Charles Darwin was born two hundred years ago on 12 Feb 1809 and is most closely associated with his work on evolution from his Voyage of the Beagle. However, from an early age he would have been aware of a number of theories on the subject published by his grandfather, Erasmus Darwin, in the 18th century.
Erasmus Darwin lived in Derby for a while at Pickford House, on Friargate, at Radbourne Hall and in Lichfield - all locations on R54 between Derby and Birmingham. He made frequent visits to the Lunar Society in Birmingham; timed to coincide with a full moon to improve the safety of the homeward coach journey after the evening meetings. James Watt, Mathew Boulton and a number of other influential industrialists were also members.
As Rangers we like to explore the Sustrans network and often use a combination of trains and folding bikes to extend distances that can be covered in a day. We can recommend the return from Birmingham to Derby as a pleasant day's ride.
Apart from his work on evolution, Charles Darwin's Correspondence records everyday Victorian life in detail. A letter dated 21 Nov 1838, just two months after the start of through train running on the London and Birmingham Railway, describes how he missed his connection in Birmingham by a few minutes, due to what must have been the most original excuse for late running - high winds delaying the arrival of the Grand Junction train from the north. Is Birmingham New Street any different now?
Charles Darwin would have been amused to learn that we are trying to ensure the survival of an endangered species of glow worm on our section of old railway line near Derby.