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Monday, August 5, 2013

A wooden railway discovered in Newcastle

Scientific Minds Want To Know
As reported in The History Blog:
Archaeologists excavating the site of the Neptune Shipyard in Newcastle upon Tyne, northeastern England, before development have discovered a 25-meter (82 feet) stretch of an 18th century wooden railway. These rails weren’t transporting trains — they wouldn’t be invented until the next century — but rather wooden wagons, aka chaldrons, pulled by horses. This is a section of the Willington Waggonway built in the 1760s to transport coal from several local collieries to the river Tyne...

...the networks of waggonways were essential to the development of the industry. They enabled collieries to transport far more coal than wagons on traditional roads. One horse could deliver between 10 to 13 long tons of coal per trip along the waggonways, four times more than that same horse could deliver off track. They were built like Roman aqueducts, at a slight downhill incline from colliery to dock, whenever possible so gravity could help drive the wagons...

 It’s a discovery of major historical significance, not just because of its importance to the history of the region, but because the rail gauge is standard gauge, still the most widely used rail width in the world... 
More information at The History Blog, especially re the development of standard gauge.  You learn something every day.

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