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The People - Judges and Entrants of the Rainhill Trials

The Judges:

Three of the most eminent engineers of the day – Wood, Rastrick and Kennedy – were appointed as judges.

Nicholas Wood was the Chief Engineer at Kinningworth Colliery, where he had been connected with locomotive work for some 15 years.

John Urpeth Rastrick, previously employed by the Board in the initial research activity, was a partner in Foster, Rastrick & Co., who had an engine building works at Stourbridge, where they had previously built three locomotives for America. Rastrick’s notebook on the trial is an invaluable source of information throwing light on contentious issues such as the form of the Rocket’s Firebox.

John Kennedy had previously been involved in the improvement of spinning machinery. His brother was later involved in building locomotives as a partner in Liverpool’s Bury and Curtis firm. The reports of Wood and Rastrick, however, suggest that Kennedy held little real role in the Trials.

Unfortunately, the report made by the Judges to the Directors is not known to exist, but there is no lack of other reports, which varied from the detailed technical ones, to newspaper reports.

Only six of the locomotives that came to Rainhill started the competition. Two of those were later ruled out and one more was deemed ineligible.

The winner was clear – The Rocket was the only locomotive completing the distance and complying with all the other requirements.


The Rocket
The Rocket was erected and driven during the Trials by Jon Dewerance who in 1839 became Locomotive Superintendent of the L & M R.
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Sanspareil was designed and built by Timothy Hackworth, then Engine Superintendent of the Stockton and Darlington Railway.
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The Novelty was designed by Ericcson and built by Braithwaite & Ericcson, whose works were situated in London. Its sleek appearance made it the public’s favourite.
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Perseverance was entered by Timothy Burstall, of Leith, who had some experience of building steam road coaches.
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This was a horse-propelled solution which may today seem not to have been worthy of the Trials, but at the time engineers regarded the possibility of literally using horse power very seriously.
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This was the most extraordinary of the contestants – the manually propelled solution from Mr Winans. Some consider its appearance a sign of a sense of humour as it naturally moved nowhere near the necessary minimum of 10mph.
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