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Posted By Robert. Stephenson
Robert Stephenson

To mark the birthday of Robert Stephenson’s Royal Border Bridge, in Berwick, organisers have decided to illuminate its arches.

And now they are looking for people who share their name with England’s most famous civil engineer to take part in the spectacular switch-on.

Robert Stephensons from across the region are being asked to come forward and take part in the commemoration event on November 27.

Bernard Shaw, chairman of the Stephenson 150 project, which was set up last year to mark the 150th anniversary of Stephenson’s death, is encouraging people to come forward.

He said: “Most birthday celebrations involve candles but what we have decided to do is light up Robert Stephenson’s achievement for all to see. If you are a Robert Stephenson, if you work with one or live next door to one, please do urge them to come forward.

“For our namesake volunteers it should be a once-in-a-lifetime experience and if we find enough of them we might even go for a Guinness Book of Records attempt for the most namesakes together in one place.”

As well as the illumination of the bridge, spectators can also expect fireworks, street performers and a lantern parade. The bridge illumination was initiated by Berwick History Society and Cittaslow as a legacy of their successful Stephenson 150 events last year that commemorated the 150th anniversary of the death of Robert Stephenson in 1859.

Robert Stephensons wanting to take part should email before October 29 and must be prepared to supply photographic identification such as a driving licence or passport.




Posted By Robert. Stephenson

The ICE web site has posed  the question - Why not contribute to the debate and add a Robert Stephenson Structure?


See Here

Posted By Robert. Stephenson

Victoria Haworth's item in the latest edition of Gazette makes reference to the Hetton Colliery Railway........

The 1882 eight mile Hetton Colliery Railway over Warden Law linked Hetton Colliery with Staiths at Sunderland and was of national significance, as the first complete line engineered by George Stephenson. It used locomotives on level stretches with stationary engines and self-acting inclines elsewhere.

It was the first to be designed from the start to be operated without animal power, and was George Stephenson's first entirely new line.

The first five locomotives were built by Stephenson between 1820 and 1822, as a development of those at Killingworth 0-4-0 types with chain-coupled wheels. Four of them had names: Hetton, Dart, Tallyho and Star.

They incorporated his steam springs in an attempt to compensate for the reaction to the vertical cylinders which had caused previous locomotives to rock excessively, and were not entirely successful. For a while a section of the line was an inclined plane operated by stationary engines. The 1822 engine however continued in service until 1912, being rebuilt in 1857 and 1882, and is now preserved in theNRM Shildon.

The Company acquired limited liability in 1884 and later built two more locomotives, "Lyons" and "Eppleton", gear driven, with vertical boilers. The Lambton Collieries Company took over the Hetton Coal Company in 1911.

In 1947 control of the line passed to the new state-owned NCB. Because of falling demand, it closed on 12 September 1959.

Posted By Robert. Stephenson

Letter signed ("Geo. Stephenson"), to his son Robert, discussing the design of their latest railway engine: "I am quite aware that the best tubes are a complicated job to make, but after once in and well done it cannot be any complication in the working of the Engine. This best Tube is a child of your own which you stated to me in a former letter. The interior of a watch looks complicated but when once well fit up, there needs very little more trouble for a hundred years, & I expect the Engine you are fitting up will be something similar to this watch with respect to its working parts"; and reminding him that other parts of their business demand his attention: "We must now push forward to Canterbury as much as possible...It will be necessary for you to be there in the course of a Month and to have your confidential man there...I have not heard any more from the Hetton Company, therefore you will push Scruton forward with his part of the business"; with integral address leaf, postmarked, docketed with contemporary costings or arithmetical calculations. dated 15 April 1828

Estimate: £1,500 - 2,000, 
GEORGE AND ROBERT STEPHENSON WORK ON THE DESIGN OF THEIR LOCOMOTIVE 'THE LANCASHIRE WITCH', This is one of the crucial series of letters "between the two Stephensons dealing with the vital question of boiler design" that were consulted by Robert's biographer, Jeaffreson, since when "all trace of the originals has now been lost" (see J.G.H. Warren, A Century of Locomotive Building by Robert Stephenson & Co, 1923, cited by W.O. Skeat, George Stephenson: The Engineer and His Letters, Institute of Mechanical Engineers, 1973, p.111).

