Tuesday, 22 October 2019

John Wesley Hackworth 1820 - 1891 - An Introduction

"I am just a poor boy
Though my story's seldom told"
Paul Simon - The Boxer.

Engineer, Inventor and a Son of Timothy Hackworth. 

John Wesley Hackworth was born at Walbottle, County Durham, on May 8th, 6.30pm, 1820 to Locomotive pioneer Timothy Hackworth and Jane (Golightly) Hackworth. 

                 This Site is still under construction!

John Wesley Hackworth says of himself 
"I saw the Stockton and Darlington railway opened, was brought up upon it, knew every horse, and driver, every locomotive driver, and fireman, every director, nearly all the shareholders, and every noteworthy incident that occured thereon for the first 20 years; and if any living man knows anything of its history, and working, I am the man!"

A rare photograph of John Wesley Hackworth 1820 - 1891 from the Joan Hackworth Weir Collection.
Samuel Holmes - a grandson of Timothy Hackworth wrote, in the 1920's,
"It is hoped that Mr Albert Hackworth (the son of John Wesley Hackworth and grandson of Timothy Hackworth), who established the Worth Engineering works of Toronto, Canada, will write the interesting life and history of John Wesley Hackworth, which ought to be given to the world, as he has a great mass of papers,letters, and much detailed information bearing up on the subject."

Albert Hackworth never got time to produce such a work on his father but Robert Young added a chapter on John Wesley Hackworth to his book, and this website has used that as a basis from which to build his story. John's papers, that Samuel referred to, are now in the Hackworth Family archives housed at NRM in York HERE. It's not possible for me to go through them all at the present time, maybe, at some stage, someone will produce a book using the archives and one that will give a balanced view of John Wesley Hackworth. Until then this smaller work will have to suffice. 

  • John Wesley Hackworth and his team, delivered the first Locomotive to Russia, built by his father Timothy Hackworth to Tsar Nicholas 1 via Middlesbrough docks. 
  • John Wesley Hackworth grew up watching and helping his father who was The Superintendent of the Stockton and Darlington Railway and went on to set up his own engineering firm in Priestgate Darlington with a long list of patents to his name.
  • But for a chapter in Robert Young's book on Timothy Hackworth and The Locomotive, his story is most certainly 'seldom told'  


John Wesley Hackworth was an engineer and inventor and the son of Railway pioneer Timothy Hackworth, who, at the age of 16, on behalf of his father, led a team of engineers on a dangerous journey through the ice-clogged Baltic to deliver the first railway locomotive, built by Timothy, to the Tsar of Russia and came back with a long Russian beard and a Russian passport! 

You won't find much about John Wesley Hackworth on the internet and not much more in books. To those who do know his name, he cuts a controversial figure for his detailed defence of his father's reputation after the publication of The Life of George Stephenson by Samuel Smiles 1857. Few know his whole story, just a few choice-cut-phrases that are far from flattering. 

The purpose of this site is to address this situation to the best of my ability with the resources available. Along the way, I will tackle some of the difficult areas of his life, in particular the issue of 'Who Invented the Steam Blast' or 'Locomotive Blast Pipe'. It's a controversial area that will probably never be solved to the satisfaction of everyone but it's impossible to write about John's life without some deliberation on the issue. Hopefully this site will be a resource and an interesting read not only for those interested in Locomotive history but to people in general.

The best description of John Wesley Hackworth's life is from a chapter in Robert Young's Timothy Hackworth and the Locomotive first published in 1923 and revised in 2000 by Ulick Loring and Jane Hackworth Young (to whom I am thankful to for advice and additional material). I've taken this basic outline of his life and broken it up into posts and illustrated it with added material where possible. As it's a website rather than a book, I will be able to add into it or revise it as needs be.

Why am I doing this? Although I'm not a descendent of Timothy Hackworth, my sons and ex-partner are. Joan Hackworth Weir, the grandma and a cousin of Jane Hackworth Young, left a case of Hackworth archives and a painting of John Wesley Hackworth. The archives are now on line here and the painting is in the care of NRM Locomotion at Shildon. My sons saw the painting and asked me who he was! I set about finding out and this is the result....!

Joan Hackworth Weir as a 5 year old (bottom /centre) with the Hackworth family at the 1925 centenary of the Stockton and Darlington Railway. Photo from the Northern Echo.

