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A new international conference series is being planned on
EARLY MAIN-LINE RAILWAYS
alternating with the existing Early Railway Conference on a 2-year cycle. This first main-line conference will be held in
CAERNARFON, NORTH WALES
from Thursday 19 June to Sunday 22 June 2014.
Further details, a booking form and an online booking facility can be found here.
|Conference papers have researched the close relationship between early rail transport and other industrial transport systems including canals, such as here at William Reynolds' Hay canal-incline near Ironbridge.|
The Early Railways conferences will continue as before, at a four-year interval, with the next planned for 2016.
The ‘early railway’ is defined as railways which were pre-main line in concept if not necessarily in date. The ‘main line’ model is considered to be that established with the opening of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway in England in 1830, on the understanding that other dates are relevant in other countries.
The two conferences are differentiated by this ’main line’ and ’pre-main line date or style’, although there will inevitably be elements of crossover at times. They share a common purpose, in hoping to shed new light on subjects which are, in terms of railway history, relatively little studied or published.
In the mid-1990s, informal contact between historians of the early railway revealed a consensus that important recent research in this field needed an outlet in a dedicated conference. This opinion was confirmed by meetings held at the National Railway Museum in York and Beamish Museum in County Durham, where two sessions of an ‘Early Railways Study Group’ agreed on the creation of an International Early Railways Conference and the formation of an organising committee.
The First conference was held at Durham University in September 1998 and proved highly successful. It was immediately agreed to hold a Second, which took place at Manchester’s Museum of Science & Industry in 2001, with the Third at York’s National Railway Museum in 2004 and the Fourth at University College London in 2008, a date which coincided with the 200th anniversary of Trevithick’s London locomotive trials.
Click here for a review of the Fourth Conference.
|Tyneside coal waggonways formed the most extensive railway system in the world by the end of the eighteenth century. [Reproduced by permission of the North of England Open Air museum, Beamish.]|
The Fifth Conference was held at Caernarfon, in June 2012. This represented a long-awaited opportunity to host the conference in Wales, where so many important early railways were constructed and where the first demonstration of the steam locomotive took place.
Over 100 delegates attended a highly stimulating and comfortable conference. The evening trip proved memorable; a gravity-waggon run and a private train on the Ffestiniog Railway on one of the stormiest nights for several years.
|Risca viaduct on the Sirhowy Tramroad in South Wales, opened in 1805, is one of the iconic structures of the early railway period. [Reproduced by permission of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust: Elton Collection.]|
The following papers were presented at the Conference:
David Gwyn, Gwynedd railways 1790-1848
Philip Ashforth, The Harrington Waggonway
Rod Caldwell, The Australian Agricultural Company's A Pit Railway, New South Wales
Ian Carter, The farthest early railways: some New Zealand oddities
John Crompton, A Lancashire colliery railway in transition: the Haydock Colliery railways 1757-1835
Andy Guy, Missing links: some atypical early railways
Dieter Hopkin, William Brunton: his ‘Mechanical Horses’ and where they roamed
Peter King, 17th century footrayles
Michael Lewis, Early passenger carriage by rail
Jim Longworth and Phil Rickard, Early Australian Railed-ways: 1788-1855
Michael Messenger, Sources of finance for early Cornish railways
Peter Northover, Buying iron: the example of the Plymouth & Dartmoor Railway
Tim R Smith, Stoneways
Robert Waterhouse, The Tavistock Canal and its railways, 1803-1873
Derek Winstanley, Early railways in Winstanley, Orrell and Pemberton, Lancashire, 1770s to 1870s
Grahame Boyes, Working the Peak Forest Railway: some revised interpretations
Sheila Bye, As others saw us (Middleton railway and Blenkinsop)
Fred Hartley, Two early railways in Leicestershire: new information on the Loughborough & Nanpantan and the Cloud Hill plateway
Dan McCarthy The Dalkey Tramway
Robert Needham, Rutways in Bath and Cotswold stone mines
John New, Wollaton or Broseley – the gap narrows
Roland Paxton, The Bell Rock lighthouse railway 1808 and its significance
Ulrich Stanjek, Pictures and terms from mining transport
|Photographs of operational early railways are comparatively rare. Here horses pull a train along a plateway at Hirwaun in South Wales. [Reproduced by permission of Rhondda Cynon Taff Libraries.]|
for further information contact:
Papers from all four previous conferences have been published in a series of attractive and authoritative volumes that have already become collectors’ items.
Click here for a list of contents of the Early Railways volumes.
The only volume still in print is Early Railways 2, which can be ordered at http://newcomen.random-group.co.uk/?page_id=573.
The Conference Committee is aware how difficult it is to find copies of the volumes and is examining possible solutions.
At the Fourth Conference some time was devoted to a discussion of the aspects of early British railway history that required further documentary and archaeological research and analysis. Click here to download a copy of the resulting Research Agenda.
Enquiries about the Early Railways conferences and publications by e-mail to:
The Early Railway Conference is jointly sponsored by