When is a railway not a railway?

Surry_Iron_Railway

The Surrey Iron Railway, Wandsworth, London: Ordnance Survey Old Series 1805

The Surrey Iron Railway (SIR) was first public railway independent of a canal to be built by Act of Parliament (1801).

Although private railways were already in operation around Britain these were used exclusively by the owners of mines and quarries for moving their own goods. The SIR was different, it levied Tolls allowing independent goods hauliers to use their own wagons (with wheels at a suitable distance apart) pulled by horses.

Opened in 1803 it ran for approximately nine miles along the side of the River Wandle from Wandsworth Wharf, on the River Thames, towards Mitcham and Croydon

The Surrey Iron Railway is famous for being the first company in the world to include the word “railway” in it’s title.  Despite this it was not what we today would recognise as a railway.  It was actually a plateway, where vehicles with plain wheels ran along flanged rails.

The track comprised iron L-section rails 4ft 2in (1.27m) apart secured onto stone blocks. The trucks were horse-drawn, typically 8ft x 4ft x 2ft deep and weighing about 1 tonne. They could carry 3 tonnes of coal, lime or grain. One horse could pull up to ten wagons but the usual number was about four.

The original plan for a transport connection between Wandsworth, on the River Thames, and the Wandle Valley had been for a canal, but doubts about the availability of water led to the adoption of a plateway.

The railway was only briefly successful financially. It lost much traffic after the Croydon Canal opened in 1809 and continued to decline as steam railways took hold. The advent of faster and more powerful steam locomotives spelled the end for horse-drawn railways. In 1823, William James, a shareholder in the railway, tried to persuade George Stephenson to supply a locomotive. Stephenson realised that the cast-iron plateway could not support the weight of a locomotive and declined and railway was finally closed to traffic on 31st August 1846.

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Cassini Maps Sale – 25% OFF!

Cassini Quad Map

Last few days of this Special Offer! – 25% Off all maps (ends 30th Sept 2015)
Use the code C-SUN15 to claim your Discount.

Simply enter the code when prompted during checkout. P&P applies as normal.
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Including our Quad maps (4 maps of the same location but from diferent time periods) as shown above.

New! – Cassini brings you Ordnance Survey’s most detailed historical mapping.
Cassini’s Town Plan mapping is the most detailed historical Ordnance Survey mapping available. Easy to find and download.
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Maps published from the mid 1800’s to the 1920’s
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• Choose maps from 468 available Towns
• Amazing detail – 1:500, 1:528 and 1:1056 scales (dependent on location)

These maps were published for larger towns and cities at scales of 1:500, (c.10′ to 1 mile), 1:528 (exactly 10′ to 1 mile) and 1:1056 (5′ to 1 mile) from the mid 1800’s onwards. An immense amount of detail is shown, down to every lamp-post and every pillar-box, even paths, trees and sheds in peoples gardens. For those who are particularly interested in local history and genealogy, the town plans are essential research tool.

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Bazalgette and the Woolwich Ferry

Woolwch Ferry

Woolwich and the Free Ferry –  Map: County Series 1:2500 1894

The Woolwich Ferry (sometimes also called the Woolwich Free Ferry) is a free vehicle ferry service across the River Thames in East London. There has been a connection between what is now Woolwich and North Woolwich across the Thames since the Norman Conquest. The area was mentioned in the Domesday Book as 63 acres belonging to Hamon, the steward. There is also evidence of a ferry service in the area since the early 14th century. In the first half of the nineteenth century a commercial ferry operated in Woolwich between 1811 and 1844, but the company failed and the service ended.

In 1880 local pressure began for a renewal of such a service provided by the town authorities, but costs were prohibitive, and eventually the Metropolitan Board of Works was brought in to manage the embryonic project.

Following the establishment of the Metropolitan Board of Works, which had taken over toll bridges in west London and opened them to free public use, it was suggested that the Board should fund a free crossing of the Thames in east London. The service was instigated in September 1887 by Sir Joseph Bazalgette, famous for the significant impact he had both on London’s appearance and, through his design of an efficient sewage system, on the health of its inhabitants.

The service was officially opened on 23 March 1889, with the paddle steamer Gordon. Two days before the first service, the Metropolitan Board of Works was replaced by the London County Council (LCC), and the opening ceremony was conducted by Lord Rosebery instead of the expected Bazalgette.

The ferry typically attracts about two million passengers a year, although many cross-river foot passengers now take the foot tunnel beneath the river, alongside the ferry route. Further competition arrived in 2009 with the extension to Woolwich of the Docklands Light Railway, which crosses under the river to the east of the ferry route.

Sadly for history it seems inevitable that a bridge upstream of the ferry will be built, making crossing faster for the cars and lorries that use the service, with doubtless the demise of the ferry following the opening of that bridge.

To buy this map, or a Mapmaker Plus map of your area:  Cassini Mapmaker Plus

Map of the month – Euston Station

Euston Station
Euston Station, London (Town Plan 1:1,056)

Euston was the first inter-city railway station in central London, opened on 20 July 1837 as the terminus of the London and Birmingham Railway.

