» Biography Home
» Biographies A-F
» Biographies G-M
» Biographies N-S
» Biographies T-Z
Far in the north of England, near the Scottish border, by the shore of the German Ocean, is the county of brown and barren hills called Northumberland, and its principal city, Newcastle, famous for its coal. There is another Newcastle near the centre of England, so this one is often distinguished by the name "Newcastle-on-Tyne"--Tyne being the blackest and dirtiest of all rivers.
A few miles from Newcastle, up the Tyne, is the little mining village of Wylam, where, a hundred years ago, lived Robert Stephenson and his wife Mabel. There was no style about Wylam, and few evidences of wealth or culture. The houses straggled about near the outlets of the coal-mines, and everything was as uninviting as it well could be. Stephenson's house, or rather "shanty," had but one room, and that had an earthen floor. Robert and Mabel were about as ill-furnished as their house; for neither could read, they had not a book nor a print, and neither knew much more of the world than could be seen, as they stood on the bank of the Tyne and looked about on the neighboring hills and down toward Newcastle. In 1892 I rode down the valley of the Tyne, past Wylam, through Newcastle, and over the high bridge that our fireman's grandson, Robert, built in later days. Few valleys are less attractive, and few seem less likely to be the birthplace of epoch-making men.
Robert Stephenson, the father of our hero, was a fireman, earning two shillings a day. He was sober and industrious, but as would be expected, he never "got on." He was a good story-teller, and transmitted to his children healthy bodies and clear heads. George was the second of six children, and he was born June 9, 1781, during our war for independence. His boyhood was uneventful enough. When the weather was cold he was cooped up in their narrow home; he was out of doors whenever the weather would permit. He played in the street, ran errands, carried his father's dinner, and herded cows, as soon as he was big enough, for four cents per day. At fourteen he was assistant-fireman, earning twenty-five cents a day, and at seventeen he was "plugman." He was thus in contact with much that had been achieved in the way of building engines and transporting materials on cars. But I must describe the engines then in use, and explain what it was to be a "plugman."
The coal-mines were so deep that, in spite of the valleys, they could be drained only by pumps, and it was often more difficult to keep the water out than it was to lift the coal out. The steam-engine was then in a very incomplete condition, and both pumping-and lifting-engines were crude and clumsy affairs. To be sure Watt, the mathematical instrument-maker, had invented the double-acting steam-engine, but few had been manufactured, and those in common use were "atmospheric" engines, known as "Newcomen's" engines. A pumping-engine had a long, vertical cylinder, with arrangements for admitting steam at the top. The weight of the piston, piston-rod, and pump-rod, which ran down a shaft to the lowest point in the mine, being balanced by a counter-weight on a sort of well-sweep, the steam, admitted by hand, forced the piston to the bottom of the cylinder. The steam was then shut off, and a spray of water was turned on within the cylinder. This water condensed the steam and reduced the pressure within to almost nothing, so that the air pressure on the exterior face of the piston (which amounted to over a ton for every square foot of surface) drove the piston to the top of the cylinder, and lifted the full length of the stroke a large quantity of water.
It is evident that the office of engineer was not an easy one. It was all he could do to take care of the steam end of the pump; another man was needed to look after the lower end, where the pump-valve worked in another vertical cylinder. The water entered this cylinder through holes in the sides, some higher, some lower, according to the stage of water in the mine. The pumps did not run continuously, but they lowered the water to the bottom as often as it was necessary. As the level of the water in the mine fell, it was necessary to plug the upper holes in the pump cylinder; the man who watched the lower end and plugged those holes was known as the "plugman." It is difficult to conceive of a less inspiring occupation than that to which George Stephenson was promoted at the age of seventeen. Alone in the dark, chilled by the damp air, and wet by the black water, he was forced, by lack of other occupation, to note every mechanical detail of the machinery, and to study methods of improving it.
At the age of eighteen he heard of some wonderful engines made by Watt and Boulton, at their new factory, and was told that the engines were fully described and illustrated in books. So he determined to learn to read. He was encouraged in this resolve by stories that a French soldier, by the name of Napoleon Bonaparte, was sweeping everything before him on the continent of Europe, and that he was planning the subjugation of Great Britain. Information about Napoleon could be gained from printed newspapers if one could only read.
