The Rainhill Trials
were an important competition in the early days of steam locomotive railways, run in October 1829 in Rainhill
Rainhill is a large village and civil parish of the Metropolitan Borough of St Helens, in Merseyside, England.Historically a part of Lancashire, Rainhill was formerly a township within the ecclesiastical parish of Prescot, and hundred of West Derby...
Lancashire is a non-metropolitan county of historic origin in the North West of England. It takes its name from the city of Lancaster, and is sometimes known as the County of Lancaster. Although Lancaster is still considered to be the county town, Lancashire County Council is based in Preston...
Merseyside is a metropolitan county in North West England, with a population of 1,365,900. It encompasses the metropolitan area centred on both banks of the lower reaches of the Mersey Estuary, and comprises five metropolitan boroughs: Knowsley, St Helens, Sefton, Wirral, and the city of Liverpool...
) for the nearly completed Liverpool and Manchester Railway
The Liverpool and Manchester Railway was the world's first inter-city passenger railway in which all the trains were timetabled and were hauled for most of the distance solely by steam locomotives. The line opened on 15 September 1830 and ran between the cities of Liverpool and Manchester in North...
When the Liverpool and Manchester Railway was approaching completion, the directors of the railway ran a competition to decide whether stationary steam engine
Stationary steam engines are fixed steam engines used for pumping or driving mills and factories, and for power generation. They are distinct from locomotive engines used on railways, traction engines for heavy steam haulage on roads, steam cars , agricultural engines used for ploughing or...
s or locomotive
A steam locomotive is a railway locomotive that produces its power through a steam engine. These locomotives are fueled by burning some combustible material, usually coal, wood or oil, to produce steam in a boiler, which drives the steam engine...
s would be used to pull the trains. 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
John Urpeth Rastrick was one of the first English steam locomotive builders. In partnership with James Foster, he formed Foster, Rastrick and Company, the locomotive construction company that built the Stourbridge Lion in 1829 for export to the Delaware and Hudson Railroad in America.-Early...
, a locomotive engineer of Stourbridge, Nicholas Wood
Nicholas Wood was an English colliery and steam locomotive engineer. He helped engineer and design many steps forward in both engineering and mining safety, and helped bring about the North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers, holding the position of President from its...
, a mining engineer from Killingworth with considerable locomotive design experience and John Kennedy
John Kennedy was a Scottish-born textile industrialist in Manchester.John Kennedy was born in 1769 in Knocknalling, Kirkcudbrightshire, Scotland. In 1784 he moved to Chowbent, near Leigh in Lancashire, to be apprenticed to William Cannan, the son of a neighbour of the Kennedys...
, a Manchester cotton spinner and a major proponent of the railway.
Locomotives that were entered were to be subjected to a variety of tests and conditions. These were amended at various points, but were eventually nailed down to:
- "The weight of the Locomotive Engine, with its full complement of water in the boiler, shall be ascertained at the Weighing Machine, by eight o'clock in the morning, and the load assigned to it shall be three times the weight thereof. The water in the boiler shall be cold, and there shall be no fuel in the fire-place. As much fuel shall be weighed, and as much water shall be measured and delivered into the Tender Carriage, as the owner of the Engine may consider sufficient for the supply of the Engine for a journey of thirty-five miles. The fire in the boiler shall then be lighted, and the quantity of fuel consumed for getting up the steam shall be determined, and the time noted.
- "The Tender Carriage, with the fuel and water, shall be considered to be, and taken as a part of the load assigned to the Engine.
- "Those engines which carry their own fuel and water, shall be allowed a proportionate deduction from their load, according to the weight of the Engine.
- "The Engine, with the carriages attached to it, shall be run by hand up to the Starting Post, and as soon as the steam is got up to fifty pounds per square inch (50 pound per square inches (3.4 bar)), the engine shall set out upon its journey.
- "The distance the Engine shall perform each trip shall be one mile and three quarters (1.75 miles (2.8 km)) each way, including one-eighth of a mile (0.125 miles (201.2 m)) at each end for getting up the speed and for stopping the train; by this means the Engine, with its load, will travel one and a-half mile (1.5 miles (2.4 km)) each way at full speed.
- "The Engines shall make ten trips, which will be equal to a journey of 35 miles (56.3 km); thirty miles whereof shall be performed at full speed, and the average rate of travelling shall not be less than ten miles per hour (10 miles per hour (16.1 km/h)). (Note: The only other passenger railway in the world at that time, the Stockton and Darlington Railway
The Stockton and Darlington Railway , which opened in 1825, was the world's first publicly subscribed passenger railway. It was 26 miles long, and was built in north-eastern England between Witton Park and Stockton-on-Tees via Darlington, and connected to several collieries near Shildon...
, had an average speed of only about 8 miles per hour (12.9 km/h).)
- "As soon as the Engine has performed this task, (which will be equal to the travelling from Liverpool to Manchester,) there shall be a fresh supply of fuel and water delivered to her; and, as soon as she can be got ready to set out again, she shall go up to the Starting Post, and make ten trips more, which will be equal to the journey from Manchester back again to Liverpool.
- "The time of performing every trip shall be accurately noted, as well as the time occupied in getting ready to set out on the second journey.
Ten locomotives were entered, but on the day the competition began — 6 October 1829 — only five locomotives actually began the tests:
-Summary:Cycloped was an early horse-powered locomotive, built by Thomas Shaw Brandreth of Liverpool, which competed unsuccessfully in the Rainhill Trials of October 1829.-The Rainhill Trials:...
