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A Practical Treatise on Railroads, and Interior Communication in General.

WOOD, Nicholas (1838)


Available to view at our Curzon Street shop.

 Containing Numerous Experiments on the Powers of the Improved Locomotive Engines: and Tables of the Comparitive Cost of Conveyance on Canals, Railways, and Turnpike Roads.

Third edition, with additions. 8vo. xxviii, 760pp, with 16pp of adverts. With thirteen fold out diagrams and four fold out tables along with the errata slip and further illustrations, diagrams, and tables throughout. Bound in dark green cloth, blind stamped with gilt title label on spine. Corners bumped, with tears to spine. Cloth slightly faded, and edges browned. London, Longman, 1838.

With the authors’ presentation inscription by the author on the title page ‘To I K Brunel Esq. with the authors compliments’, with the later ownership inscription of his son Henry Marc Brunel “H.M. Brunel, 23 Delahay St Westminster SW” and a few pencil notes in the latter’s hand.

Some pages unopened, especially the appendices, more specifically LL5 – 8, as well as TT5, and UU2 and 3. Leaf HH2 is slightly loose and there is a tear on HH4 with no loss of text.

Wood, as colliery manager at Killingworth Colliery in Durham, worked closely with the other great nineteenth century engineering dynasty of George and Robert Stephenson, and was present at the epochal meeting where it was agreed to put steam engines into service on the Stockton and Darlington Railway. He published the first edition of this text in 1825, the year that the Stockton and Darlington, the world’s first public steam railway was opened. This edition is much enlarged and updated and includes an entire chapter on the construction of the Great Western Railway line.

Wood had been asked by the directors of the GWR to report on the safety of larger gauges, a contentious issue at the time. Isambard Kingdom Brunel wished to increase the size of the gauges, as Wood states in his chapter on the GWR, in order to ‘achieve a greater rate of speed than has yet been accomplished’. Wood was still writing his report when the edition of this book was released, so this would have been the first glimpse of Wood’s opinion on the issue, making the inscription particularly interesting.

Kingdom Brunel’s son Henry Marc Brunel was also a civil engineer, although overshadowed by his father. Henry’s brother Isambard Brunel junior worked hard throughout his life to maintain his father’s reputation, and wrote his biography. However, as a man of the law, he relied heavily on his Henry’s knowledge of engineering to write the book.

Both annotations are to the chapter on the construction of the GWR.

References: ODNB. Derek Portman. Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

Stock Code: 220106