Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 148,470 pages of information and 233,895 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Middleton Tramway

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1758 This was the first time an authority obtained powers to build a railway in Britain.

Middleton Colliery built a wagonway to carry coal into Leeds, using horse-drawn vehicles on a gauge of 4 ft 1 in. It was the first railway to be authorised by Act of Parliament since this gave the owner (C. J. Brandling) power to obtain wayleave.

In 1811, John Blenkinsop the manager was interested in using steam locomotives at the Middleton Colliery and had patented a rack and pinion system to avoid problems with adhesion. Fenton, Murray and Wood were asked to design a suitable locomotive. The line is now known as the Middleton Railway. This was the first commercially successful steam locomotive and steam railway.

The Trent and Mersey Canal was the second authority to obtain powers - in 1776 - to build a railway.

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