This year is the bi-centenary of the opening of the world’s first locomotive works, Stephenson’s works in in Newcastle upon Tyne. To celebrate, the Robert Stephenson Trust is holding an exhibition with a series of lectures and has published a book.
Robert Stephenson & Co was founded on June 23, 1823, by ‘father of railways’ George Stephenson with his son Robert, and two local industrialists – Edward Pease and Michael Longridge. With Robert as managing partner, the company established their ‘locomotive factory’ at South Street on the North bank of the River Tyne. It would soon become the pride of Newcastle.
The exhibition is being held in the Map Room at The Common Room, Neville Hall, Newcastle. It features displays and videos about Robert Stephenson’s life; the formation of Robert Stephenson & Co.; illustrations of the Newcastle factory; the firm’s products, and the trust’s endeavours to raise awareness of this important chapter in the history of Newcastle upon Tyne and the North East.
It will open at 10.30am on January 28 by Donald Heath OBE, Robert Stephenson Trust chairman. A presentation, Robert Stephenson and Co., Locomotive Builders, Newcastle, 1823 to 1902, by the trust’s vice-chairman, Hugh Fenwick, will follow in The Common Room Lecture Theatre. The exhibition will open to the public at 2pm, continuing until 25th March 2023, Mondays to Saturdays between 10am and 4pm. Admission is free.
Mr Heath said: “ Robert Stephenson was arguably the greatest of Britain’s many 19th century engineers, excelling as both a mechanical and a civil engineer. The creation of Robert Stephenson & Co. and the opening of the ‘locomotive factory’ in 1823 was a milestone, not just in Robert’s career, but also in the development of railways worldwide. The works built the best early steam locomotives, including Locomotion No.1 and Rocket, and went on to supply locomotives acround the world. We are delighted to be able to celebrate these achievements that started two centuries ago here in the North East.”
The trust’s book, The World’s First Locomotive Factory, describes the life and products of the firm from its founding in 1823 to completion of the final locomotive in 1964. With almost 80 illustrations, it portrays the amazing range of high quality locomotives built by the company for railways across the world, both at the original Newcastle factory and later at Darlington. It is obtainable from the trust, priced £6 or £8 including post and packing to a UK address.
During the period of the exhibition there will be a programme of lectures at The Common Room relating to Robert Stephenson & Co. Admission is free but tickets can be booked in advance by phoning 0191 2509717 (press ‘programme’ or ‘library’).
Thursday, February 9 at 2pm: The Art of Robert Stephenson – Images of the Man, his Life and Works, by J Michael Taylor MBE, Robert Stephenson Trust trustee.
Thursday, February 23 at 2pm: Stephenson Survivors Worldwide, by Anthony Coulls, senior curator of Rail Transport and Technology,National Railway Museum.
Saturday, March 4 at 1pm: The Stanhope and Tyne Railroad Company, by Rob Langham, author.
Saturday, March 4 at 2.30pm: Thomas Elliott Harrison – Railway Engineer, by John Addyman, president of the North Eastern Railway Association.
Saturday, March 18 at 2pm: Progress in Design and Manufacture: The Steam Locomotive 1825-1830, by Dr Michael R Bailey MBE, railway historian and archaeologist.
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