Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,951 pages of information and 233,606 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Robert Stephenson and Co

From Graces Guide

Jump to: navigation, search
1823. Exhibit at Beamish Museum.
1823. Exhibit at Beamish Museum.
Aug 1935.The North Star 1837 Great Western RailwayGWR Centenary.
Stephenson Type 2-2-2 Engine.
1837. Stephenson's 2-4-0 Engine.
1854. Engine for New South Wales.
1854. Engine No 958. Exhibit at Powerhouse Museum.
1854. Engine No 958. (Detail). Exhibit at Powerhouse Museum.
1859. Engine for Egypt.
Exhibit at Beamish Museum.
Exhibit at Beamish Museum.
1831. Engine.
1903. Locomotive Works at Darlington.
1903. Works at Darlington.
1903. Bengal-Nagpur Railway engine.
1904. Graving Dock. See also, Thomas Meik and Sons.
Goods Engine and Tender. 1906.
Ten Wheels Coupled Goods Locomotive. 1906.
1925. Engine on West Somerset Railway.
May 1929.
December 1929.
1930. Buenos Aires and Pacific Railway - Three Cylinder Engine.
1931. Buenos Aires and Pacific Railway - Three Cylinder Tank Engines.
Former works buildings in Newcastle, 2017
Former works buildings in Newcastle, 2017
South Street, Newcastle. Original Stephenson offices on right. It would be interesting to know what the large beam on the LH building was originally used for

Originally of Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

Later business address: Sanctuary House, Tothill Street, London, SW. Locomotive Works: Darlington. Shipyard, Foundry and Dock: Hebburn-on-Tyne.

Robert Stephenson and Company was an engineering and locomotive manufacturing company founded in 1823. It was the first company set up specifically to build railway engines.

Parts of the original works have survived in the centre of Newcastle. See Historic England website[1]


1823 The company was set up in 1823 (some say 1821) in Forth Street, Newcastle-upon-Tyne by George Stephenson, his son Robert Stephenson, with Edward Pease ( who also held the shares of Thomas Richardson), and Michael Longridge. It was founded as part of their construction of the Stockton and Darlington Railway. The Works Manager was Timothy Hackworth.

Its first engine was Locomotion No. 1, which opened the line, followed by three more named Hope, Black Diamond and Diligence. The vertical cylinders meant that these locos rocked excessively and at the Hetton Colliery Railway Stephenson had introduced "steam springs" which had proved unsatisfactory. In 1828 he introduced the Experiment with inclined cylinders, which improved stability, and meant that it could be mounted on springs. Originally four wheeled, it was modified for six and another, Victory was built. Around this time, two locomotives were built for America. The first, a four coupled loco, was ordered by the Delaware and Hudson Railroad. The second, six-coupled and named Whistler was for the Boston and Providence Rail Road but was lost at sea.

In 1829 Stephenson's Rocket won the Rainhill Trials. This loco had two notable improvements - a multi-tube boiler and a separate firebox. Originally angled, the cylinders were later made horizontal.

1830 Eight locomotives were supplied for the opening of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway - Northumbrian, driven by George Stephenson himself, headed the line of trains; then followed the Phoenix, driven by Robert Stephenson; the North Star, by Robert Stephenson senior (brother of George); the Rocket, by Joseph Locke; the Dart, by Thomas L. Gooch; the Comet, by William Allcard; the Arrow, by Frederick Swanwick; and the Meteor, by Anthony Harding.

The Invicta was the twentieth, and was built for the Canterbury and Whitstable Railway. Its cylinders were inclined, but moved to the front (chimney) end. In 1830 came the Planet class with the cylinders inside the frames, followed by the Patentee which added a pair of trailing wheels for greater stability with a larger boiler. This 2-2-2 design became the pattern for most locos, by many makers, for many years.

