In 1931 an illustration of a locomotive that was found at a school near Beamish. It was initially thought to depict an engine built by George Stephenson. Research then undertaken by Beamish Museum in connection with the construction of a replica based on contemporaneous paintings (one being the earliest known oil of a steam locomotive, by an unknown artist) and other material from the Museum archives.
The outcome of this research was that the locomotive pictured was what is known as the Steam Elephant and worked on the Wallsend Waggonway. It is believed to have been designed by John Buddle and William Chapman for the Wallsend Waggonway and colliery at Wallsend on the north bank of the River Tyne in 1815 using metal components supplied by Hawks of Gateshead.
It appears originally not to have been very successful at Wallsend, probably due to lack of adhesion on the wooden rails there, nor on trial at Washington. Following the introduction of iron rails at Wallsend, it had a working life there longer than many contemporaneous locomotives, until at least the mid-1820s.
A replica Steam Elephant was recreated by Beamish Museum to work with passengers on its standard gauge Pockerley Waggonway at the museum in 2002.
|Elephant as depicted in the original painting|
|The replica Steam Elephant at Beamish-2010|
|The replica Steam Elephant at Beamish-2016|
|The replica Steam Elephant at Beamish-2017|