'Puffing Billy' steam locomotive, outside the Patent Museum, London, 1876.
© National Railway Museum / Science & Society Picture Library -- All rights reserved
This photograph, taken in 1876, is one of the earliest known photographs of 'Puffing Billy' which, together with its sister locomotive 'Wylam Dilly', is the oldest surviving locomotive in the world. Both were built by William Hedley (1779-1843) in 1813 for use at Wylam Colliery near Newcastle, hauling coal trucks 5 miles between Wylam and the staithes at Lemington. Hedley proved that loads could be moved by the traction of smooth wheels on smooth rails. The Patent Museum (now the Science Museum) acquired 'Puffing Billy' in 1862, after nearly 50 years of service and several rebuildings.