The Rainhill Trials
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Year: 1829
Promoter: Liverpool and Manchester Railway
Prize: £550 (Today's value £34,000)
Winner: George Stephenson, with his son Robert and assistant Henry Rooth

In the 1820s, the Industrial Revolution was radically transforming Britain, especially the North West of England. The arrival of the railways would be the next big step that allowed this socio-economic boom to reach every corner of the nation.

The Rainhill Trials were set up by the fledgling Liverpool and Manchester Railway to test a broad variety of locomotives and static engines, varying in design from horses on treadmills to more conventional prototypes that were capable of a dizzying 28mph!

The famed Rocket of George Stephenson and his son Robert proved to be the most efficient locomotive, being the only competitor to survive the trials, after a variety of catastrophes befell the other candidates.

As a result, Robert Stephenson and Co. were awarded a contract to build locomotives for the railway, securing a proud engineering legacy that lasted for over a century in their north eastern rail yards, until production under the Stephenson name was concluded with the end of steam in the early 1960s.