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European Themeroute | Transport and Communication

During the early years of the Industrial Revolution there was a radical change in transportation. The arrival of pounding steamships and steam locomotives gave a huge boost to industrialisation. The change began on the canals which, for centuries, had proved to be the best means of transporting goods. In ... more

Icon: Transport and CommunicationThe tracks of the Industrial Revolution. European Theme Route Transport

During the early years of the Industrial Revolution there was a radical change in transportation. The arrival of pounding steamships and steam locomotives gave a huge boost to industrialisation. The change began on the canals which, for centuries, had proved to be the best means of transporting goods. In 1761, the Bridgewater canal was completed in one of the birthplaces of the industrial age, the British textile area Lancashire; from then on, the route supplied the booming city of Manchester with coal. Other canals followed quickly, enabling coal to be transported to textile factories and iron mills in all the major cities in Britain.

The steam engine triggered off the revolution in transport. The first experiments with the technology date back to 1690, when a French physicist by the name of Dennis Papin designed a steam-driven boat with bucket wheels. But it was not until a century later that practical experiments took place both in France and Britain. Nevertheless it was an American, Robert Fulton, who succeeded in building the first steamship – even before the first locomotive took to the rails. The "Clermont", a flat bottomed boat with two huge bucket wheels and a steam engine, was launched into the Hudson River in 1807.

In 1827 an Austrian forest engineer, Joseph Ressel, took out a patent on a screw propeller. This only really became commercially viable in 1845 after the "Great Britain" had crossed the Atlantic, driven by a ca. 5 metre screw propeller. About the same time people stopped building ships made of wood, because iron hulls were cheaper to construct, could take greater loads and withstand rough seas more easily. A gigantic new market had been opened for the ironmaking industry.

Railways gave the other great boost to industrialisation. They were first used in collieries, where goods wagons ran on wooden rails. About the middle of the 18th century horse-driven railways were running, both above and below the surface, on rails completely made of iron. The first steam-driven wagon was made by the French artillery officer, Nicolas Cugnot around 1770. He was followed by the Englishman, Richard Trevithick, who set his vehicle on rails. In 1803 the first colliery locomotive went into action in Coalbrookdale. This gave rise to George Stephenson's classic steam engine: the front part consisted of a large steam boiler, behind which worked the driver and the stoker; within the engine were a huge amount of horizontal heating pipes, and the steam was blown out at the front. Steam cylinders and pistons were mounted beneath on either side in order to drive the wheels directly.

Stephenson also built the first railway line in England. In 1825, the Stockton and Darlington Railway was opened, and the subsequent railway boom resulted in an explosive growth in the whole of the British economy.

Just as railway mania was beginning to die down, a new development began: the motorcar engine. This revolutionised road traffic completely - primarily, however, on the continent and in the USA. Inventors started by trying to eradicate the disadvantages of the steam engine, which lost a lot of energy because the steam was created in the boiler but used separately in the operating cylinder. Therefore people started experimenting with burning the fuel directly in the operating cylinder. The obvious fuel seemed to be gas (produced from coal), for this was used for street lighting in many places. The first working gas engine was built in 1859 by a citizen of Luxembourg, Étienne Lenoir. He blew an explosive mixture of gas and air into a horizontal cylinder, alternately left and right of the pistons, and ignited it with an electric spark. Since both the mechanical stress and the fuel consumption were very high, the world had to wait until 1876 when the first really marketable internal combustion engine was launched by the German travelling salesman, Nicolaus August Otto.

Otto’s époque-making idea was the four-stroke principal. On the first stroke (intake) the piston descends, and a mixture of gas and air is sucked into the cylinder; on the second (compression), the piston rises and compresses the fuel-air mixture. This is then ignited electrically, and the resulting expansion of burning gases drives the piston downwards (power). On the fourth stroke (exhaust), the piston rises once again and pushes the waste fuel from the cylinder.

Rudolf Diesel's engine, however, was even more efficient. The German engineer based his findings on those of the French physician, Sadi Carnot. His motor sucked in pure air into the cylinder. And because this can be more highly compressed than a mixture, it heats up strongly. Only then is the fuel injected. Because of the high temperature, this ignites automatically, thereby driving the piston in the same way as in the Otto motor. Diesel's engine was presented to the world in 1897, and proved to be both durable and economic. It was possible to get several thousand horsepower from it. The result was that it replaced steam engines in small power stations and was soon built into ships. That said, the high compression demanded a robust construction, so that for a long time the motor was too heavy for locomotives and motor cars.

In the 1870s it was discovered that oil products could be used as engine fuel, because they could easily be gasified: the heavy oil components in diesel motors, the light ones in Otto motors. Now that an alternative had been found to coal gas, people were no longer dependent on a stationary gas connection. There were no more obstacles in the way of the triumphant march of new, mobile internal combustion engines.