, built by Thomas Shaw Brandreth
Thomas Shaw Brandreth, FRS was an English mathematician, inventor and classicist.-Early life and education:Brandreth was the son of a Cheshire physician, Joseph Brandreth. He studied at Eton and received a BA from Trinity College, Cambridge in 1810 as Second Wrangler, second Smith's Prizeman, and...
Novelty was an early steam locomotive built by John Ericsson and John Braithwaite to take part in the Rainhill Trials in 1829.It was an 0-2-2WT locomotive and is now regarded as the very first tank engine. It had a unique design of boiler and a number of other novel design features...
, built by John Ericsson
John Ericsson was a Swedish-American inventor and mechanical engineer, as was his brother Nils Ericson. He was born at Långbanshyttan in Värmland, Sweden, but primarily came to be active in England and the United States...
and John Braithwaite.
Perseverance was an early steam locomotive that took part in the Rainhill Trials. Built by Timothy Burstall, Perseverance was damaged on the way to the trials and Burstall spent the first five days trying to repair his locomotive. It ran on the sixth and final day of the trials but only achieved...
, built by Timothy Burstall.
Stephenson's Rocket was an early steam locomotive of 0-2-2 wheel arrangement, built in Newcastle Upon Tyne at the Forth Street Works of Robert Stephenson and Company in 1829.- Design innovations :...
, designed by George
George Stephenson was an English civil engineer and mechanical engineer who built the first public railway line in the world to use steam locomotives...
and Robert Stephenson
Robert Stephenson FRS was an English civil engineer. He was the only son of George Stephenson, the famed locomotive builder and railway engineer; many of the achievements popularly credited to his father were actually the joint efforts of father and son.-Early life :He was born on the 16th of...
; built by Robert Stephenson and Company
Robert Stephenson and Company was a locomotive manufacturing company founded in 1823. It was the first company set up specifically to build railway engines.- Foundation and early success :...
- Sans Pareil
Sans Pareil is a steam locomotive built by Timothy Hackworth which took part in the 1829 Rainhill Trials on the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, held to select a builder of locomotives...
, built by Timothy Hackworth
Timothy Hackworth was a steam locomotive engineer who lived in Shildon, County Durham, England and was the first locomotive superintendent of the Stockton and Darlington Railway.- Youth and early work :...
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.
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 mi/h on its first tests the next day, it was withdrawn from the trial. It was granted a £25 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 (136.1 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 the Bolton and Leigh Railway
The Bolton and Leigh Railway was the first public railway in the historic county of Lancashire, England. It opened in 1828 for goods.-History:...
The last drop-out 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 (12.5 m/s) 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 (5.4 m/s) (achieving a top speed of 30 miles per hour (13.4 m/s)) 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:
The Liverpool and Manchester Railway 57 Lion is an early 0-4-2 steam locomotive. One of a pair designed for hauling freight , built by Todd, Kitson & Laird of Leeds in 1838.-History:...
, at the time of Rocket 150 the oldest operable steam locomotive in existence
(The British-built US locomotive John Bull
John Bull is a British-built railroad steam locomotive that operated in the United States. It was operated for the first time on September 15, 1831, and it became the oldest operable steam locomotive in the world when the Smithsonian Institution operated it in 1981...
, seven years older, was steamed in 1981)
- Flying Scotsman No. 4472
- LMS 4-6-0 Jubilee class No. 5690 Leander
London Midland and Scottish Railway Jubilee Class No. 5690 Leander is a preserved British steam locomotive.- Overview :...
- Sir Nigel Gresley
London and North Eastern Railway A4 Class number 4498 , 7 and 60007 , namedSir Nigel Gresley is a preserved British steam locomotive.-Liveries:...
- GWR 0-6-0
The Great Western Railway 3200 Class was a design of 4-4-0 steam locomotive for passenger train work. The nickname for this class was Dukedog since the locomotives were composed of former Duke Class boilers on Bulldog Class frames...
- 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
London Midland and Scottish Railway Princess Royal Class No. 6201 Princess Elizabeth is a preserved British steam locomotive.- Overview :6201 was built in 1933 at Crewe Works, the second of its class...
Two Class 86
The British Rail Class 86 was the standard electric locomotive built during the 1960s, developed as a result of testing with the earlier Classes 81, 82, 83, 84 and 85. One hundred of these locomotives were built from 1965-1966 by either English Electric at Vulcan Foundry, Newton-le-Willows, or...
locomotives 86214 Sans Pareil
and 86235 Novelty were painted in a variation of the Large Logo Rail Blue livery where the BR logo was replaced by Rocket 150 motif on a yellow background.
In a recent (2002) restaging of the Rainhill Trials using replica engines, neither Sans Pareil (11 out of 20 runs) nor Novelty (10 out of 20 runs) completed the course. In calculating the speeds and fuel efficiencies, it was found that Rocket would still have won fair and square, since 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
Llangollen is a small town and community in Denbighshire, north-east Wales, situated on the River Dee and on the edge of the Berwyn mountains. It has a population of 3,412.-History:...
Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km²...
, and were the subject of a BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...
Timewatch is a long-running British television series showing documentaries on historical subjects, spanning all human history. It was first broadcast on 29th September 1982 and is produced by the BBC, the Timewatch brandname is used as a banner title in the UK, but many of the individual...
This restaging should not be taken as accurate as there were major compromises made for television and because of the differences in crew experience, the fuel used, the modifications made to the replicas for modern safety rules, modern materials and construction methods, and following operating experience. Sensible comparisons were made between the engines only after calculations took into account the differences.
None of the replicas is without major differences from the 1829 originals.