Robert Stephenson
(1803-1859)

Died aged c. 56

Robert Stephenson FRS (16 October 1803 – 12 October 1859) was an early railway and civil engineer. The only son of George Stephenson, the "Father of Railways", he built on the achievements of his father. Robert has been called the greatest engineer of the 19th century. Robert was born in Willington Quay, Northumberland, to George and Frances née Henderson, before they moved to Killingworth, where Robert was taught at the local village school. Robert attended the middle-class Percy Street Academy in Newcastle and at the age of fifteen was apprenticed to the mining engineer Nicholas Wood. He left before he had completed his three years to help his father survey the Stockton and Darlington Railway. Robert spent six months at Edinburgh University before working for three years as a mining engineer in Colombia. When he returned his father was building the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, and Robert developed the steam locomotive Rocket that won the Rainhill Trials in 1829. He was appointed chief engineer of the London and Birmingham Railway in 1833 with a salary of £1,500 per annum. By 1850 Robert had been involved in third of the country's railway system. He designed the High Level Bridge and Royal Border Bridge on the East Coast Main Line. With Eaton Hodgkinson and William Fairbairn he developed wrought-iron tubular bridges, such the Britannia Bridge in Wales, a design he would later use for the Victoria Bridge in Montreal, for many years the longest bridge in the world. He eventually worked on 160 commissions from 60 companies, building railways in other countries such as Belgium, Norway, Egypt and France. In 1829 Robert married Frances Sanderson who died in 1842; the couple had no children and he did not remarry. In 1847 he was elected Member of Parliament for Whitby, and held the seat until his death. Although Robert declined a British knighthood, he was decorated in Belgium with the Knight of the Order of Leopold, in France with the Knight of the Legion of Honour and in Norway with the Knight Grand Cross of the order of St. Olaf. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 1849. He served as President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and Institution of Civil Engineers. Robert's death was widely mourned, and his funeral cortège was given permission by Queen Victoria to pass through Hyde Park, an honour previously reserved for royalty. He is buried in Westminster Abbey.

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Commemorated on 14 plaques

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Robert Stephenson (1803-1859), engineer, died here.

35 Gloucester Square, London, United Kingdom where they died (1859)

High Level Bridge. George Stephenson, first surveyed routes to Berwick in 1838. His son, Robert, 1803 - 1859, designed this bridge. Rail deck opened in 1849 - a major link in a London-Edinburgh railway. The road deck opened in February 1850.

High Level Bridge, Gateshead, United Kingdom where they designed

Newcastle Central railway station. This plaque celebrates the 150th anniversary of the station, opened by Queen Victoria on 29th August 1850 and built by the York, Newcastle and Berwick Railway. It was designed by John Dobson, Architect and Robert Stephenson, Engineer. The portico on the north facade, designed by Thomas Prosser, Architect, was added by the North Eastern Railway in 1860. The train shed roof was extended southwards in 1893 to the design of William Bell, Architect. The building is listed Grade 1.

Newcastle Central railway station, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom where they designed

Robert Stephenson's Works The Stephenson Works on South Street in Newcastle housed the world's first purpose-built locomotive works. These building were the birth of the steam locomotive, which revolutionised the railway industry worldwide.

The Stephenson Works, 20 South Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom where they worked

Literary & Philosophical Society. Society established 1793. This building, designed by John Green, opened in 1825. Robert Stephenson was President of the Society, 1855 - 59.

23 Westgate Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom where they was president

Ware station. Built in 1843 for the Northern & Eastern Railway Company to the design of Robert Stephenson refurbished by British Rail in 1988.

Ware Railway Station, Station Road, Ware, United Kingdom where they designed

High Level Bridge. The lighting of Robert Stephenson's bridge was commissioned by Newcastle City Council with financial help from Gateshead Council, The Railway Heritage Trust, Electrical Contractors Association, Northern Electric & Gas, Go North East, Nexus.

High Level Bridge, Gateshead, United Kingdom where they was

Wearmouth Bridge. The first Wearmouth Bridge of 1796 proved to be a catalyst for the growth of Sunderland. It was rebuilt in 1857 by Robert Stephenson and again in 1927 when this steel arch bridge was constructed to a design by Mott, Hay and Anderson.