Above, Joan Hackworth Weir (nee Parsons) in her 80's (right with hat and glasses),with Jane Hackworth Young (right), myself, Trev Teasdel and some of the Hackworth Grandsons, Kyle and Kristian Teasdel, from the Northern Echo 2005 when Joan presented to NRM the 'Blast Pipe letters' to Timothy Hackworth from George and Robert Stephenson, long held by the Hackworth family.

Trev Teasdel - site admin.

This site will cover the main aspects of John Wesley Hackworth's life to the extent that i have material available.

Joan Hackworth Weir (in pink) with Margaret Weir (in white) and Ulick Loring at the opening of the Timothy Hackworth Museum Shildon in 1975.

Father Ulick Loring, Reginald Young and Jane Hackworth Young at the Timothy Hackworth Museum Shildon.

Trev Teasdel - site admin.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

John Wesley Hackworth - Meet the Parents!

John Wesley Hackworth (from a painting in the
Joan Hackworth-Weir Collection.)

John Wesley Hackworth was born at Walbottle, (a village on the western outskirts of Newcastle) on May 8th, 1820, the son of the celebrated S & D railway engineer - Timothy Hackworth and his wife Jane Hackworth (née Golightly).

He was destined to become an engineer and prolific inventor in his own right and grew up in an environment where some of the most important, world-changing  industrial history was being made, some of it by his father, but his story is seldom told!


Jane Hackworth (née Golightly) (His mother)
Jane Hackworth (née Golightly), Timothy Hackworth's wife
 (from the Joan Hackworth-Weir Collection.)
Timothy Hackworth married Jane Golightly in 1813 at the age of 27 at Ovingham Parish Church where he had been baptised. Robert young tells us Jane "was a tall, handsome and well educated woman of roughly the same age." She entered into her husband's work, social, religious and professional life with great heartiness and sympathy. "Numerous family letters have been preserved which bear evidence of the knowledge and interest mutually held in Hackworth's business and doings, and of the affection and complete understanding between the two.." Robert Young Timothy Hackworth and the Locomotive p75

Later in the book Robert tells us " She was a women of great individuality, competent, energetic and an admirable housewife and.... had, in her younger days been a fine horsewoman. Like her husband, she had been attracted to Methodism, and on this account had been compelled to leave her home and live with a relative, her parents being rigorous members of  the established church."

Note - the two photos below are of Ovingham Church where Timothy and Jane were married)

On her death, a friend of the family - John Cleminson wrote " I have always looked up to her as one of the most Holy and devoted mothers of Israel. Her zeal for God was always manifested in her regular attendance on all the means of grace. At a time when the prayer meeting was kept up at 5 O'clock every morning in the week, she was generally there with the first and when she exercised in prayer, the power of God was always manifest. the whole of her life was that of the Holy devoted Christian. When the Wesleyan  Chapel in New Shildon was built, she went of her own accord and laid the foundation stone, and then gave an address in which she expressed the gladness that God was providing a house for his people to worship in...when the chapel was open she rode 40 miles at her own expense to seek an able minister to open it. And when a dispute arose respecting the settling of the deeds, she went to the owner of the land, and like the noble Queen Esther, pleaded the cause of God and His people.

Her benevolence to the power and cause of God was only bounded by her means, she loved all who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. She fed the hungry and clothed the naked, and, like her Divine Master, she did good to the bodies and souls of men."

Jane's religious zeal might not impress so many now in our largely secular society, but this the early 1800's and Timothy Hackworth was a personal friend of John Wesley (obviously reflected in the naming of his son!). Yet here is a portrait of John Wesley Hackworth's mother, showing her to be a women of strength, compassion, wisdom and initiative and reveals her relationship with Timothy Hackworth as impressively egalitarian for the times!

"Jane Golightly came from a rough farmhouse up in Weardale which Jane, I and my great-nephew visited since the ruins are a still there. A lot of work has been done on the disappearing farms of Weardale. Jane's father was a weaver and probably a sheep farmer." Ulick Loring.

Timothy Hackworth (His father)
Timothy Hackworth 
Timothy Hackworth's story is well covered on line and in Robert Young's book Timothy Hackworth and the Locomotive. "Born in Wylam 1786, Timothy Hackworth was the eldest son of John Hackworth who was foreman blacksmith at Wylam Colliery until his death in 1804; the father had already acquired a considerable reputation as a mechanical worker and boiler maker. At the end of his apprenticeship in 1807 Timothy took over his father's position. 

