08 June 2016: Stephenson’s Rocket remains one of Britain’s greatest technological gifts to the world, and set the fundamental design template for almost all locomotives that followed it over the next 130 years.
Now, a new manual from publisher Haynes provides a fascinating insight into this iconic locomotive, the most advanced steam engine of its time when it was built in 1829.
The Haynes Stephenson’s Rocket Owners’ Workshop Manual is published in association with the Science Museum, where the original locomotive is on display. The manual tells the story of the famous steam engine, including its entry into the Rainhill Trials in 1829 – held by the Liverpool & Manchester Railway to evaluate competing locomotive designs – where the Rocket was the only engine to complete the course, and was therefore declared the winner.
The engaging text, supported by a wealth of photographs and technical drawings, is accessible to both enthusiasts and those seeking an introduction to the topic. The manual provides a detailed examination of the Rocket’s anatomy, including its basic design, cylinders, wheels and suspension, boiler, controls and paintwork. It also includes fascinating insight in to how the Rocket was maintained, including scheduled servicing.
Written by mechanical engineer and former Head of Engineering at the National Railway Museum, Richard Gibbon, the manual dedicates a chapter to contemporary and modern-day accounts of the locomotive, including insights based on Richard’s own close connection with the original locomotive and its several replicas.
Author Richard Gibbon commented: “The legacy of the Stephenson’s Rocket undoubtedly surpassed even the wildest expectations of its contemporaries, not least Robert Stephenson himself and those who were involved in its introduction. Little did they know at the time that the winner of the Rainhill Trials would go on to be the guiding influence for the next 130 years of locomotive design and engineering.
“Though the Rocket was not the first steam locomotive, its claim to fame is that it was the first to bring together several innovations – including a multi-tubular boiler which increased steam output, and a blast pipe which pulled air directly through the fire – to produce the most advanced locomotive of its day.
“The manual relays accounts from both contemporary and present-day drivers lucky enough to have manned the Rocket’s controls, and all testify to the fact that, while it is no easy machine to operate, with its many idiosyncrasies, Rocket is a magnificent thing to drive when fully in motion.”
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Haynes Publishing has been the world's leading publisher of illustrated workshop car manuals and motorcycle manuals since 1965. In that time Haynes has evolved and so have its Manuals to now include a wide range of automotive, sport, leisure, military and lifestyle subjects. Haynes also has licenses to publish Manuals with NASA, the Royal Navy, the Royal Air Force, Star Wars, Star Trek and others.
Haynes publishing also offers its more recent car and motorcycle manuals through online subscription, Manuals Online was launched in 2010 and offers colour imagery, video and is accessible through computer or tablet via an internet connection.