Colne Viaduct, Watford, Hertfordshire, 5 June 1837.
© NRM / Pictorial Collection / Science & Society Picture Library
Wash drawing 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 five and a half million pounds. 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 viaduct over the river Colne is fifty feet high and consists of five arches, each spanning thirty feet. It cost 10,000 pounds to build. The LBR opened on 17 September 1838.