George Stephenson

George Stephenson

Discussion
Ask a question about 'George Stephenson'
Start a new discussion about 'George Stephenson'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
George Stephenson was an English
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 civil engineer
Civil engineer
A civil engineer is a person who practices civil engineering; the application of planning, designing, constructing, maintaining, and operating infrastructures while protecting the public and environmental health, as well as improving existing infrastructures that have been neglected.Originally, a...

 and mechanical engineer
Mechanical engineering
Mechanical engineering is a discipline of engineering that applies the principles of physics and materials science for analysis, design, manufacturing, and maintenance of mechanical systems. It is the branch of engineering that involves the production and usage of heat and mechanical power for the...

 who built the first public railway line in the world to use steam
Steam engine
A steam engine is a heat engine that performs mechanical work using steam as its working fluid.Steam engines are external combustion engines, where the working fluid is separate from the combustion products. Non-combustion heat sources such as solar power, nuclear power or geothermal energy may be...

 locomotive
Locomotive
A locomotive is a railway vehicle that provides the motive power for a train. The word originates from the Latin loco – "from a place", ablative of locus, "place" + Medieval Latin motivus, "causing motion", and is a shortened form of the term locomotive engine, first used in the early 19th...

s. Renowned as being the "Father of Railways", the Victorians
Victorian era
The Victorian era of British history was the period of Queen Victoria's reign from 20 June 1837 until her death on 22 January 1901. It was a long period of peace, prosperity, refined sensibilities and national self-confidence...

 considered him a great example of diligent application and thirst for improvement, with self-help
Self-help
Self-help, or self-improvement, is a self-guided improvement—economically, intellectually, or emotionally—often with a substantial psychological basis. There are many different self-help movements and each has its own focus, techniques, associated beliefs, proponents and in some cases, leaders...

 advocate Samuel Smiles
Samuel Smiles
-Early life:Born in Haddington, East Lothian, Scotland, the son of Samuel Smiles of Haddington and Janet Wilson of Dalkeith, Smiles was one of eleven surviving children. The family were strict Cameronians, though when Smiles grew up he was not one of them...

 particularly praising his achievements. His rail gauge
Rail gauge
Track gauge or rail gauge is the distance between the inner sides of the heads of the two load bearing rails that make up a single railway line. Sixty percent of the world's railways use a standard gauge of . Wider gauges are called broad gauge; smaller gauges, narrow gauge. Break-of-gauge refers...

 of 4 foot, sometimes called "Stephenson gauge", is the world's standard gauge
Standard gauge
The standard gauge is a widely-used track gauge . Approximately 60% of the world's existing railway lines are built to this gauge...

.

Early life



George Stephenson was born in Wylam
Wylam
 Wylam is a small village about west of Newcastle upon Tyne. It is located in the county of Northumberland.It is famous for the being the birthplace of George Stephenson, one of the early rail pioneers. George Stephenson's Birthplace is his cottage that can be found on the north bank of the...

, Northumberland
Northumberland
Northumberland is the northernmost ceremonial county and a unitary district in North East England. For Eurostat purposes Northumberland is a NUTS 3 region and is one of three boroughs or unitary districts that comprise the "Northumberland and Tyne and Wear" NUTS 2 region...

, 9.3 miles (15 km) west of Newcastle upon Tyne
Newcastle upon Tyne
Newcastle upon Tyne is a city and metropolitan borough of Tyne and Wear, in North East England. Historically a part of Northumberland, it is situated on the north bank of the River Tyne...

. He was the second child of Robert and Mabel, neither of whom could read or write. Robert was the fireman for Wylam Colliery pumping engine, earning a low wage, so that there was no money for schooling. At 17, Stephenson became an engineman at Water Row Pit, Newburn
Newburn
Newburn is a semi rural village, parish, electoral ward and former urban district in western Tyne and Wear, North East England. Situated on the banks of the River Tyne, it is built rising up the valley from the river...

. George realised the value of education and paid to study at night school to learn reading, writing and arithmetic—he was illiterate till the age of 18. In 1801 he began work at Black Callerton colliery as a 'brakesman', controlling the winding gear of the pit. In 1802 he married Frances (Fanny) Henderson and moved to Willington Quay, east of Newcastle. There he worked as a brakesman while they lived in one room of a cottage. George made shoes and mended clocks to supplement his income.
In 1803 their son Robert
Robert Stephenson
Robert Stephenson FRS was an English civil engineer. He was the only son of George Stephenson, the famed locomotive builder and railway engineer; many of the achievements popularly credited to his father were actually the joint efforts of father and son.-Early life :He was born on the 16th of...

 was born, and in 1804 they moved to West Moor
West Moor
West Moor is a small place in Tyne and Wear, UK.West Moor began as a colliery village around the beginning of the nineteenth century. It was so-called because it lies to the west of the ancient Killingworth Moor, which has now disappeared under development. It was at the colliery here in 1804 that...

, near Killingworth
Killingworth
Killingworth, formerly Killingworth Township, is a town north of Newcastle Upon Tyne, in North Tyneside, United Kingdom.Built as a planned town in the 1960s, most of Killingworth's residents commute to Newcastle, or the city's surrounding area. However, Killingworth itself has a sizeable...

 while George worked as a brakesman at Killingworth pit. His wife gave birth to a daughter, who died after a few weeks, and in 1806 Fanny died of consumption (tuberculosis). George then decided to find work in Scotland, and he left Robert with a local woman while he went to work in Montrose
Montrose, Angus
Montrose is a coastal resort town and former royal burgh in Angus, Scotland. It is situated 38 miles north of Dundee between the mouths of the North and South Esk rivers...

