When most people think about the birth of the steam locomotive, they think of Robert Stephenson’s famous Rocket – but that engine followed more than 20 years of development during the late Georgian era. Author and historian Anthony Dawson has written a new book, aptly titled Before Rocket – The Steam Locomotive up to 1829, which goes back to the very earliest days of steam to discover the pioneering engines and their creators.
Alongside Cornishman Richard Trevithick, who is generally considered to have built the first steam locomotive, Dawson chronicles the work of John Blenkinsop and Matthew Murray, who designed and built the first practical railway locomotive in 1812, William Brunton and his ‘Mechanical Horse’ and many more.
Before Rocket, based on extensive research of archival material, is fully illustrated with dozens of rare drawings and illustrations to tell the story of the events leading up to 1829, when Rocket was the only locomotive to complete the famous Rainhill Trials.
Dawson explores and explains the crucible of innovation and ingenuity which forged the beginnings of the great age of steam that followed.