Wednesday, July 24, 2013

From 1869: Book of Days by Robert Chambers

The 1869 edition of The Book of Days by Robert Chambers is made available for free by Hillman.

This day, July 24th in 1801, witnessed this: a train of mules drawing small wagons of stone along a very narrow-gauge railway. This was the first tramway built above ground for the transport of goods. Previously, these were in use only in coal mines.

Certain improvements made in 1800 by Mr. Benjamin Outram [to the original coal mine rails], led to the roads being termed Outran roads; and this, by an easy abbreviation, was changed to tramroads, a name that has lived ever since. Persons in various parts of England advocated the laying of tram-rails on common roads, or on roads purposely made from town to town; in order that upper-ground traffic might share the benefits already reaped by mining operations.

In 1800, Mr. Thomas, of Denton, read a paper before the Literary and Philosophical Society of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, in which [...] he proceeded to argue that the use of such tramways would lessen distances as measured by time, economise horse-power, lead to the improvement of agriculture, and lower the prices of commodities.

Thus, increasing the distribution radius for goods and reaping the monetary benefits of efficiency was how the tramway came into being. Transporting people was still many years into the future.