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Overview of the Songs and Poems in this Category:

Most of these items are drawn from the theatre and pleasure_garden repertoire. Many were anthologised in songsters and pirated by broadside printers. Several of the songs begin as more or less reliable reports of developing steam technology and end with flights of fantasy. The category includes several derivatives of The Cork Leg and a discussion of those derivates is included here.

Main Themes and Motifs

- Fantastic machinery powered by steam
- The danger of steam power run out of control
- Speculation about advances in the use of steam power


1820-29 507; 722
1830-39 402; 404; 415; 416; 593; 664
1840-49 163; 405

Uncertain: 075; 187; 395; 417

Historical Background

The dramatic social changes of the early 19th century gave rise to anxieties of the sort characterised by Alvin Tofler as future shock [i]. The rapid adoption of steam power was a direct cause of these anxieties but it was also a lightening conductor through which other anxieties arising from - for example - the rapid growth of cities could be grounded.


[i] Tofler, Alvin - Future Shock (Random House, 1970)

3 across Articles in this Category: click a link

Song Of The Steam Coachman That Drives...

bar395: Dates ----~----|

A Railway to the moon.

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Steam Arm, The

bar402: Dates 1829~1835|

Soldier gets steam powered prosthetic arm and uses it to beat his wife

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Steam! Steam!! Steam!!!

bar416: Dates 1834~1835|

Celebrates the coming of steam and predicts fantastical applications of steam power.

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Railway Calls, The

bar327: Dates 1847~----|

 Laments the impact of railway mania especially on shareholders.

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Bubbles of 1825

bar507: Dates 1825~1825|

Satire on the wild financial speculation prompted by the repeal of the Bubble Act . Imagines the development of steam trams and ocean-going steam ships

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Daniel O'Connell's Steam Engine

bar075: Dates ----~1835|

O'Connell employs a steam engine that makes babies because those born naturally are too small.

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Aerial Steam Party

bar163: Dates 1842~1845|

A party of hot air balloonists are caught in a storm.

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Islington Taylor, The Or The Steam...

bar187: Dates ----~----|

A tailor adopts a steam powered goose with disastrous results. [187Synopsis] 

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North Seaton Coachman

bar593: Dates 1830~1836|

An aristocrat commissions his own coach to outpace the railway

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Steam Boots

bar404: Dates 1835~1853|

A Man invents steam powered boots which run away with him. He fights with the man with steam arm (see bar402) and the man with the Cork...

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Steam Tongue, The

bar417: Dates 1827~----|

A scolding wife who has her tongue cut out by her husband has a "steam tongue" fitted with disasterous results

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Derivatives of the Cork Leg {Roud 4376}

ds0001: Dates ----~----|

A discussion of the songs modelled on The Cork Leg

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Three Hundred Years to Come

bar664: Dates ----~1835|

Wild speculation about technological advances.

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