the day the world took off

Pt. 1 19' 53"

Pt. 2 20' 56"

Pt. 3   9' 15"


music in

10 00 00


capts. supered:

five investigators

five continents

five time scales


tilt up shot/train on bridge

cut to:

capts. supered:

the brief:

to trace the origins of the Industrial Revolution

series title z/towards:

the day the world took off

z/i thru tunnel


10 00 01

10 00 02

10 00 04

10 00 08

10 00 10

10 00 14


cut to ext:

sunset/ship in dock

capt. supered:

Wednesday, the 15th day of September, 1830


10 00 25



1830, g/vs people walking/sign ‘no rooms vacant’

Union Jack unfurled/sign ‘Public Notice - Opening of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway’


10 00 31

10 00 45


It is the biggest day in the history of Liverpool and Manchester.

Tens of thousands have gathered to witness an event that will change the world for ever.

l/s Liverpool across Mersey/factory/pan up to chimney stack



10 00 50

From today, an iron umbilical cord will join together the great twin cities of the Industrial Revolution.

Steam and speed.

These are the driving forces of their economy.

c/u 1s man in doorway

workers clock on


10 01 06

A day in the life of a worker in these parts has already undergone radical change.

While most people around the globe are getting up to work in fields, close to a hundred thousand Lancashire folk are clocking on at factories.

recon. footage continues

workers in factories

c/u breaking champagne bottle slow motion


10 01 21

10 01 39


There are more machines in this corner of Britain than in the rest of the world put together.

One in particular is poised to propel the whole nation into the modern world.


music out

10 01 37


pan up/people lean over parapet/flag in foreground

m/s statue of Duke of Wellington riding Copenhagen

shots of people walking


10 01 44


Among the many VIPs is the man invited to open the railway, the Prime Minister, the Duke of Wellington.

He will lead a cortege of trains on the two hour journey from Liverpool to Manchester.

shot of funnel/steam rises


The most famous of the locomotives is Stephenson’s ‘Rocket.’

slow motion/passengers embark

‘Fanny Kemble’[FK] gets in


10 02 11

It seems like a strange beast to the world’s first train passengers.

to carriage

reconstruction continues


10 02 14

10 02 24


We were introduced to the little engine which was to drag us along the rail.

This snorting little animal which I felt rather inclined to pat was then harnessed to our carriage.

cut to ‘FK’ at writing desk


10 02 40


This is the popular actress, Fanny Kemble.

And these are her impressions of her first encounter with the iron horse.

‘FK’ at desk writing/cut to footage of wheels and pistons

music in

10 02 42

10 02 50


She goes upon two wheels, which are her feet and are moved by bright steel legs called pistons.

These are propelled by steam.

stoking boiler/steam

cut to ‘FK’ l/s thru doorway/writing

cut to machine

music out


The coals which are its oats were under the bench.

The reins, bit and bridle of this wonderful beast is a small steel handle which applies or withdraws steam from its legs.

group stands


10 03 19

Clock chimes/cannon fire

c/u carriage/Rocket departs


Crown Street Station, Liverpool 11.00am

music in

10 03 30

10 03 49


When the cannon fires to start the cortege, it blows a spectator’s eye out, a bad omen on a day of celebration for the new industrial age.

groups wave

cut to:

l/s King’s College


king’s college, cambridge


10 03 54

10 04 06


This is the starting point for a mystery that continues to puzzle historians, the great conundrum of why the Industrial Revolution began where and when it did.

5s group walk across quad to door

music out

10 04 09

To tackle this problem, a special group of investigators has gathered.

They will pool their expertise in history, anthropology, science and economics.

This kind of collaboration is unusual.

By sharing different approaches, they hope to unravel this fundamental question of history.

camera pans up to open window above

thru window


10 04 30

Not since neolithic times has there been such a radical change in the daily lives of the human species.

cut to int: room in King’s College


Their task is to trace back the roots of the Industrial Revolution.

footage inside room of group


10 04 42


So one of the puzzles is certainly why England, why then, why England?

For instance, what about France?

m/s Dr.SS at table


10 04 50


There doesn’t, to any intents and purposes seem to be any reason why you would pick England, especially the Midlands and the North West of England over what was called then the Great Nation, France.

camera pans round 5s group

cut to Dr.SS on train


10 05 03


In a series of leaps back in time, they will widen their perspective, eventually linking th e Rocket’s journey to the dawn of agriculture ten thousand years ago.

But first they will take a snapshot of industrial Britain in 1830 and compare it to the other countries around the globe.

c/u Dr.SS

cross cut shots of mine equipment and shaft


10 05 23

Simon Schaffer is an historian of science.

To understand why the locomotive made its first appearance in Britain, he looks at the technology that made it possible.


footage of engine mechanism


footage continues


10 05 39

Dr. SIMON SCHAFFER [v.o./sync]

The first steam engine was built in Tipton in Staffordshire by an ironmonger called Thomas Newcomen.

It was no thoroughbred racer like the Rocket, but a workhorse confined to a shed and used to pump water from mine shafts.




