°nit rnorf ROADS. * A TOLEILABLY full account of railways, cleverly
done, apparently by an experienced literary craftsman. With a subject so admira- ble in its science—so gigantic in its business departments—so rich in its surveying, legal, and Parliamentary doings, or in other words its jobbery—and so wonderful in its results within so short a time—it need hardly be said that there is a good deal of amusing and some interesting if not exactly instructive matter in the volume. It is also a sightly book ; well got-up, and illustrat- ed by many wood-cuts—though not, we opine, engraved expressly for the purpose. When we have said this, we have said all. The pervading mind is that of a bookmaker, more concerned in picking out some reada- ble or telling matter from the readiest repository, than in weigh- *. Our Iron Roads : their History, Construction, and Social Influences. By Fre- shriek S. Williams. With numerous Illustrations. Published by Ingram, Cooke, and Ca
ing its worth in a scientific or literary point of view. Poor jokes, strained witticisms, literary " sketches, often smart, but generally done on the inventorial system, and stories which if true in their substance are made to look questionable by their mode of telling, alternate with singular facts or useful information connected with railways,—though some of it, by the by, is not very new. A dozen chapters are devoted to English Railways, one chapter to Foreign Railways,. and one to the Electric Telegraph. The English Railways begin, in regular encyclopedic fashion, with the old modes of travelling on horseback and in stage-coaches ; after which come an account of the tram-roads, and the history of un- successful projects for railways, till the establishment of the Stock- ton and Darlington, shortly to be followed by the Liverpool and Manchester. The straggles with which this line had to contend, from general incredulity, literary flippancy, interested opposition, and legal astuteness, of course lose nothing in the telling. From this topic it is easy to advance to the opposition, similar in kind though less in degree, which other lines had to encounter, as well as to the variousjobs of the railway people themselves, not forgetting the mania and Mr. George Hudson. The next, and indeed the largest subject of the book, is the formation of a railway ; from its first conception, the starting of the company, the survey of the line, and the " fighting for the acts," to the construction and opening of the line. With some trumpery descriptions, this contains a good deal of useful information, arranged under the particular class of railway formation to which it relates,—as levelling, blasting, embankment; tunnels, viaducts, bridges, permanent way ; inter- spersed with sketches of the " navvies" and others connected with the engineering corps. A history of the locomotive, and a general view of the economy of railway management, follow ; the most striking department on any line being selected to illustrate the whole system. Lastly, there is a chapter of odds and ends, in which railway statistics figure conspicuously.
Mr. Williams has this superiority over several others who have published books about railways—he more frequently quotes his authorities for the a priori statements and predictions made respect- ing the railways, some of which were " strong " at the time of utterance, and now seem foolish enough. Pamphlets or articles written with a purpose, where men of a fanciful ingenuity allowed themselves free scope in prophesying evil about the unknown future, may be passed. The following is the present Baron Alder- son's criticism upon George Stephenson the elder, pronounced in his speech to the Committee on the first Liverpool and Manchester Railway Rill, against which Mr. Alderson, then. at the bar, was retained as counsel.
"I say he never had a plan; I believe, he never had. one;. I do not believe he is capable of making one. His is a mind perpetually fluctuating between opposite difficulties. He neither knows whether he is to make bridges over roads or rivers, or of one size or another ; or to make embankments, or cut- tings, or inclined planes ; or in what way the thing is to be carried into effect.
In the first place, he answered me very shortly the first day= I shall cut my moss at forty-five degrees ; it will stand at that very Be it so—I am content with the answer. 'Of course (I said) you will drain your road on each side ? " I shall make ditches.' How wide are are they to be ? ' 'Six feet.' How deep ? " Oh, they are to be five feet deep, or four feet deep.' Now I am sure the Committee are well aware, that a ditch, if ever it is to come to a point at the bottom, and is to be five feet deep, out to an angle of forty-five degrees on each side, must be ten feet wide at the top. What do you think of the ignorance of this gentleman, who chooses to have an im- possible ditch, which he chooses to cut by the side of an impossible railway? Did you ever hear such ignorance as this ? Whatever credit you might have been disposed to give to Mr. Stephenson before, it is plainly shown new how utterly and totally devoid he is of common science; for every one who knows that two and tv7o make four would have known that that was an 'impossible ditch. But he does not stop there. When we come to inquire haw Knowsley Ross is to be got over, first he stated he was to have a channel for the brooks. I suggested to him that there were two brooks which run across the deep cut- ting of eighty feet, and I wanted to know how he was to get them from one side to the other. Re never had thought of them. He said, in the first in- stance, he would make a channel by the side of the railway. How was that
channel to be made ? do not know.' How long will it be ? would it not be a mile ? (which would of course increase the expense.) No,' says he, think not a mile.' But, suspecting he might be wrong there, then,' says he, ' I will make a tunnel.' I cannot bind him, you see, to any one point. This is the gentleman who is called to prove the estimate and the plan. He cannot prove it. He makes schemes without seeing the difficulties ; and when the difficulties are pointed out, then he starts other schemes, which are exposed to other objections."
