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British Industrial History

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Foster, Rastrick and Co: Stourbridge Lion

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Stourbridge Lion 1828

The Stourbridge Lion was a railroad steam locomotive. It was not only the first locomotive to be operated in the United States, it was also one of the first locomotives to operate outside of England, where it was manufactured by Foster, Rastrick and Co in 1828.

The locomotive earned the name Lion from the picture of a lion's face that was painted on the front of the locomotive by its builder. The Stourbridge portion of the name is from the town of Stourbridge in England, where the locomotive was manufactured.

The cylinders were 8.5ins in diameter and with a 36in stroke. The boiler was 48ins in diameter and 10ft 6ins long.

Stourbridge Lion was one of three locomotives (the others were named Delaware and Hudson) built by Foster, Rastrick and Co, but Robert Stephenson and Co had completed their locomotive, the Pride of Newcastle before any of Rastrick's locomotives. The Pride of Newcastle even arrived in America nearly two months before the Stourbridge Lion, but it was the latter that was used for the first railroad trials.

The locomotive was assembled after shipment at the West Point Foundry in New York where it was first tested under steam in 1829. Its first official run took place on August 8 of that year in Honesdale, PA. The locomotive performed admirably, but the track that was built on which to run it was insufficient for the task. Jervis had specified that the locomotives should weigh no more than 4 tons; the Stourbridge Lion weighed nearly double that, 7.5 tons.

Rastrick built another engine after completing the three that were sent to America. This engine, the Agenoria, is believed to be a duplicate of the Stourbridge Lion. The Agenoria was built in 1829 and is currently preserved at the National Railway Museum in York.

The Stourbridge Lion is preserved in the Smithsonian Institute

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