Richard Trevithick

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Trevithick, Richard

(trĕv`ĭthĭk), 1771–1833, British engineer and inventor, b. Cornwall. He is known as the father of locomotive power because of his invention (1800) of the high-pressure steam engine. He built a steam carriage that on Christmas Eve, 1801, in London, carried the first passengers transported by steam power. In 1804 a steam locomotive he constructed was used in Wales on a railway, the first vehicle to be so operated. Trevithick also developed steam engines for use in mines and invented a steam threshing machine.

Trevithick, Richard


Born Apr. 13, 1771, in Illogan, Cornwall; died Apr. 22, 1833, in Dartford, Kent. English inventor.

Trevithick received his secondary education at Camborne School. Through his own efforts he acquired sufficient knowledge in steam engineering to become an engineer in various companies. He pioneered the development and use of stationary engines that operate at high pressures; he received a patent for a high-pressure steam engine in 1800 and introduced the cylindrical boiler (the Cornish boiler) in 1815.

Trevithick built his first models of steam carriages in 1797. In 1801 he undertook the construction of full-scale steam carriages, the last of which underwent successful testing in Cornwall and London in 1802 and 1803. In 1803 and 1804, with the assistance of J. Steele, Trevithick built the first steam locomotive in history for the Merthyr Tydfil tramway in South Wales; the locomotive proved to be too heavy for the cast-iron rails and could not be used. The second steam locomotive built by Trevithick and Steele also did not find practical application. Not until 1808 did Trevithick design and build an improved steam locomotive that could reach speeds of up to 30 km/hour; this locomotive was demonstrated in a suburb of London.

Lacking financial support, Trevithick went bankrupt in 1811. He left England for South America in 1816. He returned to England in 1827 and subsequently died in poverty.


Tvortsy mashin. Moscow, 1937.
Virginskii, V. S. Dzh. Stefenson. Moscow, 1964.
Dickinson, H. W., and A. Titley. Richard Trevithick. Cambridge, 1934.


References in periodicals archive ?
On This Day: 1804: British engineer Richard Trevithick demonstrated the first steam engine to run on rails.
A pounds 2 COIN commemorating the 200thanniversary of the first locomotive steam engine built by Richard Trevithick is to be issued by the Royal Mint.
Richard Trevithick was commissioned to design an engine and his effort started running in "early 1813".
Another pioneer, Cornishman Richard Trevithick, then achieved a load-pulling speed of 5mph with a 'Penydarren tram road engine' on February 21, 1804.
In July 1808, the engineer Richard Trevithick constructed a circular railway track at Torrington Square in London.
Such would explain Richard Trevithick in 1801, on its second journey, leaving his steam-powered Puffing Devil with the engine running outside a pub while he went in for a drink.
Disc jockey turned pop producer Pete Waterman named a Welsh loco Richard Trevithick,in honour of the man who pioneered rail travel.
It's all because this year Merthyr Tydfil is celebrating the 200th anniversary of a forward-thinking town resident, Richard Trevithick, who is credited with being the inventor of rail travel.
The musical special about the life of Cornish engineer and inventor Richard Trevithick covers his 11-year journey to the silver mines of South America and how he was nearly eaten by an alligator.
In 1804, the rst steam locomotive railway, known as Penydarren Locomotive, was built by Richard Trevithick and used to haul iron from Merthyr Tydl to Abercynon.