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Philadelphia (UK) boiler explosion 1815

In 1815, at Philadelphia, County Durham, UK, an early experimental railway locomotive, "Brunton's Mechanical Traveller", on four wheels but pushed by mechanical feet, blew up. This was both the first recorded boiler explosion and the first railway accident causing major loss of life, as 16 people were killed. The accident is not included in many texts because it was on an industrial waggonway or plateway, rather than a public railway. Nevertheless, it predated Mr Huskisson's death at Edge Hill by 15 years, and the death toll was not exceeded by any railway accident until 1842 worldwide (by the Meudon/Versailles train fire) and 1861 in the UK (Clayton Tunnel). It also killed more people than any other boiler explosion of all time. Most boiler explosions caused severe mechanical damage but often only the locomotive crew suffered physically; however, Brunton's locomotive was surrounded at the time by a crowd of curious sightseers, who formed the majority of the victims. The first high-pressure steam locomotive, Trevithick's Penydarren engine, had only appeared 11 years earlier in 1804, and engineering understanding of the forces and safety risks involved was still primitive.


  • Hewison, Christian H. (1983). Locomotive Boiler Explosions. David and Charles. ISBN 0-7153-8305-1. 
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Philadelphia_(UK)_boiler_explosion_1815". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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