John Speller's Web Pages Steam Trumpet

John Speller's Web Pages - Midland Railway

Steam Trumpet MR Horizontal Menu Untitled
In August, 1832, Robert Stephenson & Co. commenced the construction of two locomotives for the Leicester and Swannington Railway. These had cylinders 14 inches diameter, 18 inches stroke, and four coupled wheels of 4 feet 6 inches diameter, the wheel-base being 4 feet 9 inches, and the total length of the frame 17 feet. The first of these engines was named "Samson," and commenced work at Leicester, on 1st January, 1833; the other, "Goliath," followed 20th March, 1833.

On Saturday, 4 May 1833, a train on the Leicester & Swannington Railway hauled by the newly-constructed 0-4-0 locomotive No. 3 "Samson" collided with a cart, loaded with 50 lbs. of butter and 80 dozen eggs for Leicester Market, on a level crossing outside the Stag & Castle Inn in Thornton. Fortunately nobody was injured, though the accident may have created one of the largest omelettes in history. The engine driver, Martin Weatherburn, thought the accident might have been avoided if he had been able to attract the attention of the cart's driver sooner. In those days engine drivers only had posthorns, similar to those used on stage-coaches, with which to attract attention. In a conversation with Stephenson, Ashlin Bagster, the General Manager, suggested that a "steam trumpet" blown by the full force of steam of the locomotive's boiler would be much more effective than a posthorn. Accordingly a design was prepared by Henry Cabry, the Locomotive Superintendent of the Leicester & Swannington Railway, and constructed by a local musical instrument manufacturer. Thus "Samson" received the world's first locomotive whistle, and the rest is history.

The Leicester & Swannington Railway was taken over by the Midland Railway on 1 August 1845.
Steam Trumpet. Height, 1 ft. 6 in.; diam. of top, 6 in. As mounted on the firebox of "Samson"
"Samson," as delivered without the Steam Trumpet
"Phoenix," another early locomotive of the Leicester & Swannington Railway
Leicester & Swannington Railway map [courtesy Wikipedia Commons]
Site Contents Untitled