The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 4, Issue 7 (November 1, 1929)
Express Speeds Eighty Years Ago
Express Speeds Eighty Years Ago.
In an interesting letter dealing with the high speeds attained by British express trains in the ‘fifties, a correspondent writes in a recent issue of the London Times as follows:—
“In the year 1848 one of the G.W.R. London-to-Bristol expresses was booked to leave Paddington at 9.50 a.m. and to arrive at Didcot at 10.47 a.m., thus allowing 57 minutes for running the 53 miles, but this stage was frequently run in 47 to 48 minutes. In the records of the late Mr. Rous-Marten, who was one of the most experienced and reliable timing experts of railway speeds, some particulars are given of a run he made with one of the semi-expresses between Paddington and Reading in the year 1856. The train consisted of nine carriages and was hauled by the engine Crimea, which was one of the famous broad-gauge 8ft. single-wheel engines. The distance of 18½ miles from Paddington to Slough was run in 22 minutes. Four carriages were taken off at Slough, and the 17½ miles from there to Reading were covered in 17in. 22sec. As regards the run from Slough to Reading, allowing three minutes for running the first two miles, by which time a speed of about 70 miles an hour had to be reached, and allowing 2½min, for running the last 1½ mile, the intermediate 14 miles had to be covered in 11min. 52sec.—that is at an average speed of over 72 miles an hour.