Curr, John.


Published: Sheffield, Printed for the Author by John Northall

Date: 1797

1st Ed. Sm. 4to. 96pp. 5 folding plates. Light browning, minor soiling, minor markings to verso of t.p., C20th rebind in half leather with cloth boards, gilt lettering to spine.

The oldest book in the collection of the National Railway Museum and the first book to print information and details on an iron railway. Very rare and important, the number of known copies is small, and there are no records of it appearing at Auction. Kress, B.3373; ESTC T11202; Ottley 172. John Curr (c. 1756–1823) Manager of the Duke of Norfolk's collieries in Sheffield, England from 1781 to 1801. In 1776 Curr was one of the first engineers to utilise flanged iron rails in the coalmine. His preface states ‘the making and use of rail-roads and corves were the first of my inventions ...’ The transportation of coal carts (‘corves’) along these rails was considerably more efficient than earlier methods. He also invented elaborate hauling machinery, which greatly improved the output of each pit. His innovations were strongly resisted by the colliery workers, who rightly suspected that improved efficiency might threaten jobs and wages. According to family legend Curr hid himself in local woods for several days until the ferment had somewhat subsided. Despite opposition from many quarters Curr’s technological improvements transformed the British Coal industry. He took out several patents including one on his haulage technique, which proved highly lucrative as other collieries adopted his ingenious system. He published the above work at the height of his success - now recognised as a key text in the history of mining and engineering.


Offered by Francis Edwards Antiquarian Books