Three wise men

Resource Type: Image | Posted on 16th September 2011 by Liam Physick

One of the images supplied to Metal by Eric Shenton. This portrait shows three railway pioneers. Charles Sylvester, was a noted chemist who died in 1828, before the Liverpool and Manchester Railway was established, but in the last three years of his life he did important work in locomotive technology, especially in relation to friction, that greatly helped develop the science of locomotive design. He was commissioned by the Liverpool and Manchester Railway Company to provide advice on railways, and wrote a “Report on rail-roads and locomotive engines”, in which he noted that while on a railway, greater power produces greater speed, on a canal the power required to increase speed increases by the square of the velocity. Joseph Sandars was a Liverpool corn merchant who supported parliamentary reform and the abolition of slavery. He opposed the canal and river monopolies, and in 1821 he agreed to back William James’s idea for a railway link between Liverpool and Manchester, and formed the Liverpool & Manchester Railway Company, commissioning James to survey the land: after James was imprisoned for debt in 1823, this role was given to George Stephenson. In 1838, Sandars and Stephenson went into partnership with George Hudson, opening coalmines, ironworks and limestone quarries in the Chesterfield area. Sandars was later Whig MP for Great Yarmouth from 1848 to 1852. George Stephenson needs no introduction. He designed his first locomotive, the Blucher, in 1814, and helped develop iron rails so they could take the weight of locomotives (previously locomotives had run on wooden rails). Stephenson was responsible for desgining the Stockton and Darlington Railway, to connect local collieries and, in order to build locomotives for this new line, he, his son Robert, Edward Pease and Michael Longridge established Robert Stephenson and Company, which built the Locomotion No. 1, the first locomotive to use the Railway, and the first-ever purpose-built coach, the Experiment, to carry dignitaries on the opening journey, the first time a locomotive had pulled passengers. Later of course, he designed the Liverpool and Manchester Railway and built the Rocket. On the opening day of the Liverpool and Manchester, Stephenson drove the Northumbrian, from whose train William Huskisson disembarked before being fatally struck by the Rocket, driven by Joseph Locke. The success of the new railway meant Stephenson was very much in demand on other lines. However, perhaps his most enduring legacy is not as well known: foreseeing that the individual railway lines would eventually be joined, he established the standard gauge of four feet eight and a half inches, known as the Stephenson gauge

Three wise men

Tagged under: steam locomotives, liverpool and manchester railway, eric shenton, rocket, coaches, carriages, george stephenson, william huskisson, robert stephenson, northumbrian

Categorised under: The Station & Railway Pioneers

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By Christopher O'Brien on 18th September 2013

Joseph Sandars MP died in 1893 according to Burke’s peerage. Dates of birth and death of JS railway pioneer are not clear as sources differ, although National Archives refer to him as 1785-1860. Are you sure the railway pioneer was also an MP?

By Peter on 26th June 2017

Although many railway pioneers sat as MPs, I would agree that JS RP and JS MP are likely distinct as the latter was apparently born in 1821. He was also a Tory, unlike JS RP. The other possibility, of course, is that one or more dates are incorrect and that the party affiliation changed.

By Peter on 27th June 2017

It appears likely that JS MP was the son of JS RP, both at one time or another of Taplow House, Bucks.

By Peter on 27th June 2017

See this bio of Joseph Sandars—a little truncated and a few railway-related errors but clarifies family tree

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