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The Railways in 19 Century

The 1840s was a time of railway madness. Railway companies sprang up like mushrooms.

Railways were built by navvies (or navigators).  With pick, shovel, wheelbarrow and dynamite, they blasted tunnels and built embankments and bridges. They wore fancy waistcoats and moleskin trousers and had names like 'Fighting Joe' and 'Gypsy Jack'. they had a terrible reputation for boozing and brawling.

Traveller's handbooks advised men to guard their wallets in tunnels. They even suggested that women put pins in their mouths to avoid being kissed in the dark!

The first Railway accident happened in 1830. Many important people were invited to go on the first journey of the new Liverpool to Manchester railway, including actress Fanny Kemble and Member of Parliament, Charles Huskisson. There were about eight hundred people aboard. This is Huskisson's story, as told by Fanny Kemble:

"The engine had stopped to take on a supply of water and several of the gentlemen in the director's  carriage jumped out to look about them, when an engine on the other line, which was parading up and down merely to show its speed, was seen coming down upon them like lightning. The most active of those in peril sprung back into their seats. Mr Huskisson, less active from the effects of age and ill-health, bewildered too by the frantic cries of  'Stop the engine!' and 'Clear the track!' which resounded on all sides, completely lost his head, looked helplessly to the right and left, and was instantanously prostrated by the fatal machine, which was dashed down like a thunderbolt upon him, and passed over his leg, smashing and mangling it in the most horrible way."

They bandaged Huskisson up and took him in the engine to Manchester, but he died the same day, the first victim of a pessenger rail accident.


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