George Stephenson

George Stephenson (1781 - 1848)

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George Stephenson
Born in Wylam, Northumberlandmap
Husband of — married in Newburn, Northumberlandmap
Husband of — married in Newburn, Northumberlandmap
Husband of — married in Shrewsbury, Shropshiremap
Died in Chesterfield, Derbyshiremap
Profile last modified | Created 28 Dec 2015
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Categories: Wylam, Northumberland | English Inventors | English Notables.

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George Stephenson was born in , England.


George Stephenson is Notable.
  • George Stephenson was born on 9 June 1781, Wylam, Northumberland [1] and Christened 22 July 1781, Ovingham, Northumberland, the second child of Robert Stephenson & Mabel (Mable). [2].
  • He was an English civil engineer and mechanical engineer who built the first public inter-city railway line in the world to use steam locomotives, the Liverpool and Manchester Railway which opened in 1830. Renowned as the "Father of Railways", the Victorians considered him a great example of diligent application and thirst for improvement. His rail gauge of 4 feet 8 1⁄2 inches (1,435 mm), sometimes called "Stephenson gauge", is the standard gauge by name and by convention for most of the world's railways.
  • At 17, He became an engineman at Water Row Pit in Newburn. George realised the value of education and paid to study at night school to learn reading, writing and arithmetic – he was illiterate until the age of 18. In 1801 George began work at Black Callerton Colliery as a 'brakesman', controlling the winding gear at the pit. George first courted Elizabeth (Betty) Hindmarsh, a farmer's daughter from Black Callerton, whom he met secretly in her orchard. Her father refused marriage because of Stephenson's lowly status as a miner. George next paid attention to Anne Henderson where he lodged with her family, but she rejected him and he transferred his attentions to her sister Frances (Fanny), who was twelve years his senior. George and Fanny married at Newburn Church on 28 November 1802. [3] and moved to Willington Quay, east of Newcastle. There he worked as a brakesman while they lived in one room of a cottage. George made shoes and mended clocks to supplement his income. Their son Robert was born in 1803, and in 1804 they moved to West Moor, near Killingworth where George worked as a brakesman at Killingworth Pit. George's wife, Frances, gave birth to a daughter before Robert, but she died after a few weeks, and in 1806 Frances herself died of consumption (tuberculosis).
  • George designed his first locomotive in 1814, a travelling engine designed for hauling coal on the Killingworth wagonway. He was hired to build an 8-mile (13-km) Hetton colliery railway in 1820. He used a combination of gravity on downward inclines and locomotives for level and upward stretches. This, the first railway using no animal power, opened in 1822. This line used a gauge of 4 ft 8 in (1,422 mm) which Stephenson had used before at the Killingworth wagonway.
  • On 29 March 1820, George (now considerably wealthier) married Betty Hindmarsh at Newburn Church, Newburn.[4]There were no children and Betty died in 1846.
  • In 1821, a parliamentary bill was passed to allow the building of the Stockton and Darlington Railway (S&DR). The 25-mile (40 km) railway connected collieries near Bishop Auckland to the River Tees at Stockton, passing through Darlington on the way. The original plan was to use horses to draw coal carts on metal rails, but after company director Edward Pease met Stephenson, he agreed to change the plans. Stephenson surveyed the line in 1821, assisted by his eighteen-year-old son Robert and construction began the same year.The "Experiment" – the first railway carriage. A manufacturer was needed to provide the locomotives for the line. Pease and Stephenson had jointly established a company in Newcastle to manufacture locomotives. It was set up as Robert Stephenson and Company, and George's son Robert was the managing director. In September 1825 the works at Forth Street, Newcastle completed the first locomotive for the railway: originally named Active, it was renamed "Locomotion" and was followed by "Hope", "Diligence" and "Black Diamond". The Stockton and Darlington Railway opened on 27 September 1825. Driven by Stephenson, Locomotion hauled an 80-ton load of coal and flour nine miles (15 km) in two hours, reaching a speed of 24 miles per hour (39 km/h) on one stretch. The first purpose-built passenger car, ''Experiment'', was attached and carried dignitaries on the opening journey. It was the first time passenger traffic had been run on a steam locomotive railway.
  • Later that decade George oversaw the construction of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway and as it approached completion in 1829, its directors arranged a competition to decide who would build its locomotives, and the Rainhill Trials were run in October 1829. Entries could weigh no more than six tons and had to travel along the track for a total distance of 60 miles (97 km). Stephenson's entry was "Rocket", and its performance in winning the contest made it famous. George's son Robert had been working in South America from 1824 to 1827 and returned to run the Forth Street Works while George was in Liverpool overseeing the construction of the line. Robert was responsible for the detailed design of Rocket, although he was in constant postal communication with his father, who made many suggestions. The opening ceremony of the L&MR, on 15 September 1830, drew luminaries from the government and industry, including the Prime Minister, the Duke of Wellington. The day started with a procession of eight trains setting out from Liverpool. The parade was led by "Northumbrian" driven by George Stephenson, and included "Phoenix" driven by his son Robert, "North Star" driven by his brother Robert and "Rocket" driven by assistant engineer Joseph Locke. The day was marred by the death of William Huskisson, the Member of Parliament for Liverpool, who was struck by Rocket. Stephenson evacuated the injured Huskisson to Eccles with a train, but he died from his injuries. Despite the tragedy the railway was a resounding success. Stephenson became famous, and was offered the position of chief engineer for a wide variety of other railways.
  • George settled in Leicestershire during the 1830, purchasing the Snibston Estate, in the parish of Alton Grange, with its potential valuable coal reserves, from which he delivered the first coal supplies by rail to the City of Leicester.
  • His later years were spent as a reassuring name in Locomotive production & promotion whilst supervising his mining interests in Derbyshire.
  • On 11 January 1848, in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, George married for the third time, to Ellen Gregory, [5] [6]another farmer's daughter originally from Bakewell in Derbyshire, who had been his housekeeper. Six months after his wedding, George contracted pleurisy and died, aged 67, on 12 August 1848 [7] [8] at Tapton House in Chesterfield, Derbyshire. He was buried [9]at Holy Trinity Church, Chesterfield, next to his second wife.


  2. England Births & Christenings (1538-1975) (
  3. The marriage of George Stephenson & Frances Henderson was conducted on 28 November 1802, Newburn, Northumberland : England Marriages (1538-1973) (
  4. International Genealogical Index (IGI)
  5. The marriage of George Stephenson & Ellen Gregory was conducted on 11 January 1848, Shrewsbury, St. Chad, Shropshire: England Marriages (1538-1973) (
  6. GRO Marriage Index Shrewsbury Vol. 18, Page 211 q March 1848
  7. Find a Grave Index (
  8. GRO Death Index Chesterfield Vol. 19, Page 348 q September 1848
  9. England, Derbyshire, Church of England Parish Registers, 1537-1918 (

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No known carriers of George's Y-chromosome or his mother's mitochondrial DNA have taken yDNA or mtDNA tests and no close relatives have taken a 23andMe, AncestryDNA, or Family Tree DNA "Family Finder" test.

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Images: 4
George Stephenson
George Stephenson

George Stephenson
George Stephenson

Locomotion No. 1
Locomotion No. 1


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George is 34 degrees from Walter Morrison, 40 degrees from Alison Wilkins and 22 degrees from Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.

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