Otto’s four-stroke motor was first put into motion in 1885 in a three wheel car made by the Mannheim constructor, Carl Benz; and a wooden motorbike made by Gottfried Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach. In the following years these two German engineers presented the first four-wheeled motorcar, which they had developed from a coach. It was driven by a single-cylinder motor with a 0.5 litre piston displacement and a performance of 1.5 horsepower. The vehicle became commercially viable on the French market where large engineering and assembly works had taken over motor manufacturing. Thanks to producers like Peugeot, Panhard & Levassor and Renault the first motorcar boom in France occurred at the turn of the century.

Further improvements soon made driving more comfortable. In 1888 an Irish vet, John Boyd Dunlop, invented rubber tyres (at first for bicycles); in 1902 the German company Robert Bosch invented sparkplugs, and in 1911 in the USA, an electric starting motor. Maybach’s 1901 "Mercedes" model contained a pioneering example of a motorcar engine: a four-cylinder, four-stroke 35 hp engine which could accelerate the car to a speed of 72 km an hour.

Motorcar production had already become an important manufacturing branch in industrial countries when Henry Ford conquered the mass market. He deliberately set out to build a cheap everyday car for farmers in the mid-west, the Ford model T. Sales rose like lightning, bringing with them revolutionary methods of production. As early as 1911 assembly line production began in the British Ford works in Manchester. In 1914 the complete Ford factory in Detroit was operating on the assembly line system.

Waltham Abbey | United Kingdom
If you put saltpetre, charcoal and sulphur together the result is an explosive mixture. Gunpowder changed the face of the world. One of the main contributors was the Royal Gunpowder Mills in Essex. For 300 years the works near Waltham Abbey researched and produced almost everything to do ammunition ...
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Royal Gunpowder Mills
Beaulieu Drive
EN9 1JY Waltham Abbey, United Kingdom

Augsburg | Germany
The former railway depot and workshop, covering about 35,000 square meters, was built in 1906 by the Königlich-Bayerische Staatseisenbahnen (Royal Bavarian State Railways). Today the whole complex is listed. The restoration of the buildings and facilities started in 2014 and is due to last several ...
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Railway Park
Firnhaberstraße 22c
86159 Augsburg, Germany

Benndorf | Germany
Broad, undulating fields and rows of fruit trees line the stretch of the oldest narrow-gauge railway in Germany. At the front of the train is one of the original Mansfeld steam engines. Clattering behind it are historic wagons with open platforms and round iron stoves. Re-greened spoil tips which ...
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The Mansfeld Works Railway Line
Hauptstraße 15
06308 Benndorf, Germany

The museum of communications in Berlin claims to be Europe’s oldest postal museum. The collection was established in 1872 by the postmaster of imperial Germany, Heinrich von Stephan (1831-97), who, in 1866, had been commissioned by the government of Prussia to establish a federal postal service, ...
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Berlin Museum of Communications
Leipziger Strasse 16
10117 Berlin, Germany

Dozens of children’s’ dreams are simultaneously fulfilled here. For example when the eyes of large and small railway fans light up as they climb into the driver’s cab of a steaming locomotive to watch the stoker shovelling coal into the crackling oven. Sometimes there’s a whole train attached to the ...
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Bochum-Dahlhausen Railway Museum
Dr.-C.-Otto-Straße 191
44879 Bochum, Germany

Dessau-Roßlau | Germany
Fireproof, weatherproof, resilient, comfortable and extremely safe. These are the properties that swiftly made Junkers aircraft classics of aviation history. Less well-known are the other achievements of the famous aeroplane manufacturer, above all the invention of the bathroom gas geyser which ...
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Dessau technical museum
Kühnauer Straße 161
06846 Dessau-Roßlau, Germany

Essen | Germany
Take a ride on the historical coaches of the Hespertalbahn (Herspertal railway) and enjoy the trip along the Baldeney lake. The museum railway takes you from Essen-Kupferdreh to Haus Scheppen, a former vassal estate of the abbey of Werden.Travelling through the today's recreational landscape ...
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Hespertal Railway
Prinz-Friedrich-Platz 3
45257 Essen, Germany

Frankfurt am Main | Germany
In 1881, the German architect Hermann Eggert won the design contest for the station hall, his runner-up in the contest, Johann Wilhelm Schwedler was made chief engineer for the steel-related works. The station was built by the contractor Philipp Holzmann with construction starting in 1883. The ...
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Central Station
Am Hauptbahnhof 1
60329 Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Magdeburg | Germany
If there is one feature which unites the exhibits in the Magdeburg Technical Museum, it is pioneering spirit. This is immediately obvious in the threshing equipment manufactured by the Magdeburg company, Zimmermann, around 1900, which was discovered in a barn in Glindenberg. Its owner was utterly ...
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Magdeburg Technical Museum
Dodendorfer Straße 65
39112 Magdeburg, Germany

