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 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 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.

Life of Richard Trevithick by F. Trevithick: Preface

From Graces Guide

LIFE of RICHARD TREVITHICK WITH AN ACCOUNT OF HIS INVENTIONS

By FRANCIS TEVITHICK, C.E.

ILLUSTRATED WITH ENGRAVINGS ON WOOD BY W. J. WELCH

LONDON: E. & F. N. SPON, 48 CHARING CROSS

NEW YORK: 446, BROOME STREET

1872

PREFACE

The events in a man's life and the progress of the steam-engine are so dissimilar, that the reader is solicited to pass with the writer over the numerous breaks in the thread of the story. The good Trevithick did in his generation is found in the extended use of steam-engines: in tracing their various forms in their applicability to numerous purposes, the labour of years has to be reviewed, and each idea may be followed, from its first becoming a useful form to its perfect growth, and acceptance by the public as a good thing.

The overflow of Trevithick's practical designs has caused a difficulty in fairly defining and estimating the facts bearing on each of the particular kinds selected, as belonging to understood classes of the steam-engine; while the great importance of his inventions caused many engineers to labour on their improvement, both during and since his time.

Engines originating or made commercially serviceable by Trevithick are given as his, but other engineers may have a fair claim as improvers of the same, or of nearly similar inventions; therefore, at the risk of wearying the reader, repetitions of evidence are given, that, if possible, a true knowledge may be formed.

The history of the day-by-day life of the man has been made subservient to that of the steam-engine: to partially restore this break, the reader is asked to hear with the frequent introduction of dates.

Trevithick's correspondence during a great portion of his life with his scientific friend, Mr. Davies Gilbert, written with the freedom of impulsive genius, longing for some one person to whom his thoughts might be made known, together with a rough draft letter-book, used only in his Cornish home during four or five years, constitute the ground-work of my history. His practical engineering works, nearer perfection in their first movements than those of other engineers, and the after success and eminence of many who in early life were his working assistants, are evidences of his strength of character.

Very little has been written of Trevithick, though Mr. Richard Edmonds, the late Lord Brougham, Sir Edward Watkin, Mr. Enys, Mr. Bennet Woodcroft, Mr. Hyde Clarke, Professor Pole, and others, have published outlines, or have collected information; and though they may not have succeeded in making him fully known, their labours have lessened mine.

To the Hon. Mrs. Gilbert I am indebted for the numerous letters written to Mr. Davies Gilbert and among many who assisted Trevithick by friendly acts, I observe mention in his papers of Mills, Gittens, Wyatt, Banfield, Potter, and the Dartford mechanics.

FRANCIS TREVITHICK, THE CLIFF, PENZANCE, April, 1872.


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