The Rainhill Trials are acknowledged as the most remarkable event of the Industrial Age, and the impact of the Trials was felt across the world.
From what was then a small hamlet nine miles from Liverpool, The Trials decided how railways would develop globally for the next 140 years and the resulting growth of railway travel enabled Britain to become the workshop of the world, leading the way in manufacturing and industrialisation.
An Invention That Changed the World
The steam locomotive has been described as man’s noblest invention, and the development that had the greatest civilising influence – continents opened up and the industrial revolution gained impetus with speed.
Before the advent of rail travel in Britain the average inhabitant was born lived and died within a radius of 15 miles. Within 20 years of the Rainhill Trials a considerable network of railways was in hand and it was possible for a working man to afford to travel from the north to London, making the success of the Great Exhibition in 1851 possible.
The ultimate replacement of the steam locomotive, of which it is estimated that some one million were built, was brought about by a combination of factors including difficulties in obtaining suitable fuel at an economic price, and the problems and retaining labour for firing and maintaining engines.
In eight momentous days at Rainhill started the progress of railways and steam locomotives making Britain a supplier to the world and establishing the nation in the field of engineering. Rainhill will now forever be known as the birthplace of the age of speed.
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