In 1824, Hackworth occupied a temporary position as relief manager at the Forth Street factory of Robert Stephenson and Company, whilst Robert was away in South America and George was occupied with the surveying of new railways, notably the Liverpool and Manchester. Hackworth only stayed until the end of that year, following which, he returned to Walbottle occupying his time with contract work until, upon the recommendation of George Stephenson, he was appointed on 13 May 1825 to the position of locomotive superintendent of the Stockton and Darlington Railway, a post he was to occupy until May 1840.

Hackworth is believed to have been influential in the development of the first Stephenson locomotive intended for the Stockton and Darlington Railway during his time at the Forth Street factory. That locomotive, then named Active, now known as Locomotion No 1, was delivered to the railway just before the opening ceremony on 27 September 1825. Three more of the same type were delivered in the following months and difficulties in getting them into operating order were such as to risk compromising the use of steam locomotives for years to come, had it not been for Hackworth's persistence. This persistence resulted in his developing the first adequate locomotive adapted to the rigours of everyday road service. The outcome was the Royal George of 1827, an early 0-6-0 Locomotive, that among many new key features notably incorporated a correctly aligned steam blastpipe. Hackworth is usually acknowledged as the inventor of this concept. From 1830 onwards the blastpipe was employed by the Stephensons for their updated Rocket and all subsequent new types. Recent letters acquired by the National Railway Museum would appear to confirm Hackworth as the inventor of the device." read more here  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timothy_Hackworth

This letter referred to, from Robert Stephenson to Timothy Hackworth, was until recently in the Joan Hackworth-Weir collection a direct descendant of John Wesley Hackworth and handed down and Joan donated it the museum at Shildon in 2005.). This is a link showing Jane Hackworth Young with the letter- http://www.culture24.org.uk/places+to+go/north+west/manchester/art29660

Timothy Hackworth Marries Jane Golightly
In 1814, aged 27, Timothy Hackworth married Jane Golightly at Ovingham parish Church at which he'd
Ovingham Church
been baptized. Robert Young tells us that Jane was a tall, handsome, well educated woman, and the two were almost the same age. She entered into her husband's work, social, religious and professional with great heartiness and sympathy. Numerous family letters have been preserved and they bear full evidence of the knowledge and interest mutually held in Hackworth's business and of the affection and complete understanding between the two. In their life together, which extended to 37 years, their children have borne testimony that though they had their full share of anxieties and troubles, yet in their home they were supremely happy and shared all the joys and sorrows pertaining to it.

Wesleyan Chapel
Some two years before his marriage, Timothy had begun attending services in the little Wesleyan Chapel in the Wylam and was so far attracted that he threw his lot in entirely with the methodists and became an ardent worker for them. This was in the days when Methodism had not reached the position which it later attained and to be labelled Methodist carried with it a certain amount of ridicule and opprobrium. Anything of this nature would not have the least effect on a man of Hackworth's temperament, nor was he the sort of man with whom anyone would venture to take liberties. Jane, like her husband, had been brought up in the Church of England, and when she joined the methodist Society she suffered considerably and , indeed, had to leave her home. It was when living with a relative that she became engaged and soon after married to Timothy Hackworth.
(For more background on Wylam,  I suggest Wylam (200 years of Railway History) by George Smith published 2012 available from Amazon http://www.amazon.co.uk/Wylam-200-Years-Railway-History/dp/1445610779

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Born in Walbottle 1820

Walbottle 1952
John Wesley Hackworth was born at Walbottle, Durham, on May 8th 1820 at 6.30 pm  and lived there with his parents until he was 5 years old, when his father, Timothy, joined the Stockton and Darlington Railway. It's not clear in Robert Young's book which part of Walbottle Timothy lived Walbottle or North Walbottle. The colliery seems to have been in north walbottle and so one assumes that Timothy lived in North Walbottle, possible in Coronation Road where there were cottages for the mine managers and top people. The back to back terraces for the mine workers are now gone I believe. However I can't be sure of the location of his residence at this stage, if anyone knows, do get in touch.

Walbottle - a Potted History
"Walbottle is a village in Tyne and Wear. It is a western suburb of  Newcastle upon Tyne. The village name, recorded in 1176 as "Walbotl", is derived from the Old English botl (building) on Hadrian's Wall. There are a number of Northumbrian villages which are suffixed "-bottle".(it has been pointed out that  suffix Bottle was originally 'Pottle' (Latin Potus) meaning small fortified building on the Roman Wall. Source http://newcastlephotos.blogspot.co.uk/2010/07/walbottle.html (comments).

