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 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.

Works Manager - Soho Works, Shildon.

Material to come to this..

John Wesley Hackworth became works manager at Soho (New Shildon).

Priestgate, Darlington 1850 - Stationary Engines and Machinery

John Wesley Hackworth's Inventions and Patents.
Photo from the Joan Hackworth Weir Collection.

John Wesley Hackworth left Shildon after his father's death in 1850 (he had been Works Manager) Graces's Guide) "was living at Shildon, aged 30 (born at Walbottle), an Engineer, with his wife Ann and their three daughters, and Joseph Salkeld (age 20) an apprentice. Plus a servant."
and moved to Darlington where he set up a factory in Priestgate and began making stationary engines and machinery, patenting a number of his own inventions. However according to the 1851 census (quoted from

Priestgate itself has been substantially redeveloped since then, so I have no idea where John Wesley Hackworth's  factory was located in Priestgate. If anybody knowledgeable about Darlington's history has any information or pictorial evidence on this, I would be glad to receive it.

His patents included -

  • The High Pressure Horizontal Steam Engine.
  • A Hoisting Machine. (1854)
  • An apparatus  for working Blast Furnaces by forcing air in a continuous current (1857) and regulating  the compression of air.
  • A Tubular Heating Cistern.
  • Hackworth Radial Valve Gear,1859. He took out a patent for a new type of 'dynamic valve gear' for steam engines. This became known as Hackworth Radial Valve Gear, and gave rise to many similar types of radial valve gear, particularly for marine engine use.

Robert Young wrote "After his father's death, John Wesley Hackworth moved to Darlington where he took premises in Priestgate  and began making Stationary engines and machinery. A successful business was built up, one of his first ventures being patent High Pressure Horizontal Steam Engine, which had many unique features to which we shall presently refer. He obtained a patent in 1854 for a Hoisting Machine, with self activating contrivances for stopping the winding as desired, and 1857, an apparatus for working blast furnaces by forcing in air in a continuous current and regulating the compression of the air. He also patented a Tubular heating Cistern, with the object of heating the feed water of steam engines with the exhaust steam of the engine.This was a of rectangular form with top and bottom cast in, and projecting over the sides. the top and bottom of the cistern were perforated with holes corresponding with each other, into which were inserted a series of copper or other metal tubes, the exhaust steam being discharged over the tubes, while the feed water was pumped through them to the boiler . By this means the feed water reached boiling point before entering the boiler. But a much more important discovery was to come. John Wesley Hackworth had long occupied himself an improvement of the ordinary link motion, by simplification, by obtaining a constant  "lead" and by easy reversing. In October 1859, he took out a patent for the Variable Expansion Valve Gear applicable to locomotive, marine and other engines, which he named Dynamic Valve Gear. The chief original feature of this was an arrangement and combination whereby two motions were obtained from one eccentric, crank or radial pin. One motion for working the lead of the slide valve, and the other at right angles to the first, to obtain a variable expansion and reverse motion. The advantages claimed and fully realised were -

a) Combination of the two right angle movement whereby quickness is obtained in opening the valve, immediately succeeded by the partial suspension of motion, caused by the movements neutralising each other. Thus, by the well timed action, increased useful effect is obtained.

b) A greater range of variation in the expansion.
c) A great reduction of machinery.
d) The joints are of a more durable kind, and more easily adjusted.
e) Much less power is required for performing the various manipulations.
f) It is much nearer mathematical accuracy than the 'link motion'.

Many other modifications and combinations of the mechanism were described in the patent. It became known as The Hackworth  Radial Valve Gear, and as Professor Perry says "is the parent of all the radial gears" (The Steam Engine by John Perry D Sc. R.S. Macmillan & Co Ltd 1889 p143.). It had a host of imitators, but those which followed were mere variations of the original. Some twenty of them are, or were in existence, and they have been applied to almost every description of steam engine.

John Wesley Hackworth's Patent Winch

Winding Engine for the Shildon Coal Company - Designed and erected by John Wesley Hackworth.


Winding Engine for the Shildon Coal Company Co. Another View.

The Great Exhibition in London 1862

In 1862, John Wesley Hackworth exhibited his Horizontal High Pressure Steam Engine at The International or Great Exhibition in London 1862.



