A year had elapsed since the opening of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, and the English mechanics had not been idle. The “Rocket,” although successful in the Rainhill contest, when put to work had shown many defects that Stephenson & Co. were striving to correct in subsequent locomotives.
The “Planet,” built by that firm, was tried in public December 4, 1830, shortly after Mr. Stevens arrived in England, and at that time was undoubtedly the best locomotive in the world.
THE “JOHN BULL” ORDERED.
Mr. Stevens was present at a trial when the “Planet” showed most satisfactory properties, and he at once ordered a locomotive of similar construction, from the same manufacturers, for the Camden and Amboy Railroad. This engine, afterward called the “John Bull” and “No. 1,” was completed in May and shipped by sailing vessel from Newcastle-on-Tyne in June, 1831, arriving in Philadelphia about the middle of August of that year. It was then transferred to a sloop at Chestnut Street wharf, Philadelphia, whence it was taken to Bordentown.
THE “JOHN BULL” ARRIVES AT BORDENTOWN.
The following circumstances connected with the arrival of the engine at Bordentown, N.J., are related by Isaac Dripps, Esq., for many years master mechanic of the Camden and Am boy Railroad, and afterward superintendent of motive power of the Pennsylvania Railroad, who is now, after a busy life, enjoying a peaceable retirement at his pleasant home in West Philadelphia.
Mr. Dripps, who is now in the eighty-second year of his age, was employed by Robert and Edwin Stevens in repairing and assisting with their steamboats on the Delaware River and at Hoboken as early as 1829. When the “John Bull” arrived in Philadelphia he was detailed by Robert Stevens to attend to the transportation of the engine to Bordentown, where it was landed safely the last week in August, 1831.
The boiler and cylinders were in place, but the loose parts—rods, pistons, valves, etc.—were packed in boxes. No drawings or directions for putting the engine together had come to hand, and young Dripps, who had never seen a locomotive, found great difficulty in discovering how to put the parts in place, alone and unassisted, as Robert Stevens, who had returned from Europe, was absent at Hoboken at the time attending to other matters.
DIMENSIONS OF ENGINE AND PARTS.
The bronze bass-relief upon the monument, made from the working drawing furnished by Mr. Dripps, is an exact representation of the locomotive when it arrived in America.