Coloured lithograph. Great Western Railway.Long Tunnel, Fox's Wood (from the West). Drawn and lithographed by J C Bourne. Printed by C F Cheffins. 1846.
This lithograph was published in 1846 as part of a series of views of the Great Western Railway by John Cooke Bourne (1814–1896). Eight years earlier Bourne produced a series of views showing the construction of the London & Birmingham Railway (also in the National Railway Museum collection). The Great Western views were very different to these earlier views: by 1846 the Great Western was already well established, so Bourne produced a series of drawings that reflected the grandeur and permanence of Brunel’s great broad-gauge railway.
Bourne was commissioned to create the Great Western series by Charles Frederick Cheffins. Cheffins was an engineer and draughtsman known for his drawings of locomotive engines, his cartographic work, and as a surveyor for numerous railroad projects. He started making lithographs in 1830 and often lithographed work for other artists. However, Bourne had the ability to transfer his own drawings onto the lithographic stone, so in this case Cheffins served solely as the printer.
It has been estimated that no fewer than 2,000 prints of railway subjects were produced during the years 1830 to the late 1840s, and scarcely a line opened without at least one view of its engineering accomplishments being published. It is difficult for us today to understand the emotional as well as financial commitment to railways during these early years. The railway was often seen as a slowly spreading symbol of change and progress towards a better world.