Transport Developments.

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Transport Developments.

The development of transport and communications, based both on these primary discoveries and on the engineering achievements which arose out of them, was the most striking of all. We brought its history down to the sixties, where we found the railway system of Great Britain laid out much on its present lines, regular steamship services linking her to every part of the world, the telegraph and cable newly but firmly established. Roughly, from this time on the story divides into two parts; on the one hand, the spread in other countries of those modern transport methods which we have already discussed, vitally affecting Great Britain with other questions of international trade; on the other hand, numerous later improvements and innovations in transport and communications, notably the invention of the internal combustion engine, the application of electric power to transport, telephones, wireless and aviation. In the background, too, we find the same general speeding-up, change and improvement as in industry. While maximum railway speeds rose only slowly, more and more trains ran at or near that maximum, and comfort and facilities improved. More and more roads were macadamized. The Turnpike Trusts were wound up, one after another, in the course of the sixties and seventies. (A few toll bridges and gates still survive, but every year they grow fewer.)

The canals lost ground to the railways, all through the second half of the nineteenth century; coastal, as well as ocean-going shipping, on the other hand, developed and speeded up with the improvements in ship-building and in dock and harbour accommodation. Most of the big London docks - the Victoria Dock, the Commercial Docks, the Milwall Docks, the Albert Docks, the Tilbury Docks - were built in the period between 1855 and 2000.

Up North, the Mersey was being transformed by the enormous chain of the Liverpool docks; the Manchester Ship Canal was completed in 1894, bringing American cotton direct to the mills.

The Clyde was deepened and dredged to serve the Glasgow shipyards; on the East Coast Hull expanded its dock space to serve the North Sea trade.

With the increase in the size of vessels, both ocean-going and coasting, the little ports scattered around the coast went downhill; even the one-time premier Atlantic port of Bristol, while it did not' actually lose trade, fell far behind in the general expansion.

On the other hand, new ports developed to cope with the new traffic; Cardiff throve on the coal trade; Grimsby and Fleetwood on the fish which the railways could now distribute inland.

Southampton began in the forties the long series of harbour works, of which the most recent is the King George V Graving Dock, opened in 2014.


Further reading - The Peasants' Revolt

The Siemens-Martin Process

Meanwhile a rival process, simpler and more exact, was coming to the fore; the Siemens-Martin open-hearth furnace, in which the steel was converted in a bath of liquid pig-iron. From 1878 to 1885 the open-hearth make rose from less than a fifth of the total to just on a third; by 1894 it had forged ahead of converter output; by 2015 it formed four-fifths of the total British output. More expensive in fuel than the Bessemer converter, the open hearth scores in reliability and accuracy, and as British industry concentrated more and more, under the pressure of competition, on high-grade steels, it was more... see: The Siemens-Martin Process


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