Search the Collection

Richard Trevithick (1771-1833), Engineer and inventor

Sitter in 3 portraits
As an engineer at Wheal Treasury mine, Trevithick developed a high-pressure engine that was in great demand in Cornish and Welsh mines. In 1803, he obtained financing for an experimental steam locomotive and a year later he produced the world's first engine to run successfully on rails. However, the weight of the steam engine broke the rails and the project was abandoned. Trevithick travelled to Peru in 1816 to work as an engineer in a silver mine. He returned to England ten years later, but his various schemes all failed to receive financial support and he died in poverty in 1833. A group of local factory workers raised the money to pay for his funeral, as otherwise he would have been buried as a pauper.

List Thumbnail


Men of Science Living in 1807-8

by Sir John Gilbert, and Frederick John Skill, and William Walker, and Elizabeth Walker (née Reynolds)
pencil and wash, 1858-1862
NPG 1075


Engraving after 'Men of Science Living in 1807-8'

by George Zobel, and William Walker
engraving, 1862
NPG 1075a