Rocket again

Only a couple of weeks after I’d posted my Rocket Rant, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers has made their archive available on line. There’s a section for the Liverpool and Manchester Railway which contains a number of letters by George Stephenson and  lovely set of tinted prints by T.T Bury in 1831. While it’s well after the opening, artists were still negotiating how to draw railways, so there’s some oddities. For example, the rail gauge should be 4’8″, but scaled from the figures near the line, it’s shown as 7′. Everything else then has to be distorted to fit.

Edge Hill, Liverpool, 1831
Edge Hill, Liverpool, 1831. Print from

Bury seems to have been working from earlier sketches rather than life. The print of Edge Hill Station in Liverpool shows three locomotives, all with inclined cylinders and chimneys coming straight out from the front of the boiler, bending upwards at 90° similar to Rainhill Rocket. The fireboxes aren’t visible. The sketches must be from the period between the Rainhill Trial when the winner was selected and contract awarded and the time in 1830 when the motive power was delivered with horizontal cylinders, smokeboxes and water-jacket fireboxes.

Chat Moss 1831
Chat Moss 1831

All the other prints show recognisably Northumbrian class locomotives with the full set of horizontal cylinders, smokeboxes and water-jacket fireboxes, consistent with James Nasmyth’s sketch from September 1830 . A number of the locomotives feature yellow, sufficient for a Rocket identification under the Wikipedia rules.

I’ll bet Bury was a fan of Brunell’s 7′ gauge – engineering imitating art.


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