London and Birmingham Railway

Scope and Content

Drawing of Tring cutting in Hertfordshire, 1836, which was built as part of the London and Birmingham Railway.

Administrative / Biographical History

The London and Birmingham Railway was sanctioned in 1833, and the Company appointed Robert Stephenson as chief engineer. Its construction was dogged by much opposition. The 112 mile long London to Birmingham line took 20,000 men nearly five years to build. The total cost of building the railway was £5,500,000 (£50,000 a mile). The railway was opened in stages and finally completed on 17 September 1838. The line started at Birmingham's Curzon Street Station and finished at Euston Station in London.


1 item only

Access Information

Open for research

Acquisition Information

Senate House Library


Tring cutting was the largest of its kind in the early railway era with a length of two and half miles and a depth of 40 feet. A big problem for the engineers of the London and Birmingham Railway was building through the chalk ridge of the Chilterns. The solution was to cut through the bottom of the Bulbourne valley. The cutting was built using "horse runs". Horses at the top of the cutting were harnessed to big barrows by lengths of rope over a pulley. The barrow, when filled with earth, was pulled up a steep plank-way by horses, with navvies in attendance. Any irregular movement of the horse could propel both man and barrow into the cutting. There were some 40 of these horse runs used in the construction work at Tring.

Other Finding Aids

Fonds description only

Archivist's Note

Entry compiled by Richard Temple.

Separated Material

The National Archives, London, holds business records, 1830-1849 and 1833-1877 (Ref: RAIL 384); Salford University Library contains miscellaneous correspondence from directors, 1830; Bristol University Library holds minutes of evidence given before the House of Lords Committee, 1832 (Ref: DM 1528); the National Railway Museum Library and Archive contains drawings of Curzon Street Station, Birmingham, [1838-1840].

Conditions Governing Use

This item may be copied subject to an inspection of its physical condition

Related Material

Senate House Library holds other archives, which relate to the London and Birmingham Railway (Refs: MS504, MS940). The Goldsmiths collection at Senate House Library also includes plans for the "Tring" line, circa 1840 (Ref: [G.L.] Case II.7 [Railways Portfolio]).