On 21 February 1804, the world’s first self propelling locomotive, the Pen-y-Darren, ran along the Merthyr Tydfil treatment road from Pen-y-Darren to Abercynon a distance of 9.75 miles(16 kilometres). The Pen-y-Darren was based on a 1802, high-pressure steam engines which had been built by Cornish engineer Richard Trevithick to drive a hammer at the Pen-y-Darren Ironworks in Merthyr Tydfil, Mid Glamorgan . With the assistance of Rees Jones, an employee of the iron works and under the supervision of Samuel Homfray, the proprietor, The engine was mounted on wheels and turned it into a locomotive. In 1803, Trevithick sold the patents for his locomotives to Samuel Homfray.

Homfray was so impressed with Trevithick’s locomotive that he made a bet with another ironmaster, Richard Crawshay, for 500 guineas that Trevithick’s steam locomotive could haul ten tons of iron along the Merthyr Tydfil Tramroad from Penydarren to Abercynon. Amid great interest from the public, on 21 February 1804 it successfully carried 10 tons of iron, 5 wagons and 70 men the full distance in 4 hours and 5 minutes, an average speed of approximately 2.4 mph (3.9 km/h). as well as Homfray, Crawshay and the passengers, other witnesses includedMr. Giddy, a respected patron of Trevithick and an ‘engineer from the Government’. the engineer from the government was probably a safety inspector and particularly interested in the boiler’s ability to withstand high steam pressures.

The configuration of the Pen-y-darren engine differed from the Coalbrookdale engine. The cylinder was moved to the other end of the boiler so that the firedoor was out of the way of the moving parts. This obviously also involved putting the crankshaft at the chimney end. The locomotive comprised a boiler with a single return flue mounted on a four wheel frame at one end, a single cylinderwith very long stroke was mounted partly in the boiler, and a piston rod crosshead ran out along a slidebar, an arrangement that looked like a giant trombone. As there was only one cylinder, this was coupled to a large flywheel mounted on one side. The rotational inertia of the flywheel would even out the movement that was transmitted to a central cog-wheel that was, in turn connected to the driving wheels. It used a high-pressure cylinder without a condenser, the exhaust steam was sent up the chimney assisting the draught through the fire, increasing efficiency even more.

Despite many people’s doubts, he won the bet and showed that, provided that the gradient was sufficiently gentle, it was possible to successfully haul heavy carriages along a “smooth” iron road using the adhesive weight alone of a suitably heavy and powerful steam locomotive. Trevithick’s was probably the first to do so; however some of the short cast iron plates of the tramroad broke under the locomotive as they were intended only to support the lighter axle load of horse-drawn wagons and so the tramroad returned to horse power after the initial test run. Homfray was pleased he won his bet. The engine was placed on blocks and reverted to its original stationary job of driving hammers. In modern Merthyr Tydfil, behind the monument to Trevithick’s locomotive is a stone wall, the sole remainder of the former boundary wall of Homfray’s Penydarren House. A full-scale working reconstruction of the Pen-y-darren locomotive was commissioned in 1981 and delivered to the Welsh Industrial and Maritime Museum in Cardiff; when that closed, it was moved to the National Waterfront Museum in Swansea. Several times a year it is run on a 40m length of rail outside the museum.


British Steam Railways

34027 Taw Valley

British Steam Railways is new series of lavishly-illustrated hard backed books by DeAgostini, which chronicles the rise of Steam Power in Britain. Charting From the efforts of early pioneers like Cugnot, Richard Trevithick and George Stephenson to record breakers like 3440 City of Truro, Flying Scotsman and Mallard, through to the golden age in the 1930’s. From the formation of the BIG Four Railway companies in 1923: Great Western, London Midland Scotland, London North East and Southern Region, to The formation of British Railways in 1948 which combined the big four railway companies and introduced a new class of Standard Engines which combined the best features from all four companies, until the slow decline of steam in the 1960’s which was hastened by the Beeching Axe. This was designed to save the government money and favoured road transport and eventually banned Steam Traction outright in 1968 following the Fifteen Guineas Special in August 1968.

