Lundy Island Railway and Colonization Company

This is taken from the Dublin Evening Mail of 2 May 1845. The author’s name was not given.

Lundy Island Railway
and Colonization Company

We are gratified to learn that our observations on this favoured island have at length attracted the notice of the discerning portion of the public, and that an influential body of eminent capitalists, both domestic and foreign, have determined to establish a Railway system in the island, which cannot fail to engage a large share of public attention and patronage.

Whether we consider it as a national or merely a lucrative enterprise, that it will produce large profits to those investing capital in it, is proved by the calculations, diligently and accurately made by Professor Babbage and Dr Lardner, both men of the highest reputation, celebrity and experience in these and most other matters in which theory and practice combined are requisite to attain a satisfactory and conclusive result.


It is intended, in the first instance, to construct a Railroad, with three lines of rails on it, all round the island, and hereafter to make branch lines into the interior, from the four cardinal points to the centre, where the capital City, NEW ROME, is to be built. Two other cities, capable of containing 20,000 inhabitants each, called CONNELLBURGH, and MCHALEVILLE, are also to be erected.

It is confidently anticipated that the surplus profits of the Railway, after paying seventeen and a half per cent to the shareholders, will go far towards the construction of these cities, with their harbours, colleges, and other appurtenances; and that a revenue will arise from the carriage of stone to the three localities, which will be so considerable as to pay thirteen per cent, the original cost of the Railway itself — while the quarries themselves will be worked to a vast profit, as after the first strata or two of Boran [1] granite are removed, most valuable mines of that essential metal, called Tin, are to be found underneath.

There are at present no inhabitants on the island; but arrangements are in progress, with our own as well as with foreign Governments, for the transmission there of their surplus population, who are now employed at very low wages, in their dockyards [2], and other public works. Negociations [sic] have also been opened for procuring a few thousand “Galley slaves,” which cannot fail of proving a blessing as well as a benefit, morally and physically, in the establishment of a new colony. Many celebrated characters from America, Texas, New Orleans, and Paraguay, are expected also, with bodies of enterprising emigrants. Part of the capital of the company will be appropriated to the establishment of banks, on the most approved Pennsylvanian principles, in which deposits to any amount (as well as those who deposit them) will be taken in.

Immense quantities of superior penguin, noddy, gull, and booby guano, are found on the island, which Professor Herepath has proved to be materially improved by the action of rapid transport through the air; consequently much traffic will be created by carrying the guano round and round the island to produce fermentation, and thus increase its fertilizing qualities.

First-class railway guano sells three pounds a ton higher than all other sorts, and is the only kind used by Prince Albert at Windsor, and by Mr Peter Purcell [3] at Halverstown.

The third line of rails will be exclusively appropriated to “house trains,” which domiciles will be let entire, or in apartments, forming comfortable residences; these “house trains” will travel day and night without stopping, so as to prevent the possibility of the inhabitants being overtaken or molested by importunate acquaintances: thus they will enjoy air and exercise with complete personal freedom.

The Railway is to be worked upon Romaic high-pressure principles, propelled by the patent coadjutor screw — a power of extraordinary capabilities.

In order that passengers may travel in perfect harmony, and converse with complete leisure, some of the carriages will be painted orange, some green, for the convenience of Protestants and Catholics; the Dissenters’ vehicle will be of a sober drab tint; but as many persons may object to be under the guidance of engine-drivers of a different persuasion from their own, to avoid disputes, these “mixed trains” will be driven by respectable Atheists of good character.

As there is no water on the island, supplies will be provided from the hot and cold wells of Bristol. The hot water will occasion a great saving in fuel to the vast numbers who will be naturally employed in the manufacture of tea and punch. Fountain trains, with sugar-crushers attached, will run at breakfast and supper hours — occasioning much traffic.

Grampus and porpoises will be caught largely round the island; it is intended to carry their carcases on the tenders, whilst the trains are in motion, and the engines will be so constructed as to express the blubber whilst working — thus combining manufacture with propulsion. This blubber is in high demand for the new corporations, as a substitute for turtle. Still heads and worms, also, will be adapted to the boilers; so that by a judicious application of malt over the fire-bore, distillation can be carried on to a most profitable extent — indeed the central situation of Lundy affords great inducements to free traders to erect establishments for the manufacture of such articles as pay high duties in other countries.

Great economy will arise in the formation of the necessary excavations, from the sole use of the Dens pickaxe, and the Douay shovels — which, it is ascertained, can perforate the most ancient and established impediments with great facility, especially when the labourers are directed by experienced miners, who have graduated in the profession under ground, and are, therefore, fully adequate to superintend such operations.

The laboratory of the company will aid the capital considerably, by furnishing the whole island with the “Maynooth light,” which is far more efficacious than either the Bude or the Drummond. It enables people to see in the dark; at the same time it prevents them from observing that which the illuminators disapprove. It is at present used in all the Government offices, although the public generally prefer those lights which their forefathers have been accustomed to.

That traffic may be promoted, public meetings will be held throughout Lundy every day in the week — political fast trains will run on Mondays — philosophicals, on Tuesdays — corporations, on Wednesdays — vestries, on Thursdays — poor laws, on Fridays — pig trains, on Saturdays — and on Sundays, cheap trains for the accommodation of mechanics and servant-maids, will start at all hours; three times a week, carriages fitted with Eo and hazard banks will be attached to the mixed trains.

A prospectus, detailing precisely the expected profits and benefits, will immediately appear; in the meantime we can announce, that his Holiness the Pope, and Mehemet Ali, are patrons of the undertaking; and that Sir Robert Peel, Sir James Graham, Messrs Cobden, O’Connell, Ikey Solomons, Hume, and Ellice (directors of the late Greek Loan Company), are members of the provisional committee.


[1] If, Gentle Reader, you can provide a better explanation of the Boran reference, or tell us what borane scouring is or was, please leave a Comment below. As far as I can see, all instances of the use of the term are traceable to an article that appeared in several newspapers in 1844.

[2] Note, on the Wikipedia New Orleans page linked below, “Large numbers of German and Irish immigrants began arriving in the 1840s, working as laborers in the busy port.”

[3] Mail-coach manufacturer and operator, hotel owner, supporter of liberal causes and of equal rights for Catholics, generous donor to charitable causes, founder of the Royal Agricultural Improvement Society of Ireland, first Chairman of the Great Southern & Western Railway, uncle of the poet Edward [Rubaiyat] Fitzgerald.

Wikipedia’s page on Lundy mentions an earlier Irish connection to the island.

I will be glad to have comments from Learned Readers who can explain more of the references — railway, religious or other — in the article.


3 responses to “Lundy Island Railway and Colonization Company

  1. Was the publication date April 1st?

  2. In all seriousness though, 1845 would have been the height of the Railway Mania, so I would suggest that this was a pure speculative bubble.

  3. I don’t think it’s to be taken seriously: I think its main purpose is to comment on religious affairs in Ireland, but using railways as a basis for the satire. However, I think the author is aware of the bubble developments; note in particular the reference to an illegal rate of return. bjg

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