astonishment on seeing a locomotive engine moving majestically along
the road at the rate of four or five miles an hour, drawing along
from ten to fourteen loaded wagons, weighing about 21½ tons; and his
surprise is increased on witnessing the extraordinary facility with
which the engine is managed. This invention is a noble triumph
At the Stephenson Memorial meeting at
Newcastle-on-Tyne, 26th of October, 1858, Mr. Hugh Taylor, chairman
of the Northern Coal-owners, gave the following account of one of
such visits made by Stephenson to Wylam, in the company of Mr.
Nicholas Wood and himself: "It was, I think, in 1812, that Mr.
Stephenson and Mr. Wood came to my house, then at Newburn, and after
we had dined, we went and examined the locomotive then on Mr.
Blackett's wagon-way. At that early date it went by a sort of
cog-wheel; there was also something of a chain to it. There
was no idea that the machine would be sufficiently adhesive to the
rails by the action of its own weight; but I remember a man going
before—that was after the chain was abrogated—and scattering ashes
on the rails, in order to give it adhesiveness, and two or three
miles an hour was about the rate of progress."
Speech at the opening of the Newcastle and Darlington
Railway, June 18,1844.
It must, however, be mentioned that Mr. Zerah
Colburn, in his excellent work on "Locomotive Engineering and the
Mechanism of Railways," points out that Mr. Davies Gilbert noted the
effect of the discharge of the waste steam up the chimney of
Trevithick's engine in increasing the draught, and wrote a letter to
"Nicholson's Journal" (Sept, 1805) on the subject; and Mr. Nicholson
himself proceeded to investigate the subject, and in 1806 he took
out a patent for "steam-blasting apparatus," applicable to fixed
engines, which, however, does not seem to have come into use. (See
Nicholas Wood, "Practical Treatise on Railways" ed.
1825, p. 147.
Ibid., p. 292-3.
Nicholas Wood, "Practical Treatise on Railways" ed.
1825, p. 294. These passages will be found in the first
edition of Mr. Wood's work, published in 1825. The subsequent
editions do not contain them. A few years' experience wrought
great changes of opinion on many points connected with the practical
working of railways, and Mr. Wood altered his text accordingly.
But it is most important for our present purpose to note that, in
the year 1825, long before the Liverpool and Manchester line opened,
Mr. Wood should have so clearly described the steam-blast, which had
been in regular use for more than ten years in all Stephenson's
locomotives employed in the working of the Killingworth railway.
Evidence given by George Stephenson before the Select
Committee on Accidents in Mines, 26th June, 1835.
The accuracy of the above statement having been
called in question, it is proper to state that the facts as set
forth were verbally communicated to the author in the first place by
Robert Stephenson, to whom the chapter was afterward read in MS. in
the presence of Mr. Sopwith, F.R.S., and received his entire
approval. But at the time at which Mr. Stephenson communicated
the verbal information, he also handed a little book with his name
written in it, still in the author's possession, saying, "Read that;
you will find it all there." This little book contains, among
other things, a pamphlet, entitled "Report on the Claims of Mr.
George Stephenson relative to the Invention of his Safety-lamp.
By the Committee appointed at a Meeting holden in Newcastle, on the
1st of November, 1817. With an Appendix containing the
Evidence." Among the witnesses examined were George
Stephenson, Nicholas Wood, and John Moodie, and their evidence is
given in the pamphlet. Stephenson said that he tried the first
lamp "in a part of the mine where the air was highly explosive.
Nicholas Wood and John Moodie were his companions when the trial was
made. They became frightened when they came within hearing of
the blower, and would not go any further. Mr. Stephenson went
alone with the lamp to the mouth of the blower," etc. This
evidence was confirmed by John Moodie, who said the air of the place
where the equipment was about to be tried was such, that, if a
lighted candle had been introduced, an explosion would have taken
place that would have been "extremely dangerous." "Told
Stephenson it was foul, and hinted at the danger; nevertheless
Stephenson would try the lamp, confiding in its safety.
Stephenson took the lamp and went with it into the place in which
Moodie had been, and Moodie and Wood, apprehensive of the danger,
retired to a greater distance," etc. The accuracy of the other
statements made in the text relative to the invention of the
safety-lamp is confirmed by the same publication.
The early connection of Robert with the Philosophical
and Literary Society of Newcastle had brought him into communication
with the Rev. William Turner, one of the secretaries of the
institution. That gentleman was always ready to assist the
inquirer after knowledge, and took an early interest in the studious
youth from Killingworth, with whose father he also became
acquainted. Mr. Turner cheerfully helped them in their joint
inquiries, and excited while he endeavoured to satisfy their thirst
for scientific information. Toward the close of his life Mr.
Stephenson often spoke of the gratitude and esteem he felt toward
his revered instructor. "Mr. Turner," he said, "was always
ready to assist me with books, with instruments, and with counsel,
gratuitously and cheerfully. He gave me the most valuable
assistance and instruction, and to my dying day I can never forget
the obligations which I owe to my venerable friend."
"A Description of the Safety-lamp, invented by George
Stephenson, and now in use in the Killingworth Colliery."