. After a few months he returned, probably because his father was blinded in a mining accident. George moved back into his cottage at West Moor and his unmarried sister Eleanor moved in to look after Robert. In 1811 the pumping engine at High Pit, Killingworth was not working properly and Stephenson offered to fix it. He did so with such success that he was soon promoted to enginewright for the neighbouring collieries at Killingworth, responsible for maintaining and repairing all of the colliery engines. He soon became an expert in steam-driven machinery.

The miners' safety lamp



In 1815, aware of the explosions often caused in mines by naked flames, Stephenson began to experiment with a safety lamp
Safety lamp
A safety lamp is any of several types of lamp, which are designed to be safe to use in coal mines. These lamps are designed to operate in air that may contain coal dust, methane, or firedamp, all of which are potentially flammable or explosive...

 that would burn without causing an explosion. At the same time, Cornishman Sir Humphry Davy
Humphry Davy
Sir Humphry Davy, 1st Baronet FRS MRIA was a British chemist and inventor. He is probably best remembered today for his discoveries of several alkali and alkaline earth metals, as well as contributions to the discoveries of the elemental nature of chlorine and iodine...

, the eminent scientist was looking at the problem himself. Despite his lack of any scientific knowledge, Stephenson, by trial and error, devised a lamp in which the air entered via tiny holes. Stephenson demonstrated the lamp himself to two witnesses by taking it down Killingworth colliery and holding it directly in front of a fissure from which fire damp was issuing. This was a month before Davy presented his design to the Royal Society
Royal Society
The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, known simply as the Royal Society, is a learned society for science, and is possibly the oldest such society in existence. Founded in November 1660, it was granted a Royal Charter by King Charles II as the "Royal Society of London"...

. The two designs differed in that, the Davy's lamp was surrounded by a screen of gauze, whereas Stephenson's lamp was contained in a glass cylinder. For his invention Davy was awarded £2,000, whilst Stephenson was accused of stealing the idea from Davy. A local committee of enquiry exonerated Stephenson, proved that he had been working separately and awarded him £1,000 but Davy and his supporters refused to accept this. They could not see how an uneducated man such as Stephenson could come up with the solution that he had. In 1833 a House of Commons
British House of Commons
The House of Commons is the lower house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which also comprises the Sovereign and the House of Lords . Both Commons and Lords meet in the Palace of Westminster. The Commons is a democratically elected body, consisting of 650 members , who are known as Members...

 committee found that Stephenson had equal claim to having invented the safety lamp. Davy went to his grave believing that Stephenson had stolen his idea. The Stephenson lamp was used exclusively in the North East, whereas the Davy lamp was used everywhere else. The experience with Davy gave Stephenson a life-long distrust of London-based, theoretical, scientific experts.

There is a theory that it was Stephenson who indirectly gave the name of Geordie
Geordie
Geordie is a regional nickname for a person from the Tyneside region of the north east of England, or the name of the English-language dialect spoken by its inhabitants...

s
to the people of Tyneside. By this theory, the name of the Geordie lamp
Geordie lamp
The Geordie lamp was invented by George Stephenson in 1815 as a solution to explosions due to firedamp in coal mines.Although controversy arose between Stephenson's design and the Davy lamp, , Stephenson's original design worked on significantly different principles...

attached to the pit men themselves. By 1866 any native of Tyneside
Tyneside
Tyneside is a conurbation in North East England, defined by the Office of National Statistics, which is home to over 80% of the population of Tyne and Wear. It includes the city of Newcastle upon Tyne and the Metropolitan Boroughs of Gateshead, North Tyneside and South Tyneside — all settlements on...

 could be called a Geordie..

Early locomotives


Cornishman Richard Trevithick
Richard Trevithick
Richard Trevithick was a British inventor and mining engineer from Cornwall. His most significant success was the high pressure steam engine and he also built the first full-scale working railway steam locomotive...

 is credited with the first realistic design of the steam locomotive in 1804. Later, he visited Tyneside and built an engine there for a mine-owner. Several local men were inspired by this, and designed engines of their own.
Stephenson designed his first locomotive in 1814, a travelling engine designed for hauling coal on the Killingworth wagonway, and named Blücher
Blücher (locomotive)
Blücher was an early railway locomotive built in 1814 by George Stephenson for Killingworth Colliery. It was the first of a series of locomotives that he designed in the period 1814-16 which established his reputation as an engine designer and laid the foundations for his subsequent pivotal role in...

after the Prussia
Prussia
Prussia was a German kingdom and historic state originating out of the Duchy of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organized and effective army. Prussia shaped the history...

n general Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher
Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher
Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher, Fürst von Wahlstatt , Graf , later elevated to Fürst von Wahlstatt, was a Prussian Generalfeldmarschall who led his army against Napoleon I at the Battle of the Nations at Leipzig in 1813 and at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 with the Duke of Wellington.He is...

. It was constructed in the colliery workshop behind Stephenson's home, Dial Cottage, on Great Lime Road. This locomotive could haul 30 tons of coal up a hill at 4 mi/h, and was the first successful flanged-wheel adhesion locomotive: its traction depended only on the contact between its flanged wheels and the rail. Altogether, Stephenson is said to have produced 16 locomotives at Killingworth, although it has never proved possible to produce a convincing list of all 16. Of those that have been identified most were built for use at Killingworth itself or for the Hetton colliery railway
Hetton colliery railway
The Hetton colliery railway was an 8-mile-long private railway opened in 1822 by the Hetton Coal Company at Hetton Lyons, County Durham, England. It was the first to be designed from the start to be operated without animal power, and was George Stephenson's first entirely new line. When it closed...