10 05 57

10 06 16

To build a stationery steam engine which you’re going to use basically as a pump, you need a cylinder which a piston can run up and down.

You need a complicated feedback mechanism, so that the motion of the piston can be turned into some kind of useful motion.


10 06 27

And you need a boiler, which isn’t going to blow up and which can generate enough steam at high pressure regularly to run the whole machine.

cut to m/s Dr.SS standing by mechanism


Now, for a piston like that, all the technology that goes into that comes from boring cannon.


dr simon schaffer university of cambridge


10 06 38

10 06 43

Think of a cannon as a kind of one shot engine, in which the ball takes the place of the piston and the barrel of the gun takes the place of the cylinder.

If the ball is too closely fitted into the barrel, then the barrel will bend or explode.

footage of Dr.SS continues


10 06 56

If it’s not fitted closely enough, then you’re not using enough of the energy developed by the force of the explosion to fire the ball out of the gun.

cut to machinery


10 07 09

The kind of precision engineering needed to get that balance right is very closely related to the precision engineering needed to make pistons and cylinders and steam engines work.


10 07 22

For the feedback and control systems, that comes from clockwork.

cut to boiler



Clock ticks

l/s men work on boiler


10 07 32

And the boiler is the kind of thing with which brewers and distillers are really familiar.

Now across Europe there are lots of brewers and distillers, there are lots of clockmakers and there are lots of people making cannon for the army.


10 07 43

But what you get in Britain is people able to pool those together.

So the key is system built.

b/w etching of Stephenson supered over engine in b/g


10 07 55

Dr. SIMON SCHAFFER continues

Stephenson is more impressive as a systems engineer than as an inventor.

He pools together in a single workable system a whole series of innovations and techniques that lots of different people have generated.


10 08 08

So there’s a clue to why this happens in England or Britain first.

l/s ‘Rocket’ enveloped in steam

b/w line drawing of loco.

cut to b/w etching of Stephenson/cu/h/s


10 08 14


George Stephenson does not invent the locomotive, but is the first to see its potential as a carrier of people, rather than of coal.

As a lowly engine man, working in a colliery, he takes apart one of Newcomen’s engines to find out how it works.

further shot of drawing

half length pic

music in

10 08 29

10 08 35

Fifteen years later, he is rich.

The first to build trains on an industrial scale.

footage of people walking


He knows the value of publicity.

c/u ‘FK’


10 08 47

He deliberately packs his trains with the movers and shakers of the day and moved and shaken they are.

footage in train


10 08 55

‘FANNY KEMBLE’ [v.o./sync]

The engine set off at its upmost speed, thirty five miles per hour.


Swifter than a bird flies.

c/u ‘FK’


10 09 14

We cannot conceive what the sensation of cutting the air was.

c/u ‘FK’ hair blowing


10 09 23

I stood up, and with my bonnet off, drank in the air before me.

The wind, which was strong, or perhaps the force of our own thrusting against it absolutely weighed my eyelids down.

cut to ‘FK’ sitting at desk


10 09 41

When I closed my eyes, this sensation of flying was quite delightful and strange beyond description.

m/s ‘FK’


Yet strange as it was, I had the perfect sense of security and not the slightest fear.

l/s crowd hang over parapet/Union Jack in foreground


10 10 01


route map of trip/Liverpool highlighted/capt. supered over


Olive Mount, 11.10am


10 10 23

Dr. SIMON SCHAFFER [v.o./sync]

You can’t really have this kind of railway system without hype.

And so part of the Stephenson project is this new fangled word, journalist.

You get London and Manchester journalists to travel on these trains.

map fades to l/s Rocket

g/vs train coming towards


10 10 40

You invite media celebrities, like Fanny Kemble, you make sure they have a very good time.

You make sure George Stephenson, this rather rugged Geordie figure, is there to chat them up.

train passes

music out

10 10 55

There’s a media blitz, partly to attract investors, but also partly to build up a sense, not only of excitement, but also security.

cut to m/s Dr.SS standing on track


10 11 06

Nothing went wrong, we didn’t fall over, we didn’t, we didn’t break our arm, we saw the world in a completely new way, we had all these new experiences, but we came out living at the other end of the story.

cut to dock/tall ship/man in rigging

music in

10 11 19


However, the driving force behind the railway is not the speedy transportation of people, but the explosive growth of the cotton industry.

capt. supered:

Bales of cotton imported into Liverpool

1784       8

1830       650,000


tilt shot of canal/g/v mill


10 11 36


Until today, the only way of shipping raw cotton to the Manchester mills thirty miles away was by canal.

But canals were not to be sound investments for much longer.

cut to Cambridge

group round table

c/u Dr.SS

g/vs canals

music out

10 11 49

Dr. SIMON SCHAFFER [sync/v.o.]

