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Richard Trevithick

Richard TrevithickRichard Trevithick The first steam locomotive to run on rails was built by Richard Trevithick (1771–1833) an inventor and mining engineer from Cornwall, England. He developed the first high-pressure steam engine in 1799. Taking advantage of improvements in boiler construction, which permitted the safe use of high-pressure steam, Trevithick designed an engine in which the piston could move up and down without relying on atmospheric pressure as did Thomas Newcomen's atmospheric engine. Trevithick also built the world's first steam locomotive, which made its first journey from the Pen-y-darren ironworks, near Merthyr Tydfil, to Abercynon in Wales on 21st February 1804.

Trevithick's high-pressure steam engineTrevithick's high-pressure steam engine

First steam locomotive

Trevithick's high-pressure steam engine was more compact than the atmospheric engine—and light enough to carry its own weight and even pull a carriage. After experimenting with steam road vehicles, Trevithick designed a four-wheel locomotive to run on rails. It made a demonstration run in 1804, reaching 8 km/h (5 mph, a brisk walking-pace) when loaded. It showed that, even with a gentle gradient, it was possible to haul heavy carriages along a track relying on the weight of the steam locomotive itself to provide the necessary grip. Unfortunately, the weight of the train eventually broke the rails.Trevithick's locomotiveTrevithick's locomotive

Steam circus

Trevithick's steam road locomotive, Puffing Devil, made a successful trip up Camborne Hill in Cornwall in 1801 carrying six passengers. It was the world's first self-propelled passenger vehicle (Nicolas Cugnot's earlier vehicle of 1769 was designed to transport artillery).

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