. A six-wheeled locomotive was built for the Kilmarnock and Troon Railway
Kilmarnock and Troon Railway
The Kilmarnock and Troon Railway was the first railway line in Scotland authorised by Act of Parliament, in 1808; the engineer was William Jessop. It was the first railway in Scotland to use a steam locomotive; and it was the only one in Scotland for fourteen years...

 in 1817 but it was soon withdrawn from service because of damage to the cast iron rails. A further locomotive was supplied to Scott's Pit railroad at Llansamlet
Llansamlet
Llansamlet is the name of an electoral ward and a coterminous community City and County of Swansea, Wales, UK. Llansamlet does not have a community council....

, near Swansea
Swansea
Swansea is a coastal city and county in Wales. Swansea is in the historic county boundaries of Glamorgan. Situated on the sandy South West Wales coast, the county area includes the Gower Peninsula and the Lliw uplands...

 in 1819 but it too was soon withdrawn, apparently because it was under-boilered and also because of damage to the track.
The new engines were too heavy to be run on wooden rails, and iron rails were in their infancy, with cast iron
Cast iron
Cast iron is derived from pig iron, and while it usually refers to gray iron, it also identifies a large group of ferrous alloys which solidify with a eutectic. The color of a fractured surface can be used to identify an alloy. White cast iron is named after its white surface when fractured, due...

 exhibiting excessive brittleness. Together with William Losh
William Losh
William Losh was a chemist and industrialist who is credited with introducing the Leblanc process for the manufacture of alkali to the United Kingdom....

, Stephenson improved the design of cast iron rails to reduce breakage. According to Rolt, he also managed to solve the problem caused by the weight of the engine upon these primitive rails. He experimented with a 'steam spring' (to 'cushion' the weight using steam pressure), but soon followed the new practice of 'distributing' weight by utilising a number of wheels. For the Stockton and Darlington Railway
Stockton and Darlington Railway
The Stockton and Darlington Railway , which opened in 1825, was the world's first publicly subscribed passenger railway. It was 26 miles long, and was built in north-eastern England between Witton Park and Stockton-on-Tees via Darlington, and connected to several collieries near Shildon...

, however, Stephenson would use only wrought iron
Wrought iron
thumb|The [[Eiffel tower]] is constructed from [[puddle iron]], a form of wrought ironWrought iron is an iron alloy with a very low carbon...

 rails, notwithstanding the financial loss he would suffer from not using his own, patented design (see below).

Stephenson was hired to build an 8-mile (13-km) railway from Hetton colliery
Hetton colliery railway
The Hetton colliery railway was an 8-mile-long private railway opened in 1822 by the Hetton Coal Company at Hetton Lyons, County Durham, England. It was the first to be designed from the start to be operated without animal power, and was George Stephenson's first entirely new line. When it closed...

 to Sunderland
City of Sunderland
The City of Sunderland is a local government district of Tyne and Wear, in North East England, with the status of a city and metropolitan borough...

 in 1820. The finished result used a combination of gravity on downward inclines and locomotives for level and upward stretches. It was the first railway using no animal power.

Other locomotives include:
  • 1817-1848 The Duke for the Kilmarnock and Troon Railway
    Kilmarnock and Troon Railway
    The Kilmarnock and Troon Railway was the first railway line in Scotland authorised by Act of Parliament, in 1808; the engineer was William Jessop. It was the first railway in Scotland to use a steam locomotive; and it was the only one in Scotland for fourteen years...


Stockton and Darlington Railway



In 1821, a parliamentary bill was passed to allow the building of the Stockton and Darlington Railway
Stockton and Darlington Railway
The Stockton and Darlington Railway , which opened in 1825, was the world's first publicly subscribed passenger railway. It was 26 miles long, and was built in north-eastern England between Witton Park and Stockton-on-Tees via Darlington, and connected to several collieries near Shildon...

 (S&DR). The 25 miles (40.2 km) railway was intended to connect various collieries situated near Bishop Auckland
Bishop Auckland
Bishop Auckland is a market town and civil parish in County Durham in north east England. It is located about northwest of Darlington and southwest of Durham at the confluence of the River Wear with its tributary the River Gaunless...

 to the River Tees
River Tees
The River Tees is in Northern England. It rises on the eastern slope of Cross Fell in the North Pennines, and flows eastwards for 85 miles to reach the North Sea between Hartlepool and Redcar.-Geography:...

 at Stockton
Stockton-on-Tees
Stockton-on-Tees is a market town in north east England. It is the major settlement in the unitary authority and borough of Stockton-on-Tees. For ceremonial purposes, the borough is split between County Durham and North Yorkshire as it also incorporates a number of smaller towns including...

, passing through Darlington
Darlington
Darlington is a market town in the Borough of Darlington, part of the ceremonial county of County Durham, England. It lies on the small River Skerne, a tributary of the River Tees, not far from the main river. It is the main population centre in the borough, with a population of 97,838 as of 2001...

 on the way. The original plan was to use horses to draw coal carts on metal rails, but after company director Edward Pease
Edward Pease (1767-1858)
Edward Pease , a woollen manufacturer from Darlington, England, was the main promoter of the Stockton and Darlington Railway, which opened in 1825.-Background and education:...

 met Stephenson he agreed to change the plans.
Stephenson surveyed the line in 1821, assisted by his eighteen-year-old son Robert. That same year construction of the line began.
A manufacturer was now needed to provide the locomotives for the new line. As it turned out, Pease and Stephenson jointly established a company in Newcastle to manufacture locomotives. The company was set up as Robert Stephenson and Company
Robert Stephenson and Company
Robert Stephenson and Company was a locomotive manufacturing company founded in 1823. It was the first company set up specifically to build railway engines.- Foundation and early success :...

