John Cordy Jeaffreson.

The life of Robert Stephenson... with descriptive chapters on some of his most important professional works by William Pole online

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THE LIFE



OF



ROBERT STEPHENSON.



VOL. I.



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THE LIFE

OF

EOBEET STEPHENSON, P.E.S.

BTC. BTC.
LATB FEBSDDBNT OF THE IKSTITUTION OF OIVIL BNOINEBaS.

BY

J. C. JEAFPKESON

BABRISTBB-AT-L4W.
-WITH DB8CBIFTiy£ CHAFTBB8 OK

SOME OF HIS MOST IMPORTANT PROFESSIONAL WORKS

BY

WILLIAM POLE, F.RS.

MBMBBB OF THB INSTITUTION OF CIVIL BNOINBBBS.
IN TWO VOLUMES.

VOL. I.
SECOND EDITION,



LONDON:
LONGMANS, GREEN, READER, AND DYER.

1866.



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• • • « •

• • • • •

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7.1



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PREFACE.



"POUE YEABS have dapsed since with Professor
-*- Pole I undertook to write the life of Bobebt
Stephenson.

A careful examination of the many published works
which, either specially or incidentally, treat of the
labours of the two Stephensons, was amongst the first
steps which I took towards the performance of my task.
I read critically a large number of scientific volumes,
biographies, lectures, and articles bearing upon the
history of the locomotive, upon the art of building
bridges, and upon the careers of the men who, during the
last sixty years, have brought our railway system to its
present state of efficiency. My surprise was great at
finding that the statements of the various treatises were
irreconcilable.

In the summer and autumn of 1860 I passed some
time in Northumberland and Durham, collecting mate-
rials for this work fi:om the oral communications of
Eobert Stephenson^s numerous relations, fi*om the remin-
iscences of men who had been the companions or the
patrons of both the Stephensons, and fi:om entries in



573985 Digitized by Coogl^



vi PREFACE.

parish registers, and the account-books of collieries and
factories. I was fortunate in meeting with cordial
response from all of the many persons whose assistance
was soUcited. The result of these enquiries was the dis-
covery that many mistakes had been made in telling the
story of the elder Stephenson's life, and that no life of
the younger Stephenson would be complete that should
neglect to give a correct account of the misapprehended
passages in th^ life of the elder. The only course, there-
fore, open to me was to re-write the life of George
Stephenson, so far as it affected Eobert Stephenson's
career, and to tell the whole truth of the son's life to the
best of my ability.

On my return from the North of England I gathered
documentary materials from many different quarters, and
ere long I was fortunate enough to bring together a
mass of evidence which the representatives of Eobert
Stephenson did not know to be in existence. Besides
letters submitted to my perusal by a great number of the
engineer's friends, and besides* papers sent to me by his
executors, I obtained custody of several important collec-
tions of docmnents. Mr. Longridge put into my hands
the Stephenson papers which his father preserved. Mr.
Ulingworth allowed me to peruse his South- American
papers. Mr. Charles Empson, shortly before his death,
contributed to my store of materials a most interesting
collection of letters and documents ; consisting of Eobert
Stephenson's early journals, and of nearly all the letters
which he either received from or had written to friends



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PEEFACR tH

or relations, between the termination of his life on
Killingworth Moor and his return from South America.
I have also to acknowledge the assistance of Mr. George
Parker Bidder, late President of the Institution of Civil
Engineers ; Mr. Charles Manby, F.R.S. ; and Mr. George
Eobert Stephenson, C.E.

In expressing my thanks to the gentlemen who have
assisted me with information or papers, I render no
mere formal act of courtesy. Gratitude is a solemn duty
when acknowledgment has to be made of services con-
ferred by those who no longer tarry in the ways of men.
Of those to whom I am indebted for facts or counsel,
many have passed to another world. Mr. Losh and Mr.
Weallens of Newcastle, Mr. Kell of Guteshead, Mr. Charles
Empson of Bath, Admiral Moorsom, and Mr. Charles
Parker, are amongst those who will never see this page.

J. COEDY JEAFFEESON.



The task of describing some of the more important
professional subjects which occupied the attention of
Eobert Stephenson has been confided to me. There
was some difficulty in determining what subjects should
be chosen, for many of his works were so mixed up with
the current events of his life, that they could scarcely
be separated from the narrative of his biography.



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viii PREFACE.

I detennihed, finally, to select the Atmospheric system
of Eailway Propulsion, and the great Iron Eailway
Bridges erected by him.