One reason why the Manchester and Liverpool Railway has to be built, why it’s profitable to build it as a good Manchester man would, would say is because the canals between the Mersey and Manchester cannot carry the weight of goods which the cotton trade is generating, both in and out, they get blocked.

tall ship docks


10 12 16

Dr. SIMON SCHAFFER continues

It took longer for cotton bales to get from the docks at Liverpool up to Manchester than it took for that cotton to get from the United States across the Atlantic to Liverpool.

c/u wheel/fade to Dr.SS in b/g on track/he walks along track towards

c/u wheel


10 12 34

After the Manchester and Liverpool Railway was built, you could have a businessman in Manchester who went to Liverpool in the morning, bought some cotton, brought it to Manchester and he could do that two or three times in one day.

c/u track/moving pistons supered over


10 12 52

What Capitalism is doing then, certainly what merchant and industrial capitalists are doing is deliberately accelerating the system, because wherever there’s a blockage, there’s a loss from their point of view.

cut back to Dr.SS m/s on track


10 13 04

They see time as money.

That old eighteenth century motto is being turned into metal and cotton and human labour power.

l/s people wave at Rocket

further shot of route map, capt. supered over


Roby Embankment,



10 13 26


g/v factory

z/i to c/u window


10 13 32


In 1830 there is one place where time can only mean money.

Now almost anything you can make by hand, a machine in a factory can make faster.

c/u worker in factory


10 13 48

By this time in the morning, a machine operator will have already been working for more than five hours and produced thirty yards of cloth.

m/s woman at handloom

cut to machine


10 14 02


A handloom weaver will only have produced three yards.

capt. supered over:

A machine spinner produces as much yarn in one day as a hand spinner makes in a year

cut back to woman’s hand on loom



george wrigley,

Weaver 1953-1985


10 14 25

10 14 31

GEORGE WRIGLEY [v.o./sync]

The trouble with hand loom weaving is when you’ve done eight hours on a hand loom, and you’re doing a circle for, for a tie, at the end of eight hours it’s not a circle any more, it’s an oval, because you’re getting tired ... ...

2s GW & Dr.SS stand by looms


10 14 37


And you’ve lost the ...

footage continues


10 14 40


... And you’ve, well you wouldn’t get paid.

So you’ve got to bang that in and after eight hours, believe me it were very, very hard work.


10 14 46


So hand loom weavers have to be vigilant even more than machine minders ...

2s continues

c/u machine


10 14 51


... Definitely, definitely, that is what I call grafting, real grafting.

This in comparison on machines, you see the machine’s doing most of the work for you.


Power looms in Manchester

1814       0

1830       30,000



Weaving machine

2s Dr.SS & GW


10 15 09

Dr. SIMON SCHAFFER [v.o./sync]

Why was it that this part of Lancashire where we are standing now is the first and principle place where you get this kind of automation of the whole cotton industry.

What are the big factors here in your view that are making that possible.

2s continues

camera pulls away from


10 15 26


Climate, well I mean, you see, Lancashire, Yorkshire, well known for ... heaviest rain, all Lancashire towns are nearly always in a valley where you get dampness.

In summertime, in mills when we’ve no humidity, the first thing you did when you walked in, you know, you used the slosh the floor with buckets of water, to get some dampness in, else they won’t ...


10 15 49


Right, so we have to imagine a room like this full of, say a thousand looms in constant damp, constant moisture ...

2s continues


10 15 55


Yes, you needed that dampness in the atmosphere.



Right, because otherwise the thread breaks and ...


10 16 00


... ... Just breaking all the time, yeah.


cut to workers in factory

music in

10 16 02


cut to factory/tilt up to facade of Royal Mill

assorted 3s businessmen supered over people getting on train


10 16 29

Dr. SIMON SCHAFFER [v.o./sync]

Lancashire has another crucial resource.

The men whose capital has built the new cathedrals of industry.

Many of them are religious non-conformists, excluded from the establishment, because they’re not members of the Church of England.


10 16 46

They’re barred from universities and from the learned professions, so they concentrate their energies on business.


Stephenson’s daring railway enterprise doesn’t frighten them.

While others invest in land, they invest in technology.

footage of Rocket


10 17 05


Today, the trains are full of these new industrial men, many of them shareholders in the railway.

They are in the vanguard of a social group unique to Britain, the middle class.

footage of people waving at train

music out

10 17 21

Tomorrow, when the regular service begins, the first commuters will be queueing for seats.

Seven shillings in first class, four shillings in second.


10 17 34

The spending power of the middle class is creating the world’s first consumer boom.

c/u hand pouring tea from china teapot

music in

10 17 37


int: l/s Prof.MB thru mirror in drawing room


10 17 44


Maxine Berg is an economic historian who has studied the origins of consumerism.


2s women at table drinking tea

m/s women


10 17 50

Prof. MAXINE BERG [v.o./sync]

The real trendsetters would be found amongst the middle classes in England in the nineteenth century.

These were the main sources of the new consumption.

continuing shots of women at table


professor maxine berg

University of Warwick


10 18 00

10 18 06

10 18 17

They did aspire to some of the ways of life of the gentry, certainly, but along with that there went a sense of, I think a real self-identity, of aspiring to have things that were not what they gentry would have.

