Facts about Robert Stephenson

Summary: Robert Stephenson was a famous British railway engineer whose most notable designs and developments included numerous steam locomotives such as the Rocket, the Invicta, the Planet and the Patentee. He often worked alongside his father, George Stephenson, who was also a well-known British engineer most famous for building the first intercity railway line and his first steam locomotive which was called the Blucher.

Robert Stephenson was an incredible railway engineer who is regarded as one of the best engineers of the 19th Century. The steam locomotives that he built and developed included some of the earliest passenger steam engines in the world. His work greatly influenced the history of the railways not just in Great Britain but in countries worldwide.

Robert Stephenson Fact Sheet: Who was Robert Stephenson? The following short biography and fact sheet provides interesting facts about the life, times, inventions, accomplishments and history of Robert Stephenson, the famous British steam locomotive engineer.

Robert Stephenson Fact 1: He was born on October 16, 1803 in Willington Quay, Northumberland in Great Britain.

Robert Stephenson Fact 2: His was a famous English railway engineer who was highly respected and often referred to as one of the greatest engineers of the 19th Century. He was most famous for developing an early steam locomotive called 'The Rocket'.

Robert Stephenson Fact 3: He was the son of George Stephenson - a well known civil and mechanical engineer nicknamed 'Father of Railways'. He was famous for building the world's first public intercity railway line which was opened in 1830 and linked the cities of Manchester and Liverpool together. He was also famous for building his first steam locomotive, the Blucher.

Robert Stephenson Fact 4: He didn't have any surviving siblings. The only sibling he had was a sister who was born in 1805 and sadly died three weeks later.

Robert Stephenson Fact 5: His mother, Frances née Henderson, died on May 14, 1806 from tuberculosis. Robert was still a small child at the time. He was left in the care of a local woman whilst his father worrked away in Scotland for a short period of time. Upon his father's return, he moved to a cottage where he was cared for by Aunt Nelly (his father's sister Eleanor).

Robert Stephenson Fact 6: As a young child, he attended a school at Long Benton. Despite his success, his father, George, had been treated unfairly at times as he was uneducated and his accent was strong. As George grew wealthier, he decided to pay for Robert to receive a private education at the Percy Street Academy where he would be taught by John Bruce. It wasn't long before the child began losing his accent.

Robert Stephenson Fact 7: His school was 16km (10 miles) away from home. His father, George, worried about him becoming ill walking to school in cold weather, and so, he bought him a donkey to travel to school and back.

Robert Stephenson Fact 8: In his spare time, he attended the local parish church, he helped his father with his steam locomotive designs and he learnt how to play the flute.

Robert Stephenson Fact 9: He left school in 1819 and became an apprentice to the manager of Killingworth Colliery, a mining engineer called Nicholas Wood. He stayed at the mine until 1821 when, due to poor health, he was released early by Nicholas Wood.

Robert Stephenson Fact 10: He helped his father, George, to survey the lines for the Stockton and Darlington Railway for which he was advocating the use the of steam locomotives.

Robert Stephenson Fact 11: From October 1822 to April 1823, he attended Edinburgh University. George wanted him to further his education so he paid for him to attend classes in Chemistry, Natural History and Natural Philosophy.

Robert Stephenson Fact 12: He opened Robert Stephenson and Company with his father and Edward Pease on May 23, 1823. It was a steam locomotive manufacturing company which was located on Forth Street, Newcastle. It became the first company which was formed distinctly to build railway engines.

Robert Stephenson Fact 13: Robert and George Stephenson created the first steam locomotive to carry passengers on a public rail line. Originally the steam locomotive was called the Active, however, it was later changed to Locomotion No. 1. It was the first steam locomotive built by Robert Stephenson and Company, and it was built to run on the Stockton and Darlington Railway in 1825.

Robert Stephenson Fact 14: They continued to build steam locomotives for the Stockton and Darlington Railway, producing locos by the names of Hope, Black Diamond and Diligence. They worked on a way to stabilise the steam locomomotives as these particular ones were known to rock. They tried using steam springs but they proved to be unsuccessful.

Robert Stephenson Fact 15: The Stephensons developed a steam locomotive called the 'Experiment'. It was built in 1828 and offered added stability as it was designed using inclined cylinders which could be mounted on springs.

Robert Stephenson Fact 16: The father and son team built the Victory - a steam locomotive which was modified to a six wheeled design.

Robert Stephenson Fact 17: George and Robert Stephenson began building steam locomotives for America including the America, the John Bull (Stevens locomotive) and the Whistler. The first loco built for American was ordered by the Delaware and Hudson Railroad in the northeastern United States, the steam locomotive was named 'America'. The Boston and Providence Rail Road also ordered a steam locomotive in 1833, it was called Whistler.

Robert Stephenson Fact 18: He is most famous for inventing the Rocket, also known as 'Stephenson's Rocket'. It was built in 1829 and won the Rainhill Trials. This improved steam locomotive was designed using a multi-tube boiler and a separate firebox. The Rocket's locomotive number was 1829.

Robert Stephenson Fact 19: He continued to build and develop new steam engines including the Invicta, the Planet and the Patentee. He developed a longer boiler design to avoid problems with the fireboxes and chimneys. It began as a 2-2-2 design which was later changed to a 4-2-0 wheel arrangement allowing the cylinders to be mounted between the supporting wheels.

Robert Stephenson Fact 20: He became involved with building steam locomotives for Egypt when Abbas I asked him to build the first standard gauge railway for the country. Some of Robert Stephenson's work can be seen in the Cairo Railway Museum. Robert Stephenson and Company became very successful and ended up building steam locomotives for railways all over the world. He died on October 12, 1859 at the age of 55 years.

Facts about Robert Stephenson