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Editorial to Part 1


Most Editorials to Railway Wonders of the World outlined what would appear in the next or future issues. However, they also referred to points from correspondence and other incidental details of interest. The first few Editorials extended onto the inside of the rear cover; thereafter they were limited to inside the front cover. Here, the very first Editorial is notable for giving further background to the series and and for being the longest.





Tallis House,

Tallis Street,

London, EC4


THERE is no greater romance than that of the metal highways. The airways, of course, have their fascination. I have flown on many of them, and I know. But for sheer romance and the delightful surprise of coming suddenly upon strange scenery, give me the highways on which expresses and freight trains make their daily way every minute of the twenty-four hours! The iron roads are a great part of man’s achievement and are of importance not only to you and to me, but also to the nations themselves.


It will be a long time before an aeroplane can propel a load of four hundred tons at anything from ninety to a hundred miles an hour. The wonderful “Royal Scot” has been doing that for a long time. What a train! What a magnificent piece of human ingenuity!


You will remember that she was exhibited at the Chicago Fair. I can remember trying to see her there - but there was no hope. I gave up waiting after an hour and a half. To get near to the “Royal Scot” was almost a day’s job, so much was she the centre of admiration of visitors from all over the world.


The other day I travelled to Edinburgh on the “Flying Scotsman”. I was thrilled once more (for she was not new to me) at her performance, at the expertness of her crew. She has every modern convenience, from a cocktail bar to a ladies’ restroom and a hair-dressing saloon where male passengers can be shaved safely even when travelling at 94 miles an hour on the Grantham stretch of track.

Steel Roads of Adventure


PERHAPS we are being spoiled to-day, but I do not think so. Progress demands these things. We do not and should not refuse them. Even if we are not able to avail ourselves of them we cannot fail to be interested and fascinated by them. Even if we do not travel on what I will call the crack expresses, we travel on the lesser trains -  and without freight trains we should not enjoy the facility of getting the food we want.


And, the world over, progress is going on. Last year I journeyed on “The Chief”, the famous train that runs from Chicago to Los Angeles; and I travelled on the “Twentieth Century” from New York to Chicago. At our stopping places crowds of people still came to look at the mighty locomotives that pulled us to our destination. You will find much the same at Euston and King’s Cross when the “Royal Scot” and the “Flying Scotsman” are departing or arriving.


But luxury trains are not railways in their entirety. There are trains of greater adventure. There are trains that run over the sea, that fight a courageous way through flood, fire and tempest. There are trains that climb thousands of feet over mountain ranges. In this, the first number of what is the most important railway work yet published, you will find an account of the Conquest of the Clouds. It will tell you how brilliant engineers made mountain climbing safe by means of rack-and-pinion railways. I have been up Mount Pilatus in Switzerland and enjoyed that thrill, too.


Man’s Conquest


THERE are trains, as well, that strike the modern note which we see springing up all around us in architecture, motor-car design, and even in some of our furnishings. Perhaps in these other spheres we do not always like them; but in train design they are part of the demand for increasing speed with no less safety. There is the “Union Pacific” stream-lined express; there is the “Flying Hamburger” - both wonderful examples of the conception and the fruition of the modern idea. About these things this present work will tell you, and none but the unimaginative can fail to be thrilled by such wonders of the age. In the next number of this work I shall include a beautiful three-colour art plate of the “Union Pacific” streamlined express.


When this work is finally bound up in volume form (easily accomplished, as you will see if you refer to page iv of cover) it will form the most comprehensive survey of railway accomplishment yet presented to the public. As, week by week, these interesting parts are issued, you will be able to roam the world on the roads of steel. You will see how Canada was conquered by rail in spite of almost insuperable handicaps that were overcome by visionaries who turned their dreams into actions, even to the penetration of the formidable Rocky Mountains. This great narrative is one of the finest stories of courage and endurance ever enacted by man.


You will see, too, how railways began, and how your life is safeguarded by up-to-date methods of signalling.


Whether or not you are already acquainted with some aspects of railway development, you will, I am sure, come to the conclusion that I have spared no pains in making this work one of absorbing interest and accurate information. To those who know, always more can be told. To those who know little or nothing, everything can be told.


How many people, for example, know that -

The world’s highest railway is in Peru at 15,865 ft?

Europe has the longest three tunnels in the world? - Simplon (Switzerland), 12½ miles; Apennine (Italy), 11½ miles; St. Gotthard (Switzerland), 9¼ miles.

There are no fewer than nine different gauges in use on the world’s railways, ranging from 2 ft to 5 ft 6 in between the rails ?

India has the longest two railway station platforms in the world? That at Sonepur is 2,415 ft and at Khargpur 2,350 ft.

Britain’s longest station platform is at Manchester, 2,194 ft?

£1,100,000,000 is invested in British railways?

The world’s fastest steam train on regular service is the “Cheltenham Flyer”? (Average start-to-stop speed 71.3 mph)

The largest railway wagon in Great Britain has 36 wheels and can carry a concentrated load of 160 tons?

During the season about 7,000 tons of spring flowers (60,000 blooms to the ton) are conveyed from the Channel Isles, Scilly Isles and Penzance, Lincolnshire, and other districts to the London,

Midland and Northern markets?

The 630,000 railway-owned wagons in service on British railways have capacities varying from 5 to 160 tons; coupled together they would reach across the Atlantic Ocean?

Nearly 190,000,000 gallons of fresh milk are conveyed every year by the railways?


Even these few things have an interest for us all, but behind each fact is a romantic story that must inevitably appeal to all of us who so frequently realize that truth is often stranger and more fascinating (as well as being more informative) than fiction.


Behind each little piece of mechanism is the story of a man’s inventive powers. Behind each mile of track laid down is a story of man's strength and courage and sometimes sacrifice.


These things are worthy of our admiration, especially at the present time when people have become so railway- and travel-conscious, and when each railway organization is straining every nerve in the interests of progress.


To all readers who may care to communicate with me on matters of railway significance I extend a most hearty welcome, for the subject strikes me as being such an intimate one to us all that it will be my endeavour to maintain the columns of my chat on personal lines. Week by week I shall look forward to hearing from anyone who desires to express an opinion on matters affecting the great and important work of the railroads. We are all railway users, but it is accurate knowledge and a wide outlook that distinguish the real traveller. These you can acquire by placing a standing order for Railway Wonders of the World with your newsagent. Part 2 will be on sale everywhere on Friday next, February 8.


This work will be completed in about 40 weekly parts.


SUPERB COLOURED PLATE IN PART 2


PART TWO CONTAINS THE FIRST OF A NEW SERIES OF CHAPTERS DESCRIBING THE EVOLUTION OF THE RAILWAY ENGINE. THIS AND SUBSEQUENT ARTICLES WILL TELL YOU HOW GEORGE STEPHENSON’S “ROCKET” CHANGED THE COURSE OF THE WORLD’S HISTORY.


THE STIRRING STORY OF THE CANADIAN PACIFIC RAILWAY BEGINS IN PART TWO OF THIS WORK. IT DESCRIBES THE RAILWAY DEVELOPMENT OF A CONTINENT AND IS MAGNIFICENTLY ILLUSTRATED BY A LARGE NUMBER OF STRIKING PHOTOGRAPHS.