Bede, in his Ecclesiastical History of the English People, refers to a royal estate called Ad Murum near the Roman Wall where, in 653 AD, the King of the Middle Angles, Peada, and the King of the East Saxons, Sigeberht, were both baptised into the Christian faith by Bishop Finan, having been persuaded to do so by King Oswy of Northumbria. Historians have identified Ad Murum with Walbottle.

Ann Potter, the mother of  Lord Armstrong, the famous industrialist, was born at Walbottle Hall in 1780 and lived there until 1801. George Stephenson had also worked at Walbottle Colliery. Other notable people born in Walbottle were  Thomas Tommy Browell (1892–1955), professional footballer
Richard Armstrong (author) (1903–1986), who wrote for both adults and children. He was the winner of the Carnegie Medal in 1948 for his book Sea Change. He is also known for a biography of Grace Darling in which he challenges the conventional story: Grace Darling: Maid and Myth. He is often described on the cover of his books as "author and mariner"William Wilson (18 May 1809 died on 17 April 1862 in Nuremberg, Germany). Mechanical Engineer who pioneered railways in Germany in the nineteenth century after working alongside George Stephenson in England. The German Wikipedia article de:William Wilson (Ingenieur) mentions Wilson as being the driver supplied by the Stephenson Loco Works to operate the Bavarian Ludwig Railway." Source http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walbottle

Walbottle Colliery
"This colliery is situated in the parish of  Newburn, about 4½ miles west by north from Newcastle. It is of
This was the North Walbottle Colliery
considerable antiquity, the Duke Pit having been a working shaft upwards of 100 years.

Two basalt or whin dykes run through the colliery; and slip dykes and troubles are very prevalent here. The colliery has been remarkably fortunate in its exemption from explosions. There are three working pits, at which the coals are drawn by an aggregate of 83 horse power. There are also three pumping engines, combining 262 horse power. The waggon-way from the Coronation Pit to the staith at Lemington is about 2 miles long; and the waggons are conveyed thither by horses and inclined planes. The coals are forwarded to the ships by keels. Messrs. Lamb and Co. are the proprietors of the colliery. The coals are known in the market by the names of "Holywell Main," "Newburn Main," "Holywell Reins," and "Holywell Reins Splint."
Views of the Collieries (1844)" Source http://www.dmm.org.uk/colliery/w025.htm


Timothy Hackworth was born 1786, in Wylam, to John Hackworth who was foreman blacksmith at Wylam Colliery and a celebrated boiler builder and general worker in metals as well for Christopher Blackett. Timothy had started a 7 year apprenticeship under his father and after his father's death and on finishing his apprenticeship, Christopher Blackett enabled him to take on his father's position. Thus Timothy stepped into a position of responsibility at an early age. Timothy's story is told here.  In Wylam Timothy gained his formative experience that would set the standard of his future work as an engineer. At 22 he began work on the new steam locomotives that were being introduced at Wylam. He held this position for 8 years.

Writing of those early days when John Hackworth oversaw Timothy's apprenticeship, John Wesley Hackworth said the youth "gave early indication of a natural bent and aptitude of mind for mechanical construction and research, and it formed a pleasurable theme of contemplation for the father to mark the studious application of his son to obtain the mastery of mechanical principles, and observe the energy and passionate ardour with which he grasped at a through knowledge of his art."

In 1815 circumstances occurred which led to Timothy Hackworth's departure from Wylam.

Timothy had no wish to leave, his employment was congenial. he was in a modest way, comfortably off, it was his native place, and here was born his first child.

John Wesley Hackworth was the 4th of 9 children by Timothy and Jane - Ann, Mary, Elizabeth, John Wesley, Prudence, Timothy, Thomas, Hannah and Jane.

In Wylam, there had been the 'Dillies' which had been deeply interested in and to which he desired to bring to them such a state of efficiency as should show beyond all doubt the their superiority to horse traction..but there were influences at work that affected the comfort of his his permanent residence at Wylam. Blackett had other interests besides the colliery from which he was frequently absent and the reins of authority passed to his viewer, William Hedley. Hackworth, whose views on the sanctity of the Sabbath were well known and had always been respected previously, was requested to do a piece of work at the colliery on the Sunday, to which he firmly declined to be a party. Passing the colliery one Sunday on his way to a preaching appointment, the following conversation took place between a workman and himself.