The committee, in their report, after setting forth
in a tabular form the dates at which Stephenson and Davy verified
their theories by experiments, and brought out their respective
safety-lamps, proceeded to say: "The friends of Mr. Stephenson, with
this table before them, conceive their resolution to be fully borne
out by the testimony of dates and facts, so far as they are known;
and without the slightest idea or wish of detracting from the
scientific fame, honour, or veracity of Sir Humphry Davy, they would
repeat, and confine themselves to the simple assertion of their
belief, that Mr. Stephenson was the first to construct a lamp upon
the principle in question. And when the friends of Mr.
Stephenson remember the humble and laborious station of life which
he has occupied; when they consider the scanty means and
opportunities which he has had for pursuing researches in practical
science, and look to the improvements and discoveries which,
notwithstanding so many disadvantages, he has been enabled to make
by the judicious and unremitting exercise of the energy and
acuteness of his natural understanding, they can not persuade
themselves that they have said any thing more than any liberal and
feeling mind would most readily admit."
The tankard bore the following inscription: "This
piece of plate, purchased with a part of the sum of £1,000, a
subscription raised for the remuneration of Mr. GEORGE
STEPHENSON for having
discovered the fact that inflamed fire-damp will not pass through
tubes and apertures of small dimensions, and having been the first
to apply that principle in the construction of a safety-lamp
calculated for the preservation of human life in situations formerly
of the greatest danger, was presented to him at a meeting of the
subscribers, Charles John Brandling, Esq., in the chair, January
The accident above referred to was described in the
"Barnsley Times," a copy of which, containing the account, Robert
Stephenson forwarded to the author, with the observation that ''it
is evidently written by a practical miner, and is, I think, worthy
of record in my father's Life." Mr. John Browne, C.E.,
Barnsley, in a communication which appeared in the "Times" of
December 24th, 1860, observed:
"At the period of this occurrence we had two kinds of
safety-lamps in use in this pit, viz., 'Davy' and 'Stephenson,' and
the gas, in going off to the upcast shaft, had to pass great numbers
of men, who were at work with both kinds of lamps. The whole
of the 'Davy's' became red-hot almost instantaneously from the rapid
ignition of the gas within the gauze; the 'Stephenson's' were as
instantly self-extinguished from the same cause, it being the
prominent qualification of these lamps that, in addition to
affording a somewhat better light than the 'Davy' lamp, they are
suddenly extinguished when placed within a highly explosive
atmosphere, so that no person can remain working and run the risk of
his lamp becoming red-hot, which, under such circumstances, would be
the result with the 'Davy' lamp.
"The red-hot lamps were, most fortunately, all safely put
out, although the men in many cases had their hands severely burnt
by the gauze; but from that time I fully resolved to adopt the
exclusive use of the 'Stephenson' lamps, and not expose men to the
fearful risk they must run from working with 'Davy' lamps during the
probable recurrence of a similar event.
''I may remark that the 'Stephenson' lamp, originally
invented by the great George Stephenson, in its present shape
combines the merits of his discovery with that of Sir Humphry Davy,
constituting, to my mind, the safest lamp at present known, and I
speak from the long use of many hundreds daily in various
In an account given in the ''Times" of the 10th of August,
1867, of a number of experiments made upon different safety-lamps at
the Barnsley Gas-works, occasioned by the terrible explosion at the
Lund Hill Colliery, it is stated that the different lamps were
tested with the following results: ''The 'Davy' lamp with no shield
on the outside exploded the gas in six seconds, and with the shield
inside the gauze in nine seconds. The 'Belgian' lamp exploded
in ten seconds; the 'Mozard' in ten seconds; the small 'Clanny' in
seven seconds, the large one in ten seconds; and the 'Stephenson' in
seventy-five seconds. Although the 'Stephenson' is undoubtedly
the best, it will be seen that none of the so-called safety-lamps
can be depended upon when coming in contact with a strong
explosive current of fire-damp and air."
The iron wheels of this engine were afterward
removed, and replaced with wooden wheels, when it was again put upon
the road, and continued working until quite recently. Its
original cost was £750. It was sold in 1848 for £13, and
broken up as old materials.
The act for constructing the Merthyr Tydvil Tram-road
was obtained from Parliament as early as 1794; that for the
Sirhoway Railroad in 1801; the Carmarthenshire Railroad was
sanctioned in the same year; and the Oystermonth Railway in 1803.
Mr. Richardson was founder of the afterward
well-known discount-house of Richardson, Overend, and Gurney,
Lombard Street, London.
The first clause in any railway act empowering the
employment of locomotive engines for the working of passenger
This incident, communicated to the author by the late
Edward Pease, has since been made the subject of a fine picture by
Mr. A. Rankley, A.R.A., exhibited at the Royal Academy Exhibition of
Stephenson's recommendation of wrought-iron instead
of cast-iron rails was the cause of a rupture between Mr. Losh and
himself. Stephenson thought his duty was to give his employers
the best advice; Losh thought his business was to push the patent
cast-iron rails wherever he could. Stephenson regarded this view as
sordid; and the two finally separated after a quarrel, in high
dudgeon with each other.
The rapid progress of the coal and merchandise
traffic of the Stockton and Darlington line, of which Middlesbro' is
the principal sea-port, may be inferred from the following brief
statement of facts: The original estimate assumed that 165,488 tons
of coal would be carried annually, and produce an income of £11,904.
