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The Need For Speed

The Need For Speed

In the late 1820s there were just four options when it came to motive power for railways:

  • Horses.
  • Self-acting inclines where gravity did the work.
  • Rope haulage by stationary engines.
  • Locomotives.

Often a combination of these options was used.

By 1821, despite there being some 200 miles of tramways and railways in use in Britain, horses remained as the most common choice for motive power.

As construction of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway progressed, the Board of Directors wanted to be able to provide a service combining speed and reliability and began to conduct research into the best method of doing this.

Eventually they decided on locomotive power, offering a prize to find the locomotive “which shall be a decided improvement on those now in use, as respects the consumption of smoke, increased speed, adequate power and more weight.”

The contest, later to be known as the Rainhill trials, was advertised in the Liverpool Mercury of 1st May 1829.

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