SHEILA TERRY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SHEILA TERRY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
English engineer. Aged 14 he started work maintaining a steam engine at a coal mine. He obtained a basic education at night school, working at various pits until settling at Killingworth. In 1811 he fixed the mine's pumping engine so well that he was appointed enginewright. Stephenson designed his first steam locomotive, the 'Blucher', in 1814. In 1821 he built the first railway between Stockton and Darlington with the engine 'Locomotion'. The distance set between rails, 4ft 8.5in (1440mm) remains the world's effective standard guage.With his son Robert and Henry Booth he designed the Rocket steam locomotive. This was built by the Stephensons for the 1829 Rainhill Trials where it was established as the most advanced locomotive of its day. He invented a miners' safety lamp in 1818. He also designed the first skew arch bridge, allowing roads and canals to cross railways at acute angles.
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