The main inventors of the early steam locomotives included famous British engineers Richard Trevithick, William Hedley, Jonathan Forest, Timothy Hackworth, George Stephenson and his son, Robert Stephenson. These incredible inventors designed steam locomotives which would set the foundations of the modern day transportation network.

Richard Trevithick was a British inventor and mining engineer from Cornwall. He built the first steam locomotive to run on rails; the first full scale working railway steam locomotive. He successfully demonstrated his new invention in 1804.

William Hedley, Jonathan Forest and Timothy Hackworth worked for Christopher Blackett, the owner of the Northumberland colliery at Wylam. They were responsible for building some of the oldest steam locomotives including ‘Puffing Billy’, the oldest steam locomotive in existence today.

George Stephenson was an English civil engineer who was nicknamed ‘The Father of the Railways’. He invented a famous loco in 1814 called the Blücher. His son, Robert Stephenson, also became an engineer and inventor of steam locomotives. They worked together on many of their creations; later forming Robert Stephenson & Co. Robert Stephenson invented the Rocket for the Rainhill Trials in 1829. In 1830, he produced the Planet which became one of the first steam locomotives to be built in large numbers.

Inventors of Steam Locomotives

Timeline of Inventors of Steam Power

1804 Richard Trevithick 1804

Richard Trevithick’s unnamed steam locomotive makes the first locomotive hauled railway journey in the world on February 21, 1804. The loco ran for over 4 hours carrying 70 passengers, 5 wagons and 10 tons of iron. It ran 16km from Penydarren to Abercynon.


Richard Trevithick 1808

Richard Trevithick publicised a famous locomotive in 1808 which was named ‘Catch me who can’. The loco was built by John Urpeth Rastrick and John Hazledine, and it was demonstrated in London.


William Hedley, Jonathan Forest and Timothy Hackworth 1813

William Hedley, Jonathan Forest and Timothy Hackworth were British engineers who constructed the Puffing Billy whilst working for Christopher Blackett. The Puffing Billy was the first commercial adhesion steam locomotive and one of the earliest ever produced. It is the oldest surviving steam locomotive in the world.


William Hedley and Timothy Hackworth 1815

British engineers, William Hedley and Timothy Hackworth, built the Wylam Dilly whilst working for Christopher Blackett. It has become one of the world’s oldest surviving steam locomotives.

1814 George Stephenson 1814

George Stephenson, an English civil engineer known as ‘the Father of the Railways’, built a steam locomotive called the Blücher in 1814. The loco was capable of hauling a 30 ton train at 4 miles per hour.

1829 Robert Stephenson 1829

Robert Stephenson, an English inventor, engineer and the son of George Stephenson, invented the Rocket in 1829. This advanced steam locomotive became known famously as ‘Stephenson’s Rocket’. It was built purposely for the Rainhill Trails which it won in 1829. The Rainhill Trials was a competition held by Liverpool and Manchester Railway for the best design to power the railway.


Robert Stephenson 1830

This awesome inventor created a steam locomotive for the L&MR in 1830 called the Planet. It was the first steam locomotive with inside cylinders. It became one of the first locos to be produced in large volumes.

Timeline of Inventors of Steam Power

Inventors of Steam Locomotives