The invention of the train changed industry and people’s lives. It became easier and cheaper to transport goods, and people could travel more quickly and comfortably. But who invented the train? The answer is the “father of the railway”, George Stephenson.
George was born in 1781 during the Industrial Revolution. This was a magical time for creative and intelligent people like him. His family was modest. His father was a firefighter in a mine near Newcastle and they lived in a cottage nearby. George’s first job was herding cows, but he wasn’t really interested in cows – he preferred machines. Every day he watched the horses pull wagons full of coal from the mine to the River Tyne. George dreamt of inventing a machine to pull those wagons.
When he was 14 he started work in the mines. He was an intelligent and ambitious boy, but he couldn’t read or write, so he began attending evening classes. To earn extra money he repaired clocks and watches in his free time. But his real hobby was engines. He wanted to understand how they were made. So every Saturday, when nobody was working, he returned to the mine and he dismantled the engines to examine them. He learnt so much that in 1814 he constructed a locomotive that could pull 30 tonnes up a hill at 6 kmph. He called his locomotive the Blutcher. During the next five years he built 16 more engines. The owners of the mine were impressed and in 1819 they asked George to build a railroad. While he was working on this he realised that an efficient railway had to be level, so he also constructed tunnels.
In 1823, George and his son Robert formed the world’s first locomotive company in Newcastle. Two years later large crowds watched George Stephenson drive his new locomotive –the Locomotion – as it pulled 36 wagons filled with sacks of coal and flour. This first journey was 14.5 km long and took two hours. Later, he invented the Rocket, the most advanced locomotive of the day. It could travel at 46 kmph. What would he think of our high-speed trains today?
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