So you would have things that were new, and modern.

c/u carpet

c/u china teapot


10 18 19


Luxury products that previously only the rich could afford are now within the grasp of the new middle class.

c/u woman’s face

curtain in b/g

z/i to c/u curtain


These objects of desire, previously hand made and expensive can now be factory produced.

Fabrics no longer have to be laboriously printed by hand.

c/u curtains

cut to machinery


10 18 44

Patterns are etched on to steel rollers.

And the printing presses are driven by steam.

c/u china teapot


10 18 53


c/u china cup and saucer

c/u hand pours tea


10 18 56

Prof. MAXINE BERG [v.o./sync]

Chinaware, earthenware is a wonderful demonstration of all of this. The Staffordshire earthenware manufacturers developed techniques for transfer printing, instead of hand painting designs on to earthenware, so that they can produce coloured and patterned chinaware for a polite and cultivated life style and it was affordable.

further shots of women drinking tea

music out

10 19 23


In 1830 no other European country has the social mobility that allows a middle class to emerge.

cut to shot of ‘FK’ on Rocket


10 19 34

The wealth this new class generates is fuelling the British economy.

For some there are fortunes to be made.

For the majority on the treadmill of mass production, there is a price to pay.


the day the world took off

music in

10 19 49


music out

10 19 53



the day the world took off

music in

10 21 00


wheels turning

man on horse watching

further shot of route map

capt. supered over


Lea Green, 11.30am


10 21 11

10 21 22


As the Rocket steams towards Manchester, it cuts through rural landscape.

l/s group in fields

1s man turns hay


10 21 29

People who work the fields are suspicious of the new iron horse, with good reason.

further recon. shots in fields


10 21 39

 Machinery has already driven many of them out of their jobs.

This very week, farm labourers in Southern England are rioting and destroying threshing machines.


music out

10 21 51


cut to footage of factories


10 21 54


The unemployed are forced to move from the countryside to look for work in the factories.

1s man stands/wall in b/g

capt.supered over wall


Population of Manchester

1760       22,000

1830       235,000


10 22 06

Now the boom towns of the industrial age are growing faster than cities have ever done before.

shot of tunnel

cut to Dr.SS with group round table


10 22 17

Dr. SIMON SCHAFFER [v.o./sync]

Manchester became a kind of dark tourist attraction during the 1820s and 30s.

The population of Liverpool rose by, what, forty per cent in ten years, from 1820 to 1830.

Lots of people really did come to look at what was going on.

cut to b/w footage/speeded up film/racing clouds

recon. people in slum


10 22 36

They recognised that Manchester is their future, that this is the way everywhere is going to become.

And that future is both exciting and infernal.

It’s, what’s going to happen to us all, and it’s hell.

further recon. footage of people in slums


10 22 55


One tourist who has come to see the future is a twenty two year old German, sent to Manchester to work in a branch of his father’s textile company.

He witnesses at first hand the ugly face of unchecked capitalism.

c/u ‘FE’

c/u ‘FE’ at desk


10 23 09

‘FRIEDRICH ENGELS’ [v.o./sync]

If anyone wishes to see in how little space a human being can move, how little air and such air he can breathe, it is only necessary to travel hither.

m/s ‘FE’ writing


10 23 24


This is Friedrich Engels.

His account of working class conditions in Manchester will form the basis of a new radical ideology, Communism.

recon. b/w footage rats


cockroaches crawl on food


10 23 35


Everywhere, heaps of debris, refuse and offal, standing pools for gutters, and a stench, which alone would make it impossible for a human being, in any degree civilised, to live in such a district.

footage of people in cellar


10 23 49

Often, more than one family lives in a single damp cellar, in whose pestilent atmosphere twelve to sixteen persons are crowded together.

m/s ‘FE’


10 24 01

Upon re-reading my account I have to admit that it is not exaggerated, but not even dark enough to convey the true sense of grit, ruin and uninhabitableness of this district, with its twenty to thirty thousand inhabitants.

recon. footage of slums

c/u child


10 24 17


How so many people could survive, living in such appalling conditions has been puzzling anthropologist, Alan Macfarlane.

m/s Prof. AM in library

m/s him at desk


professor alan macfarlane

University of Cambridge


10 24 30

Prof. ALAN MACFARLANE [v.o./sync]

One of the great contradictions in history had been that in order to make cities efficient, you had to have lots of people living in them, close by and working together, this is economically very efficient, but unfortunately as people congregated together in cities, they started killing each other off.

c/u Prof. AM

cut to recon. people in slums

c/u freeze frame woman’s face



Not by fighting, but by disease.

They would pollute the water supply with their faeces, the viruses and bacteria would spread because people were close together and so there would be epidemics.

cross cut shots of groups of men and women


10 25 04

You could never get beyond a certain sized city.

But suddenly these cities in England fell away from this pattern.

Something odd happened.

c/u freeze frame woman in doorway

cut to Prof. AM


10 25 17

People didn’t die of disease in large numbers.