But where should he learn? There was no public school in Wylam; none of our hero's companions went to school; none of the people he associated with could read or write. However, he found a teacher in a young man by the name of Robert Cowens, of whom he took three lessons per week in the evening. He earned money for books and instruction by mending shoes and repairing clocks. He was handy with tools, and quick at seeing the relations of things. As soon as he could read and write he learned to cipher, taking a slateful of "sums," set by his teacher, to his work in the morning, to be "done" during odd moments while watching his pump or engine, for he was soon advanced to the care of the steam end of the machine.
While young Stephenson, now grown a man, is thus busy with his primer, his copy-book, and "four rules," let us reflect upon the uncanny circumstances of his early life. He had no luxuries, few real comforts. The people around him lived half the time underground in mines that were dark, damp, and dangerous--in constant war with water and a poisonous, explosive, natural gas, known as "fire-damp." Above ground there was little that was attractive or educative. The young men had their games, at which George was fairly successful, for he was strong and active. The ale-house stood near by, and it absorbed most of the spare time and scant earnings of the miners; but it is said that young Stephenson avoided the saloon, and was never known to leave his work for a drink of liquor. On off days he took his engine to pieces, examined its parts and the functions of each, and remedied small defects and devised improvements. Naturally clear-headed and ingenious, every circumstance tended to develop his executive powers. He soon was known in the Tyne valley as a good engine-doctor.
An incident, when he was about twenty years of age, did much to shape his career. He heard that a neighboring mine had been flooded on account of the inability of the engine to pump fast enough. No engineer could make the engine efficient. One Sunday he went down and looked at it. After a thorough examination he said he could make it work in a week's time if he could have authority to make changes as he saw fit. Authority was given him. In four days the engine was repaired and set to work. In spite of jeers from old engine-men, who were jealous of a mere boy, the pump worked well and the mine was soon dry. George's reputation was made, and he soon received appointment as engineer at a large mine at Killingworth, an important place near by.
Meanwhile Stephenson added exact instrumental drawing to his three R's. He found, as every artisan finds, that exact drawing is necessary not only to the study of existing mechanical devices, but particularly to the successful design of new parts. The successful inventor generally invents at his drawing-board.
When twenty-one years of age Stephenson married Fanny Henderson, a respectable country girl living at Ballast Hill. He brought the bride home behind him on a pillion, a wedding journey of fifteen miles. Robert Stephenson, who became his father's partner, and one of the first of England's civil engineers, was born in 1803. In 1812, when Stephenson was thirty-one years old, he was made engine-wright of a large colliery at Killingworth, at a salary of $500. The position was one of profit and fine opportunity. All the engines and machinery were in his hands, and all the repair-and construction-shops were available for such new designs as he saw fit to make. He at once set about making his first locomotive.
Locomotives and railroads of certain sorts and fashions were already in existence, but they were rough and clumsy affairs.
The rails were at first angle-irons, then flat bars of wrought iron, then cast-iron bars. In 1800 Benjamin Outram used stones for sleepers, and improved rails--hence "tramways." Over these tramways cars were drawn by horses, or by ropes from stationary engines. Murduck made a locomotive in 1784, and by 1812 several types of engines were used for hauling coal-cars. Stephenson saw one of Blenkinsop's engines. Gear-wheels connected the crank-shaft with the axles, and the driving-wheels were geared with the track, while of course, the coal-cars ran on different rails.
This Blenkinsop's engine was a fearful machine. All the teeth rattled, and as there were no springs and the road was very uneven, the shocks were heavy and frequent, even though its speed was only four miles an hour.
Stephenson's first engine, "My Lord," in honor of his patron, Lord Ravensworth, was finished in 1814. Some experiments on the friction of smooth wheels on iron rails led him to omit the teeth on the drivers, though everyone laughed at him, declaring that the engine would not run an "up grade," much less draw a load. His faith, however, resisted all arguments; it was based on experiments and careful calculations. Stephenson knew that his engine would run up hill and draw a load, and it did so triumphantly.
But the engine lacked steam. The boiler was small, and the fire was applied only on the exterior of the shell, and the draft was very poor, for the chimney was of necessity short. Only very low steam-pressure was possible, and little or no expansion was practicable. Consequently the exhaust was noisy and forcible. Stephenson turned it into the chimney and found that it increased the draft considerably; he at once thought that a steady jet of steam could be so directed as to make a strong draft even when the engine was not in motion. Thus the "blast" was invented, which about doubled the capacity of the machine.
