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Trevithick Centenary Exhibition

Nature volume 131, page 497 (08 April 1933) | Download Citation



IN connexion with the celebration of the centenary of the death of the great Cornish engineer and inventor Richard Trevithick, the ‘father’ of the steam locomotive, a memorial exhibition has been arranged in the main gallery of the Science Museum, South Kensington. Trevithick was an inventor of astonishing fertility but his main contribution to engineering progress was his invention of the high-pressure non-condensing steam engine and its application to both road and rail locomotives. His outstanding patent was taken out in 1802, and engines were made all over England to his designs. Of these engines two excellent specimens are shown, one with a cast iron boiler, made in 1805, and another made in 1811 with a wrought iron boiler. Unfortunately, nothing remains of his several locomotives, but various documents and drawings are exhibited and there are also some of the cast iron rails from Penydarran, South Wales, on which his first locomotive ran. This engine, the first rail locomotive in the world, is known to have drawn five wagons with a load of ten tons in 1804, and four years later Trevithick exhibited a locomotive, afterwards named Catch-me-who-can, “in the fields adjoining the Bedford Nursery-near Tottenham Court Road”, London. The next locomotive of importance was that constructed by Matthew Murray for John Blenkinsop at Leeds in 1811, but the original drawings for this were supplied by Trevithick, who received a royalty on the engine. The exhibition also includes Linnell's portrait of Trevithick painted in 1816, Burnard's bust and many interesting letters and documents.

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