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European Themeroute | 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 ... more

Icon: TransportThe 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.

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Sites

Istanbul | Turkey

The Istanbul Railway Museum is small in scale ...

Istanbul Railway Museum
Demiryolu Müzesi
Istanbul Gar (Sirkeci)
34110 Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul | Turkey

The majority of the industrialist donated ...

Rahmi Koç Industrial Museum
Rahmi Koç Sanayi Müzesi Hasköy
Hasköy Caddesi 27
3445 Istanbul, Turkey

Donetsk | Ukraine

The railway museum in Donetsk opened in 2000, ...

Museum of History and Development of the Donetsk Railway
Музею історії та розвитку Донецької залізниці
Artemovskaya Street 47
Donetsk, Ukraine

Zaporizhyza / Saporischschja | Ukraine

The Faeton Retro Car Museum at Zaporizhyza was ...

Faeton Retro Car Museum
музею «Фаэтон»
8 Vyborgska Street
69032 Zaporizhyza / Saporischschja, Ukraine

Aberdeen | United Kingdom

The port city in the north-east of Scotland, ...

Aberdeen Maritime Museum
Shiprow
AB11 5BY Aberdeen, United Kingdom

Aberfeldy | United Kingdom

The outstanding example of military ...

Aberfeldy (Wade's) Bridge
Taybridge Road
PH15 2DD Aberfeldy, United Kingdom

Abergavenny | United Kingdom

Goytre Wharf on the Monmouthshire and Brecon ...

Goytre Wharf
Activity and Visitor Centre
Llanover
NP7 9EW Abergavenny, United Kingdom

Aberystwyth | United Kingdom

The Aberystwyth Cliff Railway is a 237-m long ...

Aberystwyth Cliff Railway
SY23 2DN Aberystwyth, United Kingdom

Alexandria | United Kingdom

Situated only 5 mins from the beautiful Loch ...

Argyll Motor Works | Lomond Galleries
78-80 Main Street
G83 0UG Alexandria, United Kingdom

Alford | United Kingdom

The museum at Alford, 40 km west of Aberdeen, ...

Grampian Transport Museum
Montgarrie Road
AB33 8AE Alford, United Kingdom

Alrewas | United Kingdom

Fradley junction is a favourite spot for ...

Fradley Junction
DE13 7DN Alrewas, United Kingdom

Amberley | United Kingdom

The museum at Amberley illustrates the history ...

Amberley Museum
BN18 9LT Amberley, United Kingdom

Amlwch | United Kingdom

As long ago as the Bronze Age people knew that ...

Mynydd Parys and Porth Amlwch
The Sail Loft, Porth Amlwch
LL68 9DB Amlwch, United Kingdom

Ashton-under-Lyne | United Kingdom

Housed within the restored nineteenth century ...

Portland Basin Museum
Portland Place
OL7 0QA Ashton-under-Lyne, United Kingdom

Aviemore | United Kingdom

The society that preserves the Strathspey ...

Strathspey Railway
Aviemore Station
Dalfaber Road
PH22 1PY Aviemore, United Kingdom

Banbury | United Kingdom

Banbury in Oxfordshire, near the borders of ...

Tooley's Boatyard & Banbury Museum
Banbury Museum
Spiceball Park Road
OX16 2PQ Banbury, United Kingdom

Barnstaple | United Kingdom

Arlington Court is a country house of the ...

Arlington Court and the National Trust Carriage Museum
Arlington
EX31 4LP Barnstaple, United Kingdom

Barnstaple | United Kingdom

The Lynton & Barnstaple Railway was opened in ...

Lynton & Barnstaple Railway
Woody Bay Station Martinhoe Cross Parracombe
EX31 4RA Barnstaple, United Kingdom

Beamish | United Kingdom

Beamish, once called the North of England Open ...

Beamish Museum
DH9 0RG Beamish, United Kingdom

Beaulieu | United Kingdom

There are many motor museums in Great Britain, ...

The National Motor Museum
John Montagu Building
Brockenhurst
SO42 7ZN Beaulieu, United Kingdom

Belfast | United Kingdom

The story of RMS (Royal Mail Ship) Titanic ...

Titanic Belfast
1 Olympic Way
BT3 9£P Belfast, United Kingdom

Berwick-upon-Tweed | United Kingdom

Berwick-upon-Tweed is an archetypal border ...

Berwick-upon-Tweed Museum & Art Gallery
Berwick Barracks
The Parade
TD15 1DQ Berwick-upon-Tweed, United Kingdom

Betws-y-Coed | United Kingdom

The road between London and Holyhead, the ...

Holyhead Road | Waterloo Bridge
A5
Betws-y-Coed, United Kingdom

Birkenhead | United Kingdom

Birkenhead is the historic home of the first ...

Wirral Transport Museum
1 Taylor Street
CH41 1BG Birkenhead, United Kingdom

Birmingham | United Kingdom

As the threat of European war increased in the ...

Jaguar Visitor Centre
Chester Road Castle Vale
B35 7RA Birmingham, United Kingdom

Bourton-on-the-Water | United Kingdom

The museum opened in 1978 in the village of ...

Cotswold Motoring Museum & Toy Collection
Sherborne Street
GL54 2BY Bourton-on-the-Water, United Kingdom

Bo’ness | United Kingdom

The Bo’ness & Kinneil Railway on the shores of ...

Bo’ness & Kinneil Railway | Museum of Scottish Railways
Scottish Railway Preservation Society
Bo’ness Station Union Street
EH51 9HQ Bo’ness, United Kingdom

Bradford | United Kingdom

Bradford was often called ‘worstedopolis’ in ...

Bradford Industrial Museum
Moorside Mills
Moorside Road
BD2 3HD Bradford, United Kingdom

Brecon | United Kingdom

The basin forms the terminus of the 56km ...

Brecon Canal Basin
Rich Way
LD3 7 Brecon, United Kingdom

Brighton & Hove | United Kingdom

The first electric railway locomotive was ...

Volk’s Electric Railway
285 Madeira Drive
BN2 1EN Brighton & Hove, United Kingdom

Bristol | United Kingdom

The SS Great Britain was the first ...

SS Great Britain
Great Western Dockyard Harbourside
BS1 6TY Bristol, United Kingdom

Burnley | United Kingdom

The Weavers´ Triangle is a modern name for an ...

Weavers´ Triangle
85 Manchester Road
BB11 1JZ Burnley, United Kingdom

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