The first passenger locomotive

A bigger picture

The novelty of the railway and its effects on the landscape and on life in Britain provided inspiration for many artists and satirists. Images of steam trains appeared in art works and on objects and frequently in newspapers and periodicals, the speedy distribution of which was facilitated by the railways. The railways enabled people from different regions to meet, changing people’s preconceptions about people they rarely had contact with before.

The Break of Gauge at Gloucester


Aboard the trains, passengers were separated into first, second and third class, but there were opportunities to mix, particularly on the platform at stations, as shown by this newspaper illustration of 1846.

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The Queen's Journey from Balmoral


Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s enthusiasm for rail travel helped to popularise the railway. The Queen’s carriage, shown in this illustration from 1875, was built for the royal train.

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Standardised time


An efficient rail network required the use of timetables. Most railways ran by London time. When this watch was made in 1845, towns and cities were beginning to set their clocks to London time too, by 1855 British time was more or less standardised.

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Satirical print


This print of about 1831 shows horses made redundant by the railway. As the railways advanced, stage coach travel declined, and roads deteriorated.

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The Crystal Palace


Leisure travel by rail increased, and excursions to the coast and days out became popular. This print from 1851 shows the railway close to the Crystal palace in Hyde Park, to which many people traveled by rail.

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The first passenger locomotive