"Where's thee gannen?" the man asked. Hackworth replied "I am going to preach" "Is thee not gannen toe to du thee work?" asked the man. "I have other work to do today" Said Hackworth. "Well, if thou'lt not, somebody else will and thou will lose thee job"  to which Hackworth rejoined "Lose or not lose, I shall not break the Sabbath."

The result was that Hackworth had to give up his position, a matter about which he felt very keenly but as to which he never hesitated.

New Position in Walbottle
Robert Young provides a good portrait of Timothy's time at Walbottle
"Timothy Hackworth's reputation had extended beyond the narrow confines of Wylam village, and he was honoured and respected as a good man and a clever craftsman. When it was known that he was leaving Wylam he received an offer from William Patter, viewer and part owner of Walbottle Colliery, to go there as foreman smith and accordingly he took up residence at Walbottle early 1816. here he remained for 8 years. William Patter, the manager was a man of high character, and a close friendship existed between the head of the colliery and his foreman smith, which remained unbroken during the whole of Hackworth's service there.

The Walbottle period may be considered the most peaceful and possibly the happiest of Hackworth's life.

There is little to record of public interest. he followed the even tenor of his way, punctually and efficiently  fulfilling his duties secular, social, family and religious. his leisure was spent in study, visiting the sick and similar good works, and he was keenly interested in the people among whom he worked and in whose moral and social advancement he was ever concerned. At Walbottle he made many intimate and lasting friendships, was held in high esteem and won golden opinions throughout the district for his integrity and the many many virtues he possessed. His industrial pursuits were numerous. He was  a keen gardener, made a study of horticulture but his chief affections were in the direction of mechanics and he built many steam engines for grinding salt and similar objects, manufactured safety lamps and had always before him the problems connected with the improvement of the locomotive. He did not therefore anticipate a further change of employment, just as he would have been content to remain at Wylam, so at Walbottle the simple life satisfied him. When the time came for his entrance into more absorbing field of locomotion development it was only after much careful thought that he agreed to make the great change.

Those quiet years spent at Walbottle cover a period of considerable activity in the construction of railroads with which Timothy had had no concern. many men were considering the problems of cheap haulage, without which no material advance was possible, many novel proposals were made public but despite that, during Hackworth's 8 years at Walbottle, no progress had been made in the improvement of the locomotive."

John Wesley Hackworth was 5 years old when Timothy moved from Walbottle and the story continues in the post below.


Walbottle methodist Church.

The Move to Shildon - The Stockton and Darlington Railway.


"If any man knows anything of the history and working operations of the Stockton and Darlington Railway, I am the man" John Wesley Hackworth

Robert Young tells us in Timothy Hackworth and the Locomotive."from the age of 5, when his father joined the Stockton and Darlington Railway, John Wesley Hackworth lived and moved and had his being among the early railway surroundings. In one of his numerous articles, trying to overcome the maze of error and fiction which had enveloped the period, he wrote regarding the Stockton and Darlington Railway,

"I saw it opened, was brought up upon it, knew every horse and driver, every director, most of the shareholders, and every noteworthy incident that occurred thereon for the first 20 years. If any man knows anything of its history and working operations, I am the man- to the minutiae."

Spragging Wheels!
Robert Young continues "He was a clever boy but no student of books. While other children were spinning tops, he was spragging the wheels of coal waggons as they reach the bottom of the incline or riding on the locomotives. He went with the Royal George on its final trip and knew as much about it as most of the men and a good deal more than some of them. He thus began his early training as an engineer and never dreamt of any other career. It was part and parcel of his existence and he was a  born mechanic. As we shall see, he went off with the first locomotive ever sent to Russia when he was only 16 years of age and on his return completed his apprenticeship with his father, married at the age of 20 and settled down at Shildon."

Timothy Hackworth Leaves Walbottle
Timothy Hackworth had no deep desire to leave Walbottle until circumstances dictated, so the change was incremental. John was only 5 when the Hackworth moved to a newly built cottage at New Shildon, built for them by the S & D Railway.

"New opportunities were presenting themselves to Timothy but for a while he held out against change. Early 1824 an expedition was formed for working gold and silver mines in Venezuela, Trinidad and New Granada. An appointment was offered to Timothy to superintend engineering operations including sinking or pits and erection of engines and machines. After consideration, he declined this invitation and Robert Stephenson took the position after having completed designs for the railway incline at Brusselton. The engagement was for three years."