The 10th October 2003 was a very special day for the residents of Magdeburg and the surrounding region. They flocked in droves to the opening of the longest canal bridge in Europe directly in front of the city gates. The all-steel trough which takes the water from the Mittelland canal across the ...
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Water Crossroads / Rothensee Boat Lift
Am Schiffshebewerk
39106 Magdeburg, Germany

Rüsselsheim | Germany
The foundations of industry in Rüsselsheim were laid by Adam Open (1837-95) who began making sewing machines in the town in 1862, and diversified into the production of bicycles and, from 1898 began to make motorcars. His company prospered, and the American corporation General Motors took a majority ...
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Municipal and Industrial Museum
Hauptmann Scheuermann Weg 4
65428 Rüsselsheim, Germany

Iron ore extraction in the Lahn-Dill region is more than 2.000 years old. The area around the current Lahn-Dill district once contained more than 210 pits used for mining the so called Lahn-Dill ore. In 1983 the red hematite mine Fortuna closed its doors, thus putting an end to the ore extraction in ...
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Fortuna visitor mine and mine railway museum
Grube Fortuna 1
35606 Solms, Germany

Wuppertal | Germany
Zwischen 1890 und 1969 gab es im Bergischen Land über 200 Kilometer schmalspurige Straßenbahnstrecken. Erhalten geblieben sind ganze 3,3 Kilometer zwischen Wuppertal-Kohlfurth und -Cronenberg. Dieses Reststück nahmen 1973 die Straßenbahnfreunde des Vereins Bergische Museumsbahnen in ihre Obhut. Die ...
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Bergisch Tram Museum
Elektrische Straßenbahn Kohlfurth–Cronenberg
Kohlfurther Brücke 57
42349 Wuppertal, Germany

At TRACTION  is a remainder of the international railway past of Roosendaal. The visitors feel themselves as a part of a typical Dutch railway traction depot as it was before and just after the Second World war. They feel themselves at home between  working steam locomotives a swell as illustrious ...
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at TRACTION Rail Campus Roosendaal
Bosstraat 4704 RL Roosendaal
Office: Karel Doormanlaan 15
4819 BK Roosendaal, Netherlands

Løkken Verk | Norway
The local community Løkken Verk has developed during more than 300 years of mining industry. The ore in the Løkken field was discovered in 1652 and the mines put into operation in 1654. Later this find proved to be one of the greatest cuperous-pyrite deposits in the world. During the first 250 years ...
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Orkla Industrial Museum
Orkla Industrimuseum
Torfinn Bjørnaas plass 2
7332 Løkken Verk, Norway

Jaworzyna Śląska | Poland
The museum was founded to protect, preserve and safeguard industrial heritage of Lower Silesia. In a former locomotive depot in Jaworzyna Śląska, date back to the end of XIX century. It houses an exhibition of the rolling stock collection dated from 19th century to the 1970`s. The museum consists of ...
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Lower Silesian industrial and Railway Museum
Muzeum Przemysłu i Kolejnictwa na Śląsku
Towarowa 4
58-140 Jaworzyna Śląska, Poland

Madrid | Spain
Madrid’s Delicias station was built in 1880, with a 170m X 34m train shed whose wrought-iron construction was based on principles demonstrated at the Paris International Exhibition of 1878.Train services ceased in 1968 and since 1984 it has served to house Madrid's railway museum which has one of ...
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Railway Museum Madrid
Museo del Ferrocarril de Madrid
Paseo de la Delicias 61
28045 Madrid, Spain

Alexandria | United Kingdom
Situated only 5 mins from the beautiful Loch Lomond, the Argyll Motor Works, built in 1905, were the largest motor car works in the world second only to the Packard works in the USA. And they are still the most impressive and palatial motor works ever created - with a 540 ft frontage of red stone ...
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Argyll Motor Works | Lomond Galleries
78-80 Main Street
G83 0UG Alexandria, United Kingdom

Cardiff | United Kingdom
By 1890 Cardiff was the most important coal port in the world. The pierhead building (1986), designed in ‘chateau style’ by William Frame for the Bute Dock Company, became the nerve centre for the trading activity linking railways and shipping. Today pierhead remains as a testimony to South Wales’ ...
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Pierhead Building
Maritime Road
CF10 4PZ Cardiff, United Kingdom

Menai Bridge | United Kingdom
Menai Suspension BridgeCompleted on 30 January 1826, the Menai Bridge was a triumph of civil engineering – the biggest suspension bridge in the world at the time. Sixteen huge chains held up 579 feet of deck, giving 100 feet of clearance for tall sailing ships navigating the Menai Strait. The Menai ...
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The Menai Strait Bridges
Menai Bridge Community Heritage Trust Thomas Telford Centre
Mona Road
LL59 5EA Menai Bridge, United Kingdom