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Early English Railways

    Naturevolume 135page1069 (1935) | Download Citation



    IT is known that in the archives of various foreign countries there are documents of interest to students of the history of technology; but seldom is any of this material published. One such document, however, has recently formed the subject of a paper by Mr. P. Zabarinskiy published in vol. 4 of the “Archives for the History of Science and Technology”. The paper itself is in Russian, but with it is the letter of William Vaughan dated, London, June 14, 1804, and addressed to his Excellency Vice-Admiral Chichagoff, minister of the marine at St. Petersburgh. William Vaughan (1752-1850) was a director of the Royal Exchange Assurance Corporation, London, and was much interested in canals and railways and docks. Railways, he said, were common in England and Wales for the conveyance of coals, limestone, ore and such things, and in the London Docks, in which he evidently was particularly interested, railroads and waggons were used in the excavations. Experiments were apparently made at the Docks and in one of these, he said, “In six days of 12 hours, 25 men filled, 24 boys drove and 24 horses conveyed, 3650 cubic yards of earth to the distance of 400 yards and returned the waggons empty”. Vaughan described clearly the turntables used on the banks of the Thames, gave estimates of the cost of removing material and made some remarks on the use of railways in Russia.

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