Fourth Street Works
"Shortly after, George Stephenson's Fourth street works in Newcastle received an order for their first locomotive for the S & D Railway. This was for two engines at  £500 each, the specifications provided by George. A few months earlier overtures to Timothy Hackworth had been made to become the manager which Timothy had also declined. However when George was compelled to leave Newcastle to carry out surveys for the Liverpool and Manchester Railway for several months, he solicited the help of Timothy, who with the consent of his employer, agreed to manage the works as a 'borrowed man' on a temporary basis until Stephenson returned. Timothy's colliery days were over and he would shortly take up a position in that newer world of railways with which he was identified with for the rest of his life."

"At the age of 38 he emerged from obscurity as a foreman of smiths to occupy that supreme position as a locomotive engineer. When Stephenson returned he was much impressed with the efficient manner in which the works had been conducted and was wishful to retain Hackworth and in order to secure him offered him one half of his own interest in the company. Again Hackworth declined, possibly because, if he moved in to locomotives, he would have wanted to be untrammeled and free to work his own methods, although he kept his reasons to himself.  Stephenson was greatly occupied by other work, the engineer of two railways and was more fully engaged with railway construction than engine building and had a growing reputation as a surveyor. However Timothy declined this offer and returned to Walbottle in the latter part of 1824. however he did not return to his former position as his brother Thomas had carried on the work."
While Timothy was in Newcastle, he had other offers and the idea of starting on his own account had occurred to him and in fact undertook to build some boilers for the Tyne Iron Company. When this was completed Stephenson reopened negotiations, this time to secure him as the resident engineer for the S & D Railway in march 1925 and had the effect of bringing hackworth to darlington to meet Edward and Joseph Pease at the Kings Head Inn. None the less Hackworth started up his own Engine manufacture in Newcastle but Stephenson urge the Peases to make him another offer. This time Timothy Hackworth accepted the offer and became the first locomotive supervisor of the Stockton and Darlington Railway. On June 28th 1825, Timothy took up residence at Darlington until a suitable residence had been prepared for him at new Shildon, and this became the HQ of of the locomotive department. the Brusselton fixed engine for working the incline was first erected and the Etherley engine ready for September.

The first great event was the delivery of Engine No 1. The Stockton and Darlington Railway was launched on Tuesday September 27th 1825. Hackworth was not only the Superintendent of the locomotives but the manager of the line. It was the working of the inclined planes at Etherley and Brusselton that gave him the greatest trouble. The machinery was complicated and cumbersome. Eventually pease and Stephenson agreed that a change was needed. It was left to hackworth to deal with this. In 1831 hackworth designed a compact 80 horse power engine. Robert Young's book gives more details on this. Locomotion No 1 which launched the S & D line was rebuilt and remodelled at least 3 times by Timothy"

The S & D Railway, in its origin, was a plain proposition to open up the rich coalfields of the Auckland district of Durham by communication with the port of of the Tees and estimates showed that it might reasonably return a steady dividend of 5% to shareholders. It was not clear at the outset whether this would be by rail or canal. Little progress had been made on the locomotive during the years Timothy was resident in Walbottle and the 1st Railway Act authorising the construction of the S & D railway never even mentioned a locomotive. Railways were progressing but the locomotive stood still. A system of conveying waggons by fixed steam engines and ropes, patented by Benjamin Thompson 1821 and called the reciprocating system was in favour.

The credit of initiating the S & D Railway goes largely to Edward Pease, a Darlington Quaker and George Stephenson was appointed surveyor in 1822 and his son Robert Stephenson assistant surveyor. The demand for coal was growing and 'necessity became the mother of invention'. New schemes were being explored. 

The Birth of the Russian Railway System

The Birth of the Russian Railway System

Robert Young tells us that -

"The duty of introducing (and delivering) the Locomotive to Russia devolved upon Timothy Hackworth's eldest son - John Wesley Hackworth, then, 16 years (as from his birthday in May 1836)."

David Burke wrote in 1956 "Exactly 120 years ago a 16 year old English boy gave Russia her first railway engine. His name John Wesley Hackworth (the middle name Wesley was changed to William for the journey out of respect for the Orthodox Russian Church). He faced blizzards,wolvesand misfortune -and at the end of his journey,crowds cheered him,priests blessed him and he received the Tsar's congratulations.Yet today the Soviets have rubbed his name, the name of this remarkable lad from the history books,and hardly anything is known of him,even in the west."

