'Pumps, Ventilating Shaft, Kilsby Tunnel', Northamptonshire, 15 July 1837.
© NRM / Pictorial Collection / Science & Society Picture Library
Wash drawing by John Cooke Bourne, from a collection of views of 'The Construction of the London & Birmingham Railway'. In 1833, Robert Stephenson (1803-1859) was appointed chief engineer of the LBR, the first railway into London. Extensive quicksands made the digging of the Kilsby Tunnel in Northamptonshire one of the most difficult engineering challenges on the route. It took two years to complete, cost three times the estimate, and claimed the lives of 26 workers. The two steam-powered pumps shown raised 1800 gallons of water per minute. Twelve pumps were used in total to drain the ground. In the background a horse-powered gin can be seen, used for raising and lowering the workforce up and down the construction shafts.