For the first time in history, a civilisation appeared to have emerged, certainly in the West, which could get round the great barrier to the growth of cities.

cut away/cut to trains in



10 25 33

But it wasn’t just England where this happened, it happened in one other place in the world.

footage of Prof. AM at station in Tokyo

music in

10 25 38


footage of speeding trains

music out

10 26 02


cut to tranquil country scene

woman performs tea ritual


Prof. ALAN MACFARLANE [v.o./sync]

The great cities of Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto were just as big and they had been for a long time and yet again the people didn’t die of water borne diseases.

So what was it about the drinking habits of England and Japan which were special?

m/s Japanese lady makes tea


10 26 22

Sound of tea being poured

she hands tea to him


10 26 32

Prof. ALAN MACFARLANE [v.o./sync]

Neither the Japanese, nor the English tolerated drinking cold water if they could possibly avoid it.


10 26 40

So they drank something else.

m/s Prof. AM take tea from Japanese lady


This is what is known in Japan as Honourable Tea, which was drunk by these two islands in great quantities, England and Japan, tea.

Prof. AM bows to her

music in

10 27 01

10 27 03

Very nice.

c/u shots of water boiling


But what is the link, the actual causal link?

Well at first I thought it must be the boiling of the water.

If you boil water for about five minutes, you kill off most bacteria in water, but many people didn’t boil them for five minutes and there are quite a few bacteria which aren’t killed.

So I wondered whether there was something more than just the boiling of the water that  was important.

c/u Prof. AM

reads description of tea


10 27 30

And then I traced the history of tea back.

And I discovered that originally everyone had drunk tea, not because it was a pleasant drink, but the main reason was that it was a herbal remedy.

further footage of tea boiling


What tea contains is one of the greatest and most powerful forms of antiseptic known to man, which will kill many kinds of bacteria.


10 27 58

When it was bought into England they did all sorts of experiments to see whether it did have something in it.

footage of frogs’ legs floating in water

footage of frogs’ legs floating in tea


10 28 11

They put frogs’ legs into water and found that they putrefied.

They put them into tea and found that they didn’t putrefy.

c/u tea being poured

2s man & woman drink tea


10 28 25

So every time a Manchester operative went off, exhausted from their work, drunk a cup of tea, not only did they then get the strength to work those gruelling hours in the factories, but also they were drinking a powerful anti-bacterial agent which killed in their mouth and in their stomach, many of the diseases they’d have got from water or any other substance.

c/u tea bubbles

music out

10 28 47

So tea is a very necessary background feature for the health revolution, without which you can’t have urbanisation and so Japan and England could build up huge cities.

g/vs Tokyo

music in

10 29 03


further views



At the time of the Rocket, Japan had the biggest cities in the world.

They were highly commercialised, with a highly literate population.


Yet there was no sign of an industrial revolution.

c/u mixed drawings from library of Japanese workers


In fact if you looked round Japan in September 1830 for anything remotely resembling the Rocket, there was nothing.

Not just no trains, or experiments with trains, there were hardly any machines at all.

more colour prints


10 29 35

Everything was done by human labour.

Japanese workers


And above all, there was one key human invention that was missing.

cut to c/u man puts together

music out

10 29 54


a wheel

footage continues of wheel being constructed


10 30 03

Prof. ALAN MACFARLANE [v.o/sync]

Japan was a wheel-less civilisation.

One of the great ways of improving human efficiency had been more or less totally abandoned.

ext: night/footage in Tokyo

g/vs train


10 30 13

So in 1830, not only did they not have trains, they didn’t have the wheels to run them on.


If you’ve got a very cheap labour force, as you had in Japan, and you’ve got the mobility of human beings, it’s often much more efficient to use human labour, rather than wheels.

m/s Prof. AM in library


10 30 35

If you can get humans or animals to do it, it’s often better than the wheel, so they couldn’t see a use for it.

They gave it up.

cut to Rocket and route map

capt. supered over


Collins Green 11.50am

cut to c/u ‘FK’ on train



10 30 43

10 30 51

10 31 00

10 31 08

Sound of train

cut to train

cut to ‘FK’ sitting at desk

c/u pic of Collins Green

music in

10 31 16


The steam horse being ill adapted for going up and down hill, the road was kept at a certain level and appeared sometimes to sink below the surface of the earth and sometimes to rise above it.

