elb's hovel of thoughts

Monday, April 04, 2005

Transport Revolution

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The original engine; picture taken at the British Science Museum. Apologies for the colour; the display was lighted using yellow light. The yellow sign requests the public to refrain from touching it (which I could easily have done, the technological relic was just centimetres in front of me). (In Malaysia, a barrier to keep humans several metres away would be erected. Bleh.)

The Rocket, designed by Robert Stephenson (1803-1859), was the clear winner in the locomotive trials held at Rainhill in 1829 to decide the motive power for the Liverpool & Manchester Railway. It marked a change from horse-pulled wagons to automotive power.

It represented a substantial technical advance over previous designs, bringing together in one machine such developments as the multi-tube boiler and the blast-pipe. The speed of progress, however, meant that Rocket was substantially rebuilt within 18 months and laid aside within 10 years.

It was preserved in 1862 incomplete and semi-derelict but it had set the pattern for the future and remains the most significant of all early railway locomotives.


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