Autograph letter from Mr W J Curtis to the Secretary of the Stockton & Darlington Railway, 29 October 1839.
This is a letter by Mr W. J. Curtis to the Stockton and Darlington Railway, dated 29th October 1839. It comments on the death of a man struck by a locomotive, suggesting that the railway implement a new braking system that had been developed by Curtis himself.
The Stockton and Darlington Railway saw many accidents during its early years of operation. These included boiler explosions, derailments and collisions with other trains as well as those people on the line. Steam traction was also in its infancy, often proved to being unreliable or dangerous.
Though early steam locomotives travelled relatively slowly, many lacked a braking system that could halt the train in an emergency. As this letter demonstrates, many safety systems were either had not invented or were deployed, meaning that railways could often be dangerous at this stage of their development.