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Skip to 0 minutes and 0 seconds In essence, all steam locomotives work the same. Fire in the firebox here, generates hot gases which pass through copper tubes within a boiler full of water. Steam gathers in the dome up here, which the driver can then release with the regulator, down into the pistons which in turn drive the wheels, generating forward momentum. The driver was often an older man, operating on worked experience more than formal training. His associate, the fireman, was often younger. More of an apprentice role, he would shovel coal from the tender here into the engine. We’re standing on the footplate of Coppernob, Edward Berry’s 1846 locomotive for the Furniss Railway in Lancashire. As you can see, it’s pretty exposed.

Skip to 0 minutes and 46 seconds Apart from the copper dome, which gave it its nickname, there is no protection for the crew, who could have been thundering along the line at 30 - 40 miles an hour in whatever weather. This was a very, very dangerous job.

Introducing what engine drivers did

From the footplate of an 1840s locomotive held at the National Railway Museum, Oliver Betts explains the key tasks of the driver and fireman.

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This video is from the free online course:

Working Lives on Britain's Railways: Railway History and Heritage

University of Strathclyde