Wash drawing by John Cooke Bourne, from a collection of views of 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. Running from Curzon Street Station, Birmingham, to Euston Station, London, the 112 mile long line took 20,000 men nearly five years to build, at a cost of £ 5.5 million. Extensive quicksands made the digging of the Kilsby Tunnel in Northamptonshire one of the most difficult engineering challenges on the route. Eighteen working shafts were sunk to construct the tunnel, which took two years to complete, cost three times the estimate, and claimed the lives of 26 workers. The LBR opened on 17 September 1838.
© NRM / Pictorial Collection / Science & Society Picture Library