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TitleBlood, Iron, and Gold: How the Railways Transformed the World
LanguageEnglish
File Size1.9 MB
Total Pages356
Table of Contents
                            Cover
Copyright
List of Maps and Illustrations
Preface
Acknowledgements
Maps
1 The First Railways
2 Europe Makes a Start
3 The British Influence
4 The American Way
5 Joining Up Europe
6 Crossing America…
7 … and Other Continents
8 The Invasion of the Railway
9 The Railway Revolution
10 Getting Better All the Time
11 Changing Trains
12 Decline But Not Fall
13 Railway Renaissance
Bibliography
Notes
                        
Document Text Contents
Page 2

Copyright

First published in Great Britain in hardback in 2009 by Atlantic Books, an
imprint of Grove Atlantic Ltd.

Copyright © Christian Wolmar 2009

The moral right of Christian Wolmar to be identified as the author of this
work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents
Act of 1988.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in
a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic,
mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission
of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.

Every effort has been made to trace or contact all copyright holders. The
publishers will be pleased to make good any omissions or rectify any mistakes
brought to their attention at the earliest opportunity.

Page 178

who might, otherwise, sojourn on the Riviera or take waters in the German spas.
The coaches were ‘finished with oak panels, teak framing and mahogany
mouldings; windows were hung with crimson curtains and tables were spread
with startling white linen’. 28 ‘Express’ was not exactly an accurate description
for these trains, as the average speed was only about 35 mph compared with the
50–55 mph common in Western Europe. This ‘African speed’ meant Cape Town
to Bulawayo was scheduled at just under three days, but who cared when six-
course meals of the highest quality including excellent wines were served three
times a day, along with refreshments in mid-morning and afternoon. After
dinner, the men retired to a rather cramped smoking room or perhaps they had a
bath using the constant flow of hot water available from the engine’s boiler.

The height of luxury, though, was simply to rent a private carriage which
could be tacked on to a scheduled service. These became available in 1909 and
each one comprised three bedrooms, a bathroom, a lounge in which meals were
taken, a writing or smoking room, a reading room for the ladies as well as a
couple of spare rooms in which to dump the servants and luggage. For the price
of £360 per week (say £20,000 in today’s money) the food and chef were
included.

It was not, however, these luxury travellers who were going to make the
investment worthwhile and deliver a return to the shareholders. It was the riches
of the minerals, hundreds of miles to the north, that would provide the real
bonanza but first there was the obstacle of the Zambezi river to be crossed.
Pauling had deliberately brought the line to Victoria Falls because Rhodes had
always stressed that he wanted one of the greatest sights in the world to be seen
from the railway, despite the fact that there appeared to be a rather easier
crossing at a place called the Old Drift a few miles upriver. In fact, though he
never lived to see the bridge, Rhodes proved unerringly prescient. A survey
discovered that within sight of the Falls, there is a gorge that allowed the
crossing to be made with a single span of just 600 feet, and the banks were found
to be of solid basalt rock that was sufficently strong to provide foundations at
both ends. Breaching the chasm was hard enough, however, and there was much
trouble merely connecting the two sides: when a kite failed to carry a line across,
a small rocket attached with a thin cable was used, and then thicker ones were
dragged across until eventually an electric winch carrying men in a device
resembling a ski-lift chair could be deployed. Unsure of the quality and ability of
the local labour, the bridge was built in England in the yard of the successful
contractor, Cleveland’s of Darlington, which had bid lower than Pauling and
would later build the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The bridge was transported in kit

Page 179

form to the shore where it was assembled like a giant Meccano set. The two
halves of the single-arch cantilevered bridge were built out simultaneously from
both banks until they were ready to be joined. The date was anticipated with
trepidation. On April Fools Day 1905, an odd choice, just fourteen months after
work on the bridge had started, the two sections were joined, with an audience of
thousands of tribespeople from across the country attracted by their chief’s
prediction of a spectacular collapse into the abyss. The Cassandra was proved
wrong. After some difficulty caused by heat expansion, the two halves of the
bridge were successfully bolted together and the ensuing celebrations lasted
several days with the added feature of a regatta upstream from the Falls. The
bridge spanning the gorge is easily the most impressive and memorable structure
of the Cape to Cairo project, offering one of the most striking railway images
anywhere in the world, comparable with the Forth Bridge or those rickety
trestles from the pioneering days of the US railroads.

The completion of the bridge gave access to central Africa, and with Rhodes
gone, it was George Pauling who was eager to push the railway northwards,
though for interests that were rather baser than the notion of a Cape to Cairo
railway. He was supported and funded by Robert Williams, who had obtained the
concession to exploit minerals in a large area north of the Zambezi. Williams,
rightly, had predicted there would be extensive mineral wealth on the divide
between the Congo and the Zambezi rivers, but needed a railway to exploit the
deposits his preliminary prospecting had uncovered and he took up the mantle of
the Cape to Cairo project.

Even before the bridge had been completed, therefore, his contractor, the
tireless Pauling, was busy at work north of the Falls surveying the area to find a
route up to the Kafue river in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) and a way across
it. A locomotive to help with the work had been stripped down into small enough
parts to carry across the Zambezi on the winch and Pauling, with a surveying
team, headed into the plains. This surveying party was a bizarre mix of the
luxurious and the make-do. The surveyors were accompanied by a party of 300
porters carrying both the necessities and luxuries of camp life, ranging from
tables, beds and chairs, to medicine chests, barometers and compasses. And,
since Pauling was in charge, large quantities of alcohol, especially champagne,
were in the baggage train. The chef, according to Pauling, 29 was a ‘treasure’ who
‘provided magnificent dinners’ every night, comparable with those found in
major European hotels from a mixture of game, fruit and vegetables gathered
from the plain and tins carried by the porters. Working from dawn to dusk, with
a break for the midday heat, the party trekked up to twenty miles daily working

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Table of Contents
Cover
Copyright
List of Maps and Illustrations
Preface
Acknowledgements
Maps
1 The First Railways
2 Europe Makes a Start
3 The British Influence
4 The American Way
5 Joining Up Europe
6 Crossing America…
7 … and Other Continents
8 The Invasion of the Railway
9 The Railway Revolution
10 Getting Better All the Time
11 Changing Trains
12 Decline But Not Fall
13 Railway Renaissance
Bibliography
Notes

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