Before we get to the story of the delivery of the first locomotive to Russia in 1836 by John Wesley Hackworth and his team, here is some of the background going back as far as 1816, when the Grand Duke (later Tsar) Nicholas 1 visited England.

Nicholas 1 of Russia visits England in 1816

"The Grand Duke Nicholas 1 of Russia had, while on a visit to England in 1816, had seen the
Blenkinsop steam engine working on the Leeds Middleton Colliery line. This type of engine, of which the first was tried in 1812, derived its motion from a central cog or toothed wheel which engaged with a rack forming part of the rail. This friction was not relied upon and the carrying wheels merely rolled and took no drive..Heavy loads were hauled and the system excited the future Tsar's interest." 
The Times On this day August 19 1937.

It seems, from what Robert Young says, that Middleton Colliery wasn't the only visit made - 

Robert Young Timothy Hackworth and the Locomotive p276 / 7
"Years before, Russian archdukes had visited Wylam and had seen the Puffing Billy and Wylam Dilly, which Timothy Hackworth had built to Hedley's design and this is probably why the order was given to Timothy Hackworth." 

As we shall see, Timothy Hackworth wasn't the only Locomotive engineer to be invited to supply an engine for Russia. Hackworth's team was the first to arrive, deliver, set up and launch an engine in Russia.

George Turner Smith in his recent book Thomas Hackworth  (Locomotive Engineer)(Fonthill Media 2015) Chapter 4 The Russian Engine p47 says that -
"Russia was a late starter regarding railways. Although there was an obvious need for good communication between urban centres in such a vast country, in 1836 transport had advanced little since the Middle Ages...As a twenty year old, the Grand Duke Nicholas 1 had the privilege of seeing the future at first hand....John Blenkinsop employed and favoured the 'rack and pinion' system...which if reliable were not intended for speed. Nevertheless the railway must have impressed the future Tsar because on his return to Russia he persuaded his father, Alexander 1 to commision a report on the cost and feasibility of a national railway network - a report so complicated it was still unfinished at the time of Alexander's death eight years later in 1824............By the mid 1830's, Russia was now 30 years behind Britain in terms of railway technology, and Nicholas reluctantly acknowledged that every element,from track construction to locomotive manufacture, would have to be imported. There were already one or two small private railways operating throughout the empire,but they nearly all used horses for traction."

Kevin Fink in The Beginnings of Railways in Russia adds "A few mines and factories in the Urals used tramways to move ore or products but they used horses or men to pull the carts over short distances."

Tsar Nicholas 1 had other reservations, how would British engines fare under the demands of severe Russian winters and on health and safety grounds thought that British engines "were dangerous and ran over people" but Franz Anton von Gestner gave the examples of American railways and the Linz-Budweis Railway to show that they could operate under severe winter weather conditions.

George Turner Smith says (p50 of Thomas Hackworth)
 "The need for a more efficient transport system in Russia became more urgent after a series of border skirmishes with Russia's neighbours and Nicholas was forced into giving his railway project greater priority. The first stage was the construction of a railway from the Baltic port of St.Petersburg to Moscow. Designed to be constructed in short sections, each section was independently financed from private investment and a Czechoslovakian  engineer called Franz von Gerstner was invited to oversee the project."

Fear of Political Upheavals

Kevin Fink tells us - "The main problem in deciding whether to allow the building of railways was "
always financial, not political. The fear of political and social upheavals was raised by the press and occasionally by some officials, but the Tsar and most of his high officials did not consider that a problem. Nicholas I thought that the introduction of technological innovations from abroad would strengthen the existing order, not weaken it. Because of the scarcity of capital and the large amount required for railway construction, the success or failure of these ventures would have a large effect on the Russian state. Thus the tsar and his paternalistic government were much more cautious about economic effects of railways than other countries.

The first  15 miles of single track were laid down between St. Petersburg and Tsarskoye Selo,where the Tsar had his Summer Palaces.