Stephenson's second locomotive, built in 1815, had no noisy gears, but instead, chain-belts to the driving-axles. It had, however, no springs, and the shocks were so great that only a low speed was possible. In 1816 he built locomotives with springs, some of which were in use for hauling coals for forty years.
Meanwhile Robert was growing into a manly, useful lad. Knowing something of the value of education, both of the head and of the hand, his father determined that Robert should have the best of both. He was sent to Edinburgh for scientific culture, and when at home his father taught him drawing, mechanical processes, and the theory of machines as far as he was able--and his ability was considerable, for George Stephenson was more of a student than many whose early advantages were far better than his. The broad dual training given Robert appears to have been fully successful. Even before he became a man he was of great value to his father. Together they worked out plans for modifying and improving the locomotive and the road it was to run upon. He could soon draw and calculate better than his father, but he never excelled him in the solution of practical problems which depended upon a knowledge of materials and the simple laws of physics and mechanics.
Thus far all railroads had been short, leading from mines to piers for shipping by water. The success of Stephenson's locomotive, the best working locomotive ever built at that time, led the proprietors of the Hetton Colliery, a few miles south of the Tyne valley, to propose a road, some eight miles long, over high hills and on steep grades. Stephenson planned and superintended the construction of the road as their engineer. There were several steep inclines where loaded cars going down drew empty cars up. There were two heavy stationary engines drawing cars by a rope, and five of Stephenson's locomotives for the easy grades. Each locomotive drew seventeen wagons, weighing about sixty-four tons, at the rate of four miles per hour. This was the best done as yet, and was considered a great success. It thoroughly established the reputation of George Stephenson as an engineer. This road was opened in 1822.
Before the Hetton Railway was opened Stephenson was busy on a larger work. Parliament had given a franchise for a railway in Durham County, some twenty miles long, through Darlington to Stockton. The function of the road was to carry coal to a shipping pier, and it was not at all settled that horses would not be used to draw the cars. While not much was known about railways, and very little about locomotives, there was a growing conviction that there was great economy in the use of tramways and the steam-engine, and the prospect brightened for building the road.
The charming biographer, Smiles, tells how George Stephenson called on Mr. Edward Pease, the president of the proposed railway, and offered his services in building and equipping the road. Mr. Pease was at once pleased with the man. "There was," said he later, "such an honest, sensible look about him, and he seemed so modest and unpretending. He spoke in the strong Northumbrian dialect, and described himself as 'only the engine-wright at Killingworth.'"
Stephenson urged at once that the road be built for locomotives. Mr. Pease had never seen a locomotive at work, and had taken it for granted that horses would be used; but he went up to Killingworth and rode on the "Blucher" with Stephenson, while it hauled a train of loaded cars. Seeing was believing, and Mr. Pease was in favor of both Stephenson and his locomotive.
So Stephenson was made chief engineer. He and his son Robert surveyed the line, changed the location, avoiding certain territory where people were hostile to a road of any sort, and built new and improved locomotives for the line. What we now call good tools were not to be had, and skilled workmen were not easy to find, but Stephenson made a great advance in the quality of the workmanship.
The amended Act of Parliament gave the Stockton and Darlington line the right to carry passengers in cars drawn by locomotives. This was the first instance of such a grant. Stephenson met Mr. Pease in 1821; the road was opened to the public in 1825. People came in crowds to see the locomotives and to ride on the first public railway. There had been bitter opposition to the road and a vast amount of incredulity as to the ability of the locomotives to do practical work.
Imagine the excitement of the first ride. The train consisted of 6 cars loaded with coal and other freight; then a short passenger coach filled with directors and friends; then 21 open cars or wagons fitted for excursionists; lastly came 6 more cars loaded with coal--making 38 cars in all!
Mr. Stephenson was proud to be on the locomotive and to run it himself. It seemed to spectators incredible that the locomotive could start such a load, but it did start it, and it drew it 8-3/4 miles in 65 minutes, the speed at times reaching 12 miles per hour! More cars were added at Darlington, and then the train drew on to Stockton, all cars being crowded with passengers.
The success was complete, and all doubts seemed to vanish. From that day the traffic over the road continued without interruption. To the surprise of all, the passenger business became a very important item, and better cars were quickly in demand.
The road is in use to-day, and I had the pleasure last year of riding over a part of it. Of course it now looks in all respects like a modern English road, but I was deeply moved by the thought that it was there that George Stephenson built his first public railway and achieved his first public triumph.
