‘The Ringing Grooves of Change’ examines the impact of the railways in a decade of industrial depression. Overcapitalization in industry, foreign competition, and lower returns on investment led to commercial crisis. Slow increases in real wages were another element of the crisis of capitalism, and the Irish potato famine flooded the market with immigrant labour. The massive development of the railways soaked up this surplus labour, but struggled to make a profit, despite huge investment. Although the railway era was one of heroic feats of engineering, the railways themselves took longer to establish themselves as the preferred transport method for freight.