The site was selected in the early 1830s by George and Robert Stephenson, engineers of the London and Birmingham Railway. The area was then mostly farmland at the edge of the expanding city of London. The station was named after Euston Hall in Suffolk, the ancestral home of the Dukes of Grafton, who were the main landowners in the area.

Before Euston was built the trains from Birmingham had an unsatisfactory endpoint at Chalk Farm, built in 1833. It was George Stephenson who planned the original station at Euston Grove with just two platforms, one for arrivals, one departures, sheltered beneath a massive wrought-iron roof. The building was designed by Philip Hardwick, fronted by a 72’ high porticot. This portico acquired the name Euston Arch.

There was a notable engineering oddity about Euston from its opening on July 20 1837: because Lord Southampton, master of the Quorn Hunt, Conservative grandee, and a major landowner locally, objected to the potential noise and dirt, no locomotives were allowed between Euston and Camden Town. Instead trains were pulled from the terminus to Camden by a cable device until 1844, when engines were at last allowed.

The station grew rapidly over the following years as traffic increased. It was greatly expanded in the 1840s, with the opening in 1849 of the spectacular Great Hall, designed by Hardwick’s son Philip Charles Hardwick in classical style. It was 126 ft long, 61 ft wide and 64 ft high, with a coffered ceiling and a sweeping double flight of stairs leading to offices at its northern end.

The pioneers who established the railway network built Euston Arch, the massive Doric portico, outside the first terminus in London, Euston Station; in the 1960s their ancestors knocked it down in what many consider to be an act of cultural vandalism. Perhaps there is hope for this generation as a campaign now exists to have the Euston Arch restored.

If you have an interesting story and would like to see a historical map of your area then why not let us know by emailing us.

Map of the week – A bat, ball and plenty of gas

Map: Ordnance Survey County Series 1:2500 – 1875 The Oval Cricket Ground.
The Oval Kennington

The Oval is an international cricket ground in Kennington, South London. Home of Surrey County Cricket Club and a historical venue for many other sports.

In 1844, Kennington Oval was a market garden. The Oval was then (and still is) owned by the Duchy of Cornwall. In 1845, the Surry County Cricket Club signed a lease ‘to convert it into a subscription cricket ground’, for 31 years at a rent of £120 per annum plus taxes. Additional costs included 10,000 grass turfs from Tooting Common purchased for £300 to create its first ever playing surface.

By 1868 the game and the ground had grown and 20,000 spectators gathered at the Oval for the first game of the Aboriginal cricket tour of England, the first tour of England by any foreign side. Thanks to C. W. Alcock, the Secretary of Surrey from 1872 to 1907, the first ever Test match in England was played at the Oval in 1880 between England and Australia. The Oval thereby became the second ground to stage a Test, after the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) in Australia.

In 1882, Australia won the ‘Ashes Test’, at the Oval, by seven runs within two days. The Sporting Times printed a mock obituary notice for English cricket, leading to the creation of the Ashes trophy. The obituary stated that English cricket had died, and ‘the body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia’. The English media dubbed the next English tour to Australia (1882–83) as the quest to regain the Ashes.

In addition to cricket, it has hosted many other important sporting occasions and can lay claim to be the most historically important general sports ground in the world. In 1870 it staged the first ever England football international, against Scotland. In 1876 it held England v Wales and England v Scotland rugby internationals, and in 1877 rugby’s first Varsity match.

It staged the first FA Cup final in 1872 when the Wanderers beat the Royal Engineers 1–0. This final was notable for the Engineers’ modern footballing style of teamwork rather than individual play. The ground hosted all subsequent FA Cup finals (1873 excluded) up until 1892.

Other events to be held at the Oval include Hockey, Australian Rules and a was even used as a training ground for a visiting American Football team.

The famous gas holders just outside the Oval’s wall are actually newer than the ground by several years, having been built around 1853. Now disused, there has been much speculation of late as to whether they should be demolished; however, many believe they are an integral part of the Oval’s landscape and therefore their future looks secure.
If you have an interesting story and would like to see a historical map of your area then why not let us know by emailing us.

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Cassini’s map of week – Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace 1878 – Ordnance Survey County Series 1:2,500

buckinghampalace2

Originally known as Buckingham House, the building which forms the core of today’s palace was a large townhouse built for the Duke of Buckingham in 1705 on a site which had been in private ownership for at least 150 years.

It was acquired by George III in 1761 as a private residence for Queen Charlotte, and known as “The Queen’s House”. During the 19th century it was enlarged, principally by architects John Nash and Edward Blore, forming three wings around a central courtyard.

Buckingham Palace finally became the official royal palace of the British monarch on the accession of Queen Victoria in 1837. The last major structural additions were made in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including the East front, which contains the well-known balcony on which the royal family traditionally congregates to greet crowds outside. However, the palace chapel was destroyed by a German bomb in World War II; the Queen’s Gallery was built on the site and opened to the public in 1962 to exhibit works of art from the Royal Collection.

buckinghampalace-todayThe Palace at the time of the above map had a facade of soft French stone that became blackened over the years due to pollution. The familiar white Portland stone facade of the Palace that we see today wasn’t added until 1913 by Architect Sir Aston Webb.

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