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What the Victorians Got Wrong

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96 pages1 hour

Summary

The nineteenth century was an era of scientific advance like no other in history. And no nation gained more from its forward momentum than Britain and her Empire. Railways were built, bridges constructed, rivers tamed and electricity harnessed, to the great benefit of all But progress was only achieved at high cost. Impatience for achievement too often resulted in catastrophe and disaster. In 1879, the Tay Bridge was the longest in the world and a wonder of its age. But on a stormy night in December, disaster struck when the central section of the bridge collapsed and the 7:13 pm train from Edinburgh plunged into the icy waters of the Tay, taking the lives of 75 passengers and crew. One of the worst man-made catastrophes in Victorian Britain was caused when the wall of the Dale Dyke dam at Bradfield in South Yorkshire was breached in March 1864. This released 650 million gallons of water that poured down towards Sheffield at a mile a minute in a 9ft wall of liquid which demolished houses, factories and bridges and claimed the lives of 240 people. The accounts of how the Victorians could and did stumble into appalling errors of judgement offer a sobering counter balance to the often related tales of glorious successes.

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