At one place it was cut through the solid rock, which formed a wall at either side of it, about sixty foot high.

c/u ‘FK’

film speeds up


10 31 29

You can’t imagine how strange it seemed to be journeying on thus, without any visible cause of progress, other than the magical machine between these rocky walls.

cut to l/s Dr.SS

music out

10 31 46

Dr. SIMON SCHAFFER [v.o./sync]

Stephenson himself was pretty pessimistic about the ability of his new locomotives to go up any incline at all, so what that meant was, that the entire landscape had to be changed.

speeded up footage along track


10 32 00

Big cuttings had to be made through the hills and where you had low lying areas, certainly boggy areas, for example, big causeways had to be built to turn the undulations of the English countryside into a series of geometrical lines.

cut to Dr.SS walking along track


10 32 18

The flat parallel lines that disappear into infinity become a real icon of the railway age.

c/u drawing of navvies /pan down pic to train below


And the men who make that possible, the navvies, who could shift thirty tons of earth a day, thirty tons for each man, turned the whole of England pretty quickly into one big industrial space.


music in

10 32 41


recon. people waving at train


Sankey Viaduct  11.55am


10 32 56

10 33 02


We had now come fifteen miles to where the road traversed a wide and deep valley, over which, in order to keep his road level, Stephenson had thrown a magnificent viaduct of nine arches.

tilted shot of viaduct


10 33 14

It was lovely and wonderful beyond all words.

viaduct shot continues


10 33 20


As well as the seventy foot high viaduct, navvies had to dig one and a half miles of tunnel, excavate thirteen miles of cutting and raise nine miles of embankment.


It took four years to pave the way for the Rocket.

recon. people waving at train


10 33 34

10 33 39

Dr. SIMON SCHAFFER [v.o./sync]

The main effect of the railway on landscape is that the ups and downs of the countryside have to be levelled out.

c/u Dr.SS


dr simon schaffer

University of Cambridge


10 33 45

That also has the effect of separating the railway system from the landscape through which it’s moving.

m/s Dr.SS stand on embankment

train approaches below in b/g


Instead of this personal engagement with the countryside across which you’re riding, or through which you’re walking or down which you’re rowing, the, the railway system has to be insulated from it and so that the landscape becomes something that you look at, while you’re travelling, to, to be sure.


music out


But just stops being an obstacle.

You stop engaging with your world.

c/u train


10 34 12

Engine noise

cut to Dr.SS on train



And that becomes very, very quickly, a very common image of alienation, of the separation between the way in which industrial people experience the, the world and the reality of the world itself.

recon. people working

shots of pistons/machinery

music in

10 34 36


v/o speaker


Sir James Kay Shuttleworth

‘The Moral and Physical Condition of the Working Classes’


10 34 51


Whilst the engine runs, the people must work, men, women and children are yoked together with iron and steam.

The animal machine, subject to a thousand sources of suffering is chained fast to the iron machine, which knows no suffering and no weariness.

footage of machinery

steam pumps

music out

10 35 24


When Dickens and his friends come to Manchester, they see there’s a kind of strange jungle with the great steam pumps working day and night in the factories with the fires lighting the windows behind them.

further footage of steam pumps


10 35 37

Brain sick elephants, as he says, moving their heads up and down in time to some manic rhythm.

c/u Dr.SS


Machinery becomes a kind of strange beast.

cut to recon. workers


And the human beasts inside seem to be working as though they were machines.

recon. c/u man working on machine


10 36 02

People were experiencing their lives as run by the machine, it’s not me, it’s the rate of the machine that sets how fast I should work.

cut to factory


10 36 15


One machine dominates people’s lives more than any other.

footage of ratchets/clock mechanism

music in

10 36 20

10 36 25

V.O. [Singers]

One, two, one two, one two ...

recon. workers walk past clock


10 36 33

Dr. SIMON SCHAFFER [v.o./sync]

Once you have automatic institutions, factories, workshops, where the most important thing is getting the machines up and running and then production can start, regulating and coordinating the different components of the work force becomes essential.

further recon. footage of workers clocking on


10 36 48

Clocking on started to dominate the way in which people understood their own labour time.

footage of people walking

w/s boy runs past factory


10 37 00

Dr. SIMON SCHAFFER continues

By the early 1800s, in fact, wages were paid by time rate.

By the hour and by the minute.


10 37 10

V.O. [Singers]

Left, right, left, left right, one, two, one two ...

c/u chld working

c/u Dr.SS stands by clock


10 37 18

Dr. SIMON SCHAFFER [v.o./sync]

What I think is happening in Western industrial society is that the whole sense of time gets increasingy internalised, so that when Jules Verne at the end of the 19th century tries to define what being a gentleman, let alone being a worker is, a gentleman is someone who knows the time without having to consult his watch, because he’s completely internalised this mechanical regular rhythm, and it’s that way in which the clock is brought within psychology, within mentality that I think defines a lot of what time means in the new industrial societies.

footage of ratchets/clock mechanism


10 37 56

V.O. [Singers]

One, two, one ...

trains supered over recon. footage of machinery

music out

10 37 58


This morning the trains are on time.

The new railway like everything else in industrial society is synchronised to the clock.

But this obsession with measuring time is exclusive to the West.

cut to footage in China


10 38 22

sound of gong.

footage of steps to F.C.

g/vs Forbidden City


10 38 29


In China on this day in 1830, people marched to the beat of a different drum.

Dr.CC arrives in ‘taxi’

walks up steps of Forbidden City


Christopher Cullen is a historian of Chinese science and technology.


