Sunday, 22 November 2009

Impact of the Railways.

When Victoria came to the throne in 1837 very few
railway lines had been opened in Scotland, and those
which were operating were mainly for the benefit of
industry, transporting coal and other raw materials 
between Glasgow, Dundee and Edinburgh. By the turn
of the century, within one generation, nearly all of 
Scotland’s railways had been built, linking most major
towns and many small villages, stretching from the
Borders in the south to Thurso on north coast, and
operating many lines which are shut and deemed 
unprofitable today. Journeys which had taken days
prior to Victoria’s reign, when the fasted method of
travel had been the horse-drawn carriage, were now 
completed in a matter of hours.

The very earliest railways carried coal from mines to

coastal harbours; these included the Tranent and 
Cockenzie Waggonway of 1772, which ran on wooden
rails, and the Kilmarnock and Troon Railway of 1805. 
It wasn’t long before advances in engineering and the 
development of more efficient steam engines presented 
itself as an opportunity to the railway men of the early
19th century.

In the 1842 the Edinburgh and Glasgow line opened

and the popularity of the railways was becoming something
of a sensation. A rivalry developed between two major
companies, the Caledonian Company, which ran trains
into Glasgow, and the North British Company which linked
Edinburgh to Carlisle. The link to the English railway 
network opened in 1848. In an attempt to compete with
the Caledonian Company’s dominance north of the River
Tay, the North British Company made plans to open an
east coast route by bridging both the Tay and the Forth.
So started some of the biggest engineering projects in the
world at the time.

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