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The Greek God of wind by Nigel Roth

Dernière mise à jour : 2 mars 2021

Imagine the scene.

The audience of pioneers and press is gathered to watch, and the engineers and technicians prepare the pod for the two first-ever passengers. The vacuum tube is sealed and the pressure is double-checked. After years of planning and refining, blueprinting and prototyping, the high-speed transportation system is finally ready to be fully-tested.

But this day is not the eighth of November, 2020, and Richard Branson’s Virgin Hyperloop is nowhere to be seen.

It’s 1824, and the Vallance pneumatic railway is about to be sent on it’s inaugural journey.

And, Valance wasn’t even the first to design a vacuum tubed mode of transport. That achievement of modern innovation is held by George Medhurst, who designed the prototype over one-hundred-and-fifty years before Richard Charles Nicholas Branson was born, and over one-hundred-and-seventy before Elon Reeve Musk was even a twinkle.

In 1800, Medhurst, a mechanical engineer from Kent, in the UK, who trained as a clockmaker in Georgian London, where clocks were at the forefront of technology, filed his patent for the ‘Aeolian’, which used compressed air to power a train-like vehicle.

Named after the Greek god of wind, he wrote extensively in his work, ‘On the properties, power, & application of the Aeolian engine, with a plan and particulars for carrying it into execution’, of a people-carrying service, operated by strategically-placed compression stations which shot passenger-filled capsules along the route.

And, in 1812, as President James Madison was declaring war on the United Kingdom, which no side ever won, Medhurst further wrote his ‘Calculations and remarks tending to prove the practicability, effects and advantages of a plan for the rapid conveyance of goods and passengers upon an