However there has since been a resurgence of steam thanks to a growing number of dedicated rail enthusiasts who worked on the railways and refused to let steam Engines become extinct. These pioneers were responsible for a large number of heritage Railways such as the West Somerset, North York Moors, East Lancashire, Bluebell, Great Central and Severn Valley Railway which sprang up during the 1970’s and were responsible for buying back Steam Engines from scrapyards like Dai Woodham’s in Wales.

The books also feature in depth articles on noteworthy Chief Mechanical Engineers such as sir Nigel Gresley, Charles Collett, Henry Ivatt, sir William Stanier, Thompson, Maunsell and Urie whose innovative designs helped to shape locomotive development throughout the years. Many noteworthy locomotives are featured such as LNER A4 class pacific locomotive 4468 Mallard, LNER A3 class Pacific Locomotive 4472 Flying Scotsman, LNER D49, j94 Austerities, SR PACIFIC 35028 Clan Line, GWR Hall Locomotives, Jones Goods Locomotives, Duke of Gloucester, LMS 6100 Royal Scot, lMS 6201 Princess Elizabeth, GWR 3440 City of Truro, 4771 Green Arrow, King George V, LMS 8f’s, Q1 Class.

There are also twelve DVD’s including Arfon Haines DVD Learning to Steam, these feature hours of archive steam footage, footage of preserved Steam Engines running on Heritage lines and footage from the footplate. Plus a silver plated stationmasters pocket-watch and TWO Stunning prints of LNER 4472 Flying Scotsman and LNER 4468 Mallard.

James Watt FRS FRSE

Scottish inventor, mechanical engineer, and chemist James Watt FRS FRSE was born 30 January 1736 (19 January 1736 OS in Greenock, Renfrewshire. His father was a shipwright, ship owner and contractor, and served as the town’s chief baillie,while his mother, Agnes Muirhead, came from a well educated distinguished family. Watt’s grandfather, Thomas Watt, was a mathematics teacher and baillie to the Baron of Cartsburn. Watt did not attend school regularly; initially he was mostly schooled at home by his mother but later he attended Greenock Grammar School. He exhibited great manual dexterity, engineering skills and an aptitude for mathematics, but is said to have suffered prolonged bouts of ill-health as a child.

When he was eighteen, his mother died and his father’s health began to fail. Watt travelled to London to study instrument-making for a year, then returned to Scotland, settling in Glasgow intent on setting up his own instrument-making business. He made and repaired brass reflecting quadrants, parallel rulers, scales, parts for telescopes, and barometers, among other things. However Because he had not served at least seven years as an apprentice, the Glasgow Guild of Hammermen (which had jurisdiction over any artisans using hammers) blocked his application, despite there being no other mathematical instrument makers in Scotland. However the arrival of astronomical instruments, bequeathed by Alexander Macfarlane to the University of Glasgow which required expert handling, Allowed Watt to bypass this stalemate. These instruments were eventually installed in the Macfarlane Observatory. He was offered the opportunity to set up a small workshop within the university by two of the professors, the physicist and chemist Joseph Black and Adam Smith. At first he worked on maintaining and repairing scientific instruments used in the university, helping with demonstrations, and expanding the production of quadrants. In 1759 he formed a partnership with John Craig, an architect and businessman, to manufacture and sell a line of products including musical instruments and toys. This partnership lasted for the next six years, and employed up to sixteen workers.

While working as an instrument maker at the University of Glasgow, Watt became interested in the technology of steam engines After noticing the steam from a boiling kettle forced the lid to move. His friend, John Robison, then suggested steam could be used as a source of motive power. He realized that contemporary steam engine designs wasted a great deal of energy by repeatedly cooling and reheating the cylinder. Watt introduced a design enhancement, the separate condenser, which avoided this waste of energy and radically improved the power, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness of steam engines. Eventually he adapted his engine to produce rotary motion, greatly broadening its use beyond pumping water. Watt dramatically improved on the efficiency of Thomas Newcomen’s 1712 Newcomen steam engine with his Watt steam engine in 1781, which was fundamental to the changes brought by the Industrial Revolution in both his native Great Britain and the rest of the world.