The revenue from other sources was taken at £4104. In 1827,
the first year in which the coal and merchandise traffic was fully
worked, the revenue from coal was £14,455; from lime, merchandise,
and sundries, £3285; and from passengers (which had not been taken
into account}, £563. In 1860, when the original line of 25
miles had become extended to 125 miles, and the original capital of
£150,000 had swelled to £3,800,000, the quantity of coal carried had
increased to 3,045,596 tons in the year, besides 1,484,409 tons of
ironstone and other minerals, producing a revenue of £280,375; while
1,484,409 tons of merchandise had been carried in the same year,
producing £63,478, and 687,728 passengers, producing £45,898.
The coaches were not allowed to be run upon the line
without considerable opposition. We find Edward Pease writing
to Joseph Sandars of Liverpool, on the 18th of June, 1837: "Our
railway coach proprietors have individually received notices of a
process in the Exchequer for various fines, to the amount of £150,
in penalties of £20 each, for neglecting to have the plates, with
the numbers of their licenses, on the coach doors, agreeably to the
provision of the Act 95 George IV. In looking into the nature
of this proceeding and its consequences, it is clear, if the court
shall confirm it by conviction that we are undone as to the
conveyance of passengers." Mr. Pease incidentally mentions the
names of the several coach proprietors at the time—"Pickersgill and
Co., Richard Scott, and Martha Hewson." The proceeding was
eventually defeated, it being decided that the penalties only
applied to coaches travelling on common or turnpike roads.
Many years ago I met in a public library with a bulky
volume, consisting of the prospectuses of various projects bound up
together, and labelled, 'Some of the Bubbles of 1825.' Among
the projects thus described was one that has since been productive
of the greatest and most rapid advance in the social condition of
mankind effected since the first dawn of civilization: it was the
plan of the company for constructing a railway between Liverpool and
Manchester."—W. B. Hodge, in "Journal of the Institute of
Actuaries," No. 40, July, 1860.
"Wood on Railroads," ed. 1825, p. 290.
George's Northumberland "burr" was so strong that it
rendered him almost unintelligible to persons who were unfamiliar
with it; and he had even thoughts of going to school again, for the
purpose, if possible, of getting rid of it. In the year 1823,
when Stephenson was forty-two years of age, we find his friend
Thomas Richardson, of Lombard Street, writing to Samuel
Thoroughgood, a schoolmaster at Peckham, as follows: "DEAR
FRIEND,—My friend George
Stephenson, a man of first-rate abilities as an engineer, but of
little or no education, wants to consult thee or some other person
to see if he can not improve himself—he has so much Northumberland
dialect, etc. He will be at my house on sixth day next, about
five o'clock, if thou could make it convenient to see him. Thy
assured friend, THOS. RICHARDSON."
Hugh Steele and Elijah Galloway afterward proceeded
with the survey at one part of the line, and Messrs. Oliver and
Blackett at another. The former couple seem to have made some
grievous blunder in the levels on Chat Moss, and the circumstance
weighed so heavily on Steele's mind that, shortly after hearing of
the rejection of the bill, he committed suicide in Stephenson's
office at Newcastle. Gooch informs us that this unhappy affair
served to impress upon the minds of Stephenson's other pupils the
necessity of insuring greater accuracy and attention in future, and
that the lesson, though sad, was not lost upon them.
When the Liverpool directors went to inspect the
works in progress on the Moss, they were run along the temporary
rails in the little three-feet gauge wagons used for forming the
road. They were being thus impelled one day at considerable
speed when the wagon suddenly ran off the road, and Mr. Moss, one of
the directors, was thrown out in a soft place, from which, however,
he was speedily extricated, not without leaving a deep mark.
George used afterward laughingly to refer to the circumstance as
"the meeting of the Mosses."
Mr. Gooch's letter to the author, December 13th,
1861. Referring to the preparation of the plans and drawings,
Mr. Gooch adds, "When we consider the extensive sets of drawings
which most engineers have since found it right to adopt in carrying
out similar works, it is not the least surprising feature in George
Stephenson's early professional career that he should have been able
to confine himself to so limited a number as that which could be
supplied by the hands of one person in carrying out the construction
of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway; and this may still be said,
after full allowance is made for the alteration of system involved
by the adoption of the large contract system."
While at Liverpool Stephenson had very little time
for "company;" but on one particular occasion he invited his friend
Mr. Sandars to dinner, and, as that gentleman was a connoisseur in
port wine, his host determined to give him a special treat of that
drink. Stephenson accordingly went to the small merchant with
whom he usually dealt, and ordered "half a dozen of his very best
port wine," which was promised of first-rate quality. After
dinner the wine was produced; and when Mr. Sandars had sipped a
glass, George, after waiting a little for the expected eulogium, at
length asked, "Well, Sandars, how d'ye like the port?" "Poor stuff!"
said the guest, "poor stuff!" George was very much shocked,
and with difficulty recovered his good humour. But he lived to
be able to treat Mr. Sandars to a better article at Tapton House,
when he used to laugh over his first futile attempt at Liverpool to
gain a reputation for his port.
Letter to the author.
Letter to Mr. Illingworth, September 25th, 1825.
The reports made to the directors and officers of the company, which
we have seen, contain the details of the operations carried on at
the mines, but they are as dry and uninteresting as such reports
usually are, and furnish no materials calculated to illustrate the
subject of the text.
