Salamanca (locomotive)

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"The Salamanca" redirects here. For other uses, see Salamanca (disambiguation).
Blenkinsop's rack locomotive, 1812 (British Railway Locomotives 1803-1853).jpg
Type and origin
Power type Steam
Builder Matthew Murray
Build date 1812
Gauge 4 ft 1 in (1,245 mm)
Locomotive weight 5 tons
Operator(s) Middleton Railway

Salamanca was the first commercially successful steam locomotive, built in 1812 by Matthew Murray of Holbeck, for the edge railed Middleton Railway between Middleton and Leeds.[1] It was the first to have two cylinders. It was named after the Duke of Wellington's victory at the battle of Salamanca which was fought that same year.

Salamanca was also the first rack and pinion locomotive, using John Blenkinsop's patented design for rack propulsion. A single rack ran outside the narrow gauge tracks and was engaged by a large cog wheel on the left side of the locomotive. The cog wheel was driven by twin cylinders embedded into the top of the centre-flue boiler. The class was described as having two 8"x20" cylinders, driving the wheels through cranks. The piston crossheads worked in guides, rather than being controlled by parallel motion like the majority of early locomotives. The engines saw up to twenty years of service.[2]

Four such locomotives were built for the railway. Salamanca was destroyed six years later, when its boiler exploded. According to George Stephenson, giving evidence to a committee of Parliament, the driver had tampered with the boiler safety valve.[3]


  1. ^ Hamilton Ellis (1968). The Pictorial Encyclopedia of Railways. The Hamlyn Publishing Group. p. 20. 
  2. ^ "Curiosities of Locomotive Design". Catskill. Retrieved 22 March 2008. 
  3. ^ Nabarro, Gerald (1972). Steam Nostalgia: Locomotive and Railway Preservation in Great Britain. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. p. 139. ISBN 0-7100-7391-7.