The engine under discussion is the Liverpool Travelling Engine, now better known under the name given it at the inauguration of the Liverpool & Manchester line on 28 August, the Lancashire Witch. It was specifically designed for this, the world's first modern railway; work on it beginning after Robert's return from South America in 1827. It was intended to replace George's earlier engine, Locomotion No.1, which had been designed more for colliery than passenger use. The next stop on from our engine was to be the Rocket: "It appears that the bent tubes which caused Robert so much trouble in manufacture were not a success, but after modification the engine performed very satisfactorily. The 'Liverpool Travelling Engine' was a definite landmark in steam locomotive development; vertical cylinders were abandoned and the engine was mounted on springs. Although the horizontal disposition of the cylinders (as in the 'Experiment') now gave way to an inclined position, which might be regarded as a retrogression, yet the former side-levers were superseded by direct drive; and the location of cylinders inside the boiler was given up. The twin flues enabled a lighter boiler to be used, with increased hearing surface. An ingenious early attempt to secure expansive working of the steam was also incorporated. After the modifications referred to, a simpler form of return-flue boiler was used, with notable success...The 'Lancashire Witch' was cited by Robert Stephenson as evidence to refute the findings of Walter and Rastrick in favour of stationary engines for the Liverpool and Manchester Railway...The 'Experiment' and the 'Lancashire Witch' were definite landmarks in the escape from the cumbersome beam-engine structures of the earlier locomotives, with the cylinders sunk into the boiler, and each cylinder driving a separate axle.

Posted By Robert. Stephenson


Letter signed ("Geo. Stephenson"), to Edward Pease, giving news of his progress on the Liverpool & Manchester Railway: "We are getting on with our work here pretty well, and the whole of our Directors are using their best exertions to push the concern forward – We shall be through the Tunnel in about three Months – we have completed 19,000 yards out of 22,000 – the actual cost of it will come very near the estimate – We shall complete the long cutting of 70 feet in depth near Liverpool, this summer"; and giving news of the progress of the Clarence Railway bill through Parliament, in the face of fierce opposition from the coal interest; with integral address leaf, postmarked, 2 pages, small old stain and in inner margin, leaves separating, 4to, Liverpool, 21 March 1828

Estimate: £600 - 800, € 690 - 920
"WE SHALL COMPLETE THE LONG CUTTING OF 70 FEET IN DEPTH NEAR LIVERPOOL, THIS SUMMER": GEORGE STEPHENSON BUILDS THE WORLD'S FIRST PASSENGER RAILWAY. In this report on the progress of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway to Edward Pease, his chief financial backer, Stephenson refers to the extraordinary 2,250 yard Wapping Tunnel from Liverpool Docks to Edge Hill, followed by the spectacular two-mile long cutting, seventy foot deep in places, made through the rock at Mount Olive near Liverpool. It is less immediately obvious what constitutes the 20,000 yard stretch to which he refers in the same paragraph. Were he not discussing works at the Liverpool end of the operation, it might be taken as reference to the laying of the line over the great Chat Moss bog just outside Manchester, which indeed extends to about twelve square miles. Chat Moss, together with the Wapping Tunnel and Mount Olive, form the culmination of work on the Manchester & Liverpool line; in the words of W.O. Skeat: "The phenomenal determination shown by Stephenson, at this time, compels one's deepest admiration. He was engaged on the greatest engineering project ever attempted in Britain; and he was solving its problems without any previous experience to guide him" (George Stephenson: The Engineer and His Letters, Institute of Mechanical Engineers, 1973, p.109).

Edward Pease, the recipient of this letter, had been the driving force behind the earlier Stockton & Darlington Railway and funded the family's engine-building works, Robert Stephenson & Co (see the following lot). The Clarence Railway bill, which this letter also discusses, was for an extension of the Stockton & Darlington line from Simpasture down to the Tees. See illustration on preceding page.




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