, and George's son Robert was the managing director. A fourth partner was Michael Longridge of Bedlington Ironworks
Bedlington Ironworks
Bedlington Ironworks, in Blyth Dene, Northumberland, England, operated between 1736 and 1867. It is most remembered as the place where wrought iron rails were invented by John Birkinshaw in 1820, which triggered the railway age, with their first major use being in the Stockton and Darlington...

. On an early trade card, Robert Stephenson & Co were described as "Engineers, Millwrights & Machinists, Brass & Iron Founders". In September 1825 the works at Forth Street, Newcastle completed the first locomotive for the new railway: originally named Active, it was soon renamed Locomotion
Locomotion No 1
Locomotion No. 1 is an early British steam locomotive. Built by George and Robert Stephenson's company Robert Stephenson and Company in 1825, it hauled the first train on the Stockton and Darlington Railway on 27 September 1825....

. It was followed by "Hope", "Diligence" and "Black Diamond". The Stockton and Darlington Railway opened on 27 September 1825. Driven by Stephenson, Locomotion hauled an 80-ton load of coal and flour nine miles (15 km) in two hours, reaching a speed of 24 miles per hour (39 km/h) on one stretch. The first purpose-built passenger car, dubbed Experiment, was attached, and carried dignitaries on the opening journey. It was the first time passenger traffic had been run on a steam locomotive railway.

The rails used for the new line were wrought-iron ones, produced by John Birkinshaw
John Birkinshaw
John Birkinshaw was a 19th Century railway engineer from Bedlington, Northumberland noted for his invention of wrought iron rails in 1820. Up to this point, rail systems had used either wooden rails, which were totally incapable of supporting steam engines, or cast iron rails typically only 3 feet...

 at the Bedlington Ironworks
Bedlington Ironworks
Bedlington Ironworks, in Blyth Dene, Northumberland, England, operated between 1736 and 1867. It is most remembered as the place where wrought iron rails were invented by John Birkinshaw in 1820, which triggered the railway age, with their first major use being in the Stockton and Darlington...

. Wrought-iron rails could be produced in much longer lengths than the cast-iron ones and were much less liable to crack under the weight of heavy locomotives. William Losh
William Losh
William Losh was a chemist and industrialist who is credited with introducing the Leblanc process for the manufacture of alkali to the United Kingdom....

 of Walker Ironworks had thought that he had an agreement with Stephenson to use his cast-iron rails, and Stephenson's decision caused a permanent rift between the two men. The gauge that Stephenson chose for the line was 4 foot, and this subsequently came to be adopted as the standard gauge for railways, not only in Britain, but also throughout the world.

Liverpool and Manchester Railway


Stephenson had ascertained by experiments at Killingworth that half of the power of the locomotive was consumed by a gradient as little as 1 in 260. He came to the conclusion that railways should be kept as level as possible. He used this knowledge while working on the Bolton and Leigh Railway
Bolton and Leigh Railway
The Bolton and Leigh Railway was the first public railway in the historic county of Lancashire, England. It opened in 1828 for goods.-History:...

, and the Liverpool and Manchester Railway
Liverpool and Manchester Railway
The Liverpool and Manchester Railway was the world's first inter-city passenger railway in which all the trains were timetabled and were hauled for most of the distance solely by steam locomotives. The line opened on 15 September 1830 and ran between the cities of Liverpool and Manchester in North...

 (L&MR), executing a series of difficult cuts, embankments and stone viaducts to smooth the route the railways took. Defective surveying of the original route of the L&MR caused by the hostility of some of the affected landowners meant that Stephenson encountered difficulty during Parliamentary scrutiny of the original bill, especially under cross-examination
Cross-examination
In law, cross-examination is the interrogation of a witness called by one's opponent. It is preceded by direct examination and may be followed by a redirect .- Variations by Jurisdiction :In...

 by Edward Hall Alderson
Edward Hall Alderson
Sir Edward Hall Alderson was an English lawyer and judge whose many judgments on commercial law helped to shape the emerging British capitalism of the Victorian era....

. The Bill was rejected. A revised bill with a new alignment was submitted and passed in a subsequent session. The revised alignment presented a considerable problem: the crossing of Chat Moss
Chat Moss
Chat Moss is a large area of peat bog that makes up 30 percent of the City of Salford, in Greater Manchester, England. It is north of the River Irwell, to the west of Manchester, and occupies an area of about...

, an apparently bottomless peat bog, which Stephenson eventually overcame by unusual means, effectively floating the line across it. The method he used was almost exactly the same as that used by John Metcalf
John Metcalf
John Metcalf may refer to:* John Metcalf , British civil engineer* John Metcalf , Canadian writer and editor* John Metcalf , NASCAR series driver, see 1999 NASCAR Winston Cup Series...

 during his construction of many miles of road through marshes in the Pennines. He would lay a foundation of heather and branches bound together by the weight of the passing coaches with a layer of stones on top.

As the L&MR approached completion in 1829, its directors arranged for a competition to decide who would build its locomotives, and the Rainhill Trials
Rainhill Trials
The Rainhill Trials were an important competition in the early days of steam locomotive railways, run in October 1829 in Rainhill, Lancashire for the nearly completed Liverpool and Manchester Railway....

 were run in October 1829. Entries could weigh no more than six tons and had to travel along the track for a total distance of 60 miles (96.6 km). Stephenson's entry was Rocket
Stephenson's Rocket
Stephenson's Rocket was an early steam locomotive of 0-2-2 wheel arrangement, built in Newcastle Upon Tyne at the Forth Street Works of Robert Stephenson and Company in 1829.- Design innovations :...

