Richard Trevithick


Richard TrevithickRichard Trevithick (1771-1833) was born in Cornwall. He was a tragic mining engineer who invented the most important boilers and engines, but was very unlucky in his life. At first he tried to persue Watt to use his much improved boiler which allowed much higher steam-pressures, but without any success. Watt was very reluctant of high pressures and refused to use it. But this boiler was the predecessor of the very successfull Cornish boiler, still used until today.

Then he was the first to design a steam-locomotive in 1801, the Puffing Devil. But it was George Stephenson who is, erroneous, considered as the inventor of the steam-locomotive.

The Puffing Devil was not his biggest success, and afterwards he designed many other locomotives.

In between he designed and built some high-pressure steam-engines, all based on the design of the Puffing Devel.

He was also asked to help building a very complicated tunnel unter the Thames. But he was not very successfull in this project, a project that knew many failures and had many engineers involved. At the end it was Brunel who finished the tunnel.

In 1811 he went bankrupt, but at the same year he made the first steps in the development of the Cornish engine. The Cornish engine is the main successor of Watt's engine and was built until the end of the 19th century. Many of this engine's can still be seen in working order. Some astonishing examples can be found working in the Kew Bridge Steam Museum,  nowadays called the London Museum of Water and Steam.

In 1817 he went to Southern America to work there as a mining-engineer. When he returned to England in 1827 he did several engine-jobs, but in 1833 he died of illness, without any relatives and without any money.

It is clear that he was a very important figure, but he is not really honored for that.