The decision by the Liverpool and Manchester Railway Company to hold the trials at Rainhill was due to the concern at that time of the weight of locomotives on the rails and the capabilities of their steaming capacity in different conditions. Timothy Hackworth was by no means a rich man, his salary barely covered the upkeep of his family and home in Shildon, and his decision to construct an engine to compete in the Rainhill Trials at his own expense, was a bold decision by him. The Committee gave permission for the construction in his own time and at his own expense. However, facilities at Shildon were poor and construction was a major problem. Most of the construction was carried out by Companies Hackworth considered capable. Because of delays in delivery of parts, it could only be assembled by working night and day, and the necessary testing of the engine had to be abandoned. The locomotive "Sans Pareil" arrived at Rainhill just in time. In a series of letters to the Secretary of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, Stephenson did his utmost to degrade "Sans Pareil", clearly demonstrating that he considered it a serious rival to his own locomotive "Rocket". Of the initial 5 entries, 3 remained in contention, "Rocket", "Sans Pareil" and "The Novelty".

The course for the event was a few miles from Liverpool, on a level piece of track one and three quarter miles long (including one-eighth of a mile at each end for gathering speed and stopping), the engines having to run along the track, pulling 3 times their weight, 10 double trips equalling one journey. Average speed was not to be less than 10 m.p.h. After completing 10 double trips, equalling 35 miles, fuel and water to be taken on board, and the whole journey to be repeated, making a total of 70 miles covered, equal to the distance between Liverpool and Manchester. Trials commenced 6th October 1829 and were completed on 14th, the first few days given to preparation and testing. Over 10,000 people attended the trials with the proceedings being conducted in a festival atmosphere.

Entered by George and Robert Stephenson, and Henry Booth.


weight: 4 tons 5 cwts.

On the 3rd day "Rocket" made its victorious journey, completing the 70 miles in 6 hours 2 minutes, pulling the stipulated load.

Average speed varied between 13 and 16 m.p.h.

(Arcana of Science, 1830)

The winners prize was awarded to Henry Booth, and George and Robert Stephenson.

It is not a coincidence that a Stephenson locomotive proved to be the eventual winner, as he was using his experience gained on the Stockton & Darlington Railway in his design.

"... to whose excellent construction of the machinery, I was much indebted for the favourable reward of the umpires." (memoirs of Henry Booth).

Entered by Timothy Hackworth.


weight: 4 tons 15cwts 2qrs.

Sans Pareil was over the stipulated weight of 4 tons 10 cwts. which excluded it from competing for the prize."Sans Pareil" was , in effect, a lighter version of "Royal George" with only 4 wheels, albeit, they were coupled.There is no doubt that Robert Stephenson considered that "Sans Pareil" was a serious rival to "Rocket" and he took great interest in the locomotive during its construction. In a letter to Henry Booth on 3rd August, 1829, he wrote:


"I will write you in a few days detailing Hackworth's plan of boiler. It is ingenious, but it will not destroy the smoke with coal, which I understand is intended to form a portion of this fuel; coke will be the remainder..."

In a further letter on 21st August, he sent a sketch of "Sans Pareil" boiler, detailing its construction.

Although unable to compete the judges decided to put it through the same trial as if it conformed with the conditions of entry.

"Sans Pareil" began the trials with a load of 25 tons ..

"it was soon manifest that a very powerful competitor had entered the field; for two hours the "Sans Pareil" kept going with great regularity, and during that time completed upwards of 25 miles . It went occasionally, when at its topmost speed, a mile in 4 minutes 10 seconds, and 4 minutes 17 seconds, being at the rate of nearly 15 miles an hour" (Arcana of Science, 1830)

But disaster struck, as one of the cylinders burst, which had been supplied by the firm of Robert Stephenson. The problem being an imperfection in the partition of the cylinder and the steam pipe, which had been cast so thin as to leave less than 1/16 in. of metal instead of 7/8 in., resulting in much ill feeling.

It was clear that the "Sans Pareil" stood little chance against the "Rocket", which was perfect in all detail.

Entered by Messrs. Braithwaite & Ericsson.


weight: 3 tons 1cwt.