In a letter to Mr. Illingworth, then resident at
Bogotá, dated the 24th of March, 1826, Robert wrote as follows:
"Nothing but the fullest consent of my partners in England could
induce me to stay in this country, and the assurance that no
absolute necessity existed to call me home. I must also have
the consent of my father. I know that he must have suffered
severely from my absence, but that having been extended so far
beyond the period he was led to expect, may have induced him to
curtail his plans, which, had they been accomplished, as they would
have been by my assistance, would have placed us both in a situation
far superior to any thing that I can hope for as the servant of an
association however wealthy and liberal. What I might do in
England is perhaps known to myself only; it is difficult, therefore,
for the association to calculate upon rewarding me to the full
extent of my prospects at home. My prosperity is involved in
that of my father, whose property was sacrificed in laying the
foundations of an establishment for me; his capital being invested
in a concern which requires the greatest attention, and which, with
our personal superintendence, could not fail to secure that
independence which forms so principally the object of all our toil."
Mr. Booth's Account, p.70-1. While concurring
with Mr. Rastrick in recommending "the stationary reciprocating
system as the best" if it was the directors' intention to make the
line complete at once, so as to accommodate the traffic expected by
them, or a quantity approaching to it (i.e., 3750 tons of goods and
passengers from Liverpool toward Manchester, and 3950 tons from
Manchester toward Liverpool), Mr. Walker added, "but if any
circumstances should induce the directors to proceed by degrees, and
to proportion the power of conveyance to the demand, then we
recommend locomotive engines upon the line generally; and two fixed
engines upon Rainhill and Sutton planes, to draw up the locomotive
engines as well as the goods and carriages;" and "if on any occasion
the trade should get beyond the supply of locomotives, the horse
might form a temporary substitute." As, however, it was the
directors' determination, with a view to the success of their
experiment, to open the line complete for working, they felt that it
would be unadvisable to adopt this partial experiment; and it was
still left for them to decide whether they would adopt or not the
substantial recommendation of the reporting engineers in favour of
the stationary-engine system for the complete accommodation of the
The arguments used by Mr. Stephenson with the
directors in favour of the locomotive engine were afterward
collected and published in 1830 by Robert Stephenson and Joseph
Locke, as "compiled from the Reports of Mr. George Stephenson."
The Pamphlet was entitled "Observations on the Comparative Merits of
Locomotive and Fixed Engines." Robert Stephenson, speaking of
the authorship many years after, said, "I believe I furnished the
facts and the arguments, and Locke put them into shape. Locke
was a very flowery writer, whereas my style was rather bald and
unattractive; so he was the editor of the pamphlet, which excited a
good deal of attention among engineers at the time."
The conditions were these:
1. The engine must effectually consume its own smoke.
2. The engine, if of six tons' weight, must be able to draw after
it, day by day, twenty tons' weight (including the tender and
water-tank) at ten miles an hour, with a pressure of steam on the
boiler not exceeding fifty pounds to the square inch.
3. The boiler must have two safety valves, neither of which must be
fastened down, and one of them be completely out of the control of
4. The engine and boiler must be supported on springs, and rest on
six wheels, the height of the whole not exceeding fifteen feet to
the top of the chimney.
5. The engine, with water, must not weigh more than six tons; but an
engine of less weight would be preferred on its drawing a
proportionate load behind it ; if of only four and a half tons, then
it might be put on only four wheels. The company to be at
liberty to test the boiler, etc., by a pressure of one hundred and
fifty pounds to the square inch.
6. A mercurial gauge must be affixed to the machine, showing the
steam pressure above forty-five pounds per square inch.
7. The engine must be delivered, complete and ready for trial, at
the Liverpool end of the railway, not later than the 1st of October,
8. The price of the engine must not exceed £550.
Many persons of influence declared
the conditions published by the directors of the railway chimerical
in the extreme. One gentleman of some eminence in Liverpool,
Mr. P. Ewart, who afterward filled the office of Government
Inspector of Post-office Steam Packets, declared that only a parcel
of charlatans would ever have issued such a set of conditions; that
it had been proved to be impossible to make a locomotive engine go
at ten miles an hour; but if it ever was done, he would undertake to
eat a stewed engine-wheel for his breakfast!
Some correspondence took place between Boulton and
Watt on the subject, when the latter was scheming the application of
the steam-engine to locomotive purposes. In a letter to
Boulton, dated the 27th of August, 1784, Watt said, "Perhaps some
means may be hit upon to make the boiler cylindrical with a
number of tubes passing through, like the organ-pipe condenser,
whereby it might be thinner and lighter ; but," he added, "I fear
this would be too subject to accidents."
