For enthusiasts and researchers of the Great Eastern Railway

RH079: The London and Blackwall Railway in the 1840s.

NEW JUNE 2020. The London and Blackwall Railway opened in 1840. It was only the third railway to serve London and, despite being a mere 3½ miles long, showed a lot of initiative. Thus it was the first railway in the whole country to adopt the electric telegraph in its daily working. Initially traction was by means of a rope, operated by a stationary steam engine at each end of the line.

The Civil Engineer and Architect's Journal, Scientific and Railway Gazette was produced from 1839 to 1850, exactly the right period to record the first ten years of the line's existence. Apart from an introduction with a map plus a timetable from 1842, all the rest of the material here is derived from contemporary accounts in that publication.

It begins with a series of short news items, arranged in chronological order. The line opened and was soon extended at the London end back to Fenchurch Street. The ropes, made of hemp, showed excessive wear.  They were replaced by wire ropes, but these were not a success either. In 1849 there were two big events to record - abandoning the ropes for locomotive haulage, and the opening of their Extension which was a link from Stepney to the Eastern Counties Railway at Bow.

This is followed by five in-depth articles. The first, written by George Bidder, reveals that atmospheric traction had also been considered for the line and explains why it was rejected. The railway ran its own fleet of river boats down the Thames, and the second article describes the new pier built at Gravesend for the Blackwall steamers, complete with drawings. The third provides a very detailed account of the winding machinery employed by the railway: it is the text of a paper on the subject read at the Institution of Civil Engineers, followed by discussion.

Fourthly come reports of a new type of bridge, a bow-string design made from wrought iron, which was creating a lot of interest. As progressive as ever, the Blackwell Railway used two of them on its Extension. Interestingly, the invention was credited to the engineer of the Lynn and Ely Railway, and the first of its type had been over the Ouse in Norfolk: a scale drawing had been given of that one, and is included in this file.

Finally there is a five-page illustrated account of the Cooke and Wealdstone electric telegraph, as employed on the Blackwall line.

The 29-page file has bookmarks to the main sections. It will be available to download as soon as payment has been made. You go to your account and click on ‘Downloads’. New customers create an account as they place their order.

File
Pages 29
File Size (MB) 13.1

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