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History

Railways

The first railways in Britain were simple systems operated in mining towns. The expansion of the railway network was delayed by different problems and there were several objections to the construction of the railways.

Why were the railways built?

  • Trade: railways would link areas with mines and factories directly to ports so that British produce could be exported all over the country and the world. Farmers would be able to send their produce to market easily and quickly.
  • Cost: raw materials and manufactured goods could be transported more cheaply so prices could be reduced. Lower prices would mean more products could be sold, increasing profits for industrialists. The public would be more able to travel as the cost of transport would become more affordable.
  • Reliability: unlike the rivers, which froze during the winter or were unnavigable during the summer, railways were almost always able to transport goods.
  • Population growth: the increase in population, especially those living in towns, meant an increase in demand for the distribution of bulky goods such as coal.

Back to British society - 1815-1851 index

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