RAILWAYS- Reason for growth

Reasons for growth

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  • Created by: Georgia
  • Created on: 18-05-11 20:07

RAILWAYS- Growth Of Railways

  • Rapid growth of industry in late 18th and early 19th century
  • Increased amounts of goods being moved around the country
  • Mof these goods was heavey and bulky (like coal)
  • Promblems with roads- they were slow, many in bad repair, and in winter some were inpassable, was expensive
  • Canals were slow and expensive to keep and build
  • The rapid growth in population increased the demand for goods and food to be transported
  • Improvements in steam engines by Richard Trevithick and George Stephenson made railways possible
  • The growing wealth of Britain due to it's industry
  • Empire and Trade meant the vast sums of money needed to build railways was there
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George Stephenson 1781-1848

  • Geogre came from a humble background
  • Worked in a colliery repairing engines
  • He soon developed the engines
  • He developed the skills to build his first railway

1823 Stockton and Darlington Railway

  • Original idea was to build a railway from the mines in Durham to the River Tees
  • It was intended to use horses to draw the wagons

Why early Railway is important

  • George Stephenson is employed as chief engineer
  • He persuaded the owners to give locomotives a trial
  • The railway was a great success
  • The cost of transporting coal fell
  • The amount of coal being moved increased dramatically 

However horse drawn vechicels were still pulled along the line but passangers used railways aswell

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1830 Liverpool- Manchester Railway

  • Built by Stephenson
  • He persuaded the owners to use locomotives by holding trials to see if they could get the job 
  • The famous 'Rainhill trial' was held with a prize of £500 to the best engine
  • The 'Rocket' an engine designed by George's son Robert won the trial

Its important because

  • It was the first railway to carry passangers as well as goods
  • It overcame many of the early technical difficulties with buliding railways...

Edgehill Tunell

This Tunnel was bored through 2km of solid rock, entrance was marked by a grand 'mooeish' arch. It was then copied by many later railway companies

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Olive Mount Cutting

The cutting was 24m deep at one point, it was the first extensive cutting on any railway

Sankey Brook Viaduct

This great viaduct was built to carry the railway over the Sankey Brook Canal, it had a clearance of over 60ft, so masted barges could sail underneath it, it cost £45,000

Chat Moss

Was a boggy moorland near Leigh. In order to cross itm Stephenson cut drainage ditches to dry out a stip approximately 15m across, over this he built a raft of wooden hurdles and leather. Sand and gravel were laid on top of this and then the rails themselves.

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  • The problems of how to run a railway were thouhgt out of the Liverpool and Macnchester railway
  • Showed the railway could make vast profits 
  • Reduced transport costs, some canals companies lost business and closed
  • Large number of passangers used the railways, this had not been expected and showed how successful railways could be
  • The Liverpool and Manchester railway led to development of other railways because it proved railways could be successful
  • It increased transport opportunities for the working class, the fare could be as little as a penny per mile

George Stephenson's role in this success

  • Overcame engineering problems
  • Promoted the cause of locomotives over horses or stationary steam engines
  • Came up with railway gauge
  • Chief engineer on the London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds lines
  • He was an outstanding engineer who overcame many problems
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Probkems with George Stephenson

  • He did not work out which was the best gauge for engines to run on, he only used a gauge from a coal mine he had already build engines for 4ft 8.5 inches
  • He was not good at getting his ideas accross to where he needed to get his money from. His son Robert helped him

Isambard Kingdom Brunel

  • Engineer of the great Western Railway
  • What George did for the North, Brunel did for the south 
  • He built the Bristol- London line
  • He worked out the best gauge for his railway which was 7ft not like George 4ft 8.5
  • The gauge made the railway more comfortable and made the trains run faster
  • He built the box tunnel which took 2.5 years but was a great achievement
  • He completed the royal albert bridge over the River Tamar in Cornwall in 1859
  • He worked for the future
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Problems with Brunel

