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ROCKET and role; american engineers award historical landmark status to rainhill rail trials site.


THE birth of the railways has been commemorated with an event on Merseyside where the story began.

A plaque to commemorate the 1829 Rainhill Trials was unveiled yesterday by an American engineering organisation, that puts the site alongside structures such as the Eiffel Tower and Brooklyn Bridge.

The Rainhill Trials were held as a competition for five engineers to run their steam locomotives up and down a onemile track outside the town. The trials were won by George Stephenson, with his famous Rocket locomotive. The opening of the world's first public railway, between Liverpool and Manchester, followed in 1830.

Members of the American Society of Civil Engineers flew in to join their UK colleagues at Rainhill library to commemorate the achievement, awarding the site their Historical Civil Engineering Landmark status.

To commemorate the trials, a permanent exhibition is in place at the library where the plaque will now be displayed until early next year, before it is moved to Rainhill station.

St Helens council leader Barrie Grunewald said: "As both leader and a Rainhill councillor, I'm delighted that our place in history is being commemorated in this way.

"The world owes much to the pioneering developments that took place in and around St Helens.

"The economic and social impact of the railway across the globe was, without exaggeration, immense." North West regional director of the Institution of Civil Engineers, Darrell Matthews, said: "George Stephenson came from very humble origins, with no formal education, and yet became one of the world's great pioneering engineers.

His son, Robert, went on to become president of the Institution of Civil Engineers, and their achievements literally helped create the modern world.

"I feel this is a very fitting tribute to them and their work."


ROCKET and role

Derek Houghton, Tim Broyd, Stuart Cameron, Larry Lee and Jerry Rogers with the plaque Picture: BERNARD PLATT

The Rainhill Trials were recreated for the BBC's Timewatch programme in 2002 on the Llangollen Railway, North Wales, using two of the locomotives that took part, Novelty and Sans Pareil

A painting of Stephenson's Rocket winning the Rainhill Trials, in 1829

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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Article Type:Landmark overview
Date:Sep 15, 2016
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