'Tring cutting', Hertfordshire, 1838.
© NRM / Pictorial Collection / Science & Society Picture Library
Wash drawing by John Cooke Bourne, from a collection of views of the building of the London & Birmingham Railway (LBR). In 1833, Robert Stephenson (1803-1859) was appointed chief engineer of the LBR, the first railway into London. Running between Curzon Street Station, Birmingham, and 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. Tring cutting was 2.5 miles in length and an average of 40 feet deep. All the earth was shifted by labourers using picks, shovels and wheelbarrows. Horses helped to pull the men and barrows up the sides of the embankment. The drawing gives a vivid impresion of the effort involved in building the railway. The LBR opened on 17 September 1838.