On 20 April 1829 the board of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway project passed a resolution for a competition to be held to prove their railway could be reliably operated by steam locomotives, there being advice from eminent engineers of the age that stationary engines would be required. A prize of £500 was offered as an incentive to the winner, with strict conditions a locomotive would need to meet to enter the trial. Robert Stephenson was able to report to Henry Booth on 5 September 1829 that Rocket had performed initial manufacturer tests with flying colours at Killingworth. Rocket was dismantled at Newcastle and began the long trip to Rainhill: by horse wagon to Carlisle; lighter to Bowness-on-Solway then by the Cumberland steamer to Liverpool for re-assembly on 18 September 1829. Rocket passed the trial requirement of achieving an average speed of 10 miles per hour (16 km/h) over 70 miles (110 km) by over 40 percent. Demonstrations also saw Rocket consistently and easily haul a carriage of over 20 person up the Whiston incline at over 15 miles per hour (24 km/h), and light engine running of around 30 miles per hour (48 km/h). No other locomotive at the trials was able to achieve anything like the level of performance reliably, with partners Booth and Stephensons sharing the £500 winnings, and perhaps more importantly the need for stationary engines being demonstrated as unnecessary with sceptics such as Rastrick on the way to conversion.

Type and origin
Power typeSteam
BuilderRobert Stephenson and Company
Build date1829
 • Whyte0-2-2
 • UICA1 n2
Gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Driving Wheel dia.4 ft 8 12 in (1.44 m)
Trailing dia.2 ft 6 in (0.76 m)
Axle load2 long tons 12 cwt 1 qr (5,850 lb or 2.65 t)
Loco weight4 long tons 5 cwt (9,500 lb or 4.3 t)
Fuel typeCoke
Boiler pressure50 lbf/in2 (340 kPa)
CylindersTwo, outside
Cylinder size8 in × 17 in (203 mm × 432 mm)
Performance figures
Maximum speed30 mph (48 km/h)
OperatorsLiverpool and Manchester Railway
Lord Carlisle’s Railway
Current ownerScience Museum

More information available at Wikipedia