, and its performance in winning the contest made it famous. George's son Robert had been working in South America from 1824 to 1827 and had returned to run the Forth Street Works while George was living in Liverpool
Liverpool
Liverpool is a city and metropolitan borough of Merseyside, England, along the eastern side of the Mersey Estuary. It was founded as a borough in 1207 and was granted city status in 1880...

 and overseeing the construction of the new line. Robert was very much responsible for the detailed design of Rocket, although he was in constant postal communication with George, who made many suggestions on the design. One significant innovation was the use of a fire-tube boiler
Fire-tube boiler
A fire-tube boiler is a type of boiler in which hot gases from a fire pass through one or more tubes running through a sealed container of water...

, invented by French engineer Marc Seguin
Marc Seguin
Marc Seguin was a French engineer, inventor of the wire-cable suspension bridge and the multi-tubular steam-engine boiler.- Biography :...

 that gave improved heat exchange. This was suggested by Henry Booth
Henry Booth
Henry Booth was born in Rodney Street, Liverpool, England. A descendant of the Booths of Twemlow, he was a corn merchant, businessman and engineer....

, the treasurer of the L&MR.

The opening ceremony of the L&MR
Opening of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway
The opening of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway took place on 15 September 1830. Work on the L&M had begun in the 1820s, to connect the major industrial city of Manchester with the nearest deep water port at the Port of Liverpool, away...

, on 15 September 1830, was a considerable event, drawing luminaries from the government and industry, including the Prime Minister, the Duke of Wellington
Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington
Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, KG, GCB, GCH, PC, FRS , was an Irish-born British soldier and statesman, and one of the leading military and political figures of the 19th century...

. The day started with a procession of eight trains setting out from Liverpool. The parade was led by "Northumbrian"
Northumbrian (locomotive)
Northumbrian was an early steam locomotive built by Robert Stephenson in 1830 and used at the opening of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway. It was the last of Stephenson's 0-2-2 locomotives in the style of Rocket, but it introduced several innovations...

 driven by George Stephenson, and included "Phoenix" driven by his son Robert, "North Star" driven by his brother Robert and "Rocket" driven by assistant engineer Joseph Locke
Joseph Locke
Joseph Locke was a notable English civil engineer of the 19th century, particularly associated with railway projects...

. The day was marred by the death of William Huskisson
William Huskisson
William Huskisson PC was a British statesman, financier, and Member of Parliament for several constituencies, including Liverpool...

, the Member of Parliament
Member of Parliament
A Member of Parliament is a representative of the voters to a :parliament. In many countries with bicameral parliaments, the term applies specifically to members of the lower house, as upper houses often have a different title, such as senate, and thus also have different titles for its members,...

 for Liverpool
Liverpool
Liverpool is a city and metropolitan borough of Merseyside, England, along the eastern side of the Mersey Estuary. It was founded as a borough in 1207 and was granted city status in 1880...

, who was struck and killed by Rocket. Stephenson in person evacuated the injured Huskisson to Eccles
Eccles, Greater Manchester
Eccles is a town in the City of Salford, a metropolitan borough of Greater Manchester in North West England, west of Salford and west of Manchester city centre...

 with a train, but the injury was beyond help. Despite this tragedy the railway was a resounding success. Stephenson became famous, and was offered the position of chief engineer for a wide variety of other railways.

Stephenson's skew arch bridge



1830 also saw the grand opening of the skew bridge
Skew arch
A skew arch is a method of construction that enables an arch bridge to span an obstacle at some angle other than a right angle. This results in the faces of the arch not being perpendicular to its abutments and its plan view being a parallelogram, rather than the rectangle that is the plan view of...

 in Rainhill as part of the grand opening of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway
Liverpool and Manchester Railway
The Liverpool and Manchester Railway was the world's first inter-city passenger railway in which all the trains were timetabled and were hauled for most of the distance solely by steam locomotives. The line opened on 15 September 1830 and ran between the cities of Liverpool and Manchester in North...

. The bridge was the first to cross any railway at an angle. This required the structure to be constructed as two flat planes (overlapping in this case by 6') between which the stonework forms a parallelogram shape when viewed from above. This has the effect of flattening the arch and the solution is to lay the bricks forming the arch at an angle to the abutments (the piers on which the arches rest). This technique, which results in a spiral effect in the arch masonry, provides extra strength in the arch to compensate for the angled abutments.

The bridge is still in use at Rainhill railway station
Rainhill railway station
Rainhill railway station serves the district of Rainhill in Merseyside, England. It is situated on the northern route of the Liverpool to Manchester Line, forming part of the Liverpool City Line. The original Liverpool and Manchester Railway which opened in 1830...

, and carries traffic on the busy A57 (Warrington Road). The bridge is now a listed structure.

Later career


The next ten years were the busiest of Stephenson's life, as he was besieged with requests from railway promoters. Many of the first American railroad builders came to Newcastle to learn from Stephenson, and indeed, the first dozen or so locomotives utilized in the U.S. were purchased from the Stephenson shops. Other talented men were starting to make their marks, such as his son Robert, his pupil Joseph Locke
Joseph Locke
Joseph Locke was a notable English civil engineer of the 19th century, particularly associated with railway projects...

 and finally Isambard Kingdom Brunel
Isambard Kingdom Brunel
Isambard Kingdom Brunel, FRS , was a British civil engineer who built bridges and dockyards including the construction of the first major British railway, the Great Western Railway; a series of steamships, including the first propeller-driven transatlantic steamship; and numerous important bridges...