Mr. Harrison, in arguing for the canals, thus held forth on the question_ of the possible speed attainable on railways.
" When we set out with the original prospectus—I am sorry I have not got the paper with me—we were to gallop, I know not at what rate ; I be- lieve it was at the rate of twelve miles an hour. My learned friend Mr. Adam contemplated, possibly in alluding to Ireland, that some of the Irish Members would arrive in the waggons to a division. My learned friend says, that they would go at the rate of twelve miles an hour, with the aid of the Devil in the form of a locomotive, sitting as postillion upon.the fore-horse, and an honourable Member, whom I do not now see here, sitting behind him to stir up the fire, and to keep it up at full speed. But the speed at which those locomotive engines are to go has slackened ; Mr. Adam does not go faster now than five miles per hour. The learned Sergeant. [Spankie] says, he should like to have seven, but he would be content to go six. I will show he cannot go six ; and probably, for any practical purposes, I may be able to show that I can keep up with him by the canal. Now the real evidence, to which alone you can pay attention, shows that practically, and for useful purposes, upon the average, and to keep up the rate of speed continually, they may go at something more than four miles an hour. In one of the collieries, there is a small engine with wheels four feet in diameter, which, with moderate weights, has gone six ; but I will not admit, because, in an experiment or two, they may have been driven at the rate of seven or eight miles an hour—because a small engine has been driven at the rate of six, that that is the average rate at which they can carry goods upon a railroad for the purposes of com- merce ; for that is the point to which the Committee ought to direct their at- tention, and to which the evidence is to be applied. It is quite idle to sup- pose that an experiment made to ascertain the speed, when the power is worked up to the greatest extent, can afford a fair criterion of that which an engine will do in all states of the weather. In the first place, locomotive engines are Liable to be operated upon by the weather. You are told that they are af- fected by rain, and an attempt is made to cover them ; but the wind will af- fect them, and any gale of wind which would affect the traffic on the Mersey Would render it impossible to set off a locomotive engine, either by poking of the fire, or keeping up the pressure of the steam till the boiler is ready to burst. I say so, for a scientific person happened to see a locomotive engine coming down an inclined plane, with a tolerable weight behind it, and he found that the strokes were reduced from fifty to twelve as soon as the wind acted upon it;, so that every gale that would produce an interruption to the intercourse by the canals would prevent the progress of a locomotive engine."
These may fairly stand as instances of the latitude 'of assertion by the bar. However, it should be observed in excuse for both the lawyers' criticisms, that the great engineer himself did not con- template any of those wonderful results from our Iron Roads which developed themselves at a very early period; and that his first sur- vey of the line was defective, from the obstacles thrown in the way of the engineers by the opposing landlords. This is an example from Mr. Stephenson's examination.
"Q. You were asked about the quality of the soil through which you were to bore in order to ascertain the strata, and you were rather taunted because you had not ascertained the precise strata,: had you any opportunity of boring ?
"A. I had none; I was threatened to be driven off the ground, and se- verely used if I were found upon the ground.
"Q. You were quite right, then, not to attempt to bore ?
"A. Of course, I durst not attempt to bore after those threats.
" Q. Were you exposed to any inconvenience in taking your surveys in interruptions?
"A. of those nterruptions? "A. We were.
"Q. On whose property ? "A: On my Lord Sefton's, Lord Derby's, and particularly Mr. Brad- shaw's part. "Q. I believe you came near the coping of some of the canals ? "A. I believe I was threatened to be ducked in the pond if I proceeded ; and, of course, we had a great deal of the survey to make by stealth, at the time when the persons were at dinner: we could not get it by night, for we were watched day and night, and guns were discharged over the grounds belonging to Captain Bradshaw, to prevent us. I can rate further, I was twice turned off the ground myself by his (Mr. Bradsbaw's) men ; and they said, if I did not go instantly they would take me up and carry me off to Worsley.
" Committee. Q. Had you ever asked leave ?
. "A.. I did of all the gentlemen to whom I have alluded ; at least, if I did. not ask leave of all myself, I did of my Lord Derby ; but I did not of Lord Sefton, but the Committee had, at least I was so informed ; and I last year asked leave of Mr. Bradshaw's tenants to pass there, and they denied me : they stated that damage had been done • and I said if they would tell whatit was. I would pay them ; and they said it was two pounds; and I paid it, though I do not believe it amounted to one shilling."