The inventor of this engine was a Swede, who
afterward proceeded to United States, and there achieved
considerable distinction as an engineer. His caloric engine
has so far proved a failure, but his iron cupola vessel, the
"Monitor," must be admitted to have been a remarkable success in its
Mr. Wood's speech at Newcastle, 26th of October,
When heavier and more powerful engines were brought
upon the road, the old "Rocket," becoming regarded as a thing of no
value, was sold in 1837. It was purchased by Mr. Thompson, of
Kirkhouse, the lessee of the Earl of Carlisle's coal and lime works,
near Carlisle. He worked the engine on the Midgeholme Railway
for five or six years, during which it hauled coals from the pits to
the town. There was wonderful vitality in the old engine, as
the following circumstance proves. When the great contest for
the representation of East Cumberland took place, and Sir James
Graham was superseded by Major Aglionby, the "Rocket" was employed
to convey the Alston express with the state of the poll from
Midgeholme to Kirkhouse. On that occasion the engine was
driven by Mr. Mark Thompson, and it ran the distance of upward of
four miles in four and a half minutes, thus reaching a speed of
nearly sixty miles an hour, proving its still admirable qualities as
an engine. But again it was superseded by heavier engines; for
it only weighed about four tons, whereas the new engines were at
least three times that weight. The "Rocket" was consequently
laid up in ordinary in the yard at Kirkhouse, from whence it has
since been transferred to the Museum of Patents at Kensington, where
it is still to be seen. [Ed.―now the Science Museum, London, where
the "Rocket" exists much rebuilt from its appearance at the Rainhill
Ed.―the following explanation of the steam
road carriage illustration is additional material to Smiles's
Explanation of the References:
1. The Guide and Engineer, to whom the whole
management of the machinery and conduct of the carriage is intrusted.
Besides this man, a guard will be employed.
2. The handle which guides the Pole and Pilot Wheels.
3. The Pilot Wheels.
4. The Pole.
5. The Fore Boot, for luggage.
6. The "Throttle Valve" of the main steam-pipe, which, by means of
the handle, is opened or closed at pleasure, the power of the steam
and the progress of the carriage being thereby regulated from 1 to
10 or 20 miles per hour.
7. The Tank for Water, running from end to end, and the full breadth
of the carriage; it will contain 60 gallons of water.
8. The Carriage, capable of holding six inside-passengers.
9. Outside Passengers, of which the present carriage will carry 15.
10. The Hind Boot, containing the Boiler and Furnace. The Boiler is
incased with sheet-iron, and between the pipes the coke and charcoal
are put, the front being closed in the ordinary way with an iron
door. The pipes extend from the cylindrical reservoir of water at
the bottom to the cylindrical chamber for steam at the top, forming
a succession of lines something like a horse-shoe, turned edgeways.
The steam enters the "separators" through large pipes, which are
observable on the Plan, and is thence conducted to its proper
11. "Separators," in which the steam is separated from the water,
the water descending and returning to the boiler, while the steam
ascends, and is forced into the steam-pipes or main arteries of the
12. The Pump, by which the water is pumped from the tank, by means
of a flexible hose, to the reservoir, communicating with the boiler.
13. The Main Steam Pipe, descending from the "separators," and
proceeding in a direct line under the body of the coach to the
"throttle valve" (No. 6,) and thence, under the tank, to the
cylinders from which the pistons work.
14. Flues of the Furnace, from which there is no smoke, coke and
charcoal being used.
15. The Perches, of which there are three, conjoined, to support the
16. The Cylinders. There is one between each perch.
17. Valve Motion, admitting steam alternately to each side of the
18. Cranks, operating on the axle: at the ends of the axle are
crotches (No. 21,) which, as the axle turns round, catch projecting
pieces of iron on the boxes of the wheels, and give them the
rotatory motion. The hind wheels only are thus operated upon.
19. Propellers, which, as the carriage ascends a hill, are set in
motion, and move like the hind legs of a horse, catching the ground,
and then forcing the machine forward, increasing the rapidity of its
motion, and assisting the steam power.
20. The Drag, which is applied to increase the friction on the wheel
in going down a hill. This is also assisted by diminishing the
pressure of the steam—or, if necessary, inverting the motion of the
21. The Clutch, by which the wheel is sent round.
22. The Safety Valve, which regulates the proper pressure of the
steam in the pipe. 23. The Orifice for filling the Tank. This is
done by means of a flexible hose and a funnel, and occupies but a
Letter of Mr. John Herapath in "Mechanics' Magazine,"
vol. xv., p.123.
Tubbing is now adopted in many cases as a substitute
for brick-walling. The tubbing consists of short portions of
cast-iron cylinder fixed in segments. Each weighs about 4½
cwt., is about three or four feet long, and about three eighths of
an inch thick. These pieces are fitted closely together,
length under length, and form an impermeable wall along the sides of
The word "navvie," or "navigator," is supposed to
have originated in the fact of many of these labourers having been
originally employed in making the navigations, or canals, the
construction of which immediately preceded the railway era.
During this period he was engaged on the North
Midland, extending from Derby to Leeds; the York and North Midland,
from Normanton to York; the Manchester and Leeds; the Birmingham and
Derby, and the Sheffield and Rotherham Railways; the whole of these,
of which he was principal engineer, having been authorized in 1836.
In that session alone, powers were obtained for the construction of
214 miles of new railways under his direction, at an expenditure of
upward of five millions sterling.
It may be mentioned that these views were
communicated to the author by Robert Stephenson, and noted down in
"Treatise on Railway Improvements." By Mr.
Richard Badnell, C. E.
He often refused to act as engineer for lines which
he thought would not prove remunerative, or when he considered the
estimates too low. Thus, when giving evidence on the Great
Western Bill, Stephenson said, "I made out an estimate for the
Hartlepool Railway, which they returned on account of its being too
high, but I declined going to Parliament with a lower estimate.
