Invicta Robert Stephenson


Power Classification
Introduced 1830
Designer Stephenson
Company Canterbury and Whitstable Railway
     Weight – Loco 6t 5cwt
Driving Wheels 4ft 0ins
Boiler Pressure 40psi
Cylinders 10.5in x 18in
Tractive Effort
Valve Gear


Invicta is an early steam locomotive built by Robert Stephenson and Company in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1829. It was the twentieth locomotive built by Stephenson, being built immediately after Rocket. It was the first locomotive to be preserved anywhere in the world.

Invicta was built for £635 to work on the Canterbury and Whitstable Railway. Known as the Crab and Winkle line, this was the first railway in the world to operate a dedicated steam-powered passenger service.

The engine was named after the motto on the Flag of Kent, Invicta, meaning undefeated.

It was shipped by sea from Newcastle to Whitstable and hauled the inaugural train into Whitstable Harbour station on 3 May 1830. The driver of the engine on this trip was Edward Fletcher who supervised the trial runs and spent seven years on the railway before he returned north where he later become Locomotive Superintendent with the North Eastern Railway.

Contemporary illustrations show that Invicta was equipped with a single-axle tender, which has not survived. Modifications were carried out in 1835 to try and improve the efficiency of the locomotive, as it was unable to cope even on the flattest section of the line out of Whitstable, but these were not successful.

Invicta was retired in 1836 as the stationary engines proved adequate to work the line. It was offered for sale in 1839 but did not find a buyer and Invicta was put under cover. It came into the ownership of the South Eastern Railway and was exhibited at the Golden Jubilee of the Stockton and Darlington Railway in 1875 and at the Newcastle Stephenson Centenary in 1881.

Restoration started in 1892 and for many years Invicta was displayed in the Dane John Gardens, Canterbury. It wasn’t until 1977 that a full restoration was undertaken, with help from the National Railway Museum. Invicta returned to Canterbury in time for the 150th anniversary of the Canterbury & Whitstable Railway in 1980.

In 2008, it was announced that a £41,000 Heritage Lottery Fund planning grant had been made to Canterbury City Council to develop a new museum at Whitstable to house Invicta and a stationary winding engine built at Robert Stephenson’s works.

In 2018 consideration was being given to moving the locomotive to Whistable and in June of that year the Canterbury City Councils Community Committee unanimously approved of its move to the Whitstable Community Museum.

The locomotive is likely to move within twelve months of the approval to move it but will initially cost about £70,000. Further expenditure will be required to provide it with protection from the elements and this could amount to £130,000 and take up to two years to complete.

Home Base Current Status Owner
Canterbury Heritage Museum Cosmetically restored and on static display

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