Sans Pareil was an early steam engine built by Timothy Hackworth and William Hedley which took part in the 1829 Rainhill Trials on the Liverpool and Manchester Railway.


Television SeriesEdit

Sans Pareil was seen in a flashback in the form of illustrations. It completed against Stephen, Novelty, and a horse and cart in a race trial. Following Novelty, Sans Pareil was the last engine to breakdown during the trial run, thus allowing Stephen to win the race. TVS; King of the Railway)

Technical DetailsEdit

Real-life HistoryEdit

Sans Pareil is based on the real Sans Pareil locomotive, that competed against Stephen's basis, Stephenson's Rocket in the Rainhill Trials in 1829. After the trials, the Liverpool and Manchester Railway bought Sans Pareil as well as Rocket. It was subsequently leased to the Bolton and Leigh Railway where it ran until 1844. It was then used as a stationary boiler at the Coppull Colliery, Chorley until 1863. Thereafter, Sans Pareil was restored and presented to the Patent Office Museum in 1864 by John Hick.

The original locomotive now resides at the Shildon Locomotion Museum on static display. A working replica locomotive built in 1980 is now preserved by the National Railway Museum


Sans Pareil is painted light green, with yellow lining and yellow wheels. It also has a black funnel, water barrel and running board.


Sans Pareil is heavily modified compared to its basis. The driver operates from the rear of the engine, standing beside the funnel, rather than on the front as was the case with the prototype. Its front footplate has also been removed to accommodate a face, its boiler is painted a different colour, and it features an added running board. In Stephen's flashback, Sans Pareil was not shown with siderods, appearing to be a 0-2-2 whereas the real engine was a 0-4-0.


  • Sans Pareil's name is French and means 'peerless' or 'without equal'.
  • Sans Pareil came second in the Rainhill Trials because of a cracked cylinder. It was a close call, as it came close to the Rocket's abilities in speed and power in winning.
  • According to historic documents, it is believed that Sans Pareil was intended to push its tender, with the driver standing at the "rear" of the vehicle. In the BBC history which deals with Stephenson's first railway, the replica Sans Pareil is driven in this manner.
  • Stephen's flashback was a recreation of the Rainhill Trials in 1829; the real Sans Pareil competed against Stephenson's Rocket and Novelty. Although Perseverance, another early steam locomotive, and Cyclopede, a horse-powered locomotive, also appeared for the trials, but were not present in the flashback.

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