Here is another story from the National Library of Australia newspaper archive.
It decribes an Australian promotion of an innovative railway system, and then the discovery that it had already been in existence and in use in a line to the Royal Docks from Ware, Herts. I have not found anything more about the Australian promoter, Joseph Dyer, or about the original inventor J.H.Palmer, "Engineer to the London Docks". If the story is right, this horse drawn railway would have been an impressive bit of engineering in its day, and probably must have been the first railway in Newham. Any additional information would be very welcome.
AN AERIAL RAILWAY.
The Argus has the following account of Mr. Dyer's new railway, a model of which has been exhibited in Melbourne :— 'The public were invited to the upper room of the Chamber of commerce offices, Collins-street, on Friday afternoon, to hear an explanation and inspect the model of a new railway system which is partially novel and perhaps applicable, but certainly economical, for it is warranted to cost under £1,000 a mile. The thing has a history as well as a description, and we will give our readers both. In 1856 Mr. Joseph Dyer, now Melbourne manager for the telegraphing firm of Greville & Co., and then editor of the Sydney Magazine of Science and Art, introduced to the world, through its columns, his new invention, suggested in the course of his efforts to overcome speculatively the difficulties of transit experienced in the Crimea during the war, which was simplicity itself, his proposal was, and is, to have a single rail supported on piles, and along this rail is to run a series of grooved wheels, from the axles of which on either side are suspended, donkeypannier wise, the receptacles for goods or passengers, whose equal weight sustains the equilibrium of the whole. The friction being thus largely reduced, one horse will be enabled to draw an enormous number of tons weight, oscillation being prevented by friction rollers, fixed at the sides of the longitudinal sleeper. It may be stated at this point that Mr. Dyer now proposes an improvement, which, by means of the lateral clip-wheels used in Fells system for climbing the steep gradients of the Mont Cenis Transalpine Railway, will enable these carriages, when drawn by a locomotive, to ascend or descend the steepest inclines likely to be met with. And, further, it may be said that though Mr. Dyer has not yet surmounted the difficulties attendant upon adopting a locomotive engine to this kind of transit, horse traction may nevertheless be applied. To return, the proposition attracted the notice of Sir William Denison, then Governor of New South Wales, whose accomplishments as an engineer are well known. His Excellency actually had a model of the invention made, under competent direction, by convict labour, at Cockatoo Island, and formally recommended the scheme to his Ministry, who, however, refused to adopt it. Still, the project was discussed in public, and to Mr. Dyers surprise he discovered, by means of criticisms published in the local press, that he was not the original inventor, but that the plan had been patented in 1811 by Mr. J. H. Palmer, Engineer to the London Docks, and used for seven years, for the carriage of bricks, &c, from Ware, in Hertford shire, across the Plaistow Marshes to the River Lea. The specifications of this patent —which was lost sight of when the present railway system was introduced — can now be seen any day in the Melbourne Public Library. However, Mr. Dyer, though without a claim to the patent, has never lost sight of his scheme. One day he found Sir Wm. Denison's model thereof in the back yard of a Government office, from which obscurity he redeemed it and it is this very apparatus that he explained yesterday. We are informed that our Engineer-in-Chief of Railways has spoken not unfavourably of the new railway system, which, now the question of economy in railway construction is before the public, is fairly open to consideration. 'The invitation was signally successful, for over 150 persons crowded in on the occasion. Mr. Dyer having made his explanation, it was decided, on the motion of Mr. Gordon Evans, that a Committee should wait on the Government to urge on them the importance of giving the scheme full consideration. The following gentlemen, with power to add to their number, were appointed:— Mr. Harold Selwyn Smith, Mr. Mapleston, Mr. Gordon Evans, Mr. W. H. Barnard (of Ballarat), Mr. W. G. Sprigg, Mr. B. Mathews, and Mr. W. Brady. On the motion of Mr. H. Selwyn Smith, a vote of thanks was passed to Mr. Dyer.'
South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839-1900) (about) < Wednesday 9 June 1869