. His conservative views on the capabilities of locomotives meant that he favoured circuitous routes and civil engineering that were more costly than his successors thought necessary. For example, rather than the West Coast Main Line
West Coast Main Line
The West Coast Main Line is the busiest mixed-traffic railway route in Britain, being the country's most important rail backbone in terms of population served. Fast, long-distance inter-city passenger services are provided between London, the West Midlands, the North West, North Wales and the...

 taking the direct route favoured by Joseph Locke
Joseph Locke
Joseph Locke was a notable English civil engineer of the 19th century, particularly associated with railway projects...

 over Shap
Lancaster and Carlisle Railway
The Lancaster and Carlisle Railway was a British railway company authorised on 6 June 1844 to build a line between Lancaster and Carlisle in North-West England...

 between Lancaster
City of Lancaster
The City of Lancaster , is a local government district of Lancashire, England, with the status of a city and non-metropolitan district. It is named after its largest settlement, Lancaster, but covers a far larger area which includes the towns of Morecambe, Heysham, and Carnforth, as well as...

 and Carlisle, Stephenson was in favour of a longer sea-level route via Ulverston
Ulverston
Ulverston is a market town and civil parish in the South Lakeland district of Cumbria in north-west England. Historically part of Lancashire, the town is located in the Furness area, close to the Lake District, and just north of Morecambe Bay....

 and Whitehaven
Whitehaven
Whitehaven is a small town and port on the coast of Cumbria, England, which lies equidistant between the county's two largest settlements, Carlisle and Barrow-in-Furness, and is served by the Cumbrian Coast Line and the A595 road...

. Locke's route was the one built. Stephenson also tended to be more casual in estimating costs and paperwork in general. He worked with Joseph Locke on the Grand Junction Railway
Grand Junction Railway
The Grand Junction Railway was an early railway company in the United Kingdom, which existed between 1833 and 1846 when it was merged into the London and North Western Railway...

 with one half of the line allocated to each man. Stephenson's estimates and organising ability proved to be inferior to those of Locke and the board's dis-satisfaction led to Stephenson's resignation. This caused a rift between Stephenson and Locke, which was never healed.

Despite Stephenson's losing some routes to competitors due to his caution, he was offered more work than he could cope with, and was unable to accept offers for additional work. He worked on the North Midland
North Midland Railway
The North Midland Railway was a British railway company, which opened its line from Derby to Rotherham and Leeds in 1840.At Derby it connected with the Birmingham and Derby Junction Railway and the Midland Counties Railway at what became known as the Tri Junct Station...

 line from Derby to Leeds, the York and North Midland
York and North Midland Railway
The York and North Midland Railway was a railway company in the United Kingdom which opened in 1839, connecting York, with the Leeds and Selby Railway and in 1840 with the North Midland Railway at Normanton near Leeds.-Origins:...

 line from Normanton to York, the Manchester and Leeds
Manchester and Leeds Railway
The Manchester and Leeds Railway was a railway company in the United Kingdom which opened in 1839, connecting Manchester with Leeds via the North Midland Railway which it joined at Normanton....

, the Birmingham and Derby
Birmingham and Derby Junction Railway
The Birmingham and Derby Junction Railway was a British railway company. From Birmingham it connected at Derby with the North Midland Railway and the Midland Counties Railway at what became known as the Tri Junct Station...

, the Sheffield and Rotherham
Sheffield and Rotherham Railway
The Sheffield and Rotherham Railway was a short railway between Sheffield and Rotherham and the first in the two towns.In the early nineteenth century, when news broke of the building of the North Midland Railway, it was clear that George Stephenson would follow the gentle gradient of the Rivers...

 among many others.

Stephenson tended to become a reassuring name, rather than a cutting-edge technical adviser. He was the first president of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers
Institution of Mechanical Engineers
The Institution of Mechanical Engineers is the British engineering society based in central London, representing mechanical engineering. It is licensed by the Engineering Council UK to assess candidates for inclusion on ECUK's Register of professional Engineers...

 on its formation in 1847. He had by this time settled into semi-retirement, supervising his mining interests in Derbyshire - tunnelling work for the North Midland Railway
North Midland Railway
The North Midland Railway was a British railway company, which opened its line from Derby to Rotherham and Leeds in 1840.At Derby it connected with the Birmingham and Derby Junction Railway and the Midland Counties Railway at what became known as the Tri Junct Station...

 had revealed unworked coal seams, and Stephenson put much of his money into their exploitation.

Personal life


George first courted Elizabeth (Betty) Hindmarsh, a farmer's daughter from Black Callerton, whom he would meet secretly in her orchard. Her father Thomas refused marriage because of Stephenson's lowly status as a miner. George next paid attention to Anne Henderson where he lodged with her family, but when she also rejected him he transferred his attentions to her sister Frances (Fanny), who was nine years his senior.

George and Fanny married at Newburn Church on 28 November 1802. They had two children Robert
Robert Stephenson
Robert Stephenson FRS was an English civil engineer. He was the only son of George Stephenson, the famed locomotive builder and railway engineer; many of the achievements popularly credited to his father were actually the joint efforts of father and son.-Early life :He was born on the 16th of...

 (1803) and Fanny (1805) but the girl died within weeks, and George's wife died, probably of consumption, the year after. While George was away working in Scotland, Robert was brought up by a succession of neighbours and then by George's unmarried sister Eleanor (Nelly), who continued living with them in Killingworth on George's return.

