Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Some damnable thing

Today we have had a lark of a very high order. Lady Wilton sent over yesterday from Knowsley to say that the Loco Motive machine was to be upon the railway at such a place at 12 o'clock for the Knowsley party to ride in if they liked, and inviting this house to be of the party. So of course we were at our post in three carriages and some horsemen at the Hour appointed.

I had the satisfaction, for I can't call it pleasure, of taking a trip of five miles on it, which we did in just a quarter of an hour - that is twenty miles an hour. As accuracy upon this subject was my great object, I held my watch in hand at starting, and all the time; and as it had a second hand, I knew I could not be deceived; and so it turned out that there was not the difference of a second between the coachee or conductor and myself.

But observe, during those five miles, the machine was occasionally made to put itself out or go it; and then we went at the rate of 23 miles an hour, and just with the same ease as to motion or absence of friction as at the other reduced pace. But the quickest motion is to me frightful: it is really flying, and it is impossible to divest yourself of the notion of instant death to all upon the least accident happening. It gave me a headache which has not left me yet. Sefton is convinced that some damnable thing must come of it.

From the journal of Thomas Creevey, November, 1829