"Novelty" started the trials, the popular favourite, the design based on contemporary road steam carriage ideas. It had speed, grace and steadiness, with an unusual design which was effective.

However it soon got into difficulty and caused great delays. Lack of trials and the speed in which it had been built probably led to its downfall, in any event the design did not lend itself to the production of adequate steam.

"Novelty" was tried at first without any load attached, and created great excitement when it set off at an amazing speed of 28 m.p.h. The engine, however, was brought to Rainhill untried, and with defects due to a hurried construction. These defects showed themselves before "Novelty" could start the trials, with alterations having to be made, and it was typical of Timothy Hackworth that he should bring it upon himself, in the interests of fair play, to offer his services as a skilled man in making the repairs. On the last day of the trials "Novelty" made a final attempt to complete the task, but having completed its second run, joints in the steam generator gave way, and the engine was withdrawn, partly because of the boiler leakage, but also owing to the action of the hot tempered Ericsson. He considered that "Novelty" was unfairly handicapped, as "Rocket" had been allowed to make some runs without its tender, whilst "Novelty" had these combined within the engine structure. "Novelty" was unlike any locomotive , with its water and fuel it weighed less than 4 tons, with its boiler almost vertical. The four wheels were uncoupled, but it was well balanced and hung on bearing springs.

Extract from a letter by Timothy Hackworth to the Directors of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway on his return to Shildon:-

"...On my recent visit to Liverpool I availed myself of the opportunity which it appeared to present, of personally paying my respects to your Board. I had hoped that you would have indulged me by listening to a few observations which my duty to you and myself demanded... ""You are doubtless aware that on a recent occasion the Loco Motive Engine Sans Pareil failed in performing the task assigned to her by the Judges. It were now useless to enter into a minute detail of the causes. Suffice it to say that neither in construction nor in principle was the engine deficient, but circumstances over which I could not have any control from my peculiar situation, compelled me to put that confidence in others which I found with sorrow was but too implicitly placed......""I feel myself injured in some reports printed and verbal which have been circulated. Of any participation in these I entirely acquit your Board. Your offer to purchase the Engine I accept with thanks, but you will pardon me when I honestly add that £550 does not by any means compensate me for the expenses and labour bestowed.

I am,"

"Sans Pareil" was used by the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, before being sold to John Hargreaves in 1831, and used on the Bolton and Leigh Railway for several years. In 1837, larger cylinders were added and the wood-spoked wheels replaced by cast iron hollow spoke wheels. She continued in service on the line, carrying passengers, coal and other merchandise until 1844, when she was considered to be underpowered for the amount of traffic on the railway.She was then transferred to Coppull Colliery, near Chorley, in Lancashire, and used as a fixed engine, with one pair of wheels and axle being removed. She continued to work until 1863. She was then given to John Hick , M.P. for Bolton, who restored her to her former glory, before presenting her to the Science Museum, London, she was later transferred to the National Railway Museum, York, where she is today.

At the Chicago Exhibition in 1893 known as the World's Fair, a full sized reproduction of the "Sans Pareil" was displayed, which had been built by the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Company. The model was later placed in the Field Columbian Museum, and subsequently sent by the Baltimore & Ohio Railway Company to the International World's Fair at St. Louis and to Jamestown, Virginia. My understanding is that it was destroyed when a tornado struck the building in which it was being stored in the early 1900's. Extract from accompanying Description:


Designed and constructed by Timothy Hackworth, of England, and participating in Liverpool and Manchester Railway Locomotive Competition. Full-size working reproduction built from measurements and detailed drawings especially furnished by the South Kensington Museum of London, the original locomotive being preserved in that institution. The full-size reproduction of the Newcastle locomotive remodelled by Hackworth in 1827, and named the Royal George, should have preceded the Sanspareil in this line, and would have done so but for an accident. It will later be added to the collection. As Hedley was the first to make a practical demonstration with the avowed purpose of showing the adhesion of smooth wheels to smooth rails, so Hackworth was the first to determine the blast pipe as an essential. The Royal George, in addition to the blast pipe, had a cistern into which a portion of the exhaust steam could be turned to heat the feed water...Its final breakdown upon the course was not attributable to any defect in principle of the engine.... "

Presented by the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Company.