Steam locomotive model and tender, "Rocket", 0-2-2, 7 1/4" gauge, model of George and Robert Stephenson's Rainhill Trials winning locomotive of 1829, made by G. Kay, Luton, Bedfordshire, England, c 1975
This fine display model is of the Stephensons' "Rocket" of 1829, probably the most famous and certainly the most well-known early steam locomotive to have been built. According to Berghaus' "History of Railways", the "Rocket" was the progenitor of thousands of steam locomotives in every country in the world. The essentials established in the construction of the "Rocket" never changed throughout the course of steam locomotive history". The "Rocket" was the first really useful steam locomotive. It was designed and built in 1829 by George and Robert Stephenson of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England, in the same workshop as the Museum's No.1 Locomotive of 1854.
When construction of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway commenced in 1826 the directors had not decided what sort of traction would be used, horses or engines. By the 1700s Britain had a network of horse-drawn tramways but the increasing cost of horse feed due to war shortages saw engineers look to other means. A competition was held in 1829 to choose a locomotive. This turned out to be the single most important event in the history of the steam locomotive, the famous Rainhill Locomotive Trials near Liverpool, which was won by the "Rocket".
The engine's most novel and outstanding features were its multi-tube boiler and blast pipe. The multi-tube boiler, suggested by Henry Booth, was a vast improvement on the single tube boiler which meant that steam could be produced much faster. The narrowing of the blast pipe fed exhaust steam up the chimney drawing it through the boiler and increasing the draught. These features transformed the engine from a slow lumbering colliery locomotive to a practical passenger and freight carrying mode of transport.
The "Rocket" was used at the official opening ceremony of the railway in 1830 and for a few years on the line. Remains of the original "Rocket" are in the Science Museum, London. In 1979 a working full-size replica of the "Rocket" was completed by London Enterprises to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Rainhill trials. It is now in the collection of the National Railway Museum, York. It is thought that this model of the "Rocket" was made in England in about 1975 for an exhibition in relation to the 150th anniversary.
Evans, Martin, "Rocket" in "Model Engineer", 16 May 1980, pp.602-605.
"The Rocket Locomotive 1829", Science Museum, South Kensington, London, (brochure).
Thomas, John, "Liverpool Rainhill and the Triumph of the Locomotive" in "Popular Archaeology", Vol.1, No.12, pp.15-17.
National Railway Museum, York, http://www.nrm.org.uk/collections/loco/rocket.asp
Curator, Science, Technology & Industry
This model of the "Rocket" is one of two made by G. Kay of Luton, Bedfordshire, in England in about 1975.