Richard Trevithick Fact File Biography: Lifespan: 1771 - 1833 *** Full Name: Richard Trevithick *** Occupation: British Inventor and Mining Engineer *** Date of Birth: Richard Trevithick was born on April 13th 1771 *** Place of Birth: Richard Trevithick was born in Tregajorran in Cornwall, England *** Early life and childhood: He grew up with five sisters and was the second youngest child in the family *** Education: Richard Trevithick attended the local village school although he did not apply himself and was described as being “a disobedient, slow, obstinate, spoiled boy, frequently absent and very inattentive” although he did excel at arithmetic ***
Richard Trevithick Fact 1: Richard Trevithick was born on April 13th 1771. Family background: His father was Richard Trevithick, a mining “captain” and his mother was Ann Teague a miner’s daughter.
Richard Trevithick Fact 2: As a boy Richard Trevithick often enjoyed watching the steam engines while they worked to pump the water from the very deep copper and tin mines.
Richard Trevithick Fact 3: Briefly the family lived next door to William Murdoch who had pioneered the steam carriage and he would have quite an influence on Trevithick.
Richard Trevithick Fact 4: He first began working as a nineteen year old at the East Stray Park Mine. Enthusiastic, he quickly gained the position of a consultant which was rare for one so young.
Richard Trevithick Fact 5: His father was a very well respected man and the miners also came to respect the younger man also.
Richard Trevithick Fact 6: By 1797 aged twenty six he married Jane Harvey and together they had six children, Richard, Anne, Elizabeth, John, Francis and Frederick.
Richard Trevithick Fact 7: John Harvey, his wife’s father, was also famous throughout the world for his “beam” engines which were used for pumping water from mines.
Richard Trevithick Fact 8: Steam engines up until this time were of either condensing or atmospheric types those being originally invented by Thomas Newcomen.
Richard Trevithick Fact 9: In 1797 Richard Trevithick would become an engineer for the Ding Dong Mine and together with Edward Bull they pioneered the use of steam that was highly pressurized.
Richard Trevithick Fact 10: Around this time he also experimented with a type of pump that used a beam engine, a plunger-pole pump, that became widely used in the tin mines of Cornwall.
Richard Trevithick Fact 11: It was in 1797 and certainly by 1799, that Trevithick first made the high pressure steam engine work.
Richard Trevithick Fact 12: Richard Trevithick went on to create his early model high pressure steam engine, the first a stationary one and the second one attached to a road carriage.
Richard Trevithick Fact 13: The steam exhaust would be vented by way of a vertical pipe straight up into the atmosphere and this avoided the need for a condenser.
Richard Trevithick Fact 14: By 1801 Richard Trevithick had built a full size steam locomotive for the road.
Richard Trevithick Fact 15: In 1805 he was asked to consult on a project that involved building a tunnel to go under the River Thames. He nearly drowned during this project when there was a serious inrush of water to the tunnel and Trevithick was the last one out.
Richard Trevithick Fact 16: The first tunnel to be successfully completed was built by Sir Marc Isambard Brunel with his son, Isambard Kingdom Brunel in 1843.
Richard Trevithick Fact 17: Some of the other projects he researched included stone crushing, rolling mills, forge hammers, traditional mining applications, blast furnace blowers and boring brass for cannon manufacture. Richard Trevithick Fact 18: Richard Trevithick caught typhoid in May of 1810 and nearly died.
Richard Trevithick Fact 19: He spent some years travelling around South America before return to England in 1827.
Richard Trevithick Fact 20: A couple of his last projects include a closed cycle steam engine and an early version of a storage room heater.
Richard Trevithick Fact 21: Richard Trevithick died of pneumonia on April 22nd 1833 aged sixty two in Dartford, Kent with no family or friends present. His body was laid to rest in St Edmunds Burial Ground, East Hill in Dartford.
Influence & Legacy: Largely forgotten for the bigger names in steam engine development, Richard Trevithick was in fact one of the first to develop a working steam engine that pulled a passenger carriage up Camborne Hill in 1801. He is much remembered in his native Cornwall and many steam fairs take place in the region every year largely in his honor.
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