Saturday, 30 June 2012

Ignaz Moscheles’ Train Trip to Liverpool

Moscheles (1794-1870) is a composer I have adopted as being of interest to British Music enthusiasts. Although he was born in Prague and subsequently died in Leipzig he spent much time in the United Kingdom. Many of his works were performed here and he was friends with all the key players in English music. His description of a train journey is of great interest. 
In February 1831 Ignaz Moscheles, on a professional tour in the north of England, speaks of his first railway journey.

"On the 18th I went by rail from Manchester to Liverpool; [1] the fare was five shillings. At 1.30 I mounted one of the omnibuses, which carried all passengers gratis to the great building called the 'station’. [2] Eight to ten carriages, each about as long as an omnibus, are joined closely to one another ; each carriage contains twelve places with seats like comfortable arm-chairs ; at a given signal every traveller takes his place, which is marked with the number of his ticket, and the railway guards lock the carriages. Then, and not before, the engine is attached to the foremost carriage; the motion, although one seems to fly, is hardly perceptible, and the traveller is amazed when he looks out of the window and observes at what incredible speed the train approaches the distant object and suddenly whirls by it. Words cannot describe the impression made on me by this steam excursion on the first railway made in England, and the transports I felt with an invention that seemed to me little short of magic. The famous engineer, Sir John Stephenson [3], has realized his project amid untold struggles and difficulties."

[1] The Liverpool and Manchester Railway was opened on 15 September 1830.
[2] The Manchester station was situated at London Road. It is now a part of the Manchester Science Museum.  The terminal at Liverpool was located at Crown Street.
[3] It was George Stephenson assisted by his son, Robert Stephenson who engineered the Manchester to Liverpool Railway.

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