The design of the Newcomen engine, in use for almost 50 years for pumping water from mines, had hardly changed from its first implementation. Watt began to experiment with steam, though he had never seen an operating steam engine. He tried constructing a model.  He realised the importance of latent heat—the thermal energy released or absorbed during a constant-temperature process—in understanding the engine, which, unknown to Watt, his friend Joseph Black had previously discovered some years before. In 1763, Watt was asked to repair a model Newcomen engine belonging to the university. Even after repair, the engine barely worked. After much experimentation, Watt demonstrated that about three-quarters of the thermal energy of the steam was being wasted heating the engine cylinder on every cycle. Watt decided to condense the steam in a separate chamber apart from the piston, and to maintain the temperature of the cylinder at the same temperature as the injected steam by surrounding it with a “steam jacket.Thus very little energy was absorbed by the cylinder on each cycle, making more available to perform useful work. Sadly Watt had financial difficulties constructing a full scale engine to demonstrate his findings. Luckily backing came from John Roebuck, the founder of the celebrated Carron Iron Works near Falkirk, with whom he now formed a partnership. Roebuck lived at Kinneil House in Bo’ness, during which time Watt worked at perfecting his steam engine, however the Piston and cylinder could not be manufactured with sufficient precision. Watt also worked first as a surveyor, then as a civil engineer for eight years to finance his work. Sadly

Sadly Roebuck went bankrupt, however salvation came in the form of Matthew Boulton, who owned the Soho Manufactory works near Birmingham, and acquired his patent rights. Through Boulton, Watt finally had access to some of the best iron workers in the world.  The difficulty of the manufacture of a large cylinder with a tightly fitting piston was solved by John Wilkinson, who had developed precision boring techniques for cannon making at Bersham, near Wrexham, North Wales. Watt and Boulton formed a hugely successful partnership (Boulton and Watt) which lasted for the next twenty-five years.In 1776, the first engines were installed and working in commercial enterprises. These first engines were used to power pumps and produced only reciprocating motion to move the pump rods at the bottom of the shaft. The design was commercially successful, and for the next five years Watt installed more engines, mostly in Cornwall for pumping water out of mines. These early engines were not manufactured by Boulton and Watt, but were made by others according to drawings made by Watt, who served in the role of consulting engineer. The field of application for the invention was greatly widened when Boulton urged Watt to convert the reciprocating motion of the piston to produce rotational power for grinding, weaving and milling. Although a crank seemed the obvious solution to the conversion Watt and Boulton were stymied by a patent for this, whose holder, James Pickard, and associates proposed to cross-license the external condenser. Watt adamantly opposed this and they circumvented the patent by their sun and planet gear in 1781.

Watt made a number of other improvements and modifications to the steam engine. Such as A double acting engine, in which the steam acted alternately on the two sides of the piston. He also described methods for working the steam “expansively” (i.e., using steam at pressures well above atmospheric). He designed A compound engine, which connected two or more engines, a steam indicator which prevented these primative boilers from exploding and parallel motion which was essential in double-acting engines as it produced the straight line motion required for the cylinder rod and pump, from the connected rocking beam, whose end moves in a circular arc. He also created a throttle valve to control the power of the engine, and a centrifugal governor, all of which made his Steam Engines far more efficient than the Newcomen Engine. In order to minimaze the risk of exploding boilers, Watt restricted his use of high pressure steam and all of his engines used steam at near atmospheric pressure. Watt entered a partnership with Matthew Boulton in 1775. The new firm of Boulton and Watt was eventually highly successful and Watt became a wealthy man.

