Sunday, August 13, 2006

Rain, Steam and Speed ...

Mentioning the artist William Mallord Turner on my 'other blog' tonight reminded me of this famous painting of his in the National Gallery in London. Its title is "Rain, Steam and Speed ... The Great Western Railway" and it was painted in 1844.

It's an interesting picture and worth a very close look. The location is, I seem to remember, the railway bridge over the Thames at Maidenhead about 20 miles west of London and here is Brunel's railway to Bath and Bristol a few years after it opened. This is the original seven foot gauge line, and the locomotive has a very large 'haystack' copper firebox. Behind the engine is a train of open caoches with passengers huddled on their benches in heavy coats against the weather.

I guess by the early 1840's trains like this must have been working at 40 mph or even faster and it must have been gruelling to sit outside at that speed in rain or snow in the third class 'Parliamentary' carriages. I must see if I can find any contemporary descriptions. What a 'gricer' heaven though eh? I once rode behind the replica of 'Rocket' like this and it was 'ace'! Whirled along at speed in an open truck with a strange array of antediluvian motive power to see at every station! Can you imagine it?


At 2:15 PM, August 13, 2006, Blogger Norman said...

Now THAT was an age when engineering was an art form. Its not just railway engines. Just visit an old mill and watch a beam engine in action. Living sculptures.
I don't the IKB had much time for art but he knew how to build beautiful machines. Geordie Stevenson too!


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