Another engineer was employed. Then, again, I was consulted
about a line from Edinburg to Glasgow. The directors chalked
out a line and sent it to me, and I told them I could not support it
in that case." Hence the employment of another engineer to
carry out the line which Stephenson could not conscientiously
Speech of Wm. Jackson, Esq., M.P., at the meeting of
the Chester and Birkenhead Railway Company, held at Liverpool,
The question of the specific merits of the
atmospheric as compared with the fixed engine and locomotive systems
will be found fully discussed in Robert Stephenson's able "Report on
the Atmospheric Railway System, 1844, in which he gave the result of
numerous observations and experiments made by him on the Kingstown
Atmospheric Railway, with the object of ascertaining whether the new
power would be applicable for the working of the Chester and
Holyhead Railway then under construction. His opinion was
decidedly against the atmospheric system.
The Marquis of Clanricarde brought under the notice
of the House of Lords, in 1845, that one Charles Guernsey, the son
of a charwoman and a clerk in a broker's office at 12s. a week, had
his name down as a subscriber for shares in the London and York line
On the 17th of November, 1845, Mr. Spackman published
a list of the lines projected (many of which were not afterward
prosecuted), from which it appeared that there were then 620 new
railway projects before the public, requiring a capital of
The original width of the coal tram-roads in the
North virtually determined the British gauge. It was the width
of the ordinary road-track—not fixed after any scientific theory,
but adopted simply because its use had already been established.
George Stephenson introduced it without alteration on the Liverpool
and Manchester Railway, and the lines subsequently formed in that
district were laid down of the same width. Stephenson from the
first anticipated the general extension of railways throughout
England, and one of the ideas with which he started was the
essential importance of preserving such a uniformity as would admit
of perfect communication between them. When consulted about
the gauge of the Canterbury and Whitstable, and Leicester and
Swannington Railways, he said, "Make them of the same width: though
they may be a long way apart now, depend upon it they will be joined
together some day." All the railways, therefore, laid down by
himself and his assistants in the neighbourhood of Manchester,
extending from thence to London on the south, and to Leeds on the
east, were constructed on the Liverpool and Manchester, or narrow
gauge. Besides the Great Western Railway, where the gauge
adopted was seven feet, the only other line on which a broader gauge
than four feet eight and a half inches was adopted was the Eastern
Counties, where it was five feet, Mr. Braithwaite, the engineer,
being of opinion that an increase of three and a half inches in the
width of the line would afford better space for the machinery of the
locomotive. But when the northern and eastern extension of the
same line was formed, which was to work into the narrow-gauge system
of the Midland Railway, Robert Stephenson, its new engineer.
strongly recommended the directors of the Eastern Counties Line to
alter their gauge accordingly, for the purpose of securing
uniformity, and they adopted his recommendation.
The atmospheric lines had for some time been working
very irregularly and very expensively. Robert Stephenson, in a
letter to Mr. T. Sopwith, F. R. S., dated the 8th of January, 1846,
wrote: "Since my return [from Italy] I have learned that your
atmospheric friends are very sickly. A slow typhus has
followed the high fever I left them in about three months ago.
I don't anticipate, however, that the patient will expire suddenly.
There is every appearance of the case being a protracted one, though
a fatal termination is inevitable. When the pipes are sold by
auction, I intend to buy one and present it to the British Museum."
During the last half year of the atmospheric experiment on the South
Devon line in 1848, the expenditure exceeded the gross income
(£26,782) by £2457, or about 9¾ per cent. excess of working expenses
beyond the gross receipts.
"When my father came about the office," said Robert,
"he sometimes did not well know what to do with himself. So he
used to invite Bidder to have a quiet wrestle with him, for old
acquaintance sake. And the two wrestled together so often, and
had so many 'falls' (sometimes I thought they would bring the house
down between them), that they broke half the chairs in my outer
office. I remember once sending my father in a joiner's bill
of about £2 10s. for the mending of broken chairs."
The simple fact that in a heavy storm the force of
impact of the waves is from one and a half to two tons per square
foot, must necessarily dictate the greatest possible caution in
approaching so formidable an element. Mr. R. Stevenson
(Edinburgh) registered a force of three tons per square foot at
Skerryvore during a gale in the Atlantic, when the waves were
supposed to run twenty feet high.
See "Lives of the Engineers," vol. ii., p. 445.
It appears that Mr. Fairbairn suggested this idea in his letter to
Mr. Stephenson, dated the 3d of June, 1815, accompanied by a
drawing. See his "Account of the Construction of the Britannia
and Conway Tubular Bridges," etc. London, 1849.
Robert Stephenson's narrative of the early history of
the design, in Edwin Clark's "Britannia and Conway Tubular Bridges,"
vol. i., p. 25, London, 1850.
Robert Stephenson's narrative in Clark's "Britannia
and Conway Tubular Bridges," vol. i., p. 27.
Robert Robert Stephenson's narrative in Clark's
"Britannia and Conway Tubular Bridges," vol. i., p. 27.
"Account of the Construction of the Britannia and
Conway Tubular Bridges." By W. Fairbairn, C.E., London, 1849.
Mr. Stephenson continued to hold that the elliptical
tube was the right idea, and that sufficient justice had not been
done to it. A year or two before his death, Mr. Stephenson
remarked to the author that, had the same arrangement for stiffening
been adopted to which the oblong rectangular tubes owe a great part
of their strength, a very different result would have been obtained.
