Newcomen- Learning Through Archaeology: The INVICTA Locomotive Project

20th April 2021 6:30 pm

INVICTA was manufactured at the Newcastle works of Robert Stephenson & Co. just a few months after ROCKET. With similar component features, it was made for operating the

Whitstable end of the Canterbury & Whitstable Railway when it opened in May 1830. It was rebuilt after six years, in an apparently retrograde form, with the removal of its multiple flue tubes

and their replacement with a single flue containing a fire-grate. In 1839 the railway unsuccessfully sought to sell the locomotive, having replaced it with a stationary winding

engine. It was then thought to have been preserved at Ashford Railway Works prior to its longterm survival and display in Canterbury. The project was undertaken, component by component, to ascertain the origin and date of their fitting to the locomotive to explain the sequence of its alterations, both during its operating service and in preservation. A detailed scrutiny of archival evidence accompanied the study,

which served to answer some of the queries raised by the physical examination. The project established a previously unknown role for the machine as a stationary boiler at Ashford Works, losing its wheels and some of its driving and valve motion and gaining an uncharacteristic dome. In 1875, it was chosen for display at the 50th anniversary Jubilee celebrations for the Stockton & Darlington Railway in Darlington, and appeared as a mobile boiler with replacement wheelsets. In the 1890s, to prepare the locomotive for long-term display, a Director of the South Eastern Railway arranged for Ashford workshops to replicate

the missing motion, but in a speculative and mistaken arrangement. After long-term display, on a plinth in a public Canterbury garden, in 1978 INVICTA was conserved under the aegis of the

Transport Trust, for which purpose the artefact passed into to the Trust’s ownership. It has long been preserved and displayed in Canterbury and, more recently, in the Whitstable Museum.

About the Speakers

Dr. Michael R. Bailey, MBE, DPhil, MA, is the President of The Stephenson Locomotive Society, and a Past-President of the Newcomen Society. He has written several books and papers

about early locomotives and the Works that manufactured them. He has also edited the multiauthored biography of Robert Stephenson: The Eminent Engineer. Together with his colleagues, Peter Davidson and John Glithero, he has undertaken eight major studies of early locomotives on behalf of the Museums at which they are displayed.

Peter H. Davidson, MA (Cantab), is also a member of both Societies and is an experienced design and safety engineer, initially working on the British Gas-Cooled Reactor Power Stations

and then on projects associated with nuclear-powered submarines. He has had a life-long interest in the design development of steam locomotives. The INVICTA project is the third such

study that he has participated in, following those concerning Killingworth BILLY and Hetton LYON. Peter will be participating in the talk and available to answer questions.


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