Father Of The Railway

George Stephenson was known as the Father of the Railway. George was born 12 miles west of Newcastle Upon Tyne. He was the second child of Robert (Cole Miner) and Mabel Stephenson. George started his working life in the mine and learned to read and write in his spare time. 

George Stephenson

His work in the mine was managing the steam engine used for moving the coal he became interested in the working of the engines and and in 1884 he had made his first steam engine called (Blucher) At the age of 40 George was appointed the engineer of construction of the Stockton to Darlington Railway. The following year he was Head engineer of the Liverpool to Manchester Railway where he entered a competition at Rainhill to find the best locomotive. George entered his new locomotive (The Rocket) People came from everywhere to see the Rocket the winner with a top speed of 36 mph.

The Rocket on display at the National Railway Museum York

George was now building Railways throughout the country and in1830 George he started to build the railway line from Leeds to Derby. In the way stood the hill of Clay Cross. The only way for the line to continue was to construct a tunnel with a length of just over a mile straight through the hill.

Work started on the tunnel on 12 February 1837 Six shafts were sunk along the route to a depth of 150 feet 46m. At night a large fire was lit on each shaft to provide light and ventilation to hundreds of workers (navies) below. The navies then tunnelled 12 faces to construct the tunnel. The shafts are still visible in Clay Cross and are still used for ventilation of the tunnel. Once tunnelling started it soon became obvious that the land contained wet coal seams which created a cash injection for the local area and Clay Cross started to grow into the town we see today. The tunnel was completed in 1839 at a cost of £140.000 some £42.000 over the estimated cost of £98.000

George died in 1848 at Chesterfield and is buried in the town. His son Robert was also a Railway engineer carried on with his father’s projects.