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© Transport for London
Collection of London Transport Museum

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Information sign; London & Blackwall railway, Secretary, c1845

Into the heart of the city : The London & Blackwall Railway was the first to run north of the river. It was also the first to run right into the City. When it opened in 1840, the trains were moved by cables, which were powered by stationary steam engines. By 1849 locomotives had replaced this complicated system.

The sign above probably comes from the railway’s offices at its Fenchurch Street terminus. This City station was soon expanded to connect with other railway lines.
  • Reference number: 2006/5785
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    Related story:

    Going local

    Early railways to London were built to establish long-distance freight and passenger services. They linked the Capital with other parts of the country. Local services for London were not a priority. The first stop on the London to Birmingham line was at Harrow, 18km (11 miles) from Euston. The first railway boom had a huge impact on London, but there were few daily travellers from the suburbs. By the mid-1850s, as more stations close to London were built, 27,000 people were commuting into London by train each day. This was still only 10% of the number going by omnibus and on foot.

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