The length at which I have treated the former of
these subjects demands some explanation, inasmuch as
Eobert Stephenson, far from promoting the Atmospheric
system, was always one of its strongest opponents. But
judges on whom I can fully rely were of opinion that
it deserved a prominent place in his life, as well from
the great interest he took in it, as from the extent
to which it must have affected the whole course of
Eailway engineering. The facts of its history, with the
results and lessons to be drawn from it, seemed hkely
soon to be forgotten, and were considered worthy of
being put fully on record.

The preliminary chapter on Iron Bridges has been
written in order to bring out more clearly the pecu-
liarities and merits of the magnificent structures of this
kind, to which probably Eobert Stephenson will even-
tually owe his widest fame.

I have to acknowledge information kindly supplied
by many friends in the profession.

The chapters which I have contributed to the work
are XIV. in Vol I., and II., IH., IV., Vm., in Vol H.



WILLIAM POLE.



LoKBOK : September 1864.



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CONTENTS

OF

THE FIRST VOLUME.



CHAPTER I.

TH£ 6TEPHSKB0N FAIOLT.

Variotu Stephendona of Newcastle — ^Old Robert StephenBon ' — Mabel
Carr — Geoige Stephenson's Birtb — Fanny Henderson — Geoi^ Ste-
phenson moves to Willington — Robert Stephenson's Birth — The Christen-
ing Party at Willington Quay — ^Mrs. George Stephenson's delicate Health

— George Stephenson remoyes to Eillingworth Township, Long Benton

— Site of George Stephenson's House at Willington — 'The Stephenson
Memorial ' . • . . • • . Page 1



CHAPTER n.

LOKG BENTOK,
(MTAT, 1-9.)

The West Moor Colliery— 'The Street' of Long Benton — Road from
Newcastle to Sjllingworth — ' The Cottage * on the West Moor — View'
from the Cottage Windows — ^Apparent Amendment of Mrs. Stephenson's
Health— Robert and his Mother visit Black Callerton — Robert Ste-
phenson's Sister — Death of his Mother — George Stephenson's Journey
to Montrose — Eleanor Stephenson — Her great Disappointment — ' The
Artificials' — Litde Robert's Visits to the Red House Farm, Wolsing-
ham — * The Hempy Lad ' — Tommy Rutter's School — ^The young Gleaner
— A Lesson for the Lord's Day — George Stephenson's Sundays — His
Friends, Robert Hawthorn and John Steele — The first Locomotive ever
built on the Banks of the Tyne— Anthony Wigham — Captain Robson —
Evenings at the West Moor ...... 12



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CONTENTS OF



CHAPTER m.

BOBBBT STEPKBySOK; THB SCHOOLBOY.
(JCTAT. 9-15.)

Robert and the Pitman's Picks — * Mind the Buiks ' — Gheorge Stephenson's
pecuniaiy Position whilst his Son attended Ratter's School — Oeorge
appointed Engineer to the Collieries of 'The Grand Allies' — The
Locomotive on the Wjlam Line — George Stephenson's first Locomo-
tive — ^His Appointment to the 'Walker Lron-works ' — 'Brace's Academy'
— The Cost of Robert's Taition at the School —^ Robert Stephenson's
Reception by his new Schoolfellows — The Boy's delicate Health — The
Purchase of his Donkey — John Tate — Rival Safety Lamps — Testi-
monial and Pablic Dinner to George Stephenson for his Lamp — Home
Gossip — 'Throwing the Hammer' — George Stephenson's Views with
regard to the Education of his Son — Robert Stephenson's Plan of a Sun-
Dial . Page 29



CHAPTER IV.

BOBEBT BTEPKERSO'K, THE APPBENTIOE.
(JETAT. 16-90.)

Robert Stephenson leaves School— He is apprenticed to Mr. Nicholas Wood
— George Stephenson lays down the Hetton Colliery Railway — ^Father and
Son — Robert's Economy in his personal Expenses — ^The 'Three Tuns'
— The Circumferentor - George Stephenson's increasing Prosperity — His
Second Marriage — He builds the 'Friar's Goose Pumping Engine'. —
He embarks in a small Collieiy Speculation — The Locomotive Boiler
Tubes of the Messrs. James — ^Explosion in the Killingworth Mine— George
Stephenson's First Visit to Mr. Edward Pease — Robert Stephenson and
his Father survey the Stockton and Darlington Line — Robert Stephen-
son's First Visit to London — His delicate State of Health — Survey for

. the Second Stockton and Darlington Act — Robert Stephenson goes to
Edinburgh — Professor Leslie's Testimonial — Letters written at Edin-
burgh by Robert Stephenson to Mr. Longridge — Robert Stephenson
accompanies Professor Jamieson on a Geological Excursion — George
Stephenson's Letter to his friend Locke — Robert Stephenson and his
Fatiier visit Ireland — ^Robert Stephenson's Letters from that Countxy 46



CHAPTER V.