The increased mileage of many trains highlighted problems with the fireboxes and chimneys. With the co-operation of the North Midland Railway at their Derby works, he measured the temperature of the exhaust gases, and decided to lengthen the boilers on future engines. Initially these "long-boiler" engines were 2-2-2 designs, but in 1844, Stephenson moved the trailing wheel to the front in 4-2-0 formation, so that the cylinders could be mounted between the supporting wheels. It was one of these, the "Great A" along with another from the North Midland Railway, which was compared with Brunel's "Ixion" in the gauge trials in 1846. In 1846 he added a pair of trailing wheels - the first with eight wheels. Another important innovation in 1842 was the Stephenson link motion.

1859 Robert Stephenson died and at that time the works employed 1,500 persons in Newcastle.

1877 Supplied tandem compound rotative engine for Whitwick Colliery. One of the largest rotative pumps measuring 125 feet from the flywheel tip to the end of the pump bobs. Also five boilers.

1886 Incorporated as a limited company; partners were George Robert Stephenson, Sir Joseph Whitwell Pease, Robert Stephenson, and George Stephenson.

1888 Light locomotive produced for Ireland. [2]

1899 The company was registered on 10 July, to take over the business of engineers and shipbuilders of a company of the same name. [3]

Over the remainder of the century, the company prospered in the face of increasing competition, supplying railways at home and abroad.

By 1899 around 3,000 locomotives had been built and a new limited liability company was formed, Robert Stephenson and Company Limited and the works was moved to Darlington, the first locomotive leaving the shop in 1902.

1902 Fifty-four acres of land were purchased at Springfield, Darlington (see Thompson Street Works) and the new works were completed this year with all the machinery being moved from Newcastle. Part of the old works was taken over by R. and W. Hawthorn, Leslie and Co. Most railways in England were building their own rolling stock, so most of the output was for export, from 4-4-0's for the Oudh and Rohilkund Railway to 4-6-0 and 2-8-0 for the Bengal Nagpur Railway. These later were adopted as a standard for the Indian railways. The works built the first British 2-10-0 for the Argentine Great Western Railway in 1905.

1911 Transferred the shipbuilding activity at Hebburn-on-Tyne to Palmer's Shipbuilding and Iron Company.

1914 Became a public company.

1914 Directory: Listed as Marine Engineers of Durham Road, Darlington. [4]

1914 Directory: Listed as Mechanical Engineers of 1 Nelson Street, Chester-le-Street.

1914 Listed as engineers and shipbuilders. [5]

WWI During World War I, the company devoted itself to munitions work.

1917 and 1920, a large batch of locomotives was ordered by the War Office for use on the continent. From then on, business was slack, for various reasons. Notable were thirty 2-6-0 mixed traffic locomotives for the GWR in 1921, a batch of thirty 0-6-0 tank engines for the LNER and five 2-8-0 for the Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway. In 1936 and 1937, only forty six were built, including eleven 4-6-0 of the "Sandringham" class for the LNER.

1922 C. N. Goodall was Managing Director of the company.[6]

1937 The company merged with the locomotive interests of R. and W. Hawthorn, Leslie and Co to form Robert Stephenson and Hawthorns with the shipbuilding side continuing separately. Main line locomotives continued to be built at Darlington, while industrial engines were built at Hawthorne Leslie's works at Forth Bank, Newcastle.


See Robert Stephenson and Co: Shipbuilding.

