The author himself acknowledges that his title is not strictly accurate. The Surrey Iron Railway, horse haulage goods only, obtained an Act of Parliament in 1801, the Oystermouth Tramway (later called the Swansea and Mumbles Railway) for horse haulage of goods and passengers did so in 1804. Primitive steam locomotives were lumbering about hauling coals on various lengths of private railway. His argument is that the “Railway Age” began when a public railway first used steam locomotives – with the opening of the Stockton and Darlington. However apart from the special train on 27 September 1825, passenger traffic was exclusively horse drawn for many years to come. It was only with the opening of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway in 1830, with steam hauled passenger trains that the “Railway Age” can be said to have begun.
Michael Heavisides was of the second or third generation of a Stockton-on-Tees family of printers, bookbinders and stationers. He was clearly a book lover not only on the evidence of this little gem, beautifully designed and printed by his family firm, but he had a personal library with a printed catalogue of volumes which he was prepared to lend. He was also the author of “Rambles In Cleveland” an early manifestation of the hiking craze which would seize the nation a decade later. Few railways have been subjected to the publication of so many books and pamphlets as the S&D. The 50th anniversary, the 75th anniversary, the George Stephenson centenary and the 100th anniversary all produced a slew of material some of it of dubious quality. Every author of the “pot boiling” type seemed to jump on the bandwagon and the situation was often made worse by local jealousies with Shildon, Darlngton and Stockton all wanting souvenir publication focusing on the role of their own communities.
Because it was not rushed to meet an anniversary, this is a more thoughtful work. Heaviside’s is a much better publication than most and duly acknowledges the sources he has gathered material from.
PREVIEW BELOW – MAY TAKE A WHILE TO LOAD.