The Robert Stephenson Trust promotes the greatest engineer of the nineteenth century with the aim of making today's generation aware of his work and humanity to insire a new generation of engineers through his achievements.

These pages give news of the Stephensons, their associates, works and activities.
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A short biography of Robert Stephenson can be seen here

Posted By Robert. Stephenson

The Curate, A Vicar and 5 Engineers- a North East Railway Dynasty

Posted By Robert. Stephenson
The Stephenson Phenomenon....... SLS event. Friday 9 May, National Railway Museum, York (Added 17 February 2014)

Inauguration of the new SLS President & The Stephenson Phenomenon: 200 Years On

To mark the start of Dr Michael Bailey’s tenure of office a day of celebration of the SLS and the bi-centenary of George Stephenson’s first locomotive is taking place at the National Railway Museum, York on Friday 9 May 2014 commencing at 11.45.

The Chairman will open proceedings at 12 noon and after a short hand-over ceremony, lunch will be taken c 12.30. Then at 13.45 members and guests will make their way to the ‘Evening Star’ theatre for a series of 30 minute seminars, each with 10 minute question and answer sessions. There will be a refreshment break during these seminars and the whole event will close by 17.25. Details of the seminars are shown below.

The NRM are also planning to have a selection of their Stephenson memorabilia available for viewing in Search during the event period.



Members and guests assemble by the side of Gladstone in the Peter Allen building, a short distance from the museum’s main entrance.

12 noon – 12.30

Inauguration of the President

Welcome to guests and members – Bob Bemand, SLS Chairman.

Early Years of the SLS – Andrew Dow, SLS Past President

Formal ‘hand-over’ of ‘badge of office’

The SLS in More Recent Times – Dr Michael Bailey, SLS President

12.30 – 13.45


The Stephenson Phenomenon: 200 Years On

14.00 – 14.45

Why Displace the Horse? – John New

14.50 – 15.30

The Development of Railway Track up to 1835 – Andrew Dow

15.30 – 16.00

Break for Refreshments

16.00 – 16.40

George Stephenson’s Earliest Locomotives – Dr Michael Bailey

16.45 – 17.25

George Stephenson’s Rope-Hauled Railways – Colin Mountford

Non-members are welcome (subject to space) - advance booking essential. as places are limited. Cost - Seminar - Free to members and the public (Refreshments extra). For further information and to reserve a place contact John New (SLS Publicity Officer)

Posted By Robert. Stephenson
Civil engineer Edwin Clark (1814–1894) was born on this day 200 years ago.

Clark was engineer for Robert Stephenson's Britannia tubular bridge where he was responsible for lifting the tubes using hydraulic presses (pictured). He became a Member of ICE in 1855.

Posted By Robert. Stephenson

Rocket Autumn 2013

Posted By Robert. Stephenson

The Britannia Bridge fire


DISASTER struck over the Menai Strait on May 23 1970 when a group of teenagers accidentally set the Britannia Bridge alight.


They were carrying a piece of burning paper as a lamp and when the lit paper was dropped inside the bridge, the wood and tar inside the tubular structure caught fire. Strong wind and the tubular shape helped the fire spread along the bridge. The fire continued to burn for nine hours.


 One of the youths later said they had been invited to a party by a girl but when the group got to the house they found her parents had gone out and locked it.

 Instead of the party they decided to go down to the "tube" for a walk and after climbing a stile went into the structure for about 10 yards. He told reporters in 1972: "We had never been there before and just wanted to see what it was like. We couldn't see much just hear a noise from the girders. "There was a page of a book on the floor and I had my lighter. I lit the paper and threw it behind one of the girders.”  The burning paper set light to tar on the wooden sleepers on the track. As the roof was wood the fire quickly spread, from the mainland side of the bridge towards Anglesey, aided by strong winds.


Fire crews from Bangor were first on the scene after the alarm was raised at 9.43pm and found the entrance tower well alight, with fire already spreading rapidly over the roof of the first span.  A former Bangor fire fighter said later the tube was “like a long chimney on its side with a massive draw”. More appliances were requested and 11 appliances and more than 60 fire fighters fought the blaze but they were hampered by the wind and the inaccessible spot with low water pressure from hydrants. The tar covering the tubes melted and began falling from the bridge, setting light to trees and undergrowth below.

 The glow of the blaze could be seen from as far away as Holyhead and Llandudno and burnt fiercely for nine hours before firefighters succeeded in bringing it under control.


But Robert Stephenson's bridge, which had stood for 120 years, was virtually destroyed, severing Anglesey's rail link with the mainland. An official report into the fire fighting operation revealed low water pressure hindered the firemen’s work.


 Frank Hitchinson, the chief officer of Caernarvonshire ((CORR)) Fire Brigade, said there was no water hydrant near the bridge and the nearest water supply was the Menai Strait  about 450 yards away and down gradients of one in three. He said later the lack of a water hydrant was known to both fire services and British Railways (BR).


 The Secretary of State for Wales – the Rt Hon George Thomas MP visited the scene to inspect the fire damage the following day and congratulated the fireman of both brigades ”for the brave and courageous manner in which they fought and tackled the fire”, and endeavoured to save this vital communications link between the mainland and the county of Anglesey.


With traffic increasing, there are discussions concerning upgrading the Britannia Bridge once again.There has been no decision so far, so perhaps three bridges will cross the Menai Strait in future.



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