On Saturday 26th April the Kneehigh Ramblers will be in Camborne for Trevithick Day. An engineer and visionary, Richard Trevithick’s inventions helped Cornwall to fame and riches in the industrial revolution, but many people will never have heard of him…
(original research by Marj Rowland)
Richard Trevithick was born in a cottage a mile or so from Dolcoath Mine, where his father was a mine Captain. His curiosity about the engineering aspects of the mining area that he grew up in started at an early age, and this led to a career during which he pioneered the use of high pressure steam, and increased the efficiency of the engines used to pump water from the lower levels of Cornwall’s tin and copper mines.
Trevithick’s inventive mind was never still - his ideas ranged from the first successful self-powered road vehicle, and a steam railway engine, to schemes for wreck salvage, land reclamation, mechanical refrigeration, agricultural machinery and for tunnelling under the Thames.
Trevithick’s career spanned the dawn of the industrial revolution, a time when Cornwall’s engineering prowess was the envy of the world. Trevithick spent eleven years in South America, working for owners of silver mines.
Richard Trevithick is buried in an unmarked grave at Dartford, Kent, where he was working when he died. Like many great men and women, Trevithick did not get the recognition he deserved during his lifetime. Indeed, his worth has only recently been recognised by many history books.
However, his life is now celebrated with a yearly festival in Camborne – Trevithick Day – when the streets come alive with dancing, music, exhibitions, stalls, and of course, steam engines.
Kneehigh will be there this year telling stories from the area as part of Kneehigh Rambles.
Find out more here
1802: Construction of steam engines to drive steam carriages and other purposes (with Andrew Vivian)
1808: Machinery for towing, driving, or discharging ships or other vessels: steam tug (with Robert Dickinson)
1808: Stowing ships cargoes by means of packages: iron tanks (with Robert Dickinson)
1809: 1.Floating docks: 2. Iron ships for Ocean Service: 3. Iron Masts: 4. Bending Timber 5. Diagonal Framing for Ships: 6. Iron Buoys: 7. Steam Engines for General Ships Use: 8. Rowing Trunk: 9. Steam Cooking (with Robert Dickinson)
1810: New Applications to propel ships to aid the recovery of shipwrecks; to promote the health and comfort of the mariners and other useful purposes (with Robert Dickinson)
1815: High Pressure Steam Engine; and application to useful purposes
1815: 1. Plunger Pole Steam Engine: 2. Reaction Turbine: 3. High pressure steam acting on water which acts as a piston: 4. the water from 3. used in 2. as in a Barker's Mill: 5. Screw Propeller
1816: A New Apparatus for evaporating water from solutions of vegetable substances
1827: New Methods for centring ordnance on pivots: Facilitating the charge of the same: and reducing manual labour in time of action
1828: New Methods of discharging ships cargoes and other purposes
1829: A New or Improved Steam Engine
1831: 1. Boiler and Condenser: 2. Condenser in Air Vessel: 3. Surface Condenser: 4. Condensed water returned to Boiler: 5. Forced draught with hot air heated by condenser water
1831: A Portable Stove surrounded by water brought to boiling point
1832: Application of Steam Power to Navigation and Locomotion: 1. Super heater: 2. Cylinder kept in flue to be hotter than steam: 3. Jet Propulsion of Vessels: 4. Boiler and Super heater Applies to a Locomotive