Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Twitter Ye Not - Stephenson's Rocket

Twitter Ye Not - Stephenson's Rocket

A regular piece for the Daily Mail Weekend magazine about how figures in history might have twittered or tweeted or whatever, had they the chance, inclination and technology.

On the 8th October 1829, Stephenson's Rocket won the Rainhill Trials, an engineering competition designed to select a locomotive design to be used by the almost completed Liverpool and manchester Railway. Here we imagine the Twitter feed from that exciting day.

On the right-hand side stands civil engineer Robert Stephenson, son of the equally celebrated railway and locomotive engineer George Stephenson, with his (or, according to some, their) invention the Rocket behind him. Robert was president of the Institute of Civil Engineers for two years from 1855, a fine institution that I myself was once a member of some decades ago in a former life of mine!

Opposite him stands hero of Waterloo and Prime Minister at the time Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington (aka the Iron Duke). Dublin-born and a strong advocate of Catholic emancipation the Duke of Wellington, twice British premier, was a fascinating character. I have shown him here as he looked in the 1820s, with greying hair and dressed in a long frockcoat (and without boots!).

Ten locomotives were invited to compete in the trials, but only five showed up - they were the Rocket, the Sans Pareil, the Novelty, the Cycloped and the Perseverance. The Prize money was £500, a considerable sum back then.

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