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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

Losheim am See | Germany

Everything grinds to a halt if there are no ...

Losheim railway and museum
Streifstraße
66679 Losheim am See, Germany

Lübeck | Germany

The History Workshop deals with the era in ...

Herrenwyk History Workshop Industrial Museum
Industriemuseum Geschichtswerkstatt Herrenwyk
Kokerstraße 1-3
23569 Lübeck, Germany

Mannheim | Germany

The museum of technology and labour in ...

TECHNOSEUM. Museum of Technology and Labour
Museumstrasse 1
68165 Mannheim, Germany

Minden | Germany

The Mittelland Canal, the strategic link ...

Canal Aqueduct
Bauhofstraße
32425 Minden, Germany

Muldenhammer | Germany

This permanent exhibition communicates the ...

The German Aerospace Exhibition
Deutsche Raumfahrtausstellung
Dr.-Sigmund-Jähn-Straße 4
08262 Muldenhammer, Germany

München | Germany

Bayerische Motoren Werke (BMW) was established ...

BMW Welt/BMW Museum
Am Olympiapark 1
80809 München, Germany

München | Germany

The Deutsches Museum’s collections of railway ...

Deutsches Museum (Transport Centre)
Theresienhöhe 14a
80339 München, Germany

Mylau | Germany

The 574 metre long Göltzsch valley bridge took ...

Götzsch Valley Railway Bridge
Brückenstraße
08499 Mylau, Germany

Neckarsulm | Germany

The city of Neckarshulm, north of Stuttgart, ...

German Two-Wheel and NSU Museum
Urbanstrasse 11
74172 Neckarsulm, Germany

Neuenmarkt | Germany

The station at Neuenmarkt stands at the foot ...

German Steam Locomotive Museum
Birkenstrasse 5
95339 Neuenmarkt, Germany

Neustadt an der Weinstrasse | Germany

The Palatinate (Pfalz) became part of the ...

Railway Museum and Little Cuckoo Museum Railway
Schillerstrasse 3
67434 Neustadt an der Weinstrasse, Germany

Niederfinow | Germany

The boat lift at Niederfinow, 60 km north-east ...

Niederfinow Boat Lift
Hebewerkstraße
16248 Niederfinow, Germany

Nordhausen | Germany

The IFA Museum celebrates the mechanical ...

IFA Museum
Montaniastraße 13
99734 Nordhausen, Germany

Nördlingen | Germany

The city of Nördlingen lies in northern ...

Bavarian Railway Museum
Am Hohen Weg 6a
86720 Nördlingen, Germany

Nuremberg | Germany

Nuremberg 1835: When the first–ever steam ...

DB (German Railway) Museum
Lessingstraße 6
90443 Nuremberg, Germany

Nuremberg | Germany

The museum of industrial life is located in a ...

Museum for Industrial Culture
Äußere Sulzbacher Straße 62
90317 Nuremberg, Germany

Oberschleissheim | Germany

The aeronautical collections of the Deutsches ...

Deutsches Museum Flugwerft Schleissheim (Schleissheim Hangar)
Effnerstrasse 18
85764 Oberschleissheim, Germany

Osten | Germany

Osten, a small community of less than 2,000 ...

Osten–Hemmoor Transporter Bridge
Schwebefähre Osten-Hemmoor
Fährstrasse
21756 Osten, Germany

Prien am Chiemsee | Germany

The Chiemseebahn, on the shore of Bavaria’s ...

Chiemsee Railway
Chiemsee Schiffahrt Ludwig Fessler KG
Seestrasse 108
83209 Prien am Chiemsee, Germany

Regensburg | Germany

The River Danube is the historical artery of ...

Danube Navigation Museum Regensburg
Marc-Aurel-Ufer 1
93047 Regensburg, Germany

Rendsburg | Germany

Rendsburg is a town in Schleswig-Holstein that ...

High-level cantilever bridge
An der Hochbrücke
24768 Rendsburg, Germany

Ribnitz-Damgarten | Germany

The small town of Ribnitz-Damgarten on the ...

Pütnitz Museum of Technology
Flugplatzallee 5
18311 Ribnitz-Damgarten, Germany

Rottau | Germany

In 1920 the Bayerisches Landestorfwerke GmbH ...

Bavarian Moorland and Peat Museum
Bayerisches Moor- und Torfmuseum
Hackenstrasse
83224 Rottau, Germany

Scharnebeck | Germany

The Elbe Lateral Canal (Elbe Seitenkanal) is ...

Boat Lift
Ausstellungshalle
Am Unteren Vorhafen
21379 Scharnebeck, Germany

Schramberg | Germany

Schramberg, in the Black Forest, is notable as ...

Car & Watchworld Schramberg
Gewerbepark HAU
78713 Schramberg, Germany

Schwarzatal | Germany

The Thuringian Mountain Railway consists of ...

Oberweissbach Mountain Railway
An der Bergbahn 1
98744 Schwarzatal, Germany

Sinsheim | Germany

The large and popular technology museum at ...

Sinsheim Technical Museum
Technik Museum Sinsheim
Eberhard-Layher-Strasse 1
74889 Sinsheim, Germany

Solingen | Germany

As you might expect this monument is ...

Müngsten Bridge
Müngstener Brückenweg
42659 Solingen, Germany

Speyer | Germany

The technology museum in Speyer was set up in ...

Speyer Museum of Technology
Am Technik Museum 1
67346 Speyer, Germany

Stuttgart | Germany

The Deutsches Landwirtschaftsmuseum Hohenheim ...

German Agricultural Museum at Hohenheim
Deutsches Landwirtschaftsmuseum Hohenheim Univerrsität Hohenheim
Garbenstrasse 91
70599 Stuttgart, Germany

Stuttgart | Germany

Stuttgart is one of the principal centres of ...

Mercedes-Benz Museum
Mercedesstraße 100
70327 Stuttgart, Germany

Stuttgart | Germany

Ferdinand Porsche (1875-1951), founded the ...

Porsche Museum
Porscheplatz 14
70435 Stuttgart, Germany

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