'Prior Park, the Seat of Ralph Allen, Esq, near Bath', Somerset, 1750.
© NRM / Pictorial Collection / Science & Society Picture Library
This is the earliest known railway print, made from an original drawing by Anthony Walker of 1750. Ralph Allen (1694-1764), an English philanthropist, was known as the 'Man of Bath'. A deputy postmaster at Bath, he made a fortune by improving postal routes in England. In the foreground Allen's wagon-way for delivering post can be seen. Fifty years or so before steam locomotives arrived, tramroads or wagon-ways made of timber, stone or iron were in use, the vehicles being hauled by horses or men. In the background of the image is Allen's home Prior Park. The landscaped gardens in front of the house were constructed after consultation with the poet Alexander Pope and landscape garden designer 'Capability' Brown.