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British Industrial History

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Richard Trevithick: Childhood

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1771. Register of Baptism of Richard Trevithick at Illogan.
c1788. Trevithick as a boy.

Note: This is a sub-section of Richard Trevithick

1771 April 13th. Richard Trevithick was born at Tregajorran (in the parish of Illogan), between Camborne and Redruth, in the heart of one of the rich mineral mining areas of Cornwall and baptised May 12th. Trevithick was the son of a mine 'captain' named Richard Trevithick (Senior) (1735-1797) and a miner's daughter Ann Teague (?-1810)

Richard was the youngest and the only boy in a family of 6 children. He was very tall and athletic and concentrated more on sport than schoolwork. He was sent to the village elementary school at Camborne and evidently did not take much advantage of the education provided, with the exception of arithmetic, for which he had an aptitude. One of his school masters described him as 'a disobedient, slow, obstinate, spoiled boy, frequently absent and very inattentive'.

As a child, he would watch steam engines pump water from the deep tin and copper mines common in Cornwall. For a time he was a neighbour to William Murdoch, the steam carriage pioneer, and may have been influenced by his experiments with steam powered road locomotion.

Until that time, such steam engines were of the condensing or atmospheric type, originally invented by Thomas Newcomen in 1712, and which also became known as low pressure engines. James Watt, on behalf of his partnership with Matthew Boulton, Boulton and Watt, held a number of patents for improving the efficiency of Newcomen Engine, including the ‘separate condenser patent’ which proved to be the most contentious

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