From The Neolithic To The Sea: A Journey From The Past To The Present




The first railways appeared in Greece, Malta and parts of the Roman Empire at least 2000 years ago. These used stone-cut tracks to guide the wheels of horse-drawn wagons carrying goods. The earliest railway in Britain was built at Wollaton near Nottingham in 1604 by Huntingdon Beaumont; he then expanded north, and by 1660 perhaps nine such railways existed on Tyneside. The railway thrived in the Tyne coalfields, and technical developments were exported to other fields in Yorkshire, Cumberland and Scotland. The profession of 'waggonway-wright' came into being as an early type of civil engineer, laying out routes and constructing cuttings and embankments. Rails were typically of oak, 4½" square and pinned to close-set sleepers on well-drained deep ballast. These needed regular replacement under heavy use; and some railways began to protect the wood with thin wrought-iron straps. Gauge varied, and wheels were flanged; gravity was used in the downward direction, and horses on the up.

As iron became more widely available, it began to be used on the railways, first as protection for the wooden rails. As most mines were developed close to waterways to allow for ease of transportation, it frustrated those who owned inland coal seams but were unable to exploit them. In 1789, an English engineer, William Jessop, designed the first iron rails for use with flanged wheels on a coal-hauling railway in Loughborough. The iron system spread quickly; some built privately, but increasingly being built by public canal companies under canal Acts, to feed into their waterways. This was followed by stand-alone public railways, built under powers created by railway Acts. These began to carry a variety of goods, and were able to span longer distances, thanks to the harder-wearing iron rail.

The steam engine was developed in the late 17th and early 18th centuries, and was the motive power behind the industrial revolution. As the designs developed, engineers began to experiment with steam powered vehicles. In 1769 Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot demonstrated his ‘steam wagon’ in Paris; this was the first functioning steam-powered vehicle. In 1814 George Stephenson, who worked at a colliery on Tyneside, persuaded the colliery manager to allow him to build a steam engine. The resulting machine, the ‘Blucher’, had flanged wheels and successfully hauled 30 tons of coal at a time. Over the next five years, sixteen more such engines were built. In 1822, Stephenson opened the Hetton to Sunderland railway, hauling coal using a combination of gravity and steam locomotives – thus becoming the first railway to operate without animal power.

The Liverpool and Manchester Railway proved the viability of rail transport when, after organising the Rainhill Trials of 1829, Stephenson's Rocket successfully hauled a load of 13 tons at an average speed of 12 miles per hour. The company took the step of working its trains from its opening entirely by steam traction. Railways then soon spread throughout the United Kingdom and the world, and became the dominant means of land transport for nearly a century, until the invention of aircraft and automobiles, which prompted a gradual decline in railways.

Road transportion is usually by a motor driven vehicle on asphalt - tarmac roads carrying passengers or goods.

It was the Industrial Revolution that changed the way we view road transport. The old dirt roads were inadequate to cope with the increased commerce between towns and citys, turning into mud when it rained or becoming pot holed and very dusty in summer. It was Loudon McAdam who solved this problem. He invented a substance now known as Macadam which is inexpensive to produce made ot of a stone aggregate and a tar like substance. He embanked the road s a few feet higher than the surrounding terrain to cause water to drain away from the surface. At the same time, Thomas Telford, made substantial advances in the engineering of new roads and the construction of bridges.

A River is a natural stream of water which flows towards an ocean, lake or another stream. Sometimes a river may flows into the ground or dries up completely before reaching the ocean. Larger streams are called rivers, but there is no general rule that defines what can be called a river.

A river is a component of the hydrological cycle, also know as the water cycle. The water within a river is generally collected from precipitation through surface runoff, groundwater recharge and release of stored water in natural reservoirs, such as a glacier. Rivers are used as a source of water, for food, for transport, as a defensive barrier, as a source of power to drive machinery, and as a means of disposing of waste.