PBEPABITIOKS FOB AHEBICA.
(ATAT. 30-31.)

George Stephenson's Rupture with Mr. Losh — The Establishment of the
Firm of R. Stephenson and Co. of Newcastle — The Colombian Mining



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THE FIRST VOLUME. xi

Association — George Stephenson a Chief Agent for the Project — Robert
Stephenson visited with renewed and aggravated Symptoms of Pul-
monary Disease — Robert Stephenson proposed as Engineer to the ^ Co-
lombian Mining Association * ^ His Visits to Cornwall and other Places
— Newcastle — The London Coffee House, Ludgate Hill — Robert Ste-
phenson accepts the Post of Engineer-in-Chief to the Colombian Mining
Association — In London — Preparations and Hard Work — * Home, sweet
Home ' — Letter to * the North ' — Conduct of 'the Association * — Liver-
pool — Sails for South America . • • • Page 64



CHAPTER VI.

SOUTH AMERICA.
(ATAT. SO-24.)

La Guayra — Caraccas — Proposed Breakwater and Pier at La Guayra
— Survey for RaUroad between La Guayra and Caraccas — Santa ¥6 de
Bogota — Matiquita — Life on the Mi^alena — Explores the Country —
Road between the Magdalena and the Mines — Santa Ana — Descriptions
of Scenery — Arrival of the Cornish Miners — Insubordination of Miners
— ^Friends, Pursuits, and Studies — Inclination and Duty — Disappointment
of the Directors — Their Secretary . . . . .78



CHAPTER Vn.

ITROX 80TJIH AJCEBICA TO KBWOABTLB.
(ATAT. 38-S4.)

Leaves Santa Ana — Goes up to Carthagena — Encounters Trevithick
— Trevithick's Peculiarities — Sails for New York — Becalmed amongst
the Islands — Terrible Gales in the open Sea — Two Wrecks — Can-
nibaUsm — Shipwrecked off New York — Strange Conduct of a Mate — Is
made a Master Mason — Pedestrian Excursion to Montreal — Remarkable
Conversation on the Banks of the St Lawrence — Returns to New York
— ^Arrives at Liverpool — Meeting with his Father — Goes up to London
and sees the Directors of the Colombian Mining Association — Trip to
Brussels — Return to Newcastle — Liverpool . . . 100



CHAPTER Vin.

KBSIDENCE IN NEWCASTLE.
(JSTAT. 34-25.)

State of the Locomotive in 1828 — Efforts to improve the Locomotive
—The Reports of Messrs. Walker and Rastrick — A Premium of £500
offered by the Directors of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway for



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ii CONTENTS OF

the beet Locomotive — Mr. Henry Booth's Invention of the Multitubular
Boiler — Commencement of the ^Rocket' Steam Engine — ^A Timnel across
the Mersey — Survey for a Junction Line between the Bolton and Leigh
and Liverpool and Manchester Kailways — Survey for Branch Line from
the Liverpool and Manchester Railway to Warrington — Robert Stephen-
son's Love Affidrs — His Access to Society in Liverpool and London —
Miss Fanny Sanderson — Proposal that Robert Stephenson should live
at Bedlington— Mr. Richardson's Expostulations — ^No. 5 Greenfield Place
— The Sofo & la mode — Marriage .... Page 116



CHAPTER IX.

BB8IDBN0B m NEWOASTLB— COlfTINXTKD.
(JBTAT. 26-28.)

