Sunday, 10 April 2011
An Intercontinental Rapid Transit System (1829)
The most striking feature of the picture is the metallic tube into which passengers are embarking. The wording on this (which is not very legible in my photograph, I'm afraid) says "GRAND VACUUM TUBE COMPANY: Direct to Bengal". Assuming the starting point is meant to be London, this is a distance of seven thousand miles! Presumably Heath's idea was that the passengers would sit in a tight-fitting capsule, which would then be forced along the tube at high speed by atmospheric pressure... rather like a more advanced version of Brunel's Atmospheric Railway in South Devon, which opened in 1847 (and shut the following year, because it didn't work very well).