The Robert Stephenson Trust promotes the greatest engineer of the nineteenth century with the aim of making today's generation aware of his work and humanity to insire a new generation of engineers through his achievements.

These pages give news of the Stephensons, their associates, works and activities.
If you would like to contribute to the work of the Robert Stephenson Trust then please click here




A short biography of Robert Stephenson can be seen here

Posted By Robert. Stephenson

This photograph, taken from The Rainhill Story, depicts Puffing Billy, the oldest surviving steam locomotive in the world. It was built in 1813-14 for Christopher Blackett, the owner of the Wylam Colliery, by William Hedley, Jonathan Forster and Timothy Hackworth (who would later build the Sans Pareil). Puffing Billy was the world’s first commercial adhesion steam locomotive (that is, where power is achieved by driving the wheels to create friction between the wheels and the rails), and was used to pull coal trucks from the Colliery to the docks at Lemington-on-Tyne, Northumberland. Puffing Billy was one of a number of locomotives built by Hedley for this purpose to replace horses, and one of two prototypes for this design, along with Wylam Dilly. Puffing Billy displayed a number of innovations that would be followed by subsequent locomotives: it had two vertical cylinders outside the boiler, the piston rods were extended upwards to pivoting beams, which were connected by rods to a crankshaft beneath the frames, from which gears drove and coupled the wheels, improving traction. But at eight tons, it was too heavy for cast-iron rails, frequently breaking them. However, this problem was addressed when the locomotive was redesigned with four axles, thus spreading the weight more evenly. Puffing Billy was rebuilt with four wheels (rather than the original eight) after edge rails tracks were introduced around 1830. It could go no faster than five miles per hour. Despite these limitations, it influenced a local engineer named George Stephenson, and its success led to other collieries in the North East using steam locomotives. The Wylam Colliery locomotives were commissioned because horses had become expensive to purchase due to the Napoleonic Wars, and remained in use until June 1862. In the same year, the Colliery loaned and in 1864 sold Puffing Billy to the Patent Office Museum, now the Science Museum, where it remains to this day: Wylam Dilly is displayed in the Royal Museum in Edinburgh. In 2006, a replica of Puffing Billy was steamed for the first time at the Beamish Museum in County Durham

Puffing Billy

Posted By Robert. Stephenson

Here are two mugs, taken from an illustration in Rocket 150 - Official Handbook. The mug on the left is entitled “Entrance to the Liverpool and Manchester Railway”, and shows the Moorish Arch and the Wapping Cutting, with two locomotives, one of which resembles the Novelty. In the mug on the right, a Novelty-like engine pulls a carriage resembling a stage coach

Liverpool and Manchester Railway mugs

Posted By Robert. Stephenson

This, taken from the Rocket 150 Official Handbook, is the Stipulations and Conditions for the 1829 Grand Competition of Locomotives on the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, better known as the Rainhill Trials. The rules begin by mentioning “a premium of £500 for the most improved locomotive engine.” The first of the eight rules requires that the winning locomotive must “effectually consume its own smoke”: the Sans Pareil would fall foul of this condition. Number two decrees that a six-ton locomotive must be able to pull a 20-ton train of carriages, including tender and water tank, “day by day, on a well-constructed Railway, on an level plane”, at a speed of 10 miles per hour, with steam pressure in the boiler no greater than 50 pounds per square inch: this rule did for the Perseverance, which could do no better than six miles an hour, and the Novelty, which easily exceeded the minimum speed limit, but failed when it attempted to pull a train of the required weight. According to rule three, there must be two safety valves, one of them completely out of reach or control of the driver and neither fastened down while the locomotive is functioning. Fourthly, the engine and boiler must be supported on springs and rest on six wheels (however, no locomotive at the trials had more than four wheels) and the locomotive must be no taller than 15 feet from the ground to the top of the funnel. Under rule five, no locomotive may weigh more than six tons (including water in the boiler), with a lighter locomotive to be preferred to a heavier one that can pull a comparable weight (the Sans Pareil was 300 pounds over the limit but still allowed to participate), that a five-ton locomotive will not be asked to pull any more than 15 tons (with similar proportions for lighter engines). Rule six stipulates that there must be a mercurial gauge attached to the locomotive to show steam pressure over 45 pounds per square inch. Under rule seven, the competitors are to be delivered “at the Liverpool end of the Railway” by at the latest 1st October 1829. Lastly, rule eight states that the locomotive to be purchased by the Railway shall cost no more than £550, and the rejected locomotives will be taken back by their owners. A footnote specifies that the Railway Company will supply water and fuel to the tenders and that the gauge - the Stephenson gauge - is four feet eight and a half inches (however, the Novelty initially did not conform to this gauge, and had to be repaired by Timothy Hackworth, designer of the Sans Pareil, before it could compete in the Trials)

Rainhill Trials - Stipulations and Conditions



User Profile
Robert. Step...


You have 1376758 hits.