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.

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A short biography of Robert Stephenson can be seen here

Posted By Robert. Stephenson
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Liverpool and Manchester Railway - View near Liverpool, looking towards Manchester.
Liverpool and Manchester Railway - View near Liverpool, looking towards Manchester.

About this event

After last year's success, when the Smeaton lecture sold out weeks in advance and attracted nearly 300 delegates, this key annual event is back for its 2016 edition.

This year’s topic will look at the design and construction of the Liverpool to Manchester railway.

Opened on 15-16 September 1830, the Liverpool to Manchester Railway is the first main-line and intercity railway in the world. As such it was a prototype project, and remains of global interest, most famously for the establishment of steam locomotive traction as a prime mover, paving the way for a transport revolution that transformed the world over the next 50 years. The Railway was a showcase for British engineering establishing a demand for British engineering expertise all over the world.

The lecture will describe the planning, procurement, design, management and construction of this pioneering engineering work and its initial operation. It will consider the project in the context of the state of civil engineering in the 1820s and its significance today.

The line involved many major engineering works: tunnels and deep cuttings through sandstone, long crossings of deep bogs, inclines considered too steep for locomotive working, and majestic bridges and viaducts. The total quantity of excavation for the railway was about 3m. cubic yards.

The station at Liverpool Road, Manchester is the oldest passenger station in the world and sufficient of its 63 bridges and infrastructure survive to justify its inscription as an ASCE International Civil Engineering landmark in 2016.

Posted By Robert. Stephenson

The skew bridge at Rainhill station

The skew bridge at Railhill station

Even to the most untrained of eyes, it’s clearly not the kind of workmanship likely to win the approval of as exacting a taskmaster as George Stephenson.

So it is understable the work undertaken at Rainhill’s Skew Bridge, an engineering first which has stood the test of time since it was built in 1829 by Stephenson, raised more than just afew eyebrows.

Local historians were horrified when it was subjected to a horrendously botched renovation job by Network Rail, who wanted to raise the bridge to help them electrify the line.

Contractors had hoped to raise the entire length of the historic bridge, including the wing walls on either side, to help them electrify the line between Liverpool and Manchester.

But the type of stone used proved a particularly poor match and they found they were unable to remove the original copingstones as the vibrations created could have damaged the parapet - including the plaque on the rail face.

Skew Bridge was constructed by Stephenson in 1829 and is a Grade II listed structure.

It spans the Liverpool to Manchester railway line and is widely accepted as the world’s first bridge to cross a railway line at an angle.

Network Rail bosses insisted that they fully appreciated and understood the importance of Skew Bridge - both from a railway history perspective and as an aesthetically significant asset in Rainhill.

They also pledged, from now on, to use sandstone more befitting of the existing structure.

Among the 21 objection letters received by St Helens Council was one from Rainhill Civic Society, which even enclosed a note from an architect on their planning group as to how the works could be improved.

It read: “The society wish to register their disappointment and disapproval at the work carried out at Skew Bridge, a bridge which is of considerable historic significance.

“They do not consider the modifications to have been carried out in the best or most appropriate way.”

However Network Rail’s revised plans were approved by the planning committee subject to conditions - including that a qualified stonemason is called in to oversee the works.

A spokesman for Network Rail simply declined to comment on the first attempt at raising the Rainhill bridge, but added: “Naturally, we want the work to be carried out to the highest standard and recognise that this is important both for local residents and rail users alike.”


Posted By Robert. Stephenson

Repost from Edge Hill Station
Here we see the same replica of the Rocket in front of St. George’s Hall, at the start of the 2011 Gay Pride march. St. George’s Hall stands opposite Lime Street station, and was built in order to accomodate the triennial music festivals that were then held in Liverpool, and also host dinners, concerts and meetings. A company to build such a building was established in 1836, with shares available for £25. By January 1837 £23,350 (£1.76 million in today’s prices) had been raised. The foundation stone was laid on 28th June 1838, to commemorate the coronation of Queen Victoria. An 1839 competition to design the hall was won by 25-year-old London architect Harvey Lonsdale Elmes: Elemes also won a separate competition to design assize courts in Liverpool, and suggested that one building could serve both functions. Construction started in 1841: in 1847, Elmes, who was dying of consumption, delegated responsibility for the project to corporation surveyor John Weightman and structural engineer Robert Rawlinson. In 1851, Charles Robert Cockerell took over as architect, and was mainly responsible for designing the interiors. St. George’s Hall opened to public in 1854, though the concert hall was not opened for another two years. Following a major restoration, the building was reopened by Prince Charles on 23rd April 2007.