Watt retired in 1800, the same year that his fundamental patent and partnership with Boulton expired. The famous partnership was transferred to the men’s sons, Matthew Robinson Boulton and James Watt Jr. Watt continued to invent other things before and during his semi-retirement though none was as significant as his steam engine work. He invented and constructed several machines for copying sculptures and medallions. He maintained his interest in civil engineering and was a consultant on several significant projects. He proposed, for example, a method for constructing a flexible pipe to be used for pumping water under the Clyde at Glasgow. He and his second wife travelled to France and Germany, and he purchased an estate in mid-Wales at Doldowlod House, one mile south of Llanwrthwl. In 1816 he took a trip on the paddle-steamer Comet, a product of his inventions, to revisit his home town of Greenock. James Watt’s improvements to the steam engine converted it from a prime mover of marginal efficiency into the mechanical workhorse of the Industrial Revolution. The availability of efficient, reliable motive power made whole new classes of industry economically viable, and altered the economies of continents. This brought about immense social change, attracting millions of rural families to the towns and cities.

English novelist Aldous Huxley (1894–1963) wrote of Watt; “To us, the moment 8:17 A.M. means something – something very important, if it happens to be the starting time of our daily train. To our ancestors, such an odd eccentric instant was without significance – did not even exist. In inventing the locomotive, Watt and Stephenson were part inventors of time.”

Watt Sadly died on 25 August 1819 at his home “Heathfield” in Handsworth, Staffordshire (now part of Birmingham) at the age of 83. He was buried on 2 September in the graveyard of St Mary’s Church, Handsworth. However he received many honours for his pioneering work during his lifetime. In 1784 he was made a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and was elected as a member of the Batavian Society for Experimental Philosophy, of Rotterdam in 1787. In 1789 he was elected to the elite group, the Smeatonian Society of Civil Engineers. In 1806 he was conferred the honorary Doctor of Laws by the University of Glasgow. The French Academy elected him a Corresponding Member and he was made a Foreign Associate in 1814. The watt is named after James Watt for his contributions to the development of the steam engine, and was adopted by the Second Congress of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in 1889 and by the 11th General Conference on Weights and Measures in 1960 as the unit of power incorporated in the International System of Units (or “SI”).Boulton and Watt also feature on a Bank of England £50 note. the two industrialists pictured side by side with images of Watt’s steam engine and Boulton’s Soho Manufactory. Quotes attributed to each of the men are inscribed on the note: “I sell here, sir, what all the world desires to have—POWER” (Boulton) and “I can think of nothing else but this machine” (Watt). In 2011 he was one of seven inaugural inductees to the Scottish Engineering Hall of Fame.

Metropolitan Railway

The Metropolitan Railway (also known as the Met opened on 10 January 1863 between Farringdon Station and London Paddington Station. It served London from 1863 to 1933, its main line heading north-west from the capital’s financial heart in the City to what were to become the Middlesex suburbs. Its first line connected the main-line railway termini at Paddington, Euston, and King’s Cross to the City. The first section was built beneath the New Road using the “cut-and-cover” method between Paddington and King’s Cross and in tunnel and cuttings beside Farringdon Road from King’s Cross to near Smithfield, near the City. It opened to the public on 10 January 1863 with gas-lit wooden carriages hauled by steam locomotives, and became the world’s first passenger-carrying designated underground railway.

The line was soon extended from both ends, and northwards via a branch from Baker Street. It reached Hammersmith in 1864, Richmond in 1877 and completed the Inner Circle in 1884, however the most important route was the line north into the Middlesex countryside, where it stimulated the development of new suburbs. Harrow was reached in 1880, and the line eventually extended to Verney Junction in Buckinghamshire, more than 50 miles (80 kilometres) from Baker Street and the centre of London.

Electric traction was introduced in 1905 and by 1907 electric multiple units operated most of the services, though electrification of outlying sections did not occur until decades later. Unlike other railway companies in the London area, the Met developed land for housing, and after World War I promoted housing estates near the railway using the “Metro-land” brand. On 1 July 1933, the Met was amalgamated with the Underground Electric Railways Company of London and the capital’s tramway and bus operators to form the London Passenger Transport Board. Former Met tracks and stations are used by the London Underground’s Metropolitan, Circle, District, Hammersmith & City, Piccadilly, and Jubilee lines, and by Chiltern Railways.