Wearmouth Bridge, Sunderland, United Kingdom where they built a bridge

Wearmouth Bridge. The first Wearmouth Bridge of 1796 proved to be a catalyst for the growth of Sunderland. It was rebuilt in 1857 by Robert Stephenson and again in 1927 when this steel arch bridge was constructed. 1996 - Bicentenary of the Iron Bridge

Wearmouth Bridge, Sunderland, United Kingdom where they built

Nodwedd Peirianneg Sipil o Bwysigrwydd Hanesyddol Rhyngwladol Pont Diwbaidd Conwy Codwyd 1846-48. Prif rychwant gwreiddiol 400TR. Cryfhawyd gan bileri canolig 1899. Peirianwyr: R. Stephenson (1803-1859), W. Fairbairn (1789-1874), E. Hodgekinson (1789-1861). Pensaer: F. Thompson (1808-1895). Contractor: William Evans. Adeiladwyd ar gyfer rheilffordd Caer-Caergybi oedd yn Cysylltu a'r llongau i'r iwerddon, yr oedd y bont hon yn rhagflabnu Pont Britannia dros y fenal hon oedd y bont reilffordd gyntg oedd yn galluogi trenau I basio o fewn y prif drawstiau. Dyma enghraifft arloesol o ddefnyddio haern oyr ac roedd yn gam pwysig ymlaen yn natblygaid trawstiau bogs. International Historic Civil Engineering Landmark Conwy Tubular Bridge Erected 1846-48. Original clear span 400ft. Strengthened by intermediate piers 1899 Engineers: R. Stephenson (1803-1859), W. Fairbairn (1789-1874), E. Hodgkinson (1789-1861). Architect: F. Thompson (1808-1895) contractor: John Evans. Built for the Chester-Holyhead railway, which provided rail access to the sea crossing to Ireland, this bridge was a forerunner to Robert Stephenson’s Britannia bridge over the Menai Strait. Conwy Tubular Bridge was the first railway bridge in which trains ran through the main girders. It represents a pioneering use of wrought iron for bridges and a major advance in the development of box-section girder elements.

English translation: International Historic Civil Engineering Landmark Conwy Tubular Bridge Erected 1846-48. Original clear span 400ft. Strengthened by intermediate piers 1899 Engineers: R. Stephenson (1803-1859), W. Fairbairn (1789-1874), E. Hodgkinson (1789-1861). Architect: F. Thompson (1808-1895) contractor: John Evans. Built for the Chester-Holyhead railway, which provided rail access to the sea crossing to Ireland, this bridge was a forerunner to Robert Stephenson’s Britannia bridge over the Menai Strait. Conwy Tubular Bridge was the first railway bridge in which trains ran through the main girders. It represents a pioneering use of wrought iron for bridges and a major advance in the development of box-section girder elements.

Conwy Tubular Bridge opposite the Suspension Bridge, Conwy, United Kingdom where they designed (1846-1848)

Robert Stephenson 1803-1859. Robert Stephenson & Company established in world’s first purpose built locomotive factory, 1823. Designed & constructed ‘Locomotion No.1’ in 1828, ‘Rocket’ in 1829 and ‘Planet’ in 1830.

South Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom where they worked

Robert Stephenson 1803-1859 Engineer lived here from his marriage in 1829 until he removed to London in 1833. During this time he designed and constructed the “Rocket” and later the “Planet”, the prototype for more than a century of steam locomotive development.

5 Greenfield Place, Westgate Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom where they lived

Robert Stephenson 1803-1859 Offices of Robert Stephenson & Co. ‘Locomotion No.1’ was designed and constructed in the world's first purpose-built locomotive factory on this street in 1825, ‘Rocket’ in 1829 and ‘Planet’ in 1830.

South Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom where they was

St. Davids Day 1845 Commencement of the Chester and Holyhead Railway Conwy Tunnel Engineer - Robert Stephenson

Mount Pleasant, Conwy, United Kingdom where they built (1845)