Brunton's Mechanical Traveler Explosion

The historical record is scanty but it seems that the Steam Horse operated successfully for an unknown period.

So much so, that another, larger, one seems to have been built for the Newbottle Colliery, in County Durham. This locomotive cost £540 and may have had two cylinders. During 1814 and 1815 it hauled loads up a 1 in 36 gradient at 3 miles per hour (4.8 km/h), but the colliery owners were not happy with it. On 31 July 1815, during a demonstration, the new wrought iron boiler exploded, killing thirteen spectators and injuring several others, and the idea was not pursued. This incident was the first recorded railway disaster.

According to Marshall Brunton was born in Lochwinnoch on 26 May 1777 and died in Camborne on 5 October 1851. He is a contemporary of Blenkinsop. Dendy Marshall notes that he was a mechanic at Boulton & Watt between 1796 and 1808 and left there for the Butterley Ironworks. William Brunton devised a four-wheel steam locomotive the drive of which was transmitted by levers to two walking feet: this was patented (3700 Method and machinery for drawing or propelling carriages on roads or railways... of 22 May 1813). This machine worked successfully at Newbottle in 1813 or 1814. In 1815 a new boiler was fitted but this exploded, causing several fatalities. This incident, which occurred on 31 July 1815, is regarded as the first railway disaster.

The Engine received a new larger boiler after it was shown that restricting the locomotive to 5 tons was unnecessary and the extra weight would help prevent the locomotive from being lifted off the rails when in operation. Unfortunately on July 31st, it’s first outing with the new boiler, it blew up while surrounded by a large crowd who had come to see the locomotive in action. The boiler was overloaded by the driver through over enthusiasm. The explosion killed a dozen people and injuring several others. This was the first major railway disaster. The locomotive was never repaired as it had become obvious that it was not a practical solution to the adhesion problem.