Life before railways

Dan Snow explains how the roots of modern railways can be traced back to the late 17th and early 18th centuries. Coal was central to the story, it was extremely valuable, but only if it could be transported from the inaccessible hills and valleys where it was mined to the cities and factories where it was needed.

Dan shows how early engineers built railroads for horse drawn wagons, but these were still not enough to satisfy the demand for coal. Canals also carried coal, but these would freeze over in winter and dry out in summer. There was a need for a system of transport which could overcome the weather, the terrain and nature itself.

Release date: 18 Feb 2013

8 minutes

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