Robert Stephenson Trust
c/o The North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers, Neville Hall, Westgate Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 1SE
Email: rstrust@robertstephensontrust.com
The Life of Robert Stephenson – a Timeline

London & Birmingham Railway (111 miles long)

The scale of this undertaking was unprecedented but it was completed on time and to its budget of £5.5 million. His methods became models for railway engineering practice.  He designed the tied arch iron bridge at Long Buckby

1836  Railway mania took hold in Britain.  Robert opened an office at 16 Duke Street, London.  He directed the Birmingham & Derby Junction, York & North Midland, and Midland Counties Railways.

1837  He moved office to 35½ Great George Street, London.  On the 23rd December a dinner was held at Dunchurch to celebrate Robert’s achievement with the London & Birmingham Railway.  He was presented with a silver salver engraved: ‘to Robert Stephenson, Esq, Engineer-in-Chief of the London and Birmingham Railway, a tribute of the respect and esteem from the members of the Engineering Department who were employed under him in the execution of that great work.  Presented on the eve of their gradual separation.’







1838  On the 4th July the Great Western Railway opened with two Stephenson 'Patentee' broad gauge locomotives.  Robert Stephenson & Co. were now exporting to the USA, Russia and Europe as well as to many British companies.  The Victoria Viaduct over the River Wear in County Durham opened - ‘This beautiful bridge with elegant curves of massive stone will exist as a memorial to Robert Stephenson’s capacity’.


1839  Robert spent 3 months travelling the continent, seeking orders and working as a consultant.  In London on the 16th November another dinner was held in his honour by a testimonial committee established by John Stephenson, a railway contractor.  He was presented with a service of plate and a candelabrum following donations of over £1250.


1841  Robert took over as Engineer-in-Chief of the Great North of England Railway.   He took out a patent for a ‘long-boiler’ loco.


1842  Frances, his wife, died and he moved his home to 15 Cambridge Square, London.


1843  Robert’s London office moved to 24 Great George St.  He spent the summer on the continent as a consultant.


1844  He reported to the Chester & Holyhead Railway Co. on the atmospheric system operating in Ireland and championed by Brunel.  Robert was strongly against it.  On the 18th June the Newcastle & Darlington Junction Railway, for which he had been responsible, opened. A dinner was held in the Assembly Rooms in Newcastle to celebrate a continuous line of railway from the Thames to the Tyne, virtually all built under Robert Stephenson’s auspices.  He surveyed a route for the Newcastle & Berwick Railway Bill; he was also appointed in charge of the Chester & Holyhead Railway.