"Mr. Fairbairn's Account," p. 22.
The following passage occurs in Robert Stephenson's
report to the directors of the Chester and Holyhead Railway, dated
the 9th of February, 1846: "You will observe in Mr. Fairbairn's
remarks that he contemplates the feasibility of stripping the tube
entirely of all the chains that may be required in the erection of
the bridge; whereas, on the other hand, Mr. Hodgkinson thinks the
chains will be an essential, or, at all events, a useful auxiliary,
to give the tube the requisite strength and rigidity. This,
however, will be determined by the proposed additional experiments,
and does not interfere with the construction of the masonry, which
is designed so as to admit of the tube, with or without chains.
The application of chains as an auxiliary has occupied much of my
attention, and I am satisfied that the ordinary mode of applying
them to suspension bridges is wholly inadmissible in the present
instance; if, therefore, it be hereafter found necessary or
desirable to employ them in conjunction with the tube, another mode
of employing them must be devised, as it is absolutely essential to
attach them in such a manner as to preclude the possibility of the
In a letter of Mr. Fairbairn to Mr. Stephenson, dated
July 18th, 1846, he says: "To get rid of the chains will be a
desideratum; and I have made the tube of such strength, and intend
putting it together upon such a principle, as will insure its
carrying a dead weight, equally distributed over its hollow surface,
of 4000 tons. With a bridge of such powers, what have we to
fear? and why, in the name of truth and in the face of conclusive
facts, should we hesitate to adopt measures calculated not only to
establish the principle as a triumph of art, but, what is of
infinitely more importance to the shareholders, the saving of a
large sum of money, nearly equal to half the cost of the bridge?
I have been ably assisted by Mr. Clark in all these contrivances;
but in a matter of such importance we must have your sanction and
support."—"Mr. Fairbairn's Account," p. 93.
"The The Britannia and Conway Tubular Bridges." By
Edwin Clark. Vol. ii., p. 683-4.
No. 34 Gloucester Square, Hyde Park, where he lived.
The hydraulic presses were of an extraordinary
character. The cylinders of those first constructed were of
wrought iron (cast iron being found altogether useless), not less
than 8 inches thick. They were tested by being subjected to an
internal pressure of 3 or 3½ tons to the circular inch. The
pressure was such that it squeezed the fibres of the iron together;
so that, after a few tests of this character, the piston, which at
first fitted it quite closely, was found considerably too small.
"A new piston," says Mr. Clark, "was then made to suit the enlarged
cylinder; and a farther enlargement occurring again and again with
subsequent use, the new pistons became as formidable an obstacle as
the cylinders. The wrought-iron cylinder was on the point of
being abandoned, when Mr. Amos (the iron manufacturer), having
carefully gauged the cylinder inside and out, found to his surprise
that, although the internal diameter had increased considerably, the
external diameter had retained precisely its original dimensions.
He consequently persevered in the construction of new pistons, and
ultimately found that the cylinder enlarged no longer, and to this
day it continues in constant use. Layer after layer having
attained additional permanent set, sufficient material was at length
brought into play, with sufficient tenacity to withstand the
pressure; and thus an obstacle, apparently insurmountable, and which
threatened at one time to render much valuable machinery useless,
was entirely overcome. The workman may be excused for calling
the stretched cylinder stronger than the new one, though it is only
stronger as regards the amount of its yielding to a given
force."—Clark, vol. i., p. 306. The hydraulic presses used in
raising the tubes of the Britannia Bridge, it maybe remembered, were
afterward used in starting the Great Eastern from her berth on the
shore at Milwall, where she had been built.
While the preparations were in progress for floating
the third tube, Mr. Stephenson received a pressing invitation to a
public railway celebration at Darlington, in honour of his old
friend, Edward Pease. His reply, dated the 15th of May, 1850,
was as follows : "I am prevented having the pleasure of a visit to
Darlington on the 22d, owing to that or the following day having
been fixed upon for floating the next tube at the Menai Straits; and
as this movement depends on the tide, it is, of course, impossible
for me to alter the arrangements. I sincerely regret this
circumstance, for every early association connected with my
profession would have tended to render my visit a gratifying one.
It would, moreover, have given me an opportunity of saying publicly
how much the wonderful progress of railways was dependent upon the
successful issue of the first great experiment, and how much that
issue was influenced by your great discernment, and your confidence
in my late revered father. In my remembrance you stand among
the foremost of his patrons and early advisers; and I know that
throughout his life he regarded you as one of his very best friends.
One of the things in which he took especial delight was in
frequently and very graphically describing his first visit to
Darlington, on foot, to confer with you on the subject of the
Stockton and Darlington Railway.
The effect of sunshine in deflecting the bridge is
very curious. When the first main tube was tested,
ballast-wagons loaded with iron were drawn into the centre and left
standing there. The first 20 tons increased the deflection an
eighth of an inch, and with 50 tons the deflection was 9 inches.
After standing all night, the deflection in the morning was found to
be only 8⅜ inches. How was this to be accounted for? Mr.
