Saturday, April 29, 2006

National Railway Museum - York, UK

National Railway MuseumYork, YorkshireFor me trains, especially steam trains and England are synonymous. There are many preserved railways still in operation up and down the country and it's possible to take a vacation that is geared to these excursions which I was lucky enough to do a while back. This trip my time was more restricted and because I was traveling in the winter most were shut down for the season.  George Stephenson is considered to be the inventor of the first practical steam locomotive engine for railways. Stephenson was extremely poor growing up and received little formal education. He worked in local collieries or coal mines and was self-taught in reading and writing. In 1812, he became a colliery engine builder, and in 1814 he built his first locomotive for the Stockton and Darlington Railway Line. Stephenson was hired as the company engineer and soon convinced the owners to use steam motive power and built the line's first locomotive, the Locomotion. In 1825, Stephenson moved to the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, where together with his son Robert and Henry Rooth built (1826-29) the Rocket.

National Railway MuseumIn 1829, the Liverpool & Manchester Railway offered a prize of 550 Pounds Sterling to any company or individual who could build a locomotive that would weigh less than six tons and could pull a load of 20 tons at a rate of ten miles per hour. Of the five engines entered in the October 1829 trials, only the Rocket completed the course, exceeded all the requirements and performed without incident. For this achievement, the L & M bought the Rocket from Stephenson and soon thereafter ordered four more for their passenger service between Liverpool and Manchester, thus providing the first rail passenger service in the world. A copy of the Rocket is now on display at the National Railway Museum in York which I had the pleasure to visit for the second time.

Besides a wonderful display of rolling stock the museum has opened up its workshop as well as backroom collection. There you can find many models of railroads and a vintage layout used to teach railroad operation.

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