Изображения страниц


witness the novel display of mechanical ingenuity on which such great results depended. The public generally were no indifferent spectators either. The populations of Liverpool, Manchester, and the adjacent towns felt that the successful issue of the experiment would confer upon them individual benefits and local advantages almost incalculable, whilst populations at a distance waited for the result with almost equal interest.

On the day appointed for the great competition of locomotives at Bahihill, the following engines were entered for the prize:—

1. Messrs. Braithwaite and Ericsson's "Novelty."

2. Mr. Timothy Hackworth's " Sanspareil."

3. Messrs. E. Stephenson and Co.'s "Eocket."

4. Mr. Burst-all's "Perseverance."

Another engine was entered by Mr. Brandreth of Liverpool—the "Cycloped," weighing three tons, worked by a horse in a frame; but it could not be admitted to the competition. The above were the only four exhibited, out of a considerable number of engines constructed in different parts of the country in anticipation of this contest, but which could not be satisfactorily completed by the day of trial.

The ground on which the engines were to be tried was a level piece of railroad, about two miles in length. Each was required to make twenty trips, or equal to a journey of seventy miles, in the course of the day; and the average rate of travelling was to be not under ten miles an hour. It was determined that, to avoid confusion, each engine should be tried separately, and on different days.

The day fixed for the competition was the 1st of October, but to allow sufficient time to get the locomotives into good working order, the directors extended it to the 6th. On the morning of the 6th, the ground at Eainhill presented a lively appearance, and there was as much excitement as if the St. Leger were about to be run. Many thousand spectators looked on, amongst whom were some of the first en216 THE COMPETITION OF Chap. XII.

gineers of the day. A stand was provided for the ladies; and the "beauty and fashion " of the neighbourhood were present, whilst the side of the road was lined with carriages of all descriptions.

It was quite characteristic of Mr. Stephenson, that, although his engine did not stand first on the list for trial, it was the first that was ready; and it was accordingly ordered out by the judges for an experimental trip. The distance which it ran on that day was about twelve miles, performed in about fifty-three minutes.

The " Novelty " was next called out. It was a light engine, very compact in appearance, carrying the water and fuel upon the same wheels as the engine. The weight of the whole was only three tons and one hundredweight. A peculiarity of this engine was that the air was driven or forced through the fire by means of bellows. The day being now far advanced, and some dispute having arisen as to the method of assigning the proper load for the " Novelty," no particular experiment was made, further than that the engine traversed the line by way of exhibition, occasionally moving at the rate of twenty-four miles an hour.

The "Sanspareil," constructed by Mr. Timothy Hackworth, was next exhibited; but no particular experiment was made with it on this day. This engine differed but little in its construction from the locomotive last supplied by Mr. Stephenson to the Stockton and Darlington Eailway, of which Mr. Hackworth was the locomotive foreman. It had the double tube containing the fire, passing along the inside of the boiler, and returning back to the same end at which it entered. It had also the steam blast in the chimney; but as the contraction of the orifice by which the steam was thrown into the chimney for the purpose of intensifying the draught, was a favourite idea of Mr. Hackworth, he had sharpened the blast of his engine in a remarkable degree. This was the only novel feature in the Sanspareil.

The contest was postponed until the following day; but before the judges arrived on the ground, the bellows for Chap. XII. LOCOMOTIVES AT RAINHILL. 217

creating the blast in the " Novelty" gave way, and it was found incapable of going through its performance. A defect was also detected in the boiler of the " Sanspareil;" and Mr. Hackworth was allowed some further time to get it repaired. The large number of spectators who had assembled to witness the contest were greatly disappointed at this postponement; but, to lessen it, Mr. Stephenson again brought out the " Eocket," and, attaching to it a coach containing thirty persons, he ran them along the line at the rate of from twenty-four to thirty miles an hour, much to their gratification and amazement. Before separating, the judges ordered the engine to be in readiness by eight o'clock on the following morning, to go through its definitive trial according to the prescribed conditions.

On the morning of the 8th of October, the " Eocket" was again ready for the contest. The engine was taken to the extremity of the stage, the fire-box was filled with coke, the fire .lighted, and the steam raised until it lifted the safetyvalve loaded to a pressure of fifty pounds to the square inch. This proceeding occupied fifty-seven minutes. The engine then started on its journey, dragging after it about thirteen tons weight in waggons, and made the first ten trips backwards and forwards along the two miles of road, running the thirty-five miles, including stoppages, in an hour and fortyeight minutes. The second ten trips were in like manner performed in two hours and three minutes. The maximum velocity attained during the trial trip was twenty-nine miles an hour, or about three times the speed that one of the judges of the competition had declared to be the limit of possibility. The average speed at which the whole of the journeys were performed was fifteen miles an hour, or five miles beyond the rate specified in the conditions published by the Company. The entire performance excited the greatest astonishment amongst the assembled spectators; the directors felt confident that their enterprise was now on the eve of success; and George Stephenson rejoiced to think that in spite of all false prophets and fickle counsellors, his locomotive system was now safe. When the "Eocket," 218


Chap. XII.

having performed all the conditions of the contest, arrived at the "grand stand" at the close of its day's successful run, Mr. Cropper—one of the directors favourable to the fixed-engine system—lifted up his hands, and exclaimed "Now has George Stephenson at last delivered himself!"

[graphic][merged small]

Neither the "Novelty" nor the Sanspareil" was ready for trial until the 10th, on the morning of which day an advertisement appeared, stating that the former engine was to be tried on that day, when it would perform more work than any engine upon the ground. The weight of the carriages attached to it was only about seven tons. The engine passed the first post in good style; but in returning, the pipe from the forcing-pump burst and put an end to the trial. The pipe was afterwards repaired, and the engine made several trips by itself, in which it was said to have gone at the rate of from twenty-four to twenty-eight miles an hour.


The "Sanspareil" was not ready until the 13th; and when its toiler and tender were filled with water, it was found to weigh four hundredweight beyond the weight specified in the published conditions as the limit of fourwheeled engines; nevertheless the judges allowed it to run on the same footing as the other engines, to enable them to ascertain whether its merits entitled it to favourable consideration. It travelled at the average speed of about fourteen miles an hour, with its load attached; but at the eighth trip the cold-water pump got wrong, and the engine could proceed no further.

It was determined to award the premium to the successful engine on the following day, the 14th, on which occasion there was an unusual assemblage of spectators. The owners of the " Novelty " pleaded for another trial; and it was conceded. But again it broke down. Then Mr. Hackworth requested the opportunity for making another trial of his "Sanspareil." But the judges had now had enough of failures; and they declined, on the ground that not only was the engine above the stipulated weight, but that it was constructed on a plan which they could not recommend for adoption by the directors of the Company. One of the principal practical objections to this locomotive was the enormous quantity of coke consumed or wasted by it— about 692 lbs. per hour when travelling—caused by the sharpness of the steam blast in the chimney, which blew a large proportion of the burning coke into the air.

The "Perseverance " of Mr. Burstall was found unable to move at more than five or six miles an hour; and it was withdrawn at an early period from the contest. The "Eocket" was thus the only engine that had performed, and more than performed, all the stipulated conditions; and it was declared to be fully entitled to the prize of 5001., which was awarded to the Messrs. Stephenson and Booth accordingly. And further to show that the engine had been working quite within its powers, Mr. Stephenson ordered it to be brought upon the ground and detached from all incumbrances, when, in making two trips, it was found

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »