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Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

Locomotive Salesman’s Model To Sell For £20,000 At Bonhams

Over 200 years after the world’s first passenger locomotive was built, a very rare and highly important detailed working model of a early 19th century steam engine called Hercules is to be sold by Bonhams. It is expected to fetch £15,000-20,000 at Bonhams’ annual Henley Sale on 19 July 2008.

locomotive.jpgThe American designed and cast iron and brass built model, which dates from around 1840, is thought to have been a salesman’s sample to show to British railway companies before the life-size passenger carrying version was bought. This particular engine was designed to cope with especially steep inclines and the Birmingham and Gloucester Railway Company is known to have used life size steam locomotives to the same specification as Hercules. The railway line – one of the oldest in the world – includes the famous Lickey Incline – a two-mile dead straight stretch of track running up the Lickey Ridge’s 1/37 gradient. The line was built to link the factories of Birmingham to Bristol and its docks as well as to operate passenger services.

Leigh Gotch, Head of Toys at Bonhams, says: “This exceptional model from the very early days of steam travel is a great rarity and I am certain that it will create huge interest from collectors and museums, both here in England and in America where the engine was designed.”

History of the Locomotive

The world’s first passenger railway locomotive was built in 1804 by the Cornish mine engineer Richard Trevithick who wanted to prove that a railway locomotive could rival the horse as a means of transportation. However, public interest was minimal and he died penniless in 1833. In 1829, public opinion changed, when a series of trials were held by the Liverpool and Manchester Railway Company to find the best locomotive engine for a railway that was to serve these two English cities. Some 15,000 people came to see the locomotives race, one of which was George Stephenson’s The Rocket, which reached speeds of 24mph, beating its rival.