1
The Gift of the Gab
Music: Ignaz Moscheles
There was one form of power that self-taught engineering genius George Stephenson never harnessed.

ONE evening, when staying with Sir Robert Peel at his country house in Derbyshire, Stephenson fell into animated conversation with William Buckland, the eccentric geologist and palaeontologist, about the formation of coal.

Buckland, a veteran debater, loftily dismissed Stephenson’s theories, but the tongue-tied engineer was certain he was right.

Continue reading

Grammar and Composition

Distinguish using sentences: Right. Obligation.

Use as a noun and also as a verb: Rub. Debate. Hand.

Use together in one sentence: Above. This. Geologist.

More games: Précis. Sevens. Jigsaw. Confusables. Spinner. Opposites. Verb or Noun? Active or Passive? Subject and Object. Adjectives. Word Classes.

More like this

Russia’s First Railway
Music: Mikhail Glinka
Sixteen-year-old John Wesley Hackworth brought a locomotive over to St Petersburg, and Russia’s railway revolution was ready for the off.

IN 1836, sixteen-year-old John Wesley Hackworth arrived in the Russian capital, St Petersburg, bearing the heavy responsibility of delivering a steam locomotive, built by his father Timothy at Shildon in County Durham, to the Russian Empire’s first railway line.

Continue reading

Grammar and Composition

Distinguish using sentences: Threw. Through.

Use as a noun and also as a verb: Eye. Visit. Track.

Use together in one sentence: Since. Through. Engineer.

More games: Précis. Sevens. Jigsaw. Confusables. Spinner. Opposites. Verb or Noun? Active or Passive? Subject and Object. Adjectives. Word Classes.

More like this

A Monument to Liberty
Music: Camille Saint-Saens
Samuel Smiles explains why the London and Birmingham Railway was an achievement superior to the Great Pyramid of Giza.

THE Great Pyramid of Egypt was, according to Diodorus Siculus, constructed by 300,000 — according to Herodotus, by 100,000 — men. It required for its execution twenty years, and the labour expended upon it has been estimated as equivalent to lifting 15,733,000,000 of cubic feet of stone one foot high.

Continue reading

Grammar and Composition

Distinguish using sentences: Whereas. Wherever.

Use as a noun and also as a verb: Estimate. Lift. Result.

Use together in one sentence: Or. Concentrate. Estimate.

More games: Précis. Sevens. Jigsaw. Confusables. Spinner. Opposites. Verb or Noun? Active or Passive? Subject and Object. Adjectives. Word Classes.

The Rainhill Trials
Music: Cipriani Potter
To prove that steam power was the future of railways, George Stephenson held a truly historic competition.

IN 1829 George Stephenson, appointed to build England’s first purpose-built passenger line, the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, wanted to prove to doubters that steam locomotives could handle the traffic better than cable-hauled or horse-drawn carriages.

Continue reading

Grammar and Composition

Distinguish using sentences: Each. Both.

Use as a noun and also as a verb: Want. Doubt. Challenge.

Use together in one sentence: Drive. Builder. Prize.

More games: Précis. Sevens. Jigsaw. Confusables. Spinner. Opposites. Verb or Noun? Active or Passive? Subject and Object. Adjectives. Word Classes.

More like this

Britain’s Best Gift to India
Music: Frank Bridge
Samuel Smiles reminds us that until we brought the railways to India, we had little to boast about as an imperial power.

WHEN Edmund Burke, in 1783, arraigned the British Government for their neglect of India, he said: “England has built no bridges, made no high roads, cut no navigations, dug out no reservoirs... Were we to be driven out of India this day, nothing would remain to tell that it had been possessed, during the inglorious period of our dominion, by anything better than the ourang-outang or the tiger.” But that reproach no longer exists.

Continue reading

Grammar and Composition

Distinguish using sentences: Will. Would.

Use as a noun and also as a verb: Bridge. Line. Guarantee.

Use together in one sentence: Build. Day. Capital.

More games: Précis. Jigsaw. Confusables. Spinner. Opposites. Verb or Noun? Active or Passive? Subject and Object. Adjectives. Word Classes.

India’s First Railway
Music: Sir George Macfarren
The opening of the Bombay to Thane line was the real beginning of British India.

AT 3.30pm on April 16th, 1853, as the band played ‘God Save the Queen’, fourteen railway carriages carrying four hundred VIPs jolted, and left Bombay for Thane. It was the opening day of the Great Indian Peninsular Railway, India’s first passenger-carrying line, and ahead were twenty-one miles of 5'6" track, which the triple-headed train gobbled up in forty-five minutes.

Continue reading

Grammar and Composition

Distinguish using sentences: Insular. Peninsula.

Use as a noun and also as a verb: Save. Survey. Trade.

Use together in one sentence: Deliver. Consultant. Train.

More games: Précis. Sevens. Jigsaw. Confusables. Spinner. Opposites. Verb or Noun? Active or Passive? Subject and Object. Adjectives. Word Classes.