'Rocket of China', the first locomotive built in China

'Rocket of China', the first locomotive built in China


University of Bristol - Historical Photographs of China reference number: PC27-296. The ‘Rocket of China’ (or ‘Dragon’, as it was known by the Chinese) photographed shortly after its completion in 1881 and before brass mouldings of Chinese dragons were added to the side-tanks. Rocket was the first locomotive built in China and was constructed secretly by Claude Kinder (but with Tong King Sing's knowledge) during the winter of 1880/81 in the Tongshan (Tangshan) workshops of the Kaiping coal mines. Kinder used the boiler and cylinders (8” x 15½”) from portable winding engines, channel iron and other scrap materials to construct the engine. The chilled-iron wheels, made by Whitney & Son of Philadelphia, were purchased as scrap. The wheel-base was 8 ft 4 inches having six wheels, four coupled. Kinder himself briefly describes this engine in his own paper presented to the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1890. A more thorough description is provided in chapter XV of James H. Wilson’s book ‘China – Travels and Investigations in the Middle Kingdom’. See PC27-025.






Black and white photograph


P.A. Crush Chinese Railway Collection

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