Atmospheric railway, Crystal Palace, Syndenham, London, 1864.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Plate taken from the 'Illustrated London News'. The idea of a train propelled by compresed air was first proposed in 1810 by George Medway, and later revived by the Pneumatic Despatch Company. The company's engineer, T W Rammell demonstrated the working of the principle using a 600-yard track. A carriage descended a slope into a tunnel and was propelled forward by bursts of air from a huge fan, the proces was reversed to suck the carriage back again.