Sans Pareil  0-4-0  Bolton & Leigh Railway


Power Classification
CompanyBolton & Leigh Railway
Weight4t 15cwt
Driving Wheels4ft 6ins
Boiler Pressurepsi
CylindersOutside – 7in x 18in
Tractive Effortlbf
Valve Gear

Sans Pareil (translates as without equal) was designed by Timothy Hackworth and built at Shildon as a contestant in the Rainhill trials of 1829 to select locomotives to run on the Liverpool & Manchester Railway. It was excluded from qualifying though on the basis that it was slightly over the permitted weight. The engine cost £550 to build.

While a capable locomotive for the day, its technology was somewhat antiquated compared to George and Robert Stephenson’s Rocket, the winner of the Rainhill Trials and the £500 prize money. Instead of the fire tube boiler of Rocket, Sans Pareil had a double return flue. To increase the heating surface area, the two flues were joined by a U shaped tube at the forward end of the boiler; the firebox and chimney were both positioned at the rear same end, one on either side.

Sans Pareil had two cylinders, mounted vertically at the opposite end to the chimney, and driving one pair of driving wheels directly – the other pair were driven via connecting rods, in the typical steam locomotive fashion.

Nevertheless, it performed very well but had a strange rolling gait due to its vertical cylinders. It was pulled out of the competition because of a cracked cylinder: the design thickness for the cylinder walls was some 1 3⁄4 inches, but at the point of failure, it was found to be a mere 5⁄8 inch. After the trials, the Liverpool and Manchester Railway bought Sans Pareil as well as Rocket.

It was subsequently leased at £15 a month to the Bolton & Leigh Railway until 1832 when it was purchased for £110. It remained in service until 1840 when it was sold and put to work for pumping as a stationary boiler at Coppull Colliery near Chorley where it remained until 1863.

Sans Pareil was restored and presented to the Patent Office Museum (what became the Science Museum) in 1864 by John Hick. The engine now resides at the Shildon Locomotion Museum on static display.

Home BaseCurrent StatusOwner
National Railway Museum – Locomotion at ShildonStatic displayNational Railway Museum NRM Object Number{1864-45}

A replica was built in 1980 to take part in the cavalcade to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Rainhill trials. It is now appropriately based at the NRM at Shildon as it was built by BR apprentices at Shildon.

NRM Object Number{2009-7054}

Sans Pareil at Shildon – October 2010
Sans Pareil replica at Rainhill as part of the Rocket 150 cavalcade – May 1980
Sans Pareil replica in Locomotion at Shildon – April 2015
San Pareil replica and original in Locomotion at Shildon – August 2019

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