He’s often asked why this inventive country didn’t seem to need the mechanical clock.

footage of drum  and bell towers


The drum and bell towers in Beijing provide a clue.




sound of drum  beating.

g/vs Forbidden City


10 38 54


Under the Emperors, every evening at seven o’clock, the great drums would beat a hundred and eight times and the bells would sound.



10 39 05

bell sounding

c/u Dr. CC


dr christopher cullen

School of African and Oriental Studies


10 39 16


So in China, time was certainly publicly marked.

But there’s a subtle difference here between this time and time as it was marked by the public clocks of some of the cities of Europe.

cut to night: g/vs


10 39 29

For a start, it wasn’t during the day that people were told the time by the drums and the bells, it was at night.

further night shots


10 39 36



10 39 38


The drum sounded every two hours to mark the five night watches, so as to enable the officials to be ready for their dawn audiences and to enable the watchmen to do their rounds, and the guards to change their duties.

c/u Dr. CC


10 39 55

This was time designed, certainly not for the citizen to time their work.


10 40 00

Nobody would be looking at this clock to say, I’ve just got time to nip down to the shops before I start my shift this afternoon.

ext: night/shots of city

c/u clock

music in

10 40 11


Even though the Chinese had been familiar with mechanical clocks for centuries, the idea never left the Forbidden City.

recon. c/u ‘Emperor’ looking at clock


10 40 24


The ... ... Emperor is fascinated by European mechanical clocks.

c/u mechanism

cut to countryside


But that doesn’t mean that the clock spreads to the general population.

The idea that it was any part of the Emperor’s duties to actually to suggest to them that they should think of using their time according to a new and more efficient system was far from the aims that the Chinese state set itself.

footage of fields


10 40 57

What matters with the population is that they should pursue their occupation, which in the case of most people is farming, of course and that the taxes should be paid.

c/u Dr. CC

music out

10 41 05

And I think the idea of timing people to the minute would have seemed quite the opposite of the great slogan that’s in one of the Emperor’s halls in the Forbidden City ..., ‘Don’t Take any Unnecessary Action’.

m/s dhow on water

c/u man in rigging

camera pans along water


10 41 22

10 41 36


In a society where only one person’s time mattered, it’s hardly surprising that mechanical clocks didn’t spread.

Any society without this technology is unlikely to have steam engines, railways, and an industrial revolution.

cut to footage of Rocket

c/u ‘FK’



Back in Britain, the fastest machine on earth is about to reveal its dark side.


the day the world took off

music in

10 41 46


music out

10 41 56



the day the world took off

music in

10 43 00


recon. train stops

route map supered over


Parkside, 12.00 noon

c/u ‘FK’


10 43 08

10 43 14

‘FANNY KEMBLE’ [v.o./sync]

Halfway between Liverpool and Manchester, the engine stopped to take in a supply of water, and several of the gentlemen jumped out to look about them.

recon. l/s men talking/footage speeds up

music out

10 43 27

They were standing talking in the middle of the road when an engine on the other line was seen coming down upon them like lightning.

c/u woman’s face


10 43 32

scream/crashing noise

c/u hat on ground


10 43 45

10 43 52

noise stops

‘FK’ in study, looks out of window

cross cut between ‘FK’ and recon. accident

cut to c/u hat on ground

music in

10 43 55


The most active of those in peril sprang back to their seats, while poor Mr Huskisson, less active from the effects of age and ill-health was instantaneously prostrated by the fatal machine, which dashed down like a thunderbolt upon him and passed over his leg, smashing and mangling it in a most horrible way.

pic of William Huskisson supered over train


10 44 23

Dr. SIMON SCHAFFER [v.o./sync]

William Huskisson was the MP for Liverpool.

further footage with pic supered over


Huskisson stood for a lot of the political and economic forces that were bringing the railway about.

assorted shots of trees



10 44 47

Dr. SIMON SCHAFFER continues

His closest political allies were the big shipowners and merchants back in Liverpool

So his death is deeply ironic.


One of the architects of the new economic order being destroyed by that economic order’s greatest technological achievement.

footage of memorial


10 45 00



Huskisson’s Memorial


10 45 02

Dr. SIMON SCHAFFER [v.o./sync]

Huskisson was an evangelical.

That is to say if someone died, it, it was an Act of God and one should take that literally.

So behind the railways and behind Huskisson’s death, people saw fate and providence.


dr simon schaffer

University of Cambridge

music out

10 45 16

They tended to be rather under-impressed by chance and over-impressed by what God was trying to tell them.

m/s Dr.SS


There’s an enormous debate about whether railways are the kinds of things God wants.

l/s railway line

music in

10 45 30


footage of train


10 45 34


Huskisson’s death may look like divine intervention and a warning to put the brakes on technological progress.