Stephenson was not unmindful of the importance of that step. He said, on that occasion, to some young men, "Now, lads, I will tell you that I think you will live to see the day (though I may not live so long), when railways will come to supersede almost all other methods of conveyance--when mail coaches will go by railway. The time is coming when it will be cheaper for a working-man to ride than to go on foot." He lived to see all that himself, and far more.
It is difficult for us to appreciate the popular surprise and delight at that first railway excursion. We are so accustomed to splendid engines, luxurious cars, and high speed, that we think nothing of them; but when all were new--when coaches and carts on highways were the sole reliance for passengers and freight--it was astonishing indeed to see a "travelling engine," in charge of two men, draw a train of forty cars and six hundred people!
Many men would have been satisfied with the result, but Stephenson was not. He said there was no limit to the speed but the strength of the machinery and the supply of steam. He saw there was no limit to the load but the strength and weight of the locomotive, and no limit to the weight but the strength of the rails and the character of the road-bed; thus he early saw how progress was to be made.
But Stephenson's greatest triumph was yet to come. The Darlington road was chiefly for coals, between small towns in a rough northern county. The vast majority of English people heard nothing, and knew nothing about it. Consequently when it was proposed to connect the great commercial city of Liverpool with the great manufacturing city of Manchester, forty miles away, by a railway, it was taken for granted that the cars were to be drawn by horses. Nevertheless a tram-road was opposed, first, by the Duke of Bridgewater, who had a canal between the two cities; and, secondly, by those who owned the coaches and the inns. Though proposed in 1821, the opposition was so great that it was laid over for several years. In 1824 a committee of interested parties went to Darlington and Killingworth to see Stephenson's road and locomotives. The Darlington line was not yet in operation, but the old locomotives were at work at Killingworth. The committee decided that they must have a double track for cars, whatever might be the motive power.
Accordingly Stephenson was invited to make surveys and estimates, as he was said to be a man of great energy and the only man in England with the necessary experience.
The surveys were made in 1825 with the greatest difficulty, on account of the opposition of landowners. The surveyors were ordered off the grounds, threatened with arrest and violence. Stephenson testified before a Parliamentary Committee that the duke's manager threatened to have him thrown into the mill-pond if he trespassed. Stephenson kept on as good terms as he could with the hostiles, and surveyed their grounds by stealth.
The chief points of difficulty were a tunnel at Liverpool, and a vast and treacherous morass known as "Chat Moss."
Early in 1825, before the Darlington road was opened, Parliament was considering the railway bill and Stephenson was called before the committee as a most important witness. All the opposition was out in force and every means was used to ridicule the undertaking and defeat the bill.
The spectacle presented by plain, blunt, unlettered George Stephenson before the lawyers and members of the House of Commons was strange and interesting, and no wonder it has become historical.
In the cross-examination, every effort was made to confuse and discredit the witness, but he bore himself remarkably well. He had built or superintended half a dozen short railways, and had constructed sixteen locomotives, and he could speak on the details of his plans with certainty and confidence. Two things embarrassed him; the consciousness of awkwardness of manner and speech among men some of whom were inclined to sneer at his northern dialect and lack of polish; secondly, the necessity of restraining himself in stating what his locomotives could do. He fully believed they could draw long trains at the speed of twenty miles, but he was told by the friends of the bill that if he made that claim before the committee, he would be called a madman, and the bill would be killed; accordingly he promised to hold himself down to ten miles per hour.
The evidence brought in against the bill was remarkable, and to-day it sounds strange enough. It was urged that the rails would bend under the locomotive at high speed; that the engine would run off the track on curves; that if the engine got round the curves the cars would go off; that the driving-wheels would "spin," if they went fast, without drawing the train; that the noise and sight of the train would frighten horses and cattle; that hens would not lay and cows would cease to give milk along by the road; that the smoke would poison the air and blast the fields and parks; that the coach lines would be ruined, horses would no longer be of value, and coach-makers, harness-makers, inn-keepers and others along the great roads would have nothing to do, etc., etc. In the face of ignorance, ridicule, contempt, and self-interest, Stephenson firmly maintained the safety of a good road, the stability of his engines and cars, the harmlessness of smoke and noise, and the facility with which animals became indifferent to trains. He said that at Killingworth cattle would not stop feeding as the trains went by. As to the effect of speed, he boldly asserted that at twelve miles per hour the load on a rail would be no more than at six, and in support of his position he appealed to skaters who go swiftly over thin ice. As to the "spinning" of the wheels, he was positive that no such thing ever had happened or could happen. The enemies of the bill caught at his suggestion of twelve miles per hour, and so pressed and led him on that he declared his honest conviction that his trains could run on such a road as he could make twelve miles per hour. This rashness alarmed his friends, and they tried in vain to smooth it over by declaring such speed to be purely "hypothetical."
