Invicta Robert Stephenson


Power Classification
CompanyCanterbury and Whitstable Railway
     Weight – Loco6t 5cwt
Driving Wheels4ft 0ins
Boiler Pressure40psi
Cylinders10.5in 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 moved to Whistable in June 2019. The cost of moving the locomotive and undertaking the necessary building work to house it was said to be approximately £155,000.  The plan was to move the locomotive into the museum’s courtyard where it would be protected from the elements by a new glazed roof at a cost of £500,000.

Home BaseCurrent StatusOwner
Whistable Community MuseumCosmetically restored and on static displayCanterbury Museums & Galleries
Invicta at the Canterbury Heritage Museum - May 1963.jpg
Invicta at the Canterbury Heritage Museum – May 1963
Invicta at Canterbury – 1966
Invicta at Canterbury – 1966
Invicta at the museum in Caterbury – 1973
Invicta in Whitstable Museum – 2020

Back to First Generation Locomotives

Back to Locomotives