The Trevithick 1802 Coalbrookdale Replica Locomotive is coming to Shrewsbury Steam Rally
We’re pleased to announce that, in association with the Ironbridge Gorge Museum, a full-size working replica of the first railway locomotive in the world, the Trevithick 1802 Coalbrookdale Replica Locomotive, will be at this year’s Shrewsbury Steam Rally.
Edward Goddard, Society Chairman said: “We’re very privileged to have the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust’s full size 3-ft gauge working model of one of Richard Trevithick’s engines, which will be demonstrated on a 60metre length of track, providing a fabulous steam spectacle!”
Michael Llewellyn from the Society said: “Many people think James Watt invented the steam engine and George Stephenson the first railway locomotive, but neither is correct. Richard Trevithick was working at Coalbrookdale on water pumps when he started work on his first railway locomotive. There is very little information on its success, or even if it ever ran but it did exist as he had written letters on its’ progress. It is possible work was halted by the death of William Reynold in 1803 who was the Ironmaster working on the project. Or it may have been due to the damming letter in the press from James Watt on the danger of such inventions and could have given the Coalbrookdale management ‘cold feet’. But at this year’s Rally we will have a magnificent working engine on display for visitors to see running on its own trackway!”
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Additional Trevithick information…
Richard Trevithick was a Cornish engineer who had been at odds with James Watt for many years as Mr Watt insisted that ‘strong steam’, or as we call it, ‘high-pressure steam’ was extremely dangerous. James Watt had taken out many patents on all aspects of steam engines to prevent others even experimenting. However, Trevithick and one or two men (even one of Watt’s staff) had been working on small high-pressure steam engines for pumping water and road steam engines. This top-secret work had to take place under cover of darkness at times. In 1801 when Watts’ patents finally ran out Richard Trevithick took up the challenge in the form of two road vehicles, but with only limited success due to the state of the roads. So in 1802 he decided the future for his new steam engine would be in railways.
In 1989 GKN Sankey in association with The National Vulcan Insurance Company had the idea to build a replica of this historic locomotive. They had very little to work from, only the letters from Trevithick himself and a drawing held by what was the original patents office in London. The team spent a lot of time working out the size and exact form of this 3-foot gauge locomotive. They had to also build a machine that conformed to modern safety standards. It was assembled by a team of nine apprentices and was later donated to the museum on the 18th of July 1990. It has since never travelled from the Ironbridge area as it runs on flangeway rather than normal rail track.