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Rocket 1829

History locomotives

Rocket 1829

In terms of the number of people outside the field of railways who have heard of it, this is arguably the most famous locomotive of all, although a similar claim can now be made for Flying Scotsman. The extraordinary fame of Rocket is due in no small part to the fact that it launched the worlds first inter-city railway, die Liverpool & Manchester, and that in order to do so, it had to win the Rainhill trials  -  whose competitive element captured the public imagination at the time.

Rocket 1829

Rocket 1829
Introduced  1829
Designer  Stephenson

Driving wheel diameter  4 ft  8 in
Cylinders (2)  8  x  17in

Weight (loco)  4,5  tons

Preserved (original) Science Museum

In the minds of people who had never travelled faster than a galloping horse, the engine must have appeared to go like a rocket. Designed by Robert Stephenson and aided by his father George, the  Rocket 0-2-2 was built in 1829 and was a pioneer in more senses than one, for it was the first to combine multi-tubular boiler, blastpipe and direct drive from piston to wheel - all features that were to last until the very end of the steam age.

Unfortunately, its debut was marked by tragedy, for on the ceremonial opening day of the L&MR, William Huskisson MP was run down and killed by the engine. The classic image of Rocket, seen above in the form of a 1980-built working replica, shows it in yellow & white livery with cylinders inclined at 45 degrees, but the original engine now has almost horizontal cylinders, having been rebuilt following an accident in 1831. As such, it is not instantly recognised as one of the greatest industrial icons of all time.
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