But the machine has already built up too much momentum for any one to stop it.

footage of track


10 45 55


The Duke of Wellington declared his intention not to proceed.

train pulls in


However, upon being informed that the whole population of Manchester had turned out and a disappointment might give rise to riots, he consented to go on.

cut to c/u ‘FK’


10 46 12


z/i c/u


10 46 13


The buoyant exhilaration of the morning was passed and all now wore the sombre aspect of a funeral procession.

train moves slowly


l/s Rocket

m/s field

music out

10 46 40

Prof. JOEL MOKYR [v.o./sync]

In Europe, and particularly in Western Europe, people come to the realisation that in fact the manipulation of the physical world is nothing t be ashamed of, there’s nothing to feel guilty about.

c/u wheat in field


10 46 51

In fact if you do so, you’re only illustrating the glory of the Creator.


professor joel mokyr

Northwestern University,



10 46 58

That the Creator in His infinite wisdom has created something and put us in the middle of it.

And that he put it at our disposal.

int: Prof. Mokyr in cow shed with calves


10 47 09


Joel Mokyr believes that in order for a society to industrialise, it must have a particular attitude to the natural world.

footage with calves continues

cut to ext: c/u Prof. Mokyr in field


10 47 17

Prof. JOEL MOKYR [v.o./sync]

Archeological successes is in a large part due to the fact that we believe that this entire physical environment is ours.

We can do with it whatever we want, and we can manipulate it for our own benefit, so if we don’t like, you know, the virus that causes smallpox, we eradicated it.


If we like whales, you know, well, we keep ‘em alive, but we do this for us, we don’t do this for the whales really, we do this for us


10 47 39

We are the centre of the, of the universe.

l/s farm

g/vs cows and fields


I think that is really a necessary condition for any kind of technological advances to be self-sustaining, because if you don’t have that, at some point you are going to sit down and you’re going to say, alright, what we have achieved until now is fine, but we shouldn’t press it, we shouldn’t push it any further, we should live in harmony with nature.

c/u Prof. Mokyr


10 48 01

We don’t want to live in harmony with nature!


We want to keep disrupting it1


10 48 14

That is the Western way of doing things.

That is why we are rich and everybody else is not, because if you’re going to live in harmony with nature, you may be happy, but you’re going to be poor.

cut to map of Rocket’s route

music in

10 48 15



Ordsall Lane, Manchester 2.35pm


10 48 19


recon. shots of crowd


10 48 23


Although Manchester is prosperous, its working population is far from happy.

further shots of angry crowd


Most spectators have not come to cheer.

crowd scenes


10 48 34

‘FANNY KEMBLE’ [v.o./sync]

The vast concourse of people who had assemble to witness the triumphant arrival was of the lowest order of mechanics and artisans.

Among whom a dangerous spirit of discontent with the government prevailed.

recon. sc/u ‘Duke of Wellington’


Groans and hisses greeted the carriage in which The Duke of Wellington sat.

pan along side of train

c/u ‘Rocket’ logo

cut to crowd

m/s ‘weaver’


10 40 00

High above the grim and grimy crowd of scowling faces a loom had been erected, at which sat a tattered, starved looking weaver, evidently set there as a representative man to protest against this triumph of machinery.

cut to ‘FK’ f/l in study


The contrast between our departure from Liverpool and our arrival at Manchester was one of the most striking things I’ve witnessed.

recon. crowd scenes

cross cut shots


Dr. SIMON SCHAFFER [v.o./sync]

Two months before the Rocket ran from Liverpool to Manchester, the French king had been overthrown in a very dramatic and fairly violent revolution.

cut to c/u Dr.SS

cross cut shots of weavers


10 49 50

France haunted the English imagination and what France stood for was political revolution.

So the Republican Tricolour was very often used to stand for the kind of two finger salute to the Tory Government, and that’s exactly what happens as the Rocket pulls into Manchester where the hand loom weavers hang out the French flag of revolution and in front of the flag is the representative man, as Fanny Kemble calls him.

further cross cut shots showing weaver


A handloom weaver sitting at his loom.

These were the people who’d been completely dispossessed and expropriated by rapid industrialisation.

cut to c/u Dr.SS


Liverpool Road Station, Manchester 2.45pm


10 50 50

Most observers, both within the working class and the journalists who are describing what’s going on reckon that it’s extremely likely that there will be a mass revolution within Britain within anyone’s life time.

recon. people stand on station/Rocket arrives


10 50 53


There was no revolution.

People learned to live with the machine.



10 51 00


further footage of the Rocket


10 51 03


The Rocket became an icon of the new industrial age.

A different kind of revolution, the Industrial Revolution went on to spread throughout the world.

But what were the links in the chain of events that allowed this to happen?

slow motion footage/train

people walk by in slow motion


Why was Britain undergoing these changes and not its nearest neighbours, France and Germany?


10 51 29

10 51 38

To answer these questions, the investigation will take its first leap back in time and look at the hundred years that led up to the day that the world took off.

CREDITS START - Rocket supered at side of frame

music in

10 51 42




With Thanks To



















Set Design












Dubbing Mixer


On-Line Editor


Original Music


Production Administration





Production Co-ordinator


Production Manager


Assistant Producers





Produced and Directed by



Series Producer


A Production by Windfall Films for Channel 4

© Channel 4 Television MM

music out 10 52 12

picture out 10 52 24