Rocket at St. George’s Hall

Posted By Robert. Stephenson

As reported in the Manchester Evening News


The 1937 locomotive Manchester United. The nameplate, on the side of the train, is to go under the hammer this weekend and is expected to fetch between £80,000 to £100,000. (Picture: The Model Centre - TMC)

The 1937 locomotive Manchester United. The nameplate, on the side of the train, is to go under the hammer this weekend and is expected to fetch between £80,000 to £100,000. (Picture: The Model Centre - TMC)


Auctioneers hope the restored piece will fetch between £80,000 and £100,000 when it goes up for grabs this weekend. It took pride of place on the 1937 Robert Stephenson-built steam engine that operated between Manchester and Marylebone, one of a number which took the name of football clubs.

When the train was scrapped in 1960 the surviving nameplate was snapped up by a collector for the £15.

And when he passed away it was bought for £17,500 by a Florida-based expat who restored it to glory.

It goes under the hammer again on Saturday at Derbyshire County Cricket Club – and is expected to break the £60,000 record for the amount paid for a loco nameplate.

United bosses say they are aware of the relic but have no plans to buy it for the club’s museum. However, Chris Dickerson, from auctioneers Sheffield Railwayana, said the nameplate has sparked unprecedented interest.

He said: “We have had a record number of hits on our website and we have already had people contact us to tell us they will be there on Saturday.”

He added that it was particularly popular given United’s historic links with the railway – the club was founded as a railway workers’ team in Newton Heath.

Chris said that the train version of Manchester United had lived a ‘nomadic existence’.

Chris added that there is also a Manchester City nameplate – which is part of a private collection.

Posted By Robert. Stephenson

Edge Hill Station is the oldest passenger railway station in the World. Some say when Stephenson's Rocket left Edge Hill for Manchester on the 15th September 1830 it marked the beginning of the modern world.

The Edge Hill Archive attempts to tell the story of a place that has global significance but where ordinary people also live their lives.  Contained within the ten different categories are many stories, anecdotes, objects, artefacts, documents and photographs that together create a ‘living’ archive of Edge Hill’s people and place, both historic and current. 

When Metal decided to renovate the station buildings at Edge Hill Station in Liverpool - the world’s oldest passenger railway station, still in use - we were keen to ensure that the pioneering spirit and history of innovation found in the story of the buildings remained an active part in the legacy we were aspiring to create.  Our continuing creative programme regularly invites artists and local community members to make theatre, music and visual arts that reflect the history of the buildings and the surrounding area, a history that resonates in the architecture and atmosphere of the place. 

Edge Hill is situated at the heart of Liverpool, between Kensington, Wavertree, Toxteth and the city centre. The area has had a significant role to play in the city’s development, as well as in world history as a centre of transport and industry.  The station was a key part of the business venture that was to see the first railway built specifically for passengers rather than cargo, namely the Liverpool to Manchester Railway.  When the line opened in 1830 George Stephenson’s ‘Rocket’ left Crown Street Station and passed through Edge Hill carrying the Prime Minister of the day, the Duke of Wellington, on board.  For the first time passengers could travel at speed between two major cities and return on the same day.  It was a day when the world became a smaller place, the first global news story broke, and the rise of an industry began that would change the world.

The story of Edge Hill Station, the building, is one of many stories that grow out of the wider area and its changing fortunes across the years.  Our project has captured some of these stories here and our project includes a display inside the buildings at Edge Hill Station itself.  With the help of a Heritage Lottery Grant, and the many people who have submitted stories and objects to the archive, we have been able to create this archive and we hope that you find something interesting within it.

Please get in touch if you have a story or memory to add to the archive:

Metal at Edge Hill Station, Tunnel Road, Liverpool, L7 6ND



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