Victorian Industry and Technology

In 1851 Queen Victoria opened the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park in London. The exhibition was designed to show off the latest technology and industry from Britain and around the world. There were all sorts of strange and exciting things on display such as a garden seat made out of coal, a giant steam engine and the world’s largest diamond. Over six million people went to the Great Exhibition.

The Exhibition was housed in a huge building made out of glass panels with a cast iron frame. It was the largest glasshouse in the world covering over 21 acres.

Photograph of a modified version of J H Knight's steam carriage. SHC ref 7146/1/1

Photograph of a modified version of J H Knight’s steam carriage.
SHC ref 7146/1/1.

The Victorian age saw many revolutionary inventions like metal steam powered ships, photography, cinema and the motorcar. John Henry Knight from Farnham in Surrey invented the first petrol-powered motor vehicle. He was the first ever person to be given a speeding ticket in 1895. His car had a top speed of 9 miles per hour!

Photograph showing navigators constructing the London and South Western Railway line, 1884. SHC ref 7436/2/9

Photograph showing navigators constructing the London and South Western Railway line, 1884. SHC ref 7436/2/9.

One of the most important inventions was the steam railway. Surrey had one of the first railway lines in the world, although it was not always run by steam. Originally, horses were used to pull the wagons along iron rails. Steam engines came to Surrey in the 1840s. They could carry larger amounts, which meant goods could be sold for less. By 1870 there was more than 20,000km worth of railway lines in Britain and by 1881 almost 1 million people worked on the railways. Cheap railway tickets meant people could travel further than before and many started going on holiday to the seaside for the first time.

First Class carriages had richly decorated interiors with padded walls to reduce the noise. Queen Victoria’s train carriage even had brass beds. Poorer people travelling in Third Class had no such comfort and some of their carriages didn’t even have roofs!

Links to related pages

Link to the Victorians page
Link to the Victorian Activities page
Link to the A Few Famous and Interesting People in Victorian Surrey page
Link to the Life in Victorian Times page
Link to the Victorian Childhood page
Link to the Victorian Crime and Punishment page

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