Fred Dibnah

Charismatic Engineer, Steeplejack and British television personality Fred Dibnah was Born 28th April 1938. As a child, Dibnah was fascinated by the steam engines which powered the many textile mills in his home town of Bolton and developed a keen interest in mechanical engineering, Steam Engines and chimneys and the men who worked on them. He began his working life as a joiner, before becoming a steeplejack. From age 22, he served for two years in the armed forces, as part of his national service. Once demobilised, he returned to steeplejacking but met with limited success until he was asked to repair Bolton’s parish church. The resulting publicity provided a welcome boost to his business, ensuring he was almost never out of work.

Dibnah’s interest in steam power stemmed from his childhood observations of the steam locomotives on the nearby railway line, and his visits to his father’s workplace—a bleach works in Bolton—where he was fascinated by the steam engines used to drive the line shafting. He later became a steam enthusiast, befriending many of the engine drivers and firemen who worked on the nearby railway. As a teenager he met a driver who invited him onto the footplate of his locomotive and who asked him to keep the boiler supplied with fuel. Dibnah became so enamoured with steam engines that he eventually looked for one he could buy. He learnt of a steamroller kept in a barn near Warrington and which the owners had bought from Flintshire County Council. He had the boiler pressure-tested and, despite it being in poor condition, bought it for £175. He towed it to a friend’s house, spent a fortnight making various repairs and drove it to his mother’s house in Bolton.

After he married and bought his own property on Radcliffe new Road, he cut an access road to the garden of his new house and moved the steamroller there. Restoring the engine took many years, as Dibnah had to create his own replacement parts, using Victorian engineering techniques and equipment he built in his garden. The boiler was in poor condition and needed serious work, but Dibnah used local knowledge and was eventually able to build a new boiler. Once restored, he used the 1910 Aveling & Porter steamroller together with a living van he bought and restored, to take his family around the local steam fairs In 1978, while making repairs to Bolton Town Hall, Dibnah was filmed by a regional BBC news crew. The BBC then commissioned an award-winning documentary, which followed the rough-hewn steeplejack as he worked on chimneys, interacted with his family and talked about his favourite hobby—steam.

He made many more Television programmes about Steam Engines & Locomotives and In 1998, he presented a programme on Britain’s industrial history and went on to present a number of fascinating series, largely concerned with the Industrial Revolution and its mechanical and architectural legacy. In mid-2000, Dibnah was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Technology for his achievement in engineering by Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, and on 19 July 2004 he was made an honorary Doctor of the University by the University of Birmingham. He was also awarded an MBE for services to heritage and broadcasting. He said “I’m looking forward to meeting the Queen but I shall probably have to get a new cap. And I’d like to meet Prince Charles because we share the same views about modern architecture.”On 7 July 2004, Dibnah went to Buckingham Palace to receive his award from the Queen.

Sadly Fred’s health was failing at this point although filming continued at various locations around the country, with sons Jack and Roger, who had become essential members of the tour, providing much-needed support for their father. By the end of July, the crew had filmed only 34 days with Dibnah, out of a planned 60. It was becoming more difficult by the day for Dibnah to fulfil his filming duties and the crew decided to cut short the schedule and he died shortly after on 7 November 2004 and is sadly missed. He is survived by his five children from three marriages.

Anniverary of the Rainhill Trials

Sans Pereil

Stephenson’s locomotive “Rocket” won the Rainhill Trials On 8 October 1829 . Stephenson’s Rocket was an early steam locomotive of 0-2-2 wheel arrangement, built in 1829 at the Forth Street Works of Robert Stephenson and Company in Newcastle Upon Tyne, specially for the Rainhill Trials held by the Liverpool & Manchester Railway in 1829 to choose the best design to power the railway. Though the Rocket was not the first steam locomotive, it brought together several innovations to produce the most advanced locomotive of its day and became the template for most steam engines in the following 150 years. It had a tall smokestack chimney at the front, a cylindrical boiler in the middle, and a separate firebox at the rear. The large front pair of wooden wheels was driven by two external cylinders set at an angle. The smaller rear wheels were not coupled to the driving wheels, giving an 0-2-2 wheel arrangement. As the first railway intended for passengers more than freight, the rules emphasised speed and would require reliability, but the weight of the locomotive was also tightly restricted. Six-wheeled locomotives were limited to six tons, four-wheeled locomotives to four and a half tons. In particular, the weight of the train expected to be hauled was to be no more than three times the actual weight of the locomotive.

