Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

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Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 150,661 pages of information and 235,200 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

George Robert Stephenson

From Graces Guide

George Robert Stephenson (1819-1905), civil engineer

1819 Born in Newcastle upon Tyne, son of Robert Stephenson (1788-1837)

c.1844 Went into business for himself with office in Great George street, Westminster

1846 Married Jane Brown in Newcastle upon Tyne[1]

1849 Birth of son Robert in Charlton, Kent

1852 Birth of son George in Blackheath, Kent

1871 George R Stevenson (sic) 51, civil engineer, lived in Torquay with Jane 49, Isabel 23, Jane 21, George 18, Harry 16, Thomas N L 11[2]

1876 was President of the Institution of Civil Engineers.[3]

1905 Obituary [4]

GEORGE ROBERT STEPHENSON was born at Newcastle-on-Tyne on 20th October 1819, being the only son of Robert Stephenson who was brother of George Stephenson the perfecter of the locomotive.

He began his career by assisting the underground surveyors and working in the shops of the Pendleton Colliery, where his father was chief engineer.

At the age of fifteen he entered King William's College, at Castletown, Isle of Man, where he remained two years.

On the death of his father in 1837, his uncle, George Stephenson, placed him in the drawing office of the Manchester and Leeds Railway, of which he (the uncle) was consulting engineer.

In 1843 he was appointed to superintend the engineering work of the Tapton Collieries, near Chesterfield, but shortly afterwards was sent for by his cousin, Robert Stephenson, to take the direction and control of the new lines of the South Eastern Railway system.

He was afterwards engineer-in-chief of the Waterloo and Southport Railway, near Liverpool, the Ambergate and Rowsley, the Grantham and Boston, and the Northampton and Market Harborough lines.

He was appointed with Mr. Bidder joint engineer-in-chief for the Danish Government Railways, and was consulting engineer to the Province of Canterbury, New Zealand, and constructed the first railway in that province from the Port of Lyttleton to Christchurch.

In 1864 he was associated with Mr. Hawkshaw in the construction of the East London Railway, a line which included the utilization of the Thames Tunnel. This work also comprised many other important works, particularly bridges; one of the earliest on which he was engaged was the Sutton Swing Bridge constructed over the River Nene in 1851.

Among others may be mentioned swing bridges for the Victoria and the Surrey Commercial Docks, railway bridges over the Nile, also in New Zealand and Canada.

In conjunction with Robert Stephenson as chief he designed the great Victoria tubular bridge across the River St. Lawrence at Montreal, the entire length with approaches being about two miles.

Other large works in which he was engaged either as sole engineer or in association with other leading men belong to different branches of civil engineering. Among them were the North Level drainage and sea sluices in Lincolnshire, the River Nene outfall and navigation works, the drainage of the Fens, the Lynn Waterworks. To these may be added important arbitration cases and Parliamentary enquiries.

In addition he assisted his cousin, Mr. Robert Stephenson, in the management of the collieries at Snibston in Leicestershire and at Tapton near Chesterfield, and the engine works at Newcastle-on-Tyne.

On the death of his cousin in 1859, he succeeded to these and to the greater part of his cousin's property, and from that time found it expedient, partly in consequence of uncertain health, gradually to relinquish his practice, and to devote most of his attention to his own undertakings. Of these the most important were the extensive engine-building works at Newcastle-on-Tyne, which are still carried on under the old title of R. Stephenson and Co., and have been since converted into a company.

In 1876 he was elected President of the Institution of Civil Engineers, and was re-elected the following year. He became a Member of this Institution in 1868, and was a member of many other scientific societies, and also of the Royal Yacht Squadron.

For his own use he built a number of sailing and steam yachts, one of the latter—the "Northumbria" of 420 tons—having been built on the Tyne and engined by his own firm. The numerous practical experiments which he made with these pleasure vessels have led to valuable improvements in the construction of marine engines, and it was the excellent anchorage at Glen Caladh in the Kyles of Bute and the attractions of the Western Highlands for yachting excursions that led him to select his estate in that district.

He took a lively interest in the welfare of the fishing community in his neighbourhood, and in various ways endeavoured to promote the building of safer, swifter, and more suitable boats than those formerly in use.

In recognition of his services to the district and town of Rothesay, he was in 1869 presented with the freedom of that Royal Burgh. At other places where he temporarily resided, he showed the same desire to promote the advantages of the neighbourhood.

At Cowes the Green and Esplanade were established at his expense and presented to the town, and a similar gift was made by him to Weymouth.

His death took place at his residence in Cheltenham on 26th October 1905, at the age of eighty-six.

1905 Obituary [5]

. . . nephew of the great George Stephenson . . . drawing-office, of the Manchester and Leeds Railway, now merged in the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway . . . chief engineer at the Tipton Collieries. . . At the age of twenty-five he opened an office in Great George street, Westminster, and commenced in business for himself. He confined his attention more especially to railway and bridge works . . . Later Mr. Stephenson associated himself with the firm now known as Robert Stephenson and Co., of Newcastle, of which concern he ultimately became the head . . .

1906 Obituary [6]

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