Newport – “Richard Trevithick”

Our scheduled speaker (Monty Dart) was unable to attend due to family health problems on January 31st so one of our members Chris Penrose stepped in a short notice to give a fascinating talk on the Cornish engineer Richard Trevithick.
We had all heard of him but were totally unaware of the large number of different projects he engaged in. Trevithick was the son of another Richard, a mining captain in Cornwall. Despite an unpromising school career Richard afterwards put his mind to various engineering problems. Unfortunately he tended to flit from one problem to another before any blemishes had been overcome- and he certainly never had any business sense and so was always short of money.
The list of his projects (mostly never finalized) is extensive but included steam engines to pump water out of Cornish tin and copper mines (he used high pressure steam which performed better than the previous low pressure machines of James Watt and Matthew Boulton), building the first tunnel under the Thames in London, steam driven river dredgers, floating cranes, raising sunken wrecks, pumping out silver mines in Peru (at high altitudes where Watt’s pumps could not cope), threshing machines, first ever steam locomotive (which carried coal between Merthyr and Abercynon), first steam road locomotives, room warmers (pre-cursor of central heating) and water jet propulsion.

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