"On January 6, 1835, an Austrian engineer by the name of Franz Anton von Gerstner sent a letter to Nicholas I proposing to provide Russia with an extensive railway system. "This was the first concrete proposal ever made to provide Russia with such a system" (Haywood, 1969, p. 74). Von Gestner gave his qualifications as the engineer of the first public railway on the European continent (the Danube-Moldavia line) and cited the advantages which railway construction had brought to other countries, including England, France, Germany, and America. He cited the Liverpool-Manchester Railway, which had helped British trade as well as providing a fast and inexpensive transport system for travelers. He also mentioned the help which it had provided in troop movements to quell disorders in Ireland, a point well-taken by Nicholas I.....

However Gerstner, he was unable to raise sufficient capital for the St. Petersburg to Moscow line, and had to abandon that in favor of the shorter line to Tsarskoe Selo. Von Gerstner was able to raise sufficient capital for this line, mostly through a few large investors including Count A. A. Bobrinskii (an enlightened landowner interested in science and technology), Benedict Kramer (director of the Russian American Company), and Johann Plitt (consul of the Free City of Frankfurt am Main).

The proposed route for the railway started in a large square near the center of St. Petersburg near the junction of the Fontanka and Vedenskii canals. It traveled along the Vedenskii Canal at street level to the Obvodnyi Canal, which would be crossed by a substantial bridge. Then a short curve (the only one on the entire route) would lead to a straight, fairly flat line to the Apollon Church in Pavlovsk Park." Kevin Fink (Read more on the development of the Russian Railways HERE)

And from Russian Locomotives Volume 1 1836-1904 AD Pater and FM Page
Russian Locomotives Volume 1 1836 - 1904 A D de Pater FM Page

Tsarskoe - Selo Railway (St. Petersburg - Pavlovsk) 
"The first passenger carrying railway in Russia, this line was built to the 6'0" (1830 mm) gauge, and remained unique and separate until it was taken over by the Moscow-Vindava-Rybinsk Railway in 1897 following which in was altered to 1524 mm gauge in 1902, giving that line access to St Petersburg.

Chevalier vo Gerstner, in his third report, gives a lot of background information on the early history of the line. The Tsar Nicholas 1 had expressed a wish to connect St. Petersburg with Moscow by a railway in September 1834, and during von Gerstner's travels in Russia, he was presented to the Tsar and as a result was granted, on 21st December 1835, the personal privilege of forming companies to build both the Tsarskoe-Selo, and the the Peterhof lines, though he died before the latter was effected.

The Imperial Ukase for the construction of the Tsarskoe- Selo line was sealed on 21st March 1836.Eight days later, von Gerstner set off on a 7500 km journey to purchase the materials for his new line. In Belgium he ordered a locomotive from John Cockerill of seraing for 40,000 francs, delivered, in Dublin, twenty wagon underframes; in Liverpool, two locomotives from Charles Tayleur (Vulcan Foundry) and ten carriage trucks from Jones and Creigh (Jones and Potts); in Manchester, a crane but no locomotives from Sharp Roberts, while in newcastle he ordered two locomotives from Timothy Hackworth. Of the latter four engines, one from each maker was to be shipped before the 10th September, under penalty of £500.

Hackworth's Engine the first to arrive.
The locomotive from Hackworth was the first to arrive in St. Petersburg on 3rd October (Russian Calendar) on board the Barbara from Stockton * followed by the first Stephenson engine nine days later,on the Caspian from Newcastle, while a further nine days elapsed before the Sirus from Antwerp brought the Cockerill engine.The diaries kept by Hackworth's son. and by Thomas Wardropper, in charge of the team of fitters which accompanied Stephenson's engine have both survived, and give a picture of friendly rivalry and competition to have the engine ready first,won by the Hackworth team, though it was to Stephenson that the railway later turned for spares for all the engines."

The rest of this article can be seen at the end of this page as a PDF file.

This is an interesting video on the St.Petersburg to Tsarskoye Selo line and its history. Although it's in Russian, there is a visual narrative in English for none Russian speakers. There is however no mention of Timothy or John wesley Hackworth - although George Stephenson gets a mention towards the end.

Links to check out

Russian Locomotives Volume 1 1836 - 1904 extracts
AD Pater - FM Page

Pushkin, Dostoevsky and Tolstoy and the Railway.

Material to come to this.

John Wesley Hackworth's Return Passport 1836

 John Wesley Hackworth's passport for returning to the UK from Russia c Dec 1836 after delivering the first locomotive built for Russia by his father Timothy Hackworth. The scans of the passport are courtesy of  Jane Hackworth Young (Co-creator of the Timothy Hackworth Museum) and Alison Kay of the National Railway Museum in York. Thank you.