George Stephenson, letter to Michael Longridge
at the time that the line was being surveyed

"Lord Derby, Lord Sefton and Bradshaw the great Canal Proprietor, whose grounds we go through with the projected railway, have been trying to stop us. The ground is blockaded on every side to prevent us getting on with the survey. Bradshaw fires guns to prevent the surveyors coming in the dark. Lord Sefton says he will have a hundred men against us. The (railway) company thinks these great men have no right to stop a survey."

Henry Booth, Proprietor and Committee Member of the
Liverpool and Manchester Railway Company

"Perhaps the most striking result produced by the completion of this railway, is the sudden change which has been effected in our ideas of time and space. What was quick is now slow; what was distant is now near."

William James, letter to Joseph Sandars, September 1822

"At Manchester the subject of the railway encourages all men's thoughts. The canal companies are alive to the danger. I am the object of their persecution and hate; they would immolate me if they could."

Quarterly Review, March 1825

"What can be more palpably absurd than the prospect held out of locomotives travelling twice as fast as stage coaches! We trust that Parliament will, in all railways it may sanction, limit the speed to eight or nine miles an hour."

Sir Edward Hall Alderson, Counsel for opponents of the
Liverpool and Manchester Railway

"This railway is the most absurd scheme that ever entered into the head of a man to conceive. Mr. Stephenson never had a plan - I do not believe he is capable of making one. He is either ignorant or something else which I will not mention. His is a mind perpetually fluctuating between opposite difficulties; he neither knows whether he is to make bridges over roads or rivers, or of one size or another; or to make embankments, or cuttings, or inclined planes, or in what way the thing is to be carried into effect. When you put a question to him upon a difficult point, he resorts to two or three hypothesis, and never comes to a decided conclusion. Is Mr. Stephenson to be the person upon whose faith this Committee is to pass this Bill involving property to the extent of £400,000 to £500,000 when he is so ignorant of his profession as to propose to build a bridge not sufficient to carry off the flood water of the river or to permit any of the vessels to pass which of necessity must pass under it."

Thomas Creevey, letter to his stepdaughter, Elizabeth Ord,
after a trip on the Liverpool and Manchester Railway

"To-day we have had a lark of a very high order ····· I had the satisfaction, for I can't call it pleasure, of taking a trip of five miles in it, which we did in just a quarter of an hour ····· that is, 20 miles an hour. As accuracy upon this subject was my great object, I held my watch in my hand at starting, and all the time; and as it has a second hand, I know I could not be deceived ····· But observe, during these five miles, the machine was occasionally made to put itself out or go it; and then we went at the rate of 23 miles an hour, and just with the same ease as to motion or absence of friction as the other reduced pace. But the quickest motion is to me frightful: it is really flying, and it is impossible to divest yourself of the notion of instant death to all upon the least accident happening. It gave me a headache which has not left me yet. Sefton (Earl of Sefton, an opponent of the railway) is convinced that some damnable thing must come of it; but he and I seem more struck with such apprehension than others ·····"

Creevey then went on to complain about the many sparks that spewed from the engine and burned one woman's cheek, another's silk pelisse (long fitted dress), and a third's gown. After it was over he concluded that he was glad to have made the trip, but was sure that this first was his last.

The Observer, Sunday, 19 September 1830

The great national work was opened to the public on Wednesday last, with all the ceremonies befitting such an important occasion. The Duke of Wellington, Mr. Huskisson, Sir R. Peel, Prince Esterhazy, and Mr. Holmes were guests of the Committee, together with almost every person of consideration in the neighbouring counties. The project of establishing a correspondence by railway between two of the most populous and important towns in the kingdom, was not started till 1824, when a Mr. James proposed it. The rate of travelling is spoken of as being likely to average about sixteen or eighteen miles an hour. Several of the passengers of the Northumbrian got out to walk on the railway, and among them was Mr. Huskisson. He was discoursing with Mr. J. Sandars, one of the principal originators and promoters of the railroad, when the Rocket engine came slowly up, and as the engineer had been for some time checking its velocity, so silently that it was almost upon the group before they observed it. In the hurry of the moment all attempted to get out of the way. Mr Huskisson hesitated, staggered a little, as if not knowing what to do, then attempted again to get into the carriage. As he took hold of the door to do this, but the motion threw him off balance, and before he could recover he was thrown down directly in the path of the Rocket. Mrs. Huskisson, who, along with several other ladies, witnessed the accident, uttered a shriek of agony, which none who heard will ever forget.

Frances Anne Kemble, Actress, September 1830

"The most intense curiosity and excitement prevailed, and though the weather was uncertain, enormous masses of densely packed people lined the road, shouting and waving hats and handkerchiefs as we flew by them. We travelled at 35 miles an hour (swifter than a bird flies). When I closed my eyes this sensation of flying was quite delightful."

"I had been unluckily separated from my mother in the first distribution of places, but by an exchange of seats which she was enabled to make she rejoined me when I was at the height of my ecstasy, which was considerably damped by finding that she was frightened to death, and intent upon nothing but devising means of escaping from a situation which appeared to her to threaten with instant annihilation herself and all her travelling companions."

"When we neared Manchester the sky grew cloudy and dark, and it began to rain. The vast concourse of people who had assembled to witness the triumphant arrival of the successful travellers was of the lowest orders of mechanics and artisans, among whom great distress and a dangerous spirit of discontent with the government at that time prevailed. Groans and hisses greeted the carriage, full of influential personages, in which the Duke of Wellington sat."

"High above the grim and grimy crowd of scowling faces a loom had been erected, at which sat a tattered, starved-looking weaver, evidently set there as a representative man, to protest against the triumph of machinery and the gain and glory which the wealthy Liverpool and Manchester men were likely to derive from it."

Mary Countess of Wilton, conversation with Frances Anne Kemble,
September 1830

"The engine had stopped to take a supply of water, and several of the gentlemen in the directors' carriage had jumped out to look about them. Lord Wilton, Count Batthyany, Count Matuscenitz and Mr. Huskisson among the rest were standing talking in the middle of the road, when and engine on the other line, which was parading up and down merely to show its speed, was seen coming down upon them like lightening. The most active of those in peril sprang back into their seats; Lord Wilton saved his life only by rushing behind the Duke's carriage, and Count Matuscenitz had but just leaped into it, with the engine all but touching his heels as he did so; while poor Mr. Huskisson, less active from the effects of age and ill-health, bewildered, too, by the frantic cries of, 'Stop the engine! Clear the track!' that resounded on all sides, completely lost his head, looked helplessly to the right and left, and was instantaneously prostrated by the fatal machine, which dashed down like a thunderbolt upon him, and passed over his leg, smashing and mangling it in the most horrible way."