Stephenson realised that whatever the size of previously successful locomotives, this new contest would favour a fast, light locomotive of only moderate hauling power. His most visible decision was to use a single pair of driving wheels, with a small carrying axle behind giving a 0-2-2 arrangement. The use of single drivers gave several advantages. The weight of coupling rods was avoided and the second axle could be smaller and lightweight, as it only carried a small proportion of the weight. Rocket placed 2½ tons of its 4¼ ton total weight onto its driving wheels,a higher axle load than the rival locomotive Sans Pareil, even though the 0-4-0 was heavier overall at 5 ton, and officially disqualified by being over the 4½ ton limit. Stephenson’s past experience convinced him that the adhesion of the locomotive’s driving wheels would not be a problem, particularly with the light trains of the trials contest. Rocket uses a multi-tubular boiler design. Previous locomotive boilers consisted of a single pipe surrounded by water. Rocket has 25 copper fire-tubes that carry the hot exhaust gas from the firebox, through the wet boiler to the blast pipe and chimney. This arrangement resulted in a greatly increased surface contact area of hot pipe with boiler water when compared to a single large flue. Additionally, radiant heating from the enlarged separate firebox helped deliver a further increase in steaming and hence boiler efficiency.The advantages of the multiple-tube boiler were quickly recognised, even for heavy, slow freight locomotives. By 1830, Stephenson’s past employee Timothy Hackworth had re-designed his return-flued Royal George as the return-tubed Wilberforce class.

Rocket also used a blastpipe, feeding the exhaust steam from the cylinders into the base of the chimney so as to induce a partial vacuum and pull air through the fire. .the blastpipe worked well on the multi-tube boiler of Rocket but on earlier designs with a single flue through the boiler it had created so much suction that it tended to rip the top off the fire and throw burning cinders out of the chimney, vastly increasing the fuel consumption. Like the Lancashire Witch, Rocket had two cylinders set at angle from the horizontal, with the pistons driving a pair of 4 ft 8.5 in (1.435 m) diameter wheels. Most previous designs had the cylinders positioned vertically, which gave the engines an uneven swaying motion as they progressed along the track. Subsequently Rocket was modified so that the cylinders were set close to horizontal, a layout that influenced nearly all designs that followed. The cylinders were also connected directly to the driving wheels, an arrangement which is found in all subsequent steam locomotives.The firebox was separate from the boiler and was double walled, with a water jacket between them. This firebox was heated by radiant heat from the glowing coke, not just convection from the hot exhaust gas.Locomotives of Rocket’s era were fired by coke rather than coal. Local landowners were already familiar with the dark clouds of smoke from coal-fired stationary engines and had imposed regulations on most new railways that locomotives would ‘consume their own smoke’. The smoke from a burning coke fire was much cleaner than that from coal. It was not until thirty years later and the development of the long firebox and brick arch that locomotives would be effectively able to burn coal directly.Rocket’s first firebox was of copper sheet and of a somewhat triangular shape from the side. The throatplate was of firebrick, possibly the backhead too.

When the Liverpool and Manchester Railway was approaching completion, the directors of the railway ran a competition to decide whether stationary steam engines or locomotives would be used to pull the trains. So the Rainhill Trials were run in October 1829 in Rainhill,Lancashire (now Merseyside) they featured several tests for each locomotive which were performed over the course of several days.The Rainhill stretch of the Railway was very level for a mile or so: a perfect site for the Trials .. The Rainhill Trials were arranged as an open contest that would let them see all the locomotive candidates in action, with the choice to follow. Regardless of whether or not locomotives were settled upon, a prize of £500 was offered to the winner of the trials. Three notable figures from the early days of engineering were selected as judges: John Urpeth Rastrick, a locomotive engineer of Stourbridge, Nicholas Wood, a mining engineer from Killingworth with considerable locomotive design experience and John Kennedy, a Manchester cotton spinner and a major proponent of the railway Locomotives were run two or three per day, and several tests for each locomotive were performed over the course of several days.The Rainhill stretch of the Railway was very level for a mile or so: a perfect site for the Trials.

