The Northumbrian

source : Wikipedia

D 3 juillet 2014     H 07:44     A Annie Lesca     C 0 messages

16 July 1894
Original artist unrecorded ; reproduced Gibbon, Richard (2010) Stephenson’s Rocket and the Rainhill Trials, Oxford : Shire Books, p. 37 ISBN : 9780747808039.

This is an image of a coloured lithograph, entitled : Locomotive Engine, ’The Rocket’, 1830, published by The Leadenhall Press Ltd, 50 Leadenhall Street, London E.C. on 16 July 1894.

  • The U.K. National Railway Museum has at least two copies, accession numbers 1975-8684 and 1978-2472, with images available through its in-house picture agency SSPL, ref 10300243.
  • Getty Images also has a version, credited to the Imagno agency and the Austrian National Archives, identifier 462393_imagno.
  • Corbis have a copy of the Austrian image, AU002279, and a black and white version IH161934.
  • Copies of the lithograph also come up in print shops and on Ebay.

However, despite the title, the locomotive depicted is not in fact Rocket, which was yellow at this time, and of a different external design. The locomotive is actually Stephenson’s 1830 locomotive Northumbrian, the engine closely resembling for example the contemporary engraving by Isaac Shaw published as plate 4 of his A new and complete work of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway (1831), although the tender is different.

Dendy Marshall (1930) identifies the print as being "after the drawing by Nasmyth of the Northumbrian" "locomotive+engine+the+rocket+1830", (image, reproduced from Scientific American Supplement, October 1884).

Nasmyth had sketched the locomotive four days before the opening of the line in September 1830, but misidentified it as the Rocket. Marshall comments that he had never seen a copy of the print in an early state.

A different version of the image is also held by Corbis, IH187731, and Bridgeman, CHT 105858, which appears to be a coloured line engraving, sourced to the Bibliotheque des Arts Decoratifs, Paris. The relation of this to the Leadenhall Press Ltd lithograph is not clear.


Northumbrian was an early steam locomotive built by Robert Stephenson in 1830 and used at the opening of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway. It was the last of Stephenson’s 0-2-2 locomotives in the style of Rocket, but it introduced several innovations.

It was the first locomotive to have the Stephenson type firebox incorporated in the boiler, and having a smokebox the full diameter of the boiler, it therefore had the first true ’locomotive’ boiler. It also had plate frames, a proper tender, and the cylinders set at a relatively low angle to the horizontal, giving smoother running.

The pace of development of locomotive design at the time can be seen by comparing this engine with Stephenson’s Planet, produced later the same year.

Competition between canals and Railway in the thirties

Liverpool & Manchester Railway and competing canals at the time of the railway’s opening, with locations of significant events leading up to and during the opening day highlighted

Iridescent, based on a diagram appearing in Garfield, Simon (2002) The Last Journey of William Huskisson, London : Faber and Faber ISBN : 0571210481.

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