Wedding Trip — Battle of the ' Locomotive ' — ' The Oracle ' —Construc-
tion of the * Rocket' Steam Engine — The Rainhill Contest — ^Particulars
concerning the * Rocket' — History of 'the Blast-Pipe' — Triumphant
return from Liverpool to Newcastle — Answer to Mr. Walker's Report
— Letters to Mr. Richardson — Numerous Engagements — More Loco-
motives — ^'Opening of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway — Robert
Stephenson appointed Engineer to the * Warrington' and 'Leicester and
Swannington' Lines — Discovery of Coal Strata, and Purchase of Snib-
stone — London and Birmingham Railway — Robert Stephenson employed
to carry the Line through Parliament — Opposition to the Line — 'Inves-
tigator's' Pamphlet — Robert Stephenson's Evidence before the Lords'
Committee— Rejection of the Bill in 1832 — Calunmies — Public Meeting
at Thatched House Tavern in support of the London and Birmingham
Railway— Bill passes Parliament in 1833 — Robert Stephenson appointed
sole Engineer-in-Chief to the London and Birmingham Railway —
Leaves Newcastle-on-Tyne — Pupils .... 138



CHAPTER X.

CONSTRTJCnoK OF THE LONDON AND BIEMINGHAM EAILWAY.
(JBTAT. 29-34.)

Appointment as Engineer-in-Chief to the London and Birmingham Line
— Contract Plans — Drawing-Office in the Cottage on the Edgeware
Road, and subsequently at the Eyre Arms, St John's Wood — Health
and Habits of Life — Staff of Assistant and Sub-Assistant Engineers —
The principal Contractors — Primrose Hill Tunnel — Blisworth Cutting
— Wolverton Embankment and Viaduct — Kilsby Trmnel — Interview
with Dr. Arnold at Rugby — Conduct and Character of Navyies — Anec-



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THE FIRST VOLUME. xiU

dotes — Robert Stephenson proposes the Extension of the Line firom
Camden Town to Euston Square — Proposition first rejected and then
adopted by Directors — Act of Parliament obtained for Extension of the
Line — The Incline firom Camden Town to Euston Square originally
worked by Stationary Engines and Ropes — Lieut Lecount's Comparison
of Labour expended on the London and Birmingham Railway, and Labour
expended on the Great Pyramid — Conduct of a certain Section of the
Directors to Robert Stephenson — Opening of the Line — Dinner at Dee's
Royal Hotel; Manchester — Robert Stephenson's Anger with a Director —
Dinner and Testimonial giren to Robert Stephenson at Dunchuich —
Brunei usee Robert Stephenson's System of Drawing on the Great Western
— Robert Stephenson's Appointment as Consulting Engineer Page 184



CHAPTER XI.

APFAIBSy PTJBLIO AKD PRITATB, DURING TILE CONSTRTJCTION OF THB
LONDON AND BIRMINeHAM BAILWAT.

(iBTAT. 2»-^.)

Stanhope and Tyne Railway Company — Robert Stephenson appointed
their Engineer — Opening of the Line and its rapidly increasing Em-
barrassments — Robert Stephenson visits Belgium with his Father —
Offices in Duke Street, and George Street, Westminster — The ^ession of
1836 — Various proposed Lines between London and Brighton : Sir John
Rennie's, Robert Stephenson's, Gibbs'S, Cundy's — London and Blackwall
Railway, and the Commercial Road Railway — Robert Stephenson strongly
opposes the Use of Locomotives in Towns — Life at Haverstock Hill —
Reading, Friends, Horses, Sunday Dinners — Newcastle Correspondence—
Mrs. Stephenson's Accident to Knee-Cap — Professor Wheatstone's and
Robert Stephenson's Adoption of the Electric Telegraph — Robert Ste-
phenson assumes Arms — That ' Silly Picture ' . . . 214



CHAPTER XII.

FBOH THE COHPLETION OF THE LONDON AND BIBMINeHAH SAILWAT TO
THE OPENING OP THE NEWCASTLE AND DARLINGTON LINE.

(JETAT. 86^1.)

Railways undertaken in various Directions — Brunei, Giles, Braithwaite

Robert Stephenson's Trip to Italy — On his Return again immersed

in Projects— The Contractors' Dinner at * The Albion ' — Letters to New-
CBsde — Cigars for the Continent — Stanhope and T>^e Crisis — Robert
Stephenson threatened with Insolvency— Acts for the Pontop and South
Shields and the Newcastle and Darlington Junction Railways — Robert



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xiv CONTENTS OF

Stepheneon appointed to exdcate the Newcastle and Dariington Lines

— Robert Stephenson created a Knight of the Order of Leopold —
Mrs. Stephenson's Death — Opening of Newcastle and Darlington Line

— Public Dinner and Speeches — Continental Engagements — Leaves
Haverstock Hill and moves to Cambridge Square — Fire in Cambridge
Square — George Hudson and Robert Stephenson—A Contrast Page 238



CHAPTER Xm.

