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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 14, Issue 4 (July 1, 1939)

Beginning of the Modern Railway

Beginning of the Modern Railway.

About a year after Joseph Pease's success, a company composed chiefly of Liverpool merchants, obtained permission to make a railway between Liverpool and Manchester. Then arose the question—should the motive agency be horse-power or steam? Horse-power being rejected, a committee of four engineers was set up to report on the comparative merits of locomotive or stationary steam engines.

As a result of this report, the company, in 1829, offered by advertisement a premium of £500 for the best locomotive that could be constructed according to given specifications; one of which was that the engine should be capable of “drawing on a level line a train of twenty tons, including the tender, at the rate of ten miles an hour.”

Three engines were offered for competition, and having been duly tried, the “Rocket,” produced by Messrs. G. and R. Stephenson, was “held immeasurably superior to both the others, and attained with a load of seventeen tons an average speed of seventeen miles an hour.” When the Liverpool and Manchester Railway was actually opened, later in the same year, “Stephenson triumphantly drove his engine at the undreamt-of rate of thirty-six miles an hour.”

Before long the advantages of the railway system were sought for in other parts of England, and within the next twenty years trains were running in Scotland, Ireland, on the Continent, throughout the United States of America and even in British India.