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It actually all started as early as 1803, when Richard Trevitick built a traction engine, generally to be taken to be the first ever steam locomotive. In February 1804 a second locomotive pulled a load of 25 tons over a distance of 9.5 miles in four hours time on the 'Pen-y-Darren' Railway in South Wales. The locomotive was so heavy for the cast iron rails that the latter often broke. Note: not the wheels had flanges, but the rails.

In 1808 he even made a locomotive for the pure pleasure of persons on a circular track on a place now known as the University of London in Euston. He named it "Catch as Catch can". Was this the real one-and-only first garden railroad?

William Hedley improved (1811) the concept and then built the locomotive 'Puffing Billy'. And afterwards the 'Wylam Dilly'. The latter machine was even in service until 1866. Both locomotives have been preserved, the first can be seen in the 'Science Museum' in South Kensington in London and the second at the 'Royal Scottish Museum' in Edinburgh.

In 1814 George Stephenson (the father of the steam locomotive) built as an engineer his first machine for the Killingworth colliery. He was appointed in 1821 as an engineer for the Stockton and Darlington Railway, and on 27 September 1825 officially opened the first railway in the world. That is 21 years after the invention of the steam locomotive of Trevitick.

We all know that the first railway in continental Europe opened between Brussels (Groendreef - Allée Verte) and Mechelen on May 5, 1835 ... The names of our first locomotives in those days where: "La Flèche (the Arrow)," Stephenson 'and ' L'Elephant (The Elephant). (indeed, yes, the names at that time were only in French, it would now no longer ...). George Stephenson and his son Robert were at the opening of the Belgian railway and they were even honored by King Leopold I (oh, yes, we should really write Léopold, right).


© 2019  Dani Bellemans
last update 16/01/2019