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George Stephenson

George StephensonGeorge Stephenson George Stephenson (1781–1848) was an English engineer. In 1815, he invented a safety lamp for use in mines that would burn without causing an explosion. The first steam locomotive had been invented by Richard Trevithick in 1804, and Stephenson designed his first locomotive, Blücher, in 1814. It was used for hauling coal at Killingworth Colliery near Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Along with his son, Robert (1803–1859), also an engineer, Stephenson supervised the construction of the Stockton and Darlington Railway, which opened in 1825.



Puffing Billy, an early steam locomotivePuffing Billy, an early steam locomotive

Early life

George Stephenson was born on 9th June 1781 in Wylam, a village in Northumberland. While he worked as a brakesman, a pithead winch operator at the nearby colliery, he learned to read and write in his spare time. In 1811, after successfully repairing a faulty pumping engine at a coalmine, he was given responsibilty for repairing all its engines, and so became an expert in how steam engines worked. Soon Stephenson was designing steam locomotives to haul coal—and improving the design of iron rails to reduce track breakage.


Stephenson's safety lamp was adopted only in his native northeast England, while a rival design, invented by chemist Sir Humphry Davy (1778–1829), was used in other parts of Britain. Stephenson's lamp was nicknamed the Geordie lamp—which is possibly the origin of the name given to all people from the Tyneside region.

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