List of Railway Engines

  • 1831 No. 26, Meteor (four coupled engine). [8]
  • 1831 No. 27, Boston - Boston and Worcester Railroad. [9]
  • 1831 No. 7, Herald - Baltimore and Susquehanna Railroad. [10]
  • 1832 No. 8, Stephenson - Boston and Lowell Railroad, see The Engineer 1898/01/28.
  • 1833 No. 54, Edgefield - South Carolina Railroad.[11]
  • 1833 No. 42 Davy Crocket - Saratoga and Schenectady Railroad. [12]
  • 1834 No. 75, Fire Fly.[13]
  • 1834 No. 87, William Aiken - Charlestown and Columbia Railroad. [14]
  • 1834 No. 99, Elias Houy ordered by Baring Brothers and Co - Charlestown and Columbia Railroad. [15]
  • 1834 No. 103, Richmond - Richmond, Fredericksburgh and Potomac Railroad. [16]
  • 1834 No. 104, Pennsylvania - Portage Division of the Pennsylvania Railroad. [17]
  • 1834 No. 105, Philadelphia - Portage Division of the Pennsylvania Railroad. [18]
  • 1835 No. 106, H. Schulz Charlestown and Columbia Railroad. [19]
  • 1835 No. 110, Kentucky - Philadelphia and Columbia division of the Pennsylvania Railroad. [20]
  • 1835 No. 112, John Bull - Philadelphia and Columbia division of the Pennsylvania Railroad. [21]
  • 1835 No. 113, Atlantic - Philadelphia and Columbia division of the Pennsylvania Railroad. [22]
  • 1835 No. 114, Sumter, Marion and Ohio Railroad. [23]
  • 1835 No. 115, Sumter, Marion and Ohio Railroad. [24]
  • 1835 No. 116, Sumter, Marion and Ohio Railroad. [25]
  • 1835 No. 119 Rocket - Philadelphia and Columbia division of the Pennsylvania Railroad. [26]
  • 1835 No. 120 Mercury [27]
  • 1835 No. 121 Jupiter [28]
  • 1836 No. 125, 'Wayne - Wilmington and Raleigh Railroad. [29]
  • 1836 No. 126, Nash - Wilmington and Raleigh Railroad. [30]
  • 1836 No. 129, Nottoway - Lexington and Ohio Railroad. [31]
  • 1836 No. 139, Elkhorn - Lexington and Ohio Railroad. [32]
  • 1836 No. 143 Comet [33]
  • 1836 No. 144 Rocket [34]
  • 1837 No. 151 Baltimore - Baltimore and Susquehanna Railroad, see The Engineer 1898/01/28.
  • 1837 No. 152 Susquehanna - Baltimore and Susquehanna Railroad. [35]
  • The Waverley Class - later known as the Abbot Class[36]
  • 1855 Abbot
  • 1855 Antiquary
  • 1855 Coeur de Lion
  • 1855 Ivanhoe
  • 1855 Lalla Rookh
  • 1855 Pirate
  • 1855 Red Gauntlet
  • 1855 Rob Roy
  • 1855 Robin Hood
  • 1855 Waverley

See Also


Sources of Information

  • 1894 Kelly's Directory of Northumberland
  • [3] Wikipedia
  • [4] Wikipedia
  • The Engineer of 16th July 1920
  • British Shipbuilding Yards. 3 vols by Norman L. Middlemiss
  • British Steam Locomotive Builders by James W. Lowe. Published in 1975. ISBN 0-905100-816
  • The Steam Engine in Industry by George Watkins in two volumes. Moorland Publishing. 1978/9. ISBN 0-903485-65-6
  2. The Engineer of 20th April 1888 p318
  3. The Stock Exchange Year Book 1908
  4. Kelly's Directory of Durham, 1914 p660 & p661
  5. 1914 Whitakers Red Book
  6. The Engineer 1922/04/28
  7. Wikipedia [2]
  8. The Engineer 1898/01/28
  9. The Engineer 1898/01/28
  10. The Engineer 1898/01/28
  11. The Engineer 1898/03/11
  12. The Engineer 1898/03/11
  13. The Engineer 1898/03/11
  14. The Engineer 1898/03/11
  15. The Engineer 1898/03/11
  16. The Engineer 1898/03/11
  17. The Engineer 1898/03/11
  18. The Engineer 1898/03/11
  19. The Engineer 1898/03/11
  20. The Engineer 1898/03/11
  21. The Engineer 1898/03/11
  22. The Engineer 1898/03/11
  23. The Engineer 1898/03/11
  24. The Engineer 1898/03/11
  25. The Engineer 1898/03/11
  26. The Engineer 1898/03/11
  27. The Engineer 1898/01/28
  28. The Engineer 1898/01/28
  29. The Engineer 1898/03/11
  30. The Engineer 1898/03/11
  31. The Engineer 1898/03/11
  32. The Engineer 1898/03/11
  33. The Engineer 1898/01/28
  34. The Engineer 1898/01/28
  35. The Engineer 1898/01/28
  36. Wikipedia