Weedon viaduct, Northamptonshire, 1839.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Lithograph by John Cooke Bourne from a collection of views on the construction of the London & Birmingham Railway (LBR). In 1833, Robert Stephenson (1803-1859) was appointed chief engineer of the LBR, the first railway into London. Beginning at Curzon Street Station, Birmingham, and finishing at Euston Station, London, the 112 mile long line took 20,000 men nearly five years to build, at a cost of £5.5 million. It has been estimated that to build the railway, the navvies shifted more material than the ancient Egyptians did when they constructed the pyramids. The LBR opened on 17 September 1838.