Saturday, 29 October 2016

Riot of Steam

In preparing the post A Personal History of the Museum of Science and Industry recently, I discovered that, whilst my pictures of the 'Riot of Steam' event appear on the internet here, there was no report in this blog. Back in 2005, I wrote a short article about the event which appeared in 'Lionsheart', the newsletter of the Old Locomotive Committee, when I served as the editor. That article appears below.
On the 15th September 1830, the Liverpool and Manchester Railway commenced passenger operation. 175 years later, the original Manchester terminus in Liverpool Road forms part of the Museum of Science and Industry. To celebrate, the museum staged a four day gala on 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th September 2005.

If you missed it, you missed an excellent event. Well, maybe you can catch the 200th anniversary?

The working replicas of ‘Rocket’, ‘Sans Pareil’ and ‘Novelty’ were on hand, supported by the mainstay of museum steam operations, the ‘Planet’ replica. Twice a day, a cavalcade of these four locomotives was held, with an excellent and informative commentary given by Michael Bailey. For the rest of each day, ‘Rocket’, ‘Sans Pareil’ and ‘Planet’ alternated in giving passenger rides, each with its own reproduction coach (or, in the case of ‘Planet’, two coaches).

It’s hard to comprehend just how much organisation was needed to bring the whole gala together. Everybody at the museum is to be congratulated for their imagination is making it happen, providing the finance, and then providing the staff (paid and volunteer) to run the event over four days.

Particularly noteworthy was the appearance of ‘Novelty’, which lives in Sweden (Ericsson, the designer, was a Swede). Although the museum in Manchester has a non-working replica of ‘Novelty’, there is no substitute for a working locomotive (as we have commented regarding ‘Lion’ a few times). Interestingly, just as occurred at the original Rainhill trials, ‘Novelty’ was a firm favourite with the crowds. Something to do with her diminutive size and the way she dashed about. The first day of the gala was also rather wet, again, like the original Rainhill trials, I believe. ‘Novelty’ has now gone back to Sweden so who knows when there will be such a special meeting of replicas again?

Your Editor was present on each of the four days, along with OLCO member John Archer. Jan managed to drive and fire all the locomotives.

‘Lion’ was the only ‘original’ locomotive present representing the 1830s and, when not wet, Liverpool Museum allowed her to be positioned outside to provide better photographic opportunities. Charles Taylor Nobbs and John Brandrick shared the task of telling the visitors a little of the background of this remarkable survivor.

High-level view of the main 'Riot of Steam' site with (L-R) 'Lion', 'Sans Parel', 'Planet', 'Rocket' and 'Novelty'.