timeline item
Results
Here is the information we have
on the item you selected
More like this
NEW SEARCH
| |
sign up for our newsletter
© 2017 Engineering Timelines
engineering-timelines@severalworld.co.uk
engineering timelines
explore ... how   explore ... why   explore ... where   explore ... who  
home  •  NEWS  •  search  •  FAQs  •  references  •  about  •  sponsors + links
Home of Robert Stephenson, site of
35 Gloucester Square, London W2, UK
associated engineer
Robert Stephenson
date  1847 - 1859
era  Victorian  |  category  Home of Engineer  |  reference  TQ269811
Robert Stephenson's home during the final years of his life was in Paddington, London. He has been called the greatest engineer of the 19th century, and is remembered chiefly for his ground-breaking works on railways and bridges. His death occurred soon after that of his friend and professional rival Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806-59). Stephenson lies alongside Thomas Telford (1757-1834) in the nave of Westminster Abbey.
Robert Stephenson (1803-59), the only surviving child of pioneering railway engineer George Stephenson (1781-1848) and Frances Henderson (1769-1806), was destined to carry his father’s work to the next level — making the railway a viable transport choice for goods and passengers.
On leaving school, Robert was apprenticed to mining and locomotive engineer Nicholas Wood (1795-1865). In 1821, he helped to survey the route of the Stockton & Darlington Railway (opened 1825).
He was managing partner of Robert Stephenson & Co in Newcastle, manufacturing steam engines and other iron machinery, worked with his father at the railway company George Stephenson & Son and spent three years (1824-7) managing mineral mines in Colombia.
He advanced locomotive design, winning the 1829 Rainhill Trials with Rocket, proving steam locomotion could be used to power the Liverpool & Manchester Railway.
In 1847, he was elected the Conservative member of parliament for Whitby, holding the seat until his death. Soon afterwards he changed his London residence from 15 Cambridge Square (TQ271812) to 34 Gloucester Square, a short distance south west.
With William Fairbairn (1789-1874) he developed bridges of wrought iron tubes, such as the Conwy Tubular Bridge (1848) and Britannia Bridge (1850), both in Wales. He designed the High Level Bridge in Newcastle and the Royal Border Bridge in Berwick upon Tweed, both on the east coast main line between London and Edinburgh, opened in 1850.
Robert served as president of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1849-53 and president of the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1855-7. However, he published few papers — his most important contribution to scientific literature is probably his article Iron Bridges in the eighth edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica (1853-60).
He also built railways in Belgium, Norway, Egypt, Canada and France. However, his hard work took a toll on his health. He suffered recurrent liver problems and was afflicted with Bright’s disease (a kidney disorder).
In September 1859, he boarded his yacht Titania, bound for Norway, but had to return early after a severe attack of jaundice. He died at home in Gloucester Square on 12th October 1859, four days before his 56th birthday.
On 22nd October 1859, he was given an almost regal funeral. His remains were interred beside Telford in the central part of the nave of Westminster Abbey. The inlaid brass portrait on his gravestone was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott (1811-78) and its inscription reads:
SACRED TO THE MEMORY OF ROBERT STEPHENSON M.P. D.C.L. F.R.S. etc. LATE PRESIDENT OF THE INSTITUTION OF CIVIL ENGINEERS WHO DIED 12th OCTOBER A.D. 1859 AGED 56 YEARS
In 1862, a stained glass window was erected near Robert’s grave, designed by William Wailes (1808-81) and amended by Scott. In 1934, the window was moved to the north choir aisle and its original coloured background changed to plain glass. It features his bridges over the Nile, the St Lawrence in Canada, the Tyne and the Menai Straits, along with portrait heads of his father, Telford, John Smeaton (1724-1792), Robert himself, James Watt (1736-1819) and John Rennie (1761-1821). The inscription reads:
Robert Stephenson MP, DCL, FRS 1803-1859 President of the Institution of Civil Engineers son of George Stephenson 1781-1848 Father of Railways
In 1905, a commemorative plaque was erected on his house at 34 Gloucester Square. The building was demolished and rebuilt in the 1930s, and the plaque was refixed in 1937. The layout of the residences had been changed, so that site of Robert’s home is now number 35 Gloucester Square.
Research: ECPK
bibliography
"Obituary. Robert Stephenson, (Past President and Vice-President), 1803-1859", Minutes of the Proceedings of the ICE, Vol.19, pp.176-182, London, 1860
http://openplaques.org
www.blueplaqueplaces.co.uk
www.british-history.ac.uk
www.english-heritage.org.uk
www.westminster-abbey.org
reference sources   DNBSmiles3BDCE2
Location

Home of Robert Stephenson, site of