RAILWAY PBOeBBSS AND £AILWAT LSOIBLATIOK.

First Act of Parliament authorising the Construction of a Railway — Rail-
way Developement from the year 1601 to 1846 inclusive — The Railway
Mania of 1825-26— The Railway Mania of 1836-37— The Railway
Mania of 1845-46— Difference between the Crises of 1825-26 and 1836
-37 and of 1845-46 — Report fiom Committees, 1837 — Bubble Com-
panies — ^Parliamentary Influence — Parliamentary Corruption — Compen-
sation ; Stories of — ^The Parliamentary Committee as a Tribunal — Robert
Stephenson's Views on Parliamentary Legislation ^Observations on his
Project for a ' Preliminary Board of Inquiry ' — Causes of Parliamentary
Inconsistency — Stories of the Parliamentary Bar — Professional Wit-
nesses in the House of Commons: Robert Stephenson^ Brunei, Locke,
Lardner, Bidder — Great Britain compared with other Countries in
respect of Railway Developement — Results — Proposal for Railway
Farmers — Proposal for a Railway Bank .... 263



CHAPTER XIV.

THB AT1C08PHBRIC SYSTEM OF RAILWAY PB0PT7ISI0V.

Remarkable Episode in the BGstory of Railways — Correction of Nomen-
clature — Objects of this Chapter — General Modes of Locomotion —
Constant rivalry between Locomotive and Stationary Steam-power — ^Liver-
pool and Manchester Railway — Walker and Rastrick's Report — Ste-
phenson and Locke's Reply — Triumph of the Locomotive — Renewal of
the Stationary Plan in tiie Atmospheric form — ^Early Inventors — Papin
— Medhurst — Features of his Schemes — ^VaUance — Pinkus — Clegg —
Jacob and Joseph Samuda — Private Experiments — Trial of their Plan
on the Thames Junction Railway — Description of the Apparatus — Pro-
posal to apply it in Ireland — Smith and Bariow's Report — Application
on the Kingstown and Dalkey Line — Arguments in favour of the Plan
— Robert Stephenson's attention called to it in reference to the Chester
and Holyhead Railway — His Report — Public Interest excited — Croydon
Railway Parliamentary Committee — The Railway Mania — Appointment
of a Committee of the House of Commons to enquire into the Merits of



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THE FIRST VOLUME. xv

the Flan — Their Beport in ite favour — Culminating point of the Ilistoiy
— Contests in Parliament — Application of the Atmospheric System in
practice — Thames Junction Line — Kingsto-wn and Dalkey Line— Croydon
Line — South Devon Line — Paris and St. Gennain Line — Summary of
Results — Mechanical Efficiency — Economy — General Applicability to
Railway Traffic — Reasons for its Abandonment— Conclusion Page 292



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ILLUSTRATION IN VOL. L



PoBTBAiT OF RoBSRT SiEPHSinsoK, bj Geoige Riclimond To face Title,



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THE LIFE



OF



ROBERT STEPHENSON.

CHAPTEE 1.

THE STEPHENSON FAMILY.

Various Stephenflonfl of Newcastle — 'Old Robert Stephenson' —
Mabel Carr — George Stephenson's Birth — Fannj Henderson —
Qeorge Stephenson moves to Willington — Robert Stephenson's
Birth — The Christening Party at Willington Quay — Mrs. George
Stephenson's delicate Health — George Stephenson removes to
KilHngworth Township^ Long Benton — Site of George Stephenson's
House at Willington' — 'The Stephenson MemoriaL'

r5 records of Newcastle show that the name of
Stephenson has been frequent in every rank of
the town for the last two hundred and fifty years.
But no attempt has ever been made to estabUsh a family
connection between the subject of this memoir and the
many worthy citizens of Newcastle who, in the seven-
teenth and eighteenth centuries, bore the same name. A
gentleman of high attainments, residing in the neighbour-
hood of Newcastle, in answer to enquiries for ancestors

VOL. I. B

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:2-*- : .••: ••• ': : jlife-.of ROBERT Stephenson. [Ch. l

in the male line of George Stephenson, stated that George
Stephenson on a certain occasion said that his family
were natives of Castleton, in liddisdale, and that his
grandfather came into England in the service of a Scotch



Online LibraryJohn Cordy JeaffresonThe life of Robert Stephenson... with descriptive chapters on some of his most important professional works by William Pole → online text (page 1 of 28)