Letters, References and Notes (1830-1838) 
Relating to James Caldwell and Anne Marsh (Marsh-Caldwell)

The following is a listing of letters, references and general notes, from 1831-1838, relating to James Caldwell, his daughter Anne Marsh (nee Caldwell) and her husband Arthur Marsh .  For notes relating to other years please go to Letters, References and Notes (1780-1874).

 

Printed note about the railways addressed to Parliment.  It has Peter Holland's name on the outside but it does not say who wrote it.  Probably dates to the early 1830s.

 

P Holland Esq.

Knutsford.

Addressed to the Members of both Houses of Parliament.

During the Session of Parliament, which is now in progress, the Legislature will be called upon to sanction numerous Bills for the construction of Railways in various parts of the Kingdom, the aggregate length of which will amount to many hundred miles, and which will require the appropriation of several millions of capital. But before the Acts, giving the necessary powers for that purpose, are granted, it may be well that the Members of both Houses of Parliament should bestow their attention on a few considerations, derived not from scientific principles, but from the exercise of the plain COMMON SENSE, which applies the lessons of experience to the regulation of conduct in the ordinary affairs of life. These considerations are directed chiefly to the question, whether it be expedient, in the present state of our knowledge of Railways, to urge their construction with the precipitancy, and to the extent, which are contended for by the advocates of this new mode of communication? It is the object of these few pages to examine the question with impartiality, and with all the brevity that is consistent with a perspicuous view of the argument.

The employment of Railways, which had been long in use at the principal iron and coal-works in Great Britain , was first recommended for general adoption about the year 1821. their fitness, or unfitness, for this more extensive purpose, soon became a matter of public discussion; and various, and even opposite, opinions were advanced by engineers of the greatest eminence. It was not till the year 1824, that the construction of a Railway for general use was determined to be carried into effect between Liverpool and Manchester . The line, selected for the experiment, was the most favourable to success that could possibly have been chosen, both on account of the level nature of the ground, and of the vast amount of carriage between its extreme points. The work was conducted with great spirit and perseverance; and, in September, 1835?, the road was sufficiently advanced to be opened for use.

During the time when the Railway was constructing, the public opinion gradually acquired a bias, and at length a decided direction, in favour of this new mode of communication. But the spirit of enthusiasm was excited to the highest pitch, by the display which took place on the memorable day of its being first opened. With a justifiable desire to render that event as impressive as possible, the Directors gave to it all the accompaniments of pomp and circumstance, which could accrue from splendid trains of carriages, and from the presence of persons, distinguished for rank, station, and talents. With on melancholy exception, not imputable to any defect of their arrangements, the proceedings of the day were well adapted to astonish and delight the vast assemblages of people gathered from a widely extended district of the surrounding country, and from the most distant parts of the Kingdom. No one, whatever might be his own peculiar interests, could witness this great triumph of industry and skill, (by which a power of terrific force was subdued to the most easy government, and so directed as to give to inert matter the semblance of intelligence, and an efficacy of strength, and velocity of movement, surpassing those of the most perfect animals,) without the warmest admiration; and even without an honest pride, in belonging to the age and country in which such inventions had their origin.

But it is of the nature of enthusiasm not to stop at that due point, within which it is a wholesome principle of action, and an incitement to needful and vigorous exertion. Too often it transgresses those sober boundaries, and becomes the source of illusions, which, by their extent and extravagance, inflict the most serious evils upon the community. This is precisely what has happened with respect to the Liverpool and Manchester Railway. Because much has been done to prove the safety and advantages of Railway under certain circumstance, it has been rashly concluded that every thing has been accomplished, which was necessary to demonstrate the universal preference due to Railways over the established modes of communication. Because a Railway over a tolerably level ground, and between two of the most populous towns in the Kingdom, promises to answer its purpose where speed is required, it has been proposed, gravely and in earnest, to carry railways over the tops of mountains, at an elevation of more than 1,000 feet above the sea-level, and even to penetrate the bases of those mountains by inclined tunnels more than three miles in length. Schemes of Railways, which had been abandoned as impracticable or hopeless of profit, have, from the supposed brilliant success of the Liverpool Railway, been revived under the same or other shapes. And nearly the whole island has been marked out by lines of Railways, for which proposals have been issued ascertain sources of wealth to the contributors, and of unbounded advantages to commerce. To these projects, a great part of the Public has lent a willing ear, seduced by the bold and confident pretensions of the persons with whom they originated, many of whom are sure to benefit immediately and considerably, whatever ruin may be entailed on the subscribers at large. Deposits on the shares have been paid, with the intention, the moment the Acts shall be obtained, of securing a profit, by persons who will be reduced to great distress if, from inability to transfer their shares, they should be rendered liable to the usual calls for the periodical advances of capital.

And what is the foundation of all these wild and extravagant speculations? Nothing more (if may safely be answered) than EXPERIMENT, which is still in actual progress; of which the result yet remains to be ascertained; and which, from its nature, cannot be completed for a considerable time yet to come. What hope and encouragement for the future may arise out of the trial of the Liverpool Railway, now going on, especially as respects the consistency of speed with safety, it cannot be pretended that sufficient proof has yet been given of the main point, required to establish the superiority of Railways over canals, viz., their GREATER ECONOMY. Of this, the reduction in the tonnage of raw cotton, in which the Railway has been followed by the water-carriers, is no proof; because the rate now charged, within one shilling per ton, was fixed by the Railway Act, at a time when the cost of its conveyance could only have been approximated by an estimate. Unless, however, the cardinal point of greater economy can be clearly made out, the advantages of the Railway will be limited (as is still the opinion of many of the best judges) to those cases, in which an extra-price can be afforded, for the rapid conveyance of passengers, and of those lighter articles of merchandize which are required to supply immediate demands. The proof which is required must consist, not in ESTIMATES OF CALCULATIONS; for of the fallaciousness of these we have already had sufficient experience in the case of the Liverpool Railway, the cost of which (upwards of

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