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MAKING THE MODERN WORLD
Stories about the lives we've made
people:Robert Stephenson
Born: 16 October 1803, Willington Quay, Northumberland, England
Died: 12 October 1859, London, England


picture zoom © Science Museum/Science and Society Picture Library

One of the greatest British engineers of any time.

The son of George Stephenson (1781-1848), Robert was responsible for building the Rocket steam locomotive which proved a success at the Rainhill Trials in October 1829. During the first two decades of main line railway construction that followed the firm of Robert Stephenson & Co was in the forefront of steam locomotive design. Robert was appointed Chief Engineer of the London and Birmingham Railway in 1833, which opened in 1838. During the 1840s he was consultant engineer on a great many railway schemes.

Stephenson was famed for the many bridges he designed, including the High Level Bridge at Newcastle upon Tyne (1849), the Britannia tubular bridge over the Menai Straits in Wales (1850) and the Royal Border Bridge at Berwick upon Tweed (1850). He became Member of Parliament for Whitby in 1847 and remained so until his death in 1859, but rarely spoke in Parliament except on engineering matters.

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