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Timothy Hackworth And The Locomotive | Book Review

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Timothy Hackworth And The Locomotive 

Timothy Hackworth and the Locomotive was originally published in 1925. The book is basically a biography but has served as a history textbook for many years. Once you began reading this book you will quickly realize it was written with much love towards Timothy Hackworth. This should come as no surprise considering the grandson of Mr. Hackwork is the author. The son of Timothy, John, struggled to write the biography of his father, so the next generation Robert Young of the family did the work.

Who Is This Book For


During the Victorian age, there were many amazing engineers. Even still Timothy managed to stand out. Young and old who are interested in the remarkable engineering advances of the 18th century will enjoy this biography. It's an outstanding addition to the history of steam locomotives. Starting in 1769 with Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot until Hackworth's passing in 1850.

History You Will Learn


George Stephenson the great British mechanical and civil engineer also made headway during this period. In Newcastle, both men had worked as colliery blacksmiths.  In fact, George was only 5 years older than his contemporary. The founders of the Stockton and Darlington Railways were just about to open with Stephenson's input as the engine builder and surveyor. Timothy was recruited to stay on the line as the engine superintendent. As you can imagine as a result a bit of history surrounding that railway finds its way into the textbook.

The author Robert Young represents Timothy's life and legacy from many angles. Including his letters, locomotives, inventions of all kinds, and essays on the celebrities during his time. Robert is also careful to include how his family had treated their employees. He goes into much detail on his family's devotion to their employee's happiness, education, and overall welfare. Robert for instance details how some of their middle-aged employees had become proficient in reading and writing while working for the company.

Within the books 14 appendices there are numerous illustrations.  Such as maps, photos, cash records, driver lists, engine lists, portraits, drawings, and letters. Almost 100 years after the S&DR release, this book was published. An enormous amount of data was compiled by the writer to support the history it presents. The proliferation of cross-references makes this clear. Perhaps more than one for every page in the book was summed.

Timothy Hackworth's Legacy


Since his passing, the history of Timothy as well as his accomplishments were occasionally unkind to his memory. Mostly as a result of reporting that made harsh claims about him after his passing. Those reports were concerning the authenticity of his inventions and ideas. In reaction to these reports, Robert includes a story about a bystander's comments during an engine test. The bystander talks shamelessly, which attracts a statement from a nearby engineer. The engineer responds with
"Had he said nothing, he would have passed off as a highly respectable man, but by speaking out he has only exposed his own ignorance". 
The author is clearly taking aim at the reports of his grandfather's opponents.

Robert Young's love and admiration for his late grandfather is impossible to miss as you consume the 406 pages of this book.  He describes him in the most Victorian way possible. Going into great detail about how he was kind, unselfish, loving, peaceful, honest, caring especially for the poor. All of this is to say his grandfather was a great man who had nothing to be ashamed of and neither did he.

Review Of Notable Inventions


The following list does not include every invention by, Mr. Hackworth but aims to include the crucial innovations he made over his lifetime for the Locomotive industry.  

1825 Locomotion


It was for Stockton and Darlington Railways where he became an engineer in 1825. He contributed with Stephenson to the development of Locomotion.  This was a moderately successful engine which he decided to take on as a side venture. The Sans Pareil, which participated in the 1829 Rainhill trials, would shortly replace the Locomotion. A cracked cylinder would cause Timothy's locomotive to fail during the same trails. But his engine would be used in the Leigh Railways and Bolton afterward and can still be seen in the Timothy Hackworth Museum at work.

1827 Blastpipe


In 1827 Hackworth helped develop one of the earliest 0-6-0 locomotives called The Royal George.  The Royal Geoge was the first acceptable locomotive developed that was suited to be utilized for everyday use. This is largely due to the efforts of Hackworth who invented the blastpipe that was correctly aligned. The blastpipe was positioned in the chimney in order to draw the fire. His contemporary Stephensons used the blastpipe for all the following locomotives including the Rocket. There is a bit of controversy surrounding the credit for the invention of the blastpipe. A man named Goldsworthy Gurney claimed, that in 1822 he had already used a similar steam blast design. However, the National Railway Museum not long ago managed to get a hold of some letters that seem to verify Hackworth is the legitimate inventor.

1829 Plate Girder Bridge


Timothy came up with a new concept in 1829. He came up with the concept at Middlesbrough where he was tasked with mounting coal staithe to the Tees. The design needed to lift the S & D Middlesbrough extension to the Tees. In order to do so, he invented the plate girder bridge. However, the directors did not accept his invention and went with a suspension bridge invented by Capt Samuel Brown instead.

1830 Boiler Designs


Timothy developed the Stockton and Darlington Railway two types of engine to handle coal traffic in 1830. For each type, he preserved the iron six-coupled spokes and the vertical cylinders from the Royal George. However, he changed the boilers and the motion. On his Majestic in front of its smokebox cylinders were positioned on a protruding platform. In 1833 Daniel Adamson, one of his apprentices, expanded his boiler designs and became an influential manufacturer in the process.

1836 First Russian  Locomotive


In 1836 working with the St Petersburg railway he built the first locomotive to be used in Russia.

1837 Oldest Engine in Canada


The following year in 1837, working with  Albion Mines Railway he built the Samson.  Samson was not the first but one of the first engines to be put to work in Canada. Also, Samson is the oldest surviving locomotive in Canada.


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