Tuesday, 2 February 2010

The King of the Shed Builders

I first heard about Richard Trevithick when I was at school, and I fell for him there and then. A gentle giant, he was an all round smart bloke... he didn't do well at school but he had a brilliant, creative, problem-solving mind and wasn't scared of getting his hands dirty. He apparently had a great sense of humour, was a brilliant story teller, and he lived round the corner from my ancestors in the little parish of Probus, Cornwall. He invented the first self-propelled passenger carrying vehicle in 1803, made massive advances in pumping engines for the mines, and went on to invent the steam locomotive. Like many creative people, he wasn't much of a self-publicist and he never made anything from his pioneering inventions... in fact towards the end of his life he was stranded, ill and penniless, in Peru where he had been working on engines for the silver mines. Who should he bump into but Robert Stephenson, who'd made his name and a fortune developing the locomotive. Bob gave him 50 quid for his passage home...


  1. Shortly before he died he wrote: "However much I may be straitened in pecuniary circumstances, the great honour of being a useful subject can never be taken from me which, to me, far exceeds riches."

  2. Ha ha yeah I thought that, Tim says "Of course, he is your idol!" ha ha