The locomotive Cycloped was the first to drop out of the competition. Built with “legacy technology”, it used a horse walking on a drive belt for power, and was withdrawn after an accident caused the horse to burst through the floor of the engine.Next to retire was Perseverance. Damaged en route to the competition, Burstall spent five days repairing it. When it failed to reach the required 10 miles per hour (16 km/h) on its first tests the next day, it was withdrawn from the trial. It was granted a £26 consolation prize.Sans Pareil nearly completed the trials, though at first there was some doubt as to whether it would be allowed to compete as it was 300 pounds (140 kg) overweight. However, it did eventually complete eight trips before cracking a cylinder. Despite the failure it was purchased by the Liverpool & Manchester, where it served for two years before being leased to theBolton and Leigh Railway.The last engine to take part was Novelty. In complete contrast to Cycloped it was cutting-edge for 1829, lighter and considerably faster than the other locomotives in the competition. It was accordingly the crowd favourite. Reaching a then-astonishing 28 miles per hour (45 km/h) on the first day of competition, it later suffered some damage to a boiler pipe which could not be fixed properly on site in the time allotted. Nevertheless it continued its run on the next day, but upon reaching 15 mph the pipe gave way again and damaged the engine severely enough that it had to drop out.So, the Rocket was the only locomotive to complete the trials. It averaged 12 miles per hour (19 km/h) (achieving a top speed of 30 miles per hour (48 km/h)) hauling 13 tons, and was declared the winner of the £500 prize. The Stephensons were accordingly given the contract to produce locomotives for the Liverpool & Manchester Railway.

In 1980 the Rocket 150 celebration was held to mark the 150th Anniversary of the trials. A replica of Novelty was built for the event, which was also attended by replicas of Sans Pareil and Rocket (plus coach).The Rocket replica bent its axle in Bold Colliery railway sidings during the event and was exhibited on a low loader carriage.The event was also attended by:Lion, at the time of Rocket 150 the oldest operable steam locomotive in existence. Flying Scotsman No. 4472, LMS 4-6-0 Jubilee class No. 5690 Leander, Sir Nigel Gresley No. 4498, GWR 0-6-0 No. 3205, lMS Class 4 MT 2-6-0 No 43106, BR 92220 Evening Star, the last steam locomotive to be built by British Railways,LMS 4-6-2 Princess Elizabeth No. 6201, Class 86 locomotives 86214, Sans Pareil and 86235. In a recent (2002) restaging of the Rainhill Trials using replica engines, neither Sans Pareil nor Novelty completed the course. In calculating the speeds and fuel efficiencies, it was found that Rocket would still have won, as its relatively modern technology made it a much more reliable locomotive than the others. Novelty almost matched it in terms of efficiency, but its firebox design caused it to gradually slow to a halt due to a build up of molten ash (called “clinker”) cutting off the air supply. The restaged trials were run over a section of line in Llangollen, Wales, and were the subject of a BBC Timewatch documentary.

Stockton and Darlington Railway

The world’s first public passenger railway, The Stockton and Darlington Railway (S&DR) in north-eastern England was Opened September 27 1825, it was built between Witton Park and Stockton-on-Tees via Darlington and connected to several collieries near Shildon. 26 miles (40 km) long, it was also the world’s longest railway line at the time. Planned to carry both goods and passengers, the line was initially built to connect inland coal mines to Stockton, where coal was to be loaded onto seagoing boats. Over the next 38 years the S&DR steadily expanded into a substantial network serving south and west Durham, Cleveland and Westmorland and running trains across Cumberland to within a few miles of the west coast. It was taken over by the North Eastern Railway in 1863, but by agreement continued to operate independently for a further 10 years. Much of the original 1825 route is now served by the Tees Valley Line, operated by Northern Rail.

