For someone who was to become a key instigator in driving the industrial revolution in Britain George Stephenson came from the humblest of backgrounds to pioneer the railway steam locomotive and build the first successful railway lines. Few would believe that he was still illiterate at eighteen years old but this self educated engineer was a natural when it came to analysing mechanical problems and solving them. He built his first of many experimental locomotives in 1814 for use in Killingworth pit, it was from here that he accumulated enough knowledge to build the Hetton Railway (13km) and then the more ambitious Stockton and Darlington railway (40km). His next project was the Manchester and Liverpool railway that saw the debut of the Stephenson Rocket which hit a top speed of 36mph, the rail line proved such a success he was literally inundated with offers from entrepreneurs to build more and more new railways. Indeed there were too many offers on the table for him to manage so more and more people learned the skills required to build these railroads thus fuelling the British industrial revolution. Stephenson had many visitors from North America land on his doorstep and he shared the knowledge that was to bring railroads to the Americas. One of the early lessons he learned was to keep the track as level as possible because even the slightest gradient would require more power than his present design could deliver so building railroads required the additional knowledge of tunnel and bridge building. He was also a pioneer in what became known as the Geordie lamp which he demonstrated in Killingworth pit about one month before Humphry Davy first unveiled what was to become known as the Davy Lamp. The Geordie lamp had a different design to the Davy lamp but it was equally effective. From some of the finest engineering minds come some of the best lines to quote, so here is my compilation of eight of the best George Stephenson quotes.
- Mini Bio
- Name: George Stephenson
- Born: 9th June 1781, Wylam, Northumberland, England
- Died: 12th August 1848, Tapton House, Chesterfield, Derbyshire, England
- Education: He was illiterate until the age of 18 whereby he decided to pay for his own private tuition, he was self taught in many of the engineering the skills that he learned
- Occupation: Engineer and inventor
- Famous for: Pioneering the rail road locomotive
- Trivia: He correctly anticipated that all railways would someday be connected together so he stated categorically that all railway lines must have the same gauge and the Stephenson Gauge (as to this day it became known) set the standard for the world to follow
"The rage for railroads is so great that many will be laid in parts where they will not pay"
"No less than 80,000,000 miles are annually traversed on our railways. Now, to run 80,000,000 miles per annum, 2½ miles of railway, at least, must be covered by trains, during every second of time, throughout the entire year"
"The expenditure, by the people has secured to us the advantages of internal communication all but perfect, of progress in science and arts unexampled at any period of the history of the world"
"Every article conveyed by railway requires handling and conveyance beyond the limit of the railway stations; but passengers take care of themselves, and find their own way"
"At the end of 1854, the aggregate length of railways opened in Great Britain and Ireland at that time measured about 8,054 miles - about the diameter of the globe"
"As regards railways, it is certain that nothing is so profitable, because nothing is so cheaply transported, as passenger traffic"
"The principles upon which a safety lamp might be constructed I stated to several persons long before Sir Humphrey Davy came into this part of the country"
"To tell you the truth although it would put £500 in my pockets to specify my own patent rails, I cannot do so after the experience I have had"