26th July 1803

On This Day
26th July 1803
Southern Iron Railway Company Started
A transport system from London to Portsmouth was needed, either a canal or a tramway. The engineer William Jessop, recommended a tramway. He was given the job to build the first phase, from the Thames at the Ram Brewery in Wandsworth to Croydon, closely following the River Wandle which was already heavily industrialised. This began in 1801 and was completed together with the Wandsworth Basin so it was opended 1803. An extension to Godstone was authorised but only actually reached Mestham. This operated from 1805, making the entire route 18 miles long. Portsmouth was never reached. This early rail-way consisted of the rails on which carriages were pulled by horses. The rails meant that a single horse could pull much more than its usual load so the system was very efficient, but not as good as steam locomotive railways and the SIR closed in 1846. The Croydon Tramlink today uses much of the old SIR route. The SIR was the first public railway in the world not connected with a canal.
Cockney Cabbies
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