On 29 March 1820, George (now considerably wealthier) was finally allowed to marry Betty Hindmarsh at Newburn. The marriage seems to have been a happy one, but there were no children from this union, and Betty died in 1845.

On 11 January 1848, at St John's Church in Shrewsbury
Shrewsbury
Shrewsbury is the county town of Shropshire, in the West Midlands region of England. Lying on the River Severn, it is a civil parish home to some 70,000 inhabitants, and is the primary settlement and headquarters of Shropshire Council...

, George married for the third time, to Ellen Gregory, another farmer's daughter originally from Bakewell
Bakewell
Bakewell is a small market town in the Derbyshire Dales district of Derbyshire, England, deriving its name from 'Beadeca's Well'. It is the only town included in the Peak District National Park, and is well known for the local confection Bakewell Pudding...

 in Derbyshire, who had been his housekeeper. Six months after his wedding, George contracted pleurisy
Pleurisy
Pleurisy is an inflammation of the pleura, the lining of the pleural cavity surrounding the lungs. Among other things, infections are the most common cause of pleurisy....

 and died, aged 67, on 12 August 1848 at Tapton House
Tapton House
Tapton House, situated in Tapton, Chesterfield, Derbyshire, England, was once the home of engineer George Stephenson, who built the first public railway line in the world to use steam locomotives...

 in Chesterfield
Chesterfield
Chesterfield is a market town and a borough of Derbyshire, England. It lies north of Derby, on a confluence of the rivers Rother and Hipper. Its population is 70,260 , making it Derbyshire's largest town...

, Derbyshire
Derbyshire
Derbyshire is a county in the East Midlands of England. A substantial portion of the Peak District National Park lies within Derbyshire. The northern part of Derbyshire overlaps with the Pennines, a famous chain of hills and mountains. The county contains within its boundary of approx...

. He was buried at Holy Trinity Church, Chesterfield, alongside his second wife.

Descendants


George Stephenson had two children:
  • Robert
    Robert Stephenson
    Robert Stephenson FRS was an English civil engineer. He was the only son of George Stephenson, the famed locomotive builder and railway engineer; many of the achievements popularly credited to his father were actually the joint efforts of father and son.-Early life :He was born on the 16th of...

     was born on 16 October 1803 and married Frances Sanderson, daughter of a City of London professional John Sanderson, on 17 June 1829. Robert died in 1859 having no children.
  • His daughter was born in 1805 but died within weeks of her birth.

Legacy


Britain led the world in the development of railways and this acted as a stimulus for the industrial revolution, by facilitating the transport of raw materials and manufactured goods. George Stephenson cannot claim to have invented the locomotive. Richard Trevithick
Richard Trevithick
Richard Trevithick was a British inventor and mining engineer from Cornwall. His most significant success was the high pressure steam engine and he also built the first full-scale working railway steam locomotive...

 deserves that credit. George Stephenson, with his work on the Stockton and Darlington Railway and the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, paved the way for the railway engineers who were to follow, such as his son Robert
Robert Stephenson
Robert Stephenson FRS was an English civil engineer. He was the only son of George Stephenson, the famed locomotive builder and railway engineer; many of the achievements popularly credited to his father were actually the joint efforts of father and son.-Early life :He was born on the 16th of...

, his assistant Joseph Locke
Joseph Locke
Joseph Locke was a notable English civil engineer of the 19th century, particularly associated with railway projects...

 who went on to carry out much work on his own account and Isambard Kingdom Brunel
Isambard Kingdom Brunel
Isambard Kingdom Brunel, FRS , was a British civil engineer who built bridges and dockyards including the construction of the first major British railway, the Great Western Railway; a series of steamships, including the first propeller-driven transatlantic steamship; and numerous important bridges...

. These men were following in his footsteps. Stephenson was also farsighted in realising that the individual lines being built would eventually join together, and would need to have the same gauge. The standard gauge used throughout much of the world is due to him.

Birthplace



George Stephenson's Birthplace
George Stephenson's Birthplace
George Stephenson's Birthplace is the 18th-century stone cottage home of rail pioneer George Stephenson. Located along the north bank of the River Tyne in the village of Wylam, Northumberland, the cottage is owned by the National Trust and is open to the public as a historic house museum...

 is an 18th century historic house museum in the village of Wylam
Wylam
 Wylam is a small village about west of Newcastle upon Tyne. It is located in the county of Northumberland.It is famous for the being the birthplace of George Stephenson, one of the early rail pioneers. George Stephenson's Birthplace is his cottage that can be found on the north bank of the...

, and is operated by the National Trust
National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty
The National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty, usually known as the National Trust, is a conservation organisation in England, Wales and Northern Ireland...

.

Memorabilia


Chesterfield Museum in Chesterfield
Chesterfield
Chesterfield is a market town and a borough of Derbyshire, England. It lies north of Derby, on a confluence of the rivers Rother and Hipper. Its population is 70,260 , making it Derbyshire's largest town...

, Derbyshire
Derbyshire
Derbyshire is a county in the East Midlands of England. A substantial portion of the Peak District National Park lies within Derbyshire. The northern part of Derbyshire overlaps with the Pennines, a famous chain of hills and mountains. The county contains within its boundary of approx...