Clark says: "This was attributed at the time to an error made in the
reading; but this, and many other anomalies in the deflection, were
afterward fully accounted for by local changes of temperature. A
gleam of sunshine on the top of the tube raised it on one
occasion nearly an inch in half an hour with 200 tons at the centre,
the top plates being expanded by increase of temperature, while the
lower plates remained constant from radiation to the water
immediately beneath them. In a similar manner, the tube was
drawn sidewise to the extent of an inch from the sun shining on
one side, and returned immediately as clouds passed over the
sun, being, in fact, a most delicate thermometer in constant motion,
both vertically and laterally."
This was a favourite notion of George Stephenson's,
and he held that what produced light and heat had originally been
light and heat. Mr. Fearon, solicitor, has informed the author
that he accompanied Stephenson on one of his visits to Belgium, when
it seemed to him that the engineer did not take much interest in the
towns, churches, or public buildings of Belgium, probably because he
knew little of history, and they recalled no associations with the
past. One day the party went to see the beautiful Hôtel de
Ville at Brussels, but Stephenson did not seem moved by it. On
passing out of the square, however, by the little street which leads
toward the Montague de la Cour, his interest was thoroughly roused
by the sight of an immense fat pig hung up in a butcher's shop.
He immediately took out his foot-rule, measured the pig, and
expressed a desire to have some conversation with the butcher as to
how it had been fed. The butcher accordingly waited upon them
at the hotel, and told all he knew about the feeding of the pig; and
then, says Mr. Fearon, "George went off into his favourite theory of
the sun's light, which he said had fattened the pig; for the light
had gone into the pease, and the pease had gone into the fat, and
the fat pig was like a field of coal in this respect, that they
were, for the most part, neither more nor less than bottled
The second Mrs. Stephenson having died in 1845,
George married a third time in 1848, about six months before his
death. The third Mrs. Stephenson was an intelligent and
respectable lady, who had for some years officiated as his
Ed.—Peel was thrown from his horse while riding up
Constitution Hill in London on 29 June 1850, the horse stumbled on
top of him and he died three days later on 2 July at the age of 62.
The dams of "crib-work" were formed by laying
flattened pine logs along the whole outer edge of the work, and at
intervals of from 5 to 10 feet parallel therewith throughout the
whole of the breadth, connected with transverse timbers firmly
tree-nailed and notched into them. When one course was formed,
another was laid upon and firmly tree-nailed to it. After two
or three courses were laid, transverse timbers were placed over them
close together, so as to form a flooring, on which stone was placed
to suit the crib as the work progressed. When the underside of
the crib touched the bottom, it was carefully filled with loose
stones and clay puddle to the water level. The process of
puddling and pumping out the water, and building up the pier within
the dam thus formed, then proceeded in the usual manner. In
some cases a powerful steam dredge was employed to clear out the
Mr. Stephenson entertained a very strong opinion as
to the inexpediency of making this canal, and the impracticability
of keeping it open except at an enormous expense. Of course it
was possible to make the canal provided there was money enough
raised for the purpose. But, even if made, he held that it
would not long be used, for there would not be traffic enough to pay
working expenses. In 1846, Mr. Stephenson carefully examined
the country along the line of the proposed canal, from Tineh on the
Mediterranean, to Suez on the Red Sea, in company with the agents of
M. Talabot, a French engineer, and M. de Negrelli, an Austrian
engineer. They ascertained that there was no difference of
level between the two seas, and that consequently a canal capable of
being scoured by the waters of either was impracticable. On
the occasion of Captain Pim's reading a paper on the subject of the
revived project of the canal before the Geographical Society on the
11th of April, 1859, Mr. Stephenson took part in the discussion
which followed. He held that any harbour constructed at Port
Said, however far it might be extended into the sea, would only act
as a mud-trap, and that it would be impracticable to keep such a
port open. Mr. George Rennie had compared the proposed
breakwater at Pelusium with the breakwater at Portland, on which Mr.
Stephenson observed, "Why, at Portland, the stones are carried out
from the shore and thrown into the sea, but at Pelusium there is no
solid shore, and all the stones must be brought 100 miles. Can
there be any comparison between a breakwater at Portland and one in
the Mediterranean on a lee-shore, where there is no stone and no
foundation whatever? It is only the silt of the Nile.
The Nile brings down millions of tons of mud yearly, and hence the
Delta formed at its mouth. The moment you construct a harbour
at Port Said and project piers into the sea, you immediately arrest
the course of the mud, and will never be able to keep the port open.
It would be the most extraordinary thing in the world to project two
jetties into an open sea on a lee-shore, which has for almost three
months in the year a northeast wind blowing upon it. There is
no seaman, except in fair weather, who would venture to approach
such a place. To render it at all accessible and safe, there
must be a harbour of refuge made, and we know from experience in our
own country what a large question that would open up. But even
suppose such a harbour to be made. The current carries the mud
of the Nile in an easterly direction ; and if you provide a harbour
of refuge, which means a quiescent harbour, it will act merely as a
gigantic mud-trap. I believe it to be nearly if not absolutely
true, that there is no large harbour in the world maintained on the
delta of a large river. Any such harbour would be silted up in
a few years. And whoever has travelled over the district
between Port Said and Suez, and seen the moving sands, must see that
it would be necessary to dredge, not only that harbour, but the
canal itself." Mr. Stephenson's conclusion accordingly was
that the scheme was impracticable, that it would not justify the
expenditure necessary to complete it, and that, if ever executed, it
would prove a commercial failure.
Address as President of the Institution of Civil
Engineers, January, 1856.