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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 Arts et Métiers 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 When the great contest for the representation of East Cumberland took place, and Sir James Graham was superseded by Major Aglionby, the “Rocket" was employed to convey the Alston express with the state of the poll from Midgeholme to Kirkhouse.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 But again it was superseded by heavier engines; for it only weighed about four tons, whereas the new engines were at least three times the weight.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 in contributions to the Manchester and Liverpool infirmaries. Notwithstanding the immense quantity of rain that fell during the year, great progress had been made; and there seemed every probability that one line of road would be laid complete between the two towns by the 1st of January, 1830.
As promised by the engineer, a single line was ready by that day; and the “ Rocket," with a carriage full of directors, engineers, and their friends, passed over the entire length of Chat Moss, and also along the greater part of the road between Liverpool and Manchester. The coal traffic had already been commenced at different parts of the railway; but the passenger traffic was delayed until locomotives and carrying stock could be constructed, which involved a considerable additional expenditure. In consequence of the wetness of the season, the completion of the works was somewhat postponed: but in the meantime Mr. Stephenson and his son were engaged in improving and perfecting the locomotive, and in devising new arrangements in those which were in course of construction in their workshops at Newcastle for the purposes of the railway. It was soon found that the performances of the “Rocket” on the day of competition were greatly within the scope of her powers; and at every succeeding effort she excelled her previous feats. Thus, in June, 1830, a trial trip was made between Liverpool and Manchester and back, on the occasion of the board meeting being held at the latter town. A great concourse of people assembled at both termini, and along the line, to witness the spectacle. The train consisted of two carriages filled with about forty persons, and seven waggons laden with stores — in all about thirty-nine tons. The “Rocket,” light though it was as compared with modern engines, drew the train from Liverpool to Manchester in two hours and one minute, and performed the return journey in an hour and a half. The speed of the train over Chat Moss was at the rate of about twenty-seven miles an hour.
• The public opening of the railway took place on the 15th of September, 1830. Eight locomotive engines had now been constructed by the Messrs. Stephenson, and placed upon the line. The whole of them had been repeatedly tried, and with success, weeks before. A high paling had been erected for miles along the deep cuttings near Liverpool, to keep off the pressure of the multitude, and prevent them from falling over in their eagerness to witness the opening ceremony. Constables and soldiers were there in numbers, to assist in keeping the railway clear. The completion of the work was justly regarded as a great national event, and was celebrated accordingly. The Duke of Wellington, then prime minister, Sir Robert Peel, secretary of state, Mr. Huskisson, one of the members for Liverpool and an earnest supporter of the project from its commencement, were present, together with a large number of distinguished personages. The “ Northumbrian" engine took the lead of the procession, and was followed by the other locomotives and their trains, which accommodated about 600 persons.* Many thousands of spectators cheered them on their way,— through the deep ravine of Olive Mount; up the Sutton incline; over the Sankey viaduct, beneath which a multitude of persons had assembled, — carriages filling the narrow lanes, and barges crowding the river. The people gazed with wonder and admiration at the trains which sped along the line, far above their heads, at the rate of twenty-four miles an hour.
At Parkside, seventeen miles from Liverpool, the engines
* The engines with which the line was opened on the 15th of September were the following:-1. The “ Northumbrian,” driven by George Stephenson; 2. The “ Phenix," by Robert Stephenson ; 3. The “ North Star,” by Robert Stephenson, senior (brother of George); 4. The “ Rocket,” by Joseph Locke ; 5. The “ Dart," by Thomas L. Gooch ; 6. The “Comet,” by William Allcard; 7. The “ Arrow," by Frederick Swanwick ; 8. The “ Meteor,” by Anthony Harding.
stopped to take in water. Here a deplorable accident occurred to one of the most distinguished of the illustrious visitors present, which threw a deep shadow over the subsequent proceedings of the day. The “ Northumbrian " engine, with the carriage containing the Duke of Wellington, was drawn up on one line, in order that the whole of the trains might pass in review before him and his party on the other. Mr. Huskisson had, unhappily, alighted from the carriage, and was standing on the opposite road, along which the “Rocket” engine was observed rapidly coming up. At this moment the Duke of Wellington, between whom and Mr. Huskisson some coolness had existed, made a sign of recognition, and held out his hand. A hurried but friendly grasp was given; and before it was loosened there was a general cry from the bystanders of “ Get in, get in!” Flurried and confused, Mr. Huskisson endeavoured to get round the open door of the carriage, which projected over the opposite rail; but in so doing he was struck down by the“ Rocket," and falling with his leg doubled across the rail, the limb was instantly crushed. His first words, on being raised, were, “ I have met my death,” which unhappily proved too true, for he expired that same evening in the neighbouring parsonage of Eccles. It was cited at the time as a remarkable fact, that the “ Northumbrian” engine conveyed the wounded body of the unfortunate gentleman a distance of about fifteen miles in twenty-five minutes, or at the rate of thirty-six miles an hour. This incredible speed burst upon the world with the effect of a new and unlookedfor phenomenon.
The lamentable accident threw a gloom over the rest of the day's proceedings. The Duke of Wellington and Sir Robert Peel expressed a wish that the procession should return to Liverpool. It was, however, represented to them that a vast concourse of people had assembled at Manchester to witness the arrival of the trains; that report would exag