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Posted By Robert. Stephenson

Tyneside’s Robert Stephenson changed the world, and the anniversary of his death was marked by wreath-laying, prayers and thanksgiving.

The ceremony took place at the Stephenson monument in Westgate Road.

Plans for the statue to his father and kindred railway pioneer George were under way when Robert died, and one of the figures seated at the monument plinth is believed to have been modelled on Robert.


The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) North East decided to mark the anniversary by laying wreaths in Newcastle and at Westminster Abbey in London.

After laying the first wreath at the Stephenson Monument with the Sheriff of the City of Newcastle councillor Brenda Hindmarsh, and ICE North East chairman Greg Lutton, regional director Stephen Larkin took a second wreath on the train to London for a repeat ceremony.


Mr Larkin said: “He was arguably the greatest civil engineer in the world.

“He not only designed locomotives but promoted them and the railway system.

“It can be argued that he is the greatest individual the North East has produced and the esteem in which he was held is shown by the fact that he is buried in Westminster Abbey.”


Mr Lutton said: “This year’s celebrations of the life and work of Robert Stephenson have been a chance to reflect, not only regionally but nationally as well, upon the legacy he has left.


“We have the Stephenson family to thank for such great feats in engineering and today has been a real day of remembrance for those achievements.”

Vicky Howarth has lived in Robert’s former home in Greenfield Place in Summerhill, Newcastle, for 33 years.


She is the author of one book and the co-author of a second on Robert, and was also a founder member of the Robert Stephenson Trust – set up to save his locomotive factory in South Street, behind the Central Station, on which Robert also worked.

She said: “Robert’s contribution to the world is as meaningful now as it was during his lifetime.


Kath Lawless, head of development management at Newcastle City Council, said: “It was important that the anniversary was marked locally.


“The council is very keen to celebrate the lives of important local figures and to raise the profile and understanding of the roles they played.” Last night a special service to commemorate Robert was held in St Nicholas Cathedral in Newcastle .

The achievements of Robert and George Stephenson were the equivalent of the technological leap forward precipitated by the invention of the internet, said the Very Rev Christopher Dalliston, Dean of Newcastle who led the monument ceremony.

He said: “The Stephensons helped shape the city and its character and in may ways symbolise the spirit and creative talent of its people.”


Posted By Robert. Stephenson

A song about one of Tyneside’s favourite son’s, has been written and composed by a North East singer – songwriter to celebrate the 150th anniversary this week of the death of Robert Stephenson.

The song, “The Famous Rainhill Trials” written by John Leslie of Nedderton, near Morpeth, tells the story of Stephenson’s Rocket through the eyes of a young man who was employed to transport the locomotive from Newcastle to Liverpool in 1829.

John, who plays guitar and sings with three piece local band The Sawdust Jacks, recently premiered the song at Heritage @St Mary’s in Gateshead as part of an evening of local history events held during the Heritage Open Day weekend. He hopes that the song will make people think about the talent and engineering skills of the Stephenson’s and the way that they have changed the way that we live today.

The Famous Rainhill Trials by the Sawdust Jacks

As we left home for Liverpool, two weeks ago today
A cloud sat on my shoulder, as I watched you fade away
Thank God for our safe passage, here on Rainhill Bridge we wait
Our precious cargo gleaming, a fire burns in the grate.

£500 is up for grabs, and contracts to be signed
Worth a lot of money, here in 1829
So engineers from miles around, have gathered here today
To stake their claim to greatness; take the purse away.

Novelty and Sans Pariel, could only wait and hope
That Stephenson’s great wonder would soon go up in smoke
But 13 tons of cargo, was pulled 70 miles that day
October 1829, we blew them all away.

Hats were thrown towards the sky, and I saw grown men cry
Rocket gobbled up the miles, at the famous rainhill trials
My heart was pounding through my chest; I was ten feet tall as I watched the best
And now the whole of Tyneside smiles, about the famous Rainhill trials.

Now my love I’m homeward bound, I’ll soon be at your door
I hope my letters found you well, I love you even more
I’m coming home a better man, in oh so many ways
And I can’t wait to tell the world the story of the day

When hats were thrown towards the sky, and I saw grown men cry
Rocket gobbled up the miles, at the famous rainhill trials
My heart was pounding through my chest; I was ten feet tall as I watched the best
And now the whole of Tyneside smiles, about the famous Rainhill trials.


Visit SAWDUSTJACKS website:

Posted By Robert. Stephenson

Jean Venables OBE FREng, President of Institution of Civil Engineers will lay a wreath on Rbt's grave on Monday 12th October. The ceremony will be filmed by the BBC as well as Channel 4 who are making a 'Time Team'programme in Westminster Abbey

Posted By Robert. Stephenson

Hardy Pictures have been commissioned by BBC4 to develop a script about the origins and early years of the Stephenson story, provisionally titled ‘The Rocket’. As can be seen from the company's website, they have a track record for making award-winning, responsibly-researched and compelling factual dramas, including most recently ‘Spanish Flu: The Forgotten Fallen’, on BBC4. The company takes its responsibility to research the known facts seriously and their particular challenge is to balance those facts against the need for clarity, for the lay audience’s sake, in each of the scripts. the company believes the Stephenson story is rich with inherent passion and ingenuity and drama and are looking forward to forming editorial and logistical partnerships with local experts such as the Trust, in order to develop a brilliant script.

Posted By Robert. Stephenson
We don't know too much about who drove particular engines. Names for the drivers at the opening in 1830 are known but there is no Abraham. The Rocket continued for a while at Liverpool but was supersede by improved engines quite quickly and it was out of use after about five years. It was sold in 1836.
    We must remember that old engines were sometimes known as Rocket as a nickname even though their proper name was something else.
    A further point is that there were other Rockets on other lines but the same thing applies they were obsolete quickly. A first starting point is to know which Railway company the person worked for? It is possible to find out at the National Archives as they have drivers names for some companies.




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