At the time steam locomotives were a new and unproven technology and were slow, expensive and unreliable. The initial impetus for steam power had come during the Napoleonic Wars, when horse fodder had become very expensive and had still not settled down, while improving transport and mining methods was making coal more plentiful. However, many people weren’t convinced that steam engines were a viable alternative to the horse. So at first, horse traction predominated on the S&DR, until steam could prove its worth. The first locomotive to run on the S&DR was Locomotion No 1, built at the Stephenson works though, in the absence of Robert, Timothy Hackworth had been brought in from Wylam. (On Robert’s return he took charge of maintenance at the S&DR’s Shildon’s Soho works.)Locomotion No 1 used coupling rods rather than gears between the wheels, the first to do so. The official opening of the line was on 27 September 1825. The first passenger train took two hours to complete the first 12 miles (19 km) of the journey and most of 600 passengers sat in open coal wagons while one experimental passenger coach, resembling a wooden shed on wheels and called “The Experiment”, carried various dignitaries.

An experimental regular passenger service was soon established, initially a horse-drawn coach with horse provided by the driver. While passenger carrying was contracted out, locomotive coal trains were either paid by the ton, contractors providing their own fuel, which meant they tended to use the cargo, or by fixed wages, which meant they did not bother to economise.Three more engines were built similar to Locomotion then, in 1826, Stephenson introduced the “Experiment” with inclined cylinders, which meant that it could be mounted on springs. Originally four wheeled, it was modified for six. Not all engines came from Stephenson. In 1826 also, Wilson, Robert and Company, of Newcastle, produced one for the line which, rather than use coupling rods, had four cylinders, two to each pair of wheels. Possibly because of its unusual exhaust beat, it became known as Chittaprat. After suffering a collision it was not rebuilt. These early locomotives were slow and unreliable and Hackworth set out to produce an improved design and in 1827 introduced the Royal George, salvaging the boiler from the Wilson engine. He also invented a spring-loaded safety valve, because drivers had been tying them down to prevent them opening when the loco went over a bump. Steam traction was expensive in comparison to horse drawn traffic, but it soon proved that it was viable and economic. Steam locomotives could haul more wagons and haul them faster, so in a typical working day the expensive steam engine could haul more coal than the cheaper horse. It soon became apparent that mixing faster steam-hauled and slower horse-drawn traffic was slowing the operation down and so as steam technology became more reliable, horse-drawn traffic was gradually abandoned.

At first, the organisation of the S&DR bore little relation to that of most modern railways and was run in the traditional manner of the wagonways of the time. The S&DR merely owned the tracks and did not operate trains; anyone who paid the S&DR money could freely operate steam trains or horse-drawn wagonloads on the line. This separation of track from trains resembled the canals, where canal companies were often forbidden from operating any boats. There was no timetable or other form of central organisation. Trains ran whenever they wanted and fights often broke out when rival operators came into conflict over right-of-way on the tracks. This chaotic situation was tolerable on completely horse-drawn traffic wagonways, but with faster steam trains it soon became unworkable, as the faster speeds meant a collision could have serious consequences. With the advent of steam, new operating methods had to be developed.The S&DR proved a huge financial success and paved the way for modern rail transport.The expertise that Stephenson and his apprentice Joseph Locke gained in railway construction and locomotive building on the S&DR enabled them to construct the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, the first purpose-built steam railway and the Stephensons’ Rocket locomotive. The company also proved a successful training ground for other engineers: in 1833 Daniel Adamson was apprenticed to Timothy Hackworth and later established his own successful boiler-making business in Manchester. The S&DR was absorbed into the North Eastern Railway in 1863, which merged into the London and North Eastern Railway in 1923.Much but not all of the original S&DR line is still operating today, together with the later lines to Saltburn and Bishop Auckland, but the rest of the substantial network the S&DR built up has been closed and dismantled.