The Khedive - Muhammad Ali Pasha.
The engine was also displayed at the later in the great Exhibition in Dublin 1865. The Khedive  had visited the exhibition of 1862, and John Wesley Hackworth's engine was brought to his notice. Following up this opening, John Wesley Hackworth began manufacturing Cotton machinery for Egypt, which was carried on with great success for about 10 years until The Khedive fell. On the back of this John Wesley Hackworth built a new factory at Banktop in darlington (before the current station was built).

Robert Young writes "At the Great Exhibition in London of 1862 John Wesley Hackworth his Horizontal High Pressure Steam Engine, in which were combined the "Pass over" slide valve, originally patented in 1849, and applied, as we have seen, in the Sanpareil No 2 in that year,the patent tubular heating cistern, the dynamic valve gear, and some original features in construction which included an improved wrought iron crosshead in one piece. The piston rod was carried through the cylinder into a box to prevent elliptical wear and undue friction. All the journals, joints and motions had double the usual amount of rubbing surface and special regard was paid to strength  and simplicity in details, oil syphons were provided, and the cylinder was lagged with mahogany. The foundation plate was of the 'box girder' type, and the whole appearance was neat and every working part easily accessible. Economy in fuel was the primary object aimed at, and a number of these engines were sent to places where the cost of coal was a serious factor. Specially Egypt there was at this period a great trade opening. The Civil War in the United States had ruined the Cotton industry, and in looking for other suitable countries for cotton growing the prospects of Egypt  were specially promising. The Khedive had visited  the exhibition of 1862, and John Wesley Hackworth's engine was brought to his notice. With an economy in fuel of 20 to 30 per cent. over other engines,simplicity in construction, and economy of space, the engine achieved a high reputation, and many were manufactured and sent both to Egypt and elsewhere. One of them was sent to the Exhibition in Dublin in 1865 and received a prize for its excellence. Following up this opening, John Wesley Hackworth began manufacturing Cotton machinery for Egypt, which was carried on with great success for some time. He also designed a Steam Winch, which was largely used on steamers. Out of the proceeds he built himself a new works at Banktop, Darlington. These he specially designed, and they were commodious and complete in every respect. But this  period of prosperity came an end. The Khedive fell, John Wesley Hackworth had orders in hand for huge quantities of machinery of various kinds, and the fall came just at a time when he was completing these. Not only was a great amount of it left on his hands, but for for much that he had already despatched he never received any payment. He was thus placed in a position of financial difficulty, from which he managed to extricate himself, and carried on his works, though with small success for some years.

Like his father, he also built winding engines for collieries, one of which at the Shildon Colliery, was erected in 1870 and is still at work there (1923)."

Again if any Darlington historians have any information on the location of John Wesley Hackworth's factory at Banktop in the 1860's, please get in contact.


The International of 1862, or Great London Exposition, was a world's fair. It was held from 1 May to 1 November 1862, beside the gardens of the Royal Horticultural Society, South Kensington, London, England, on a site that now houses museums including the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum (London).

JWH in Canada and the USA

More Material to come to this.

From Robert Young -
"The engineering works in Darlington were given up about the year 1871, and in 1872 John Wesley Hackworth visited Canada and the United states, partly to recruit his health and partly with a view of introducing his Variable Expansion Valve Motion. He brought it before the United States Naval Authorities, and while he had complained bitterly of the "circumlocution, red tape and positive indignity" to which he had been subjected in England in approaching a Government department, the delays of which fretted and irritated him, he does not seem to have had any greater success in the United States, and came to the conclusion that one was no better than the other. When he left England some 50 steamers had been fitted with the gear in addition to a number of stationary engines. In America a locomotive on the Hudson River railway was provided with it experimentally in 1873, which is the only case of which was are aware. *

* (Mr F.W.Brewer, in an article on the 'strong' locomotives designed by Geo. S. Strong, of Philadelphia, published in The Locomotive of July 15th, 1921, p 180 says "Each one of his locomotives Strong employed gridiron valves, and in all but his last engine - a four cylinder compound - he used the Hackworth type of valve motion. These were some of the very few instances in which that gear, virtually in its original form had been applied to locomotives. Yet the fact that the motion adopted by Strong was in reality Hackworth's seems to have escaped his notice; at any rate so far as the writer knows, Hackworth's name has hitherto not been mentioned in connection with strong's engines, and the gear has been mainly referred to as 'one of the radial type'.The so called 'Southern' gear brought out in 1914, is the latest development of the Hackworth valve motion, and in all essentials it is identical with the arrangement used by Strong, although a return crank is submitted for an eccentric. The Joy gear, introduced in 1879,is simply another and earlier variant.)

