The March of Travel
In concert with the March of Technology

Steam Ships

People have moved around the globe by foot, horse and sailing ship. These methods were slow and therefore long journeys were more the domain of those with some money to sustain the journey and themselves.

the advent of steam powered ships ushered in a new dawn allowing faster passages due to the fact that the ship could travel in a direct line and non stop - not having to rely on wind direction, or strength.

When did the first steamships appear?
In 1794 the Earl of Stanhope built a steam-powered vessel named the Kent. This was an experimental ship which, though not successful itself, showed designers how to develop others that were. In 1801, a small steamer called the Charlotte Dundas ran trials on the Forth and Clyde Canal near Glasgow. Its engine not only powered it through the water against the wind but allowed it to tow two heavy barges as well. After this, steam-powered vessels could be used to earn money. For example, by 1825 steamships could offer people an alternative to stagecoach travel. Railways, also powered by steam, would come later.

The first ship to sail across the Atlantic under steam power ONLY was the Dutch ship Curaçao. in 1826.

By the time Queen Victoria came to the throne, steam-powered vessels were a familiar sight up and down coasts and along rivers. There was even a regular steamship service across the North Atlantic by Brunel's Great Western, which first crossed to New York in April 1838.


Advent of Steam Railways

Whilst travel by seas surged ahead it took a little while longer for steam technology to reach a level so as to be viable on land. It didn't take long!

The advent of steam power and the rapid laying of railway track across Europe and the globe opened up distant travel to many more people. Whilst the longer journeys were still more the domain of the more well off, shorter 'day trips to the seaside' took country folk to places they had never been before and ignited the growth guest house accommodation.

This is a full scale replica of the first steam railway locomotive in the world, which preceded Stephenson's 'Rocket' by 26 years. It was designed by Richard Trevithick (1771-1833), and built near Ironbridge, in Shropshire, by the Coalbrookdale Company in the winter of 1802/3. A near identical engine ran the following year at Pen-y-Darren.

Richard Trevithick's Engine Stephenson's Rocket - Science Museum London
A common misconception is that Rocket was the first steam locomotive. In fact the first steam locomotive to run on tracks was built by Richard Trevithick (as above) 26 years earlier, but was not financially successful. George Stephenson, as well as a number of other engineers, had built steam locomotives before. Rocket was in some ways an evolution, not a revolution. It was designed and built to compete in the Rainhill Trials, a competition to select the locomotive type for the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, in October 1829. All the other competitors broke down so a true result is a bit hard to tell; however in winning, Rocket did fulfill the key requirement of the contest that a full simulated 50 mile (90-km) round trip under load be completed with satisfactory fuel consumption. It averaged 12 miles per hour (achieving a top speed of 30 miles per hour) hauling 13 tons.
Mass Public Transport

London was the first with the 'Tube' - London Underground. January 2013 saw in the 150th year anniversary of this event. More people could travel around London in shorter time.


The Automobile

The next 'big leap forward' was the car, not so much the first cars, but the successful introduction of a car that could be used by the masses.

It is generally regarded as the first affordable automobile, the car which "put America on wheels"; this was due to some of Ford's innovations, including assembly line production instead of individual hand crafting, as well as the concept of paying the workers a wage proportionate to the cost of the car, so that they would provide a ready made market.

The world was now open many more people and socioeconomic groups. Model T Fords went where you wouldn't think they could go!!



Mass Air Travel

This really was the GIANT leap forward. The DC3 is generally considered to be the first 'real airliner' and one that made travel by air more attainable to the ordinary person. I have placed an amazing piece of printed prophecy which appeared in Australian magazine dated 01 May 1944!! This was printed before D-day. Its text states something that we all now realise to be true and the illustration anticipates the era of not only jet travel, but the idea of a Jumbo Jet and the concept of a 'Delta Wing'.


Space - the Final Frontier

Whilst on an aviation theme we must mention space exploration. From the significant 'small step' in 1969 we are only now (in 2006) seeing the first stages of commercial travel into space. 2001 a Space Odyssey could be just a few years more in the future.

On July 20, 1969, the human race accomplished its single greatest technological achievement of all time when a human first set foot on another celestial body.

Six hours after landing at 4:17 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (with less than 30 seconds of fuel remaining), Neil A. Armstrong took the “Small Step” into our greater future when he stepped off the Lunar Module, named “Eagle,” onto the surface of the Moon, from which he could look up and see Earth in the heavens as no one had done before him.

He was shortly joined by “Buzz” Aldrin, and the two astronauts spent 21 hours on the lunar surface and returned with 46 pounds of lunar rocks. After their historic walks on the Moon, they successfully docked with the Command Module “Columbia,” in which Michael Collins was patiently orbiting the cold but no longer lifeless Moon.


From The Imagination Of Jules Verne To 21st Century Reality     12 Jul 05

"Transport has always been the lifeblood of the travel industry - and what better time to celebrate this vital relationship than in the year that marks the centenary of the death of one of the world's great authors and travel visionaries," says World Tourism Organization (WTO) Secretary-General Francesco Frangialli in his message for World Tourism Day 2005.

World Tourism Day is celebrated worldwide each year on 27 September commemorating the adoption of the WTO Statutes in 1970. The main purpose of World Tourism Day is to foster awareness among the international community regarding the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political and economic values. The WTO Secretary-General issues a message each year to mark the occasion.

"Most of Jules Verne's fantasies have yet to come to fruition. But by the time he died in 1905 his words had fired the imagination of avid readers and potential travellers right around the globe," Mr Frangialli wrote in this year's message.

"In Verne's day, international travel was still, in many cases, an adventure. Today, while ever more people go on holiday or travel to do business, play sports, attend meetings, visit friends and relatives, or simply in search of excitement, we have come to expect, as far as transport is concerned, standards of efficiency, comfort, and safety that to a large extent determine the quality of our final experience.

Perhaps it is no coincidence that the two transport inventions that are now recognized as the main instigators of modern tourism - the car and the airplane - both made their appearance on the world stage shortly before Verne's death. Passenger transport has come a long way since the first economical air services began 70 years ago - through early jet airliners to the Boeing 747 Jumbo, to Concorde and soon the arrival of the biggest airliner ever, the double-decker Airbus A380.

Higher disposable incomes also mean that far more people can afford to travel. In 1950 it was twenty million, last year 760 million, and by 2020 it is expected that the number of international travellers will exceed 1.6 billion a year.

How much further can we go? What are the final frontiers in this quest for travel? Will humankind only be satisfied when journeys into space become readily available and affordable?

"Exploits that were once no more than the brainchild of science-fiction writers such as Jules Verne are growing ever nearer reality with the advances in transport that have and will continue to be made. But through all this it is important that we do not forget the fundamental objectives of travel," according to the Secretary-General.