In spite of all that could be said in its favor, in spite of the pressing need of better transportation for coal, cotton, merchandise, and passengers, the bill failed. Such was the blindness, and ignorance, and prejudice of the House of Commons! Think of calling George Stephenson "an ignoramus, a fool, a maniac," in Parliament, yet such was done.
The friends of the bill were not discouraged; they determined to apply again the next year; but poor Stephenson was discredited, Mr. George Rennie, the great bridge engineer, was employed to make a new survey, and Mr. Stephenson was not called before the committee. Meanwhile, the Darlington line was opened, and reports of its success had reached London. It seemed to be admitted that the road was a good thing, but there was great scepticism in regard to the locomotive. However, the bill passed in the spring of 1826, and the directors were not long in deciding that the only competent man to build the road was George Stephenson, and he was elected principal engineer at a salary of $5,000.
The building of the road seemed to be, and was at the time, a tremendous undertaking. Bridges, viaducts, tunnels, and above all, Chat Moss, a yielding bog four miles across and of unknown depth, all taxed the engineer and the company to the utmost. The road was finished in 1830. With the exception of bridges and rails it was very much as it exists to-day.
For a long time the directors were undecided as to the method of propelling the cars. Nearly every engineer except Stephenson was opposed to the locomotive, or travelling engine.
It seems incredible that Telford and the two Rennies, road-makers and bridge-builders, lacked faith in the locomotive, and preferred stationary engines and long cables. Their main objection to the locomotive appears to have been based on the fact that the steam capacity was small, and that it was impracticable to build a locomotive large enough to furnish all the steam that was needed. Stephenson insisted that already his locomotives were better than stationary engines, and yet they could be greatly improved. He said, "Offer a generous prize for the best locomotive, and inventors and builders will greatly improve their machines, and we will have a far better locomotive than now." He said he felt sure he could make a much better one himself. By that time Stephenson was part owner in new locomotive works at Newcastle, and Robert was in general charge there.
The puzzled directors decided to adopt Stephenson's suggestion, and offered $2,500 as a prize for the best locomotive. The specifications required:
1. The engine (without tender) must not weigh more than six tons.
2. The ordinary steam pressure must not exceed 50 pounds above that of the atmosphere.
3. It must be well supplied with safety-valves and pressure-gauges.
4. It must not exceed fifteen feet in height.
5. It must rest on springs.
6. It must be able (if weighing six tons) to draw twenty tons continuously ten miles per hour.
7. It must not cost more than $2,750.
8. The boiler must stand a pressure, when tested, of 150 pounds per square inch.
9. It must be ready for trial October 1, 1829.
The publication of these conditions and the offer of the prize excited great interest, and caused no small amount of comment. The Stephensons at once began the construction of "The Rocket," without doubt the most famous locomotive ever built. The improved feature it was to have was increased heating surface, so that without increased weight it could generate more steam. This was effected by putting fire-tubes through the water in the boiler. Boiler-tubes had already been used by different people, and some of Stephenson's locomotives which he had sent to France had been fitted with tubes. At the suggestion of Mr. James Booth, Stephenson decided to use a large number of tubes. Modern boilers have smaller tubes and more of them, but "The Rocket" was the first to typify the modern multitubular boiler. In other respects "The Rocket" was like Stephenson's other locomotives built ten or twelve years earlier.
A brief description of "The Rocket" will not be out of place: The boiler was 6 feet long, 3 feet 4 inches in diameter, and was furnished with 25 copper tubes 3 inches in diameter. The fire-box was at the rear end of the boiler, 2 feet wide and 3 feet high, surrounded by water. The cylinders were high on the sides, pointing down to the forward wheels, which were the only drivers. Stephenson had used coupling rods between two sets of "drivers," but "The Rocket" was made for speed chiefly. Its weight when furnished with water was only four and a half tons! On trial at Killingworth "The Rocket" worked finely and its capacity for steam was marvellous. It was sent by wagon to Carlisle and by boat to Liverpool.
