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Demolition of houses for railway building

Although the coming of the railway might be seen as a great advance, the construction of the lines had consequences for ordinary people that included the demolition of their homes, as the following extract shows.

From Charles Dickens, Dombey and Son (1849)

Houses were knocked down, streets broken through and closed, deep pits and trenches dug in the ground, enormous heaps of earth and clay thrown up, buildings that were undermined and shaking propped by great beams of wood. A chaos of carts overthrown and jumbled together lay topsy turvy at the bottom of a steep unnatural hill, and mounds of ashes blocked up rights of way and wholly changed the law and custom of the neighbourhood.

In short the yet unfinished and unopened railroad was in progress and from the very core of all this disorder trailed smoothly away upon its mighty course of civilisation and improvement.

One or two bold speculators in the neighbourhood had planned streets, a brand new tavern had taken for its sign The Railway Arms, the old established Ham and Beef Shop had become the railway eating house and lodging house keepers were favourable to the railway.

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Last modified 4 March, 2016

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