« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
THE COMFETITIOS AT **:«*- —
the eve of success; and George %«*«««. «„ think that in spite of all <aU* fr**** ** **** tra his locomotive system was now eafe.
having performed all the conditions of the «*nte* ,'t the close of its day's successful run, Mr. Cropper Lof the directors favourable to the fixed-engine extern Ed up bis hands, and exclaimed, "Now ha* George
30n at last delivered himself!"
•therthe « Novelty " nor the - Sans-pareil "were ready
trial until the 10th, on the morning of which day an
Clement appeared, stating that the former engine was
... tried on that day, when it would perform more work
„ any engine upon the ground. The weight of the
,iages attached to it was only about seven tons. Ine
rine passed the first post in good style; but in returning,
o pipe from the forcing-pump burst and put an end to the
■ial The pipe was afterwards repaired, and the engine
,ade several trips by itself, in which it was said to have
:one at the rate of from twenty-four to twenty-eight miles
an hour. ,
The "Sans-pareil" was not ready until the 13th; and when its boiler and tender were filled with water, it wns 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. I! 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. . f, ,
It was determined to award the premium to the successful
engine on the following day, the 14th, on i
there was an unusual assemblage of spectators 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 "Sans-pareil." 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 waa withdrawn at an early period from the contest. The "Rocket" 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 500/, 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
* The importance of the contraction of the blast-pipe at the point of its opening into the chimney was greatly overrated by Mr. Hackworth. The contraction of the pipe, in many of the best locomotives, is quite unnecessary, and indeed rather disadvantageous than otherwise; for, since the speed of the engines has been increased, the velocity of the eduction steam is quite sufficient to produce the needful rarefaction in the chimney, without any contraction whatever. In the early locomotives, when the speed of the piston was slow, the contraction was undoubtedly advantageous ; but now that the boilers have been increased in size, and the heating surface thereby greatly extended, a considerably less intense blast is required. The orifices of the blast-pipes in many engines running at the present day are as large as the steam-ports; consequently they cannot be said to be contracted at alt In fact, the greater apparent efficiency of the steam blast, as at present used, is entirely owing to the greater velocity of the piston.
Chap, xxin.] THE SUCCESS OF THE "KOCKET." 301
to be brought upon the ground and detached from all incumbrances, when, in making two trips, it was found to travel at the astonishing rate of thirty-five miles an hour.
The " Rocket " had thus eclipsed the performances of all locomotive engines that had yet been constructed, and outstripped even the sanguine anticipations of its constructors. Above all, it effectually answered the report of Messrs. Walker and Rastrick, and established the superiority of the locomotive for the working of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, and indeed all future railways. The success of the experiment, as judged by the public, may be inferred from the fact that the shares of the Company immediately rose ten per cent., and nothing further was heard of the proposed twenty-one fixed engines, engine-houses, ropes, &c. All this cumbersome apparatus had been effectually disposed of by the success of the "Rocket" at Rainhill.
Very different now was the tone of those directors who had distinguished themselves by the persistency of their opposition to Mr. Stephenson's plans. Coolness gave way to eulogy, and hostility to unbounded offers of friendship; after the manner of many men, they ran to the help of the strongest. Deeply though he had felt aggrieved by the conduct pursued towards him during this eventful struggle, by some from whom forbearance was to have been expected, Mr. Stephenson never entertained towards them in after life any angry feelings; on the contrary, he forgave all. But though the directors afterwards passed unanimous resolutions eulogising "the great skill and unwearied energy " of their engineer, he himself when speaking confidentially to those with whom he was most intimate, could not help distinguishing between his" foul-weather and fairweather friends."
The immense consequences involved in the success of the '• Rocket," and the important influence the above contest, in which it came off the victor, exercised upon the future development of the railway system, might have led one to suppose that the directors of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway would have regarded the engine with pride and cherished it with care, as warriors prize a trusty weapon which has borne them victoriously through some grand historical battle. The French preserve with the greatest care the locomotive constructed by Cugnot, which is to this day to be seen in the Conservatoire des Arte et Metiers at Paris. But the '- Rocket" was an engine of much greater historical interest. And what became of the "Rocket?" The directors of the Liverpool and Manchester Company sold it in 1837! Heavier engines were brought upon the road; and the old "Rocket" was regarded as a thing of no value. It was purchased by Mr. Thompson, of Kirkhouse, the lessee of the Earl of Carlisle's coal and lime works near Carlisle. He worked the engine on the Midgeholme Railway for five or six years, during which it hauled coals from the pits to the town. There was wonderful vitality in the old engine, as the following circumstance proves. When the great contest for the representation of East Cumberland took place, and Sir J;imes Graham was superseded by Major Aglionby, the " Rocket" was employed to convey the Alston express with the state of the poll from Midgeholme to Kirkhouse. On that occasion the engine was driven by Mr. Mark Thompson, and it ran the distance of upwards of four miles in four and a half minutes, thus reaching a speed of nearly sixty miles an hour,—proving its still admirable qualities as an engine. But again it was superseded by heavier engines; for it only weighed about four tons, whereas the new engines were at least three times the weight. The "Rocket" was consequently laid up in ordinary in the yard at Kirkhouse.
THE OPENING OF THE LIVERPOOL AND MANCHESTER
The directors of the Railway now began to see daylight. Doubts were being cleared up, and largely debated questions one by one set at rest. A solid road had been formed over Chat Moss; and one " impossibility " had been accomplished. A locomotive had been constructed that could run at thirty miles an hour; and thus a second " impossibility " had been achieved. Difficulties, which at first appeared insurmountable, were being borne down by sheer determination, assisted by skill and labour.
The engineer brought the powers of the locomotive to bear in accelerating the progress of the works. Now it is a common thing to employ such an agency in leading stuff to form the embankments of a railway; but then, it was an unheard-of expedient. After the competition at Rainhill, the "Rocket" engine was set to work on Chat Moss, to drag the gravel for finishing the permanent way,—at the same time economising horse labour, consolidating the road, and advancing the works towards completion.
About the middle of 1829 the tunnel at Liverpool was finished ; and being lit up with gas, it was publicly exhibited one day in each week. Many thousand persons visited the tunnel, at the charge of a shilling a head,—the fund thus raised being appropriated partly to the support of the families of labourers who had been injured upon the line, and partly