The development of public railways in Britain attracted interest from the rest of Europe. King Ludwig of Bavaria sent the engineer Joseph von Baader to England to evaluate the new method of transport. In spite of Baader’s favourable report, the Bavarian government’s initial interest in railway development came to nothing, but years later a group of businesspeople formed a committee to consider the construction of a railway between Nuremberg and Fürth.

On 14th May 1833, they founded the Gesellschaft zur Errichtung einer Eisenbahn mit Dampffahrt zwischen Nürnberg und Fürth (“Company for the Establishment of a Steam Railway between Nuremberg and Fürth”). The major shareholder in the company was the merchant George Zacharias Platner, who contributed 21,000 of the planned 132,000 guilder capital and became the company’s first director. The king authorised the use of his name by the railway company, from which his government purchased a token two shares.

The king also permitted the road builder Paul Camille von Denis to manage the construction of the railway, which Denis decided would use the English gauge. The company also looked to England for its first locomotive because no German company was then capable of the undertaking. They purchased a 2-2-2 steam locomotive called Adler (“Eagle”) from Robert and George Stephenson of Newcastle for 13,000 guilders.

On 7th December 1835, Adler hauled the first train along the 7.45 km Ludwigsbahn, driven by the Englishman, William Wilson. The high cost of importing coal from Saxony meant that only two of the hourly passenger services were steam-hauled, with the remainder drawn by horses. The company purchased another Stephenson locomotive, Pfeil (“Arrow”), followed by a series of German-built locomotives before finally withdrawing horse-drawn services in 1863.

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