Other schemes, however, occupied his attention, for he was a man rich in inventive faculty, and he obtained a patent in 1874 while still in the United States for Metallic Packing, which he described as an invention to secure internal and external tightness, that is, freedom of leakage, in the moving parts of machinery under vacuum or pressure, in dealing with fluids such steam, gas, air, oil or water.

In 1875 he returned to England and began practice as a consulting engineer in Darlington, later moving to Sunderland, and eventually to London. He devised an arrangement for the better ventilation of mines, and spent a considerable sum in parliamentary experiments, but the cost of installing it prevented its adoption. Mine ventilation was no new hobby with him. It had been a subject of deep interest and concern to Timothy Hackworth, and the son had given much time and study to a question which affected the lives of the mining population among whom he had been brought up. Avoiding technicalities, it may be stated his scheme was to sweep the mine clear of explosive fluid by pumping in compressed air - considerably above atmospheric pressure - through pipes into the extremities of the working and conducted back to the 'up-cast' to be done by one powerful engine duplicated to meet contingencies. Having collected and expelled the poisonous gasses, the second part of the problem was the introduction and uniform distribution of pure air. He explained his scheme with the greatest minuteness, and averred that by its use "the miners would be as safe as when sitting in their own houses." In comparing it with the old system, he said: " The difference may be summed up in a word or two. The word is an outrageous attempt to subjugate universal laws to accomplish an impossibility, and the other the natural,simple and proper application of those laws to a useful, legitimate and desirable object, the expediency of which is as obvious as water running down a hill."

His Radial Valve was ever before him.he amended his patent of 1859, in 1876, in 1882 when he was in his 67th year. He called it by various names,"Dynamic" "ne plus extra" "Paragon" and it absorbed his time and energies, having a fascination which lasted through life.It was patented in many countries,was taken up by many manufacturers and used to a large extent,more especially in marine engines.But in a letter written in 1873 John Wesley hackworth says he has spent a great deal more on it than ever he had received, and the expenditure continued, for he proceeded against some of the imitators for infringing his patent, and was enmeshed in long costly law suits.His fate was that of many another inventor, and others reaped the benefits which should have been his.

Yet another patent was taken out by John Wesley Hackworth in December 1884, for "Improvement in Steam Engines" He called this Hackworth's Steam and Vacuum Repeating Engines" and the improvements consisted in obtaining a succession of distinct forces from one charge of steam. This was obtained, first, by two or more applications of the steam's expansive force, so applied that each succeeding operation causes no diminution of the power derived from the steam, and was thus essentially different from the compound engine, and secondly, by repeated vacuums produced in the cylinder spaces where the steam had previously exerted its power.The special claim was the admission of steam into a single or multi-cylindrical engine at one end only of the cylinder, and by repeating its action at the other end after the steam had passed through an "expanding receiver" Also a vacuum was produced acting alternately with the steam at opposite ends of the pistons, and the specification describes in detail the methods by which these objects were attained.

Factory in Banktop and Consultant Engineer

Material to come to this.

Advocating his Father's Claims.

More material to come to this....

Last Days in Sunderland

Material to come to this.

John Wesley Hackworth's King James Bible

We found, among Joan Hackworth Weir's belongings, the King James Bible 1847 edition, belonging to John Wesley Hackworth. The cover was a little damaged through damp but otherwise perfectly readable. there was an inscription on the inside cover that shows it was presented to him by his sister Prudence (Hackworth) Nightingale on  April 10th 1875.

I've no idea who Mrs Peter Le Coco was - as it says on the cover of the Bible, below.

The Spine of the Bible

The Inscription

The Inscription reads " Presented to J.W. Hackworth by his affectionate sister P. Nightingale, April 10th 1875."