On the day set for the trial there were four engines on hand: 1. The "Novelty," built by young Ericsson, who afterward in New York built the famous "Monitor." 2. The "Sanspareil," by Timothy Hackworth. 3. The "Perseverance," by a Mr. Burstall. 4. "The Rocket," by Stephenson and Booth.
The programme of test fixed by the judges was to run over a level piece of the road at Rainhill, two miles long, forty times during a day, at a rate not less than ten miles per hour. The train was to weigh three and one-third times as much as the locomotive. Each engine was to have a day for trial.
The "Perseverance" proved slow; its best speed was not more than six miles per hour; so it was quickly withdrawn.
The "Sanspareil" was made by one of Stephenson's own foremen, and differed little from the Killingworth style of locomotive. It was rather over weight, but it ran at times as fast as fourteen miles per hour. Its machinery was defective, however, and it was ruled out by the judges.
The "Novelty" ran at times in good style, but its bellows, for making a fire-blast, were defective and repeatedly gave out, causing delay. It failed to make the required speed with a full load; by itself it is said to have run at the rate of twenty-eight miles per hour. Ericsson claimed that he had not had time to properly construct his locomotive, and the claim was probably just. As it was, the time was extended six days.
The day assigned for "The Rocket" was the third day, but when on the second day all other engines failed, it was brought out to entertain the spectators. Attaching it to a coach full of passengers, Stephenson ran over the line at a rate reaching thirty miles per hour, to the amazement of all.
The next morning "The Rocket" was subjected to the regular test. Its assigned load was thirteen and a half tons which it drew back and forth over the two-mile track the full stent of forty times, making a spurt at times as high as twenty-nine miles, about three times what had been declared possible by the judges! Finally, to show how fast the engine could go and still keep the track, Mr. Stephenson ran it alone at the astonishing rate of thirty-five miles per hour.
Thus did "The Rocket" surpass all records and all expectations. The enthusiasm of every one was unbounded. All doubts were removed and Stephenson's opponents in the company became his ardent friends. His judgment seemed infallible, and his word was law.
This victory at Rainhill completed the triumph of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway. The road was opened the following year, 1830, with most imposing ceremonies. Members of Parliament, lords and ladies, and even the great Duke of Wellington, honored the occasion by their presence, and rode on the excursion trains.
The story of George Stephenson's great work is told. His railroad and his locomotive had come together, and to stay. All opposition was crushed, and no sooner was one road in successful operation than another, sometimes several, were on foot. George and Robert Stephenson were in demand everywhere and their locomotive works were full of orders. In twenty years England had nearly ten thousand miles of railways.
The spectacle of these two men, father and son, working together as equals was one often admired. Both became wealthy and full of honor. Titled men were proud to pay their respects to George Stephenson, and when he died, in 1848, at the age of sixty-seven, the whole nation rose up to do him honor.
Though probably Stephenson had never heard of Emerson, Emerson had heard of Stephenson, and he called upon him on his visit to England. Afterward Emerson said that "it was worth crossing the Atlantic to have seen Stephenson alone; he had such native force of character and vigor of intellect."
What a contrast that meeting offers! There face to face stood two men, two great philosophers, both of whom have broadly and deeply influenced mankind--one by deeds, the other by words. One wielded the pen, giving us noble, beautiful and inspiring thoughts, profoundly analyzing life and character; the other wielded those cunning tools with which man subdues nature and harnesses its forces to do his will. He wrote not for the pages of a book, but on lines of steel with a stylus that conquered time and space, bringing distant cities into companionship. I look up to each with an equal reverence. Each achieved the conquest of mind over matter, and each exhibited the exceeding manliness of a noble life and character.
There is no space with which to speak of Stephenson's safety-lamp, nor of the influence his life and character have had on the brain and brawn of working England. If my reader is interested to know him more and better, let him consult the nearest library.
One word about "The Rocket" and this brief sketch is done. For some years "The Rocket" did service on the Liverpool and Manchester road, but it soon proved too light for the heavy traffic, and was sold to a coal company in the North, where for years it faithfully hauled coal-cars from the mines. But even there it was superseded, and in contempt consigned to the back-yard. It was still fleet, but not strong. In that dreary back-yard among useless lumber, the once peerless "Rocket" spent a season or two in rain and snow and sunny weather, when George Stephenson bought it back and put it in his cabinet at the Newcastle works. After Stephenson's death the precious relic was placed in the British Museum in London.
"The Rocket" itself was exhibited a few years ago at the Railway Exposition in Chicago, and an exact copy of it was shown at the recent World's Fair.