Cuffley Industrial Heritage Society

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PPage 6 of 14


The 19th Century was the true age of steam, fuelling the Industrial Revolution. Steam changed Britain, its people, and the landscape forever. Steam not only ran the factories and the mines, but now powered locomotives and steamships. This was also the century that saw great names such as Stephenson and Brunel build the first commercial railway systems, changing the way people and goods were moved around the country. Steam changed the focus of life from the countryside to the towns and cities, changing us and the world from the rural to the industrial.

1800 Phineas Crowther of Newcastle-upon-Tyne patented an improved type of vertical engine in 1800. It had no beam. Quite soon it became widely used as a colliery winding engine. James Watt's patent expired in 1800. About this time Richard Trevithick's father may have invented the egg-ended boiler. It was suitable for a steam pressure of around 30 pounds per square inch. (2 bar).

1802 At Coalbrookdale, Shropshire, a steam railway locomotive was built, possibly to Richard Trevithick's design. Also in 1802, William Symington built a stern wheel steam paddle tug, which underwent successful trials on the Forth and Clyde Canal. Named "Charlotte Dundas", it was afterwards laid aside. Its engine had a Horizontal cylinder.

1804 Richard Trevithick built a locomotive for the Pen-y-Daren tramway in South Wales during 1802. This also had a horizontal cylinder. Colonel Stevens, an American, built a small steamboat with a propeller or "screw" for propulsion instead of paddle wheels.

1807 Robert Fulton, an American, launched his paddle steamer "Clermont" in 1807, the world's first steam ship to provide a regular passenger service in America. Also in 1811, Richard Trevithick introduced his "Cornish" boiler. It was stronger and more efficient than any boiler in use up to that time, and could withstand steam pressures up to 60 pounds per square inch (4 bar). Arthur Woolf returned to his home county, Cornwall, with a patent for a "compound" engine very similar to the Hornblower engine of 1781. The pursuit of higher steam pressures had begun. The compound engine in time became very widely used.

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Page 6 of 14

A brief outline history of steam through the 17th and 18th centuries

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A colliery in Leeds got a rail-rack locomotive, while for two others smooth rail locomotives were built.

1812 Matthew Murray built a rail-rack locomotive in 1812 for Blenkinsop's colliery tramway in Leeds.

1813 William Hedley built two smooth rail locomotives in 1813 for the Wylam colliery tramway. Named "Puffing Billy" and "Wylam Dilly", both survive.

1814 George Stephenson built a smooth rail locomotive in 1814 for Killingworth Colliery in Northumberland.

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The Stockton and Darlington Railway opened in 1825, beginning Britain's first public railway to use steam; and the "Rocket" beat all comers in trials at Rainhill.

1825 The first public railway to use a steam locomotive, the Stockton and Darlington Railway, opened in 1825. The locomotive was "Locomotion", built by George Stephenson.

1827 A locomotive with six wheels all coupled with rods, was built for the Stockton and Darling Railway. Thus began Britain's greatest locomotive success story. The six-wheeled coupled locomotive (0-6-0) was built until 1956 in the thousands.

1829 The Liverpool and Manchester Railway directors held trials at Rainhill for steam locomotives. Stephenson's "Rocket" beat all comers and travelled at 30 miles per hour (48 km per hour). Its boiler was quite novel for the time and became the basis for all future boilers on locomotives.

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The Liverpool and Manchester Railway opened, and Isambard Kingdom Brunel engineered the first section of the Great Western.

1830 The Liverpool and Manchester Railway opened in 1830, entirely worked by locomotives except for a short distance to Liverpool.

1835 William West in 1835 erected a "Cornish" pumping engine at Fowey Consols mine. The cylinder was 80 inches bore (2.032 metres) by 10 feet 4 inches (3.15 metres). It operated with unprecedented economy.

1838 George Stephenson built his railways to a gauge (distance between the rails) of 4 feet, 8.5 inches (1.435 metres). The first section of the Great Western Railway, engineered by Isambard Kingdom Brunel opened in 1838. The gauge was 7 feet 0.25 inches (2.14 m). Daniel Gooch was locomotive engineer. James Nasmyth introduced his steam hammer at this time.