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Opening of the Wagonways

Opening of the WaggonWay

Wednesday last being the day appointed for the opening of the waggon-way from Bewick's Main to the Tyne, every road leading to it was crowded with passengers at an early hour, and before eleven o'clock above ten thousand people were assembled. About this time four waggons of small coals were brought up the first plane by the steam-engine, to the great admiration of the spectators; but owing to some little difficulties which often occur in new machinery, the four waggons of best coals intended for the Tyne, did not start till a much later hour. The stile, however, in which they moved up the plane was beyond description grand, and fully proved the wonderful power of the machinery, though some little delay was occasioned by the braking of one of the way-plates. As soon as the waggons reached the summit of the second and highest plane, up which they went with surprising velocity and regularity, the British flag was hoisted at Ayton Cottage, and announced by a discharge of six pieces of cannon which were answered by an equal number from the Ann and Isabella, his majesty's armed ship on the Tyne, and from Deptford-House, the residence of Mr Cooke.

Immediately on the waggons reaching the first plane, about four hundred gentlemen sat down to dinner in a tent fitted up for the occasion, and spent the afternoon with the greatest possible hilarity. An excellent military band attended on the occasion; many loyal and appropriate toasts were given, and the company separated no less pleased with the polite attentions of the donors of the feast with the brilliancy of the whole of the spectacle, which has seldom been equalled in this country. In the evening, in order to prove the excellency of the level rail-way, six men without horses, took with the greatest ease, four laden waggons with each ten men on the top, from Ayton Cottage to the Tyne, and the first coals being put on board the Ann and Isabella, the same was announced by discharges of artillery as before.

We know not whether to admire most the science or activity displayed by Mr Cooke in the erection of steam engines and other machines in 76 working days, by which the labour of 203 horses and the same number of men is saved, and the whole expence of such engines and machines will not cost more (including the interest of the money advanced for their erection) than £700 per annum, while at this time one good horse and man cannot be kept for less than £100 per annum. The length of the whole of the planes where horses are not used is 4,375yards; the ascending planes the waggons travel at the rate of 4 3/4 miles an hours, the descending or counter-balance planes they travel at the rate of nine miles an hour, but can, if necessary, go at the rate of 18 miles an hour, with safety: the level part of the rail-way is so calculated that one horse can take with ease four laden waggons, and 38 horses with the machinery will be able to deliver daily to Tyne 250 Newcastle chaldrons, which otherwise would require 241 horses to accomplish, so that there is no doubt from the excellency of Bewick main coal, the enterprising proprietors will soon be amply reimbursed.

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