The previous quotations are from the blue book of the Committee, a great part of which is properly published in an appendix. The following in continuation of the subject, the needless enhance- ment of the cost of railways by Parliamentary opposition, is from the author's text.
"The waste of capital, directly and indirectly, in theformation of rail- ways, has been estimated at not less than 12,000,0001., apart from the loss which has been incurred in the support of unsuccessful bills and the main- tenance of unsuccessful opposition.. This sum would have been sufficient to construct a railway six hundred miles long, at the rate of 20,0001. a mile ; while the interest which has to be paid by the public in the increased cost of existing lines amounts. at 5 per cent to 600,0001. Of the cost of projects which were ultimately unsuccessful a single illustration may be given. In the celebrated battle of the Stone and Rugby Railway, the inquiry continued during sixty-six sitting-days, from February to August 1839 ; and, having been renewed in the following year, the bill was finally defeated, at an ex- pense to its promoters of 146,0001."
These facts in relation to the cost and constructive difficulties of tunnelling are curious. "The cost of tunnel-making varies greatly. It is estimated that those formed for the old canals were less than 41. per lineal yard ; and that for railways of the ordinary dimensions, they vary from 201. per yard in sand- stone rock—which is easy to excavate, and does not require a lining of brick-work—up to 1001. and 1601. per yard in very loose ground, such as a quicksand, which may render it necessary to have brick-work lining of great thickness. The rdsby tunnel cost about 1251. per yard. If they are freely Worked, rocky strata are usually the cheapest for tunnelling, from the oppor- tunity that is afforded of using gunpowder, and the absence of masonry. In the bIastings for this ;purpose at Bishopston, on the Glasgow, Paisley, and Greenock Railway, 314 tons of gunpowder were employed in a length of. 2300 yards in hard whinstone, some veins of which were so difficult to work, that the rate of progress at each face of the excavation varied from three feet sit inches to six inches only a day. "Tunnelling in clay is often very expensive and difficult. When tough it is difficult to work ; blasting is of no avail, and spades and pickaxes are al- most useless. Lecount states, that under such circumstances hatchets may be employed to advantage, but that cross-cut saws best answer the purpose. The difficulties which the working of this material presents were illustrated in the case of the Primrose Rill tunnel, which passes through the London clay. To provide against obstacles which might arise, the engineers adopted the precaution of excavating only nine feet in advance of the brick-work, and supporting the clay by very strong timbering till the arching was com- pleted. The great mobility of the moist clay, however, made it exert so ex- traordinary a pressure on the brick-work, as to .squeeze the mortar from the kilns,. and to bring the inner edges of the bricks in contact. The result was, that the bricks were, by degrees, grinding to dust, and the dimensions of the tunnel insensibly, but irresistibly, contracting. The only means by which the evil could be counteracted was the use of very hard bricks laid in Roman cement, which, by setting before the pressure became so great as to force them into actual contact, enabled the whole surface to resist the pres- sure. The thickness of the brick-work was augmented almost throughout to twenty-seven inches."
Tunnels are often excavated simultaneously, by means of shafts sunk at intervals, in order to execute the work more quickly. The chance of irregular junctions, where there is no means of applying a practical test, would seem to be great, yet engineering science overcomes the apparent difficulty.
"The arrangements that are made by which the several portions of a tun- nel shall at last meet together, are such that the result is usually attained With surprising accuracy. This was tested on the Leicester and Swanning- ton Railway in the following manner : prior to the visit of the directors on the completion of the work, twenty-five candles were fixed at intervals along one of the sides of the tunnel, at a distance of two inches and a half from the wall; on their being lighted, it was found that their relative position did not vary a quarter of an inch from the required line. In the Bletch bey tunnel also, which had eight shafts, it varied but a single inch from a perfectly straight line. In a length of more than fifteen hundred feet be- tween two shafts of the Box tunnel, which has an incline of one in a hun- dred, the junction of the two workings was perfectly effected as regards the level, and did not deviate more than an inch and a quarter at the aides: The driftways of the principal tunnel of the Sheffield and Manchester Rail- way, which penetrates for three miles through rook formation, and is at one part more than six hundred feet below the surface of the hill, were also ef- fected with great exactness. Five shafts were opened, from which the work was carried on ; and while these were in progress, driftways were made from each face of the mountain, extending to nearly a thousand yards at the East- ern side and one hundred and eighty yards from the next shaft. When these were completed, the levels were tested, and found to have varied less than an inch, and the range was within two inches of being geometrically true. Though. the difficulty is greatly augmented in the formation of curved tunnels, yet extraordinary accuracy is attained ; and thus, in those on the Glasgow and Greenock Railway at Bishopston, the deviation nowhere ex- ceeded two inches."