  • He said himself 'I wont build you the cheapest railway, I'll build you the best' they were expensive
  • The 7th gauge was expensive to build, but the larger engines needed to run on it at first it used a lot more coal and were a little slower, though brunel would improve this later.
  • He lost the battle of the gauges, Stephensons gauge would win the day
  • His royal albery bridge was brilliant, but expensive and different to build- it was never copied whereas Robert Stephenson's railway bridge to Anglesey was simplier and it's design is still copied today
  • Brunel could be a difficult man to work with, believeing himself as always right

Opposition to Railways

Snobbery- some towns partitioned parliament to keep railways away, the postion of the railways so how it is disliked by some people (far end of the town) and away from better class

Ignorance- Some thought travellers would be suffocated in tunnels, the noise would interupt the farms

Landowners- turnpike road trusts, canal companies all opposed railways, landowners charged big prices if railway companies wanted land

The rich- didnt like the idea of the pooer classes being able to travel around cheaply

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1843-1847 The 'Railway Mania'

  • In these years there was a sudden and massive outburst of railway company promotion and buying and selling of shares
  • The number of railway bills before Parliament rose from 24 in 1843 to 248 (you need parliments permision) that makes it 248 companies being set up to build 248 railway lines. The growth was caused because many people saw railways as a way to get rich quicker, they always made money so people wanted to build them
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  • Lots of railways were built in a short space of time, building a national network across the country quickly
  • Tens of thousands of people were employed to build and run them
  • Other industries- like iron and coal boomed, supplying railways with what they needed
  • The transport of the UK was improved

Why railway mania caused promblems

  • In the rush to build railways some were built in areas that wouldn't be profitable or sometimes a second line would of been built in a town that already had a railway
  • Some of the new lines failed to make money, and the investors lost large amounts of cash
  • A third of new railways were abandoned in 1847 and left unfinished or derelict. These problems scared off some investors, from now on progress in building railways would be slower
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George Hudson 'The railway King'

  • He was a leading figure in the 'Railway Mania'
  • Having been left some money £30,000 he invested it in railway shares, he made a great deal of money doing this
  • He went on to promote other railway developments
  • In 1844 his companies controlled 1630 km of railway track
  • For a time George Stephenson became his partner but left as a result of suspicions over Hudson's business methods. Hudson used bribery and some of his deals were not recorded in company books. Hudson began to use his influence to manipulate the price of George Hudson's reputation. The fall in share prices ruined him and he spent some time in a debtor's prison 
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  • He encouraged the building of large amounts of railway line
  • He joined together many smaller railway companies to make a larger company (The midland Railway). This was more efficient and the way forward

How he made problems for railways

  • His corruption, when it came to light, put off some investors
  • Many people lost money as a result of his corrupt share dealings
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  • They were men who financed the railway companies. They made the case for building railways and persuaded others to invest in it.The men were Edward Pease and George Hudson


  • They were the men who designed the railways. People like George Stephenson and Isambard Kingdom Brunel


  • They were the men who organised the building work. Men like Thomas Brussey, they made sure all the equipment and materials were to build the railway and then used sub-contractors to hire the labour (Navvies to do the actual work


  • The men who did the building work, 100,000 men worked for 20years building 16,000 km of railway
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  • They gave Britain a unified and efficient transport system, uniting the whole country.
  • Cost of transport reduced by a third for goods and a half for passengers. This meant the price for goods fell, so people could afford more of them, and sales increased causing the growth in other industries
  • The growth of towns was accelerated, more people moved into them
  • Holidays grew as people could afford travel
  • Newspapers grew
  • Growth of chain stores like Boots, Woolworth and WHSmith. It was now easier to have lots of stores throughout the country
  • Greater choice in stores as goods could be moved around the country people did not buy locally made produce
  • Enormous demands for steel plates, locomotives, coaches, trucks, ect-created lots of jobs
  • New towns grew up around railways
  • Agriculture benefited- farmers and market gardeners gained a bigger market
  • Canals were badly hit, most closed, some roads were effected as well as coach company's.
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Miss E


This very detailed resource covers all of the key points about the development of the railways including key individuals like Stephenson and the problems and benefits of railway mania.Very useful.

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