, has a gallery of Stephenson memorabilia, including the straight thick glass tubes that he invented for the purpose of growing straight cucumber
Cucumber
The cucumber is a widely cultivated plant in the gourd family Cucurbitaceae, which includes squash, and in the same genus as the muskmelon. The plant is a creeping vine which bears cylindrical edible fruit when ripe. There are three main varieties of cucumber: "slicing", "pickling", and...

s.
The museum is located within the Stephenson Memorial Hall (which also incorporates the Pomegranate Theatre, formerly the Chesterfield Civic Theatre) and adjacent to Stephensons Place, located roughly mid distance between Stephenson's final home at Tapton House and his resting place in Trinity Church.

Academic buildings


George Stephenson College
George Stephenson College
Stephenson College is a college of the University of Durham in England, and one of two located at Queen's Campus in Stockton-on-Tees, south of the city of Durham itself...

, founded in 2001 on the University of Durham's
Durham University
The University of Durham, commonly known as Durham University, is a university in Durham, England. It was founded by Act of Parliament in 1832 and granted a Royal Charter in 1837...

 Queen's Campus in Stockton-on-Tees
Stockton-on-Tees
Stockton-on-Tees is a market town in north east England. It is the major settlement in the unitary authority and borough of Stockton-on-Tees. For ceremonial purposes, the borough is split between County Durham and North Yorkshire as it also incorporates a number of smaller towns including...

, is named after him, with the student union bar being named The Rocket. Also named after him and his son is George Stephenson High School
George Stephenson High School
George Stephenson High School is a large secondary school in the English town of Killingworth, North Tyneside.-Admissions:The school provides education to pupils from Killingworth, Backworth, Shiremoor, West Moor,and West Allotment....

 in Killingworth, the Stephenson Railway Museum
Stephenson Railway Museum
The Stephenson Railway Museum is managed by Tyne and Wear Museums on behalf on North Tyneside Council, and is located at Middle Engine Lane in North Shields, England....

 in North Shields
North Shields
North Shields is a town on the north bank of the River Tyne, in the metropolitan borough of North Tyneside, in North East England...

 and the Stephenson Locomotive Society
Stephenson Locomotive Society
The Stephenson Locomotive Society was founded in the UK in Autumn 1909 for the study of rail transport and locomotives.It was originally named The Stephenson Society in honour of George Stephenson. In late 1911 the professional engineers seceded from the Society to form the Junior Institution of...

. The Stephenson Centre, an SEBD Unit of Beaumont Hill School in Darlington, is also named after George Stephenson.

Statues and monuments


As a tribute to his life and works, a bronze statue of Stephenson was unveiled at Chesterfield railway station
Chesterfield railway station
Entrance to the station is on Crow Lane and includes a car park, taxi rank and bus stop. There is also a small car park on the other side of Crow Lane which does not have a parking charge. The main entrance leads to the station concourse, which is very spacious and was built in the late 1990s. It...

 (which is overlooked by Tapton House
Tapton House
Tapton House, situated in Tapton, Chesterfield, Derbyshire, England, was once the home of engineer George Stephenson, who built the first public railway line in the world to use steam locomotives...

, where Stephenson spent the last ten years of his life) on 28 October 2005, marking the completion of improvements to the station. At the event a full-size working replica of the Rocket
Stephenson's Rocket
Stephenson's Rocket was an early steam locomotive of 0-2-2 wheel arrangement, built in Newcastle Upon Tyne at the Forth Street Works of Robert Stephenson and Company in 1829.- Design innovations :...

(Also known as the Bullet) was on show, which then spent two days on public display at the Chesterfield Market Festival. A statue of George dressed in classical robes stands in Neville Street, Newcastle, facing the building that houses the Literary and Philosophical Society and the Mining Institute, and near to Newcastle railway station
Newcastle railway station
Newcastle railway station , is the mainline station of the city of Newcastle upon Tyne, England and is a principal stop on the East Coast Main Line. It opened in 1850 and is a Grade I listed building...

.

Banknotes


From 1990 until 2003, Stephenson's portrait appeared on the reverse of Series E £5 notes issued by the Bank of England
Bank of England note issues
The Bank of England, which is now the Central Bank of the United Kingdom, has issued banknotes since 1694. Since 1970, its new series of notes have featured portraits of British historical figures. Of the eight banks authorised to issue banknotes in the UK, only the Bank of England can issue...

. Stephenson's face is shown alongside an engraving of his Rocket steam engine and the Skerne Bridge on the Stockton to Darlington Railway. His image was replaced in 2003 by that of Elizabeth Fry
Elizabeth Fry
Elizabeth Fry , née Gurney, was an English prison reformer, social reformer and, as a Quaker, a Christian philanthropist...

.

See also

  • History of Science and Technology
    History of science and technology
    The history of science and technology is a field of history which examines how humanity's understanding of the natural world and ability to manipulate it have changed over the centuries...

  • Industrial Revolution
    Industrial Revolution
    The Industrial Revolution was a period from the 18th to the 19th century where major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and technology had a profound effect on the social, economic and cultural conditions of the times...

  • Train
    Train
    A train is a connected series of vehicles for rail transport that move along a track to transport cargo or passengers from one place to another place. The track usually consists of two rails, but might also be a monorail or maglev guideway.Propulsion for the train is provided by a separate...

  • Robert Stephenson
    Robert Stephenson
    Robert Stephenson FRS was an English civil engineer. He was the only son of George Stephenson, the famed locomotive builder and railway engineer; many of the achievements popularly credited to his father were actually the joint efforts of father and son.-Early life :He was born on the 16th of...

  • Robert Stephenson and Company
    Robert Stephenson and Company
    Robert Stephenson and Company was a locomotive manufacturing company founded in 1823. It was the first company set up specifically to build railway engines.- Foundation and early success :...


External links