13 April 2021

The 250th anniversary of the birth of Richard Trevithick

On the 13th April 1771 - 250 years ago today - one of Cornwall’s most industrious sons - Richard Trevithick - was born.

His genius brought the world the first practical road-going vehicle propelled by high-pressure steam – the ‘Puffin’ or ‘Puffing Devil’ - in 1801, and his legacy remains with us today. 

High-pressure steam was the technological leap forward that enabled the steam railway locomotive, steam ships, and, much later in the nineteenth century, the steam turbine, which remains an essential part of nuclear and coal/gas fired power stations. 

Other notable achievements include the creation of the Penydarren Locomotive, and the world’s first railway journey from the ironworks at Penydarren to the Merthyr-Cardiff Canal in 1804, and the introduction of high-pressure steam engines to Peru, at the mines of Cerro de Pasco, in 1814. This was to be the first use of this technology in the New World. 

Trevithick also designed innovative water-pressure engines to pump water from metalliferous mines and one of these, built in Coalbrookdale in 1819, can be seen on display at the Peak District Mining Museum in Matlock Bath, Derbyshire. 


Iconic objects to see when we go #BackToMuseums - Museums Association

Happy birthday Richard!