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 (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

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


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

There is little or no documentary information about John Wesley Hackworth in his formative years, except that which can be gleaned for letters in the Hackworth archives at the York NRM, but given what Robert Young tells us below, his story is very much Timothy Hackworth's story... 

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's 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 Royal George 
The building of  The Royal George was no small part of Timothy's work and Robert Young tells us on page 155 of his book Timothy Hackworth and the Locomotive "..the Royal George was the first locomotive constructed with six wheels coupled and the arrangement, not only of two cylinders, but of every important detail,was entirely novel." It had a double flue of malleable iron shaped like the letter U and traversing the whole length of the boiler.

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

John Wesley Hackworth and the Delivery and Launch of the First Locomotive for Russia - 1836.

John Wesley Hackworth and the Delivery and Launch of the First Successful Locomotive for Russia - 1836.

Nearly 200 years ago, John Wesley Hackworth, delivered and launched the first successful railway locomotive for Russia. It was built by his father - locomotive pioneer Timothy Hackworth. You may not find it in Russian history books, but the Hackworth engine was the first to arrive (on October 1st 1836) and to be launched in Tsarskoye-Selo. 

The First Russian Locomotive
In a paper from 1956, David Burke wrote that in 1836 “A 16-year old English boy (John Wesley Hackworth) gave Russia her first railway locomotive. He (and his team) faced blizzards, wolves, and misfortune, and at the end of his journey, crowds cheered him, priests blessed him, and he received the Tsar’s congratulations” 
(John Hackworth’s Russian Train - David Burke ((South Kensington Museum of Science and Innovation) Autumn paper from 1956. - Published on this site further down)

 Ulick Loring (the great-great grandson of Timothy Hackworth) comments that “for a young man reared in the austerity of nonconformist north-east England, to be exposed to Imperial Russian life must have been a heady experience. It is difficult nowadays to imagine the contrast between English and Slavic religion and culture and how it could affect visitors from Western Europe. His locomotive was the first among several ordered from Western Europe, to arrive at St. Petersburg. This was on 3rd October 1836 (Russian Calendar).” 

(Ulick Loring - A Railway Family - 2015)

The duty of introducing the locomotive to Russia devolved upon Timothy Hackworth’s eldest son, John. Such a journey at that time was a perilous proposition and Timothy’s decision to send his son couldn’t have been taken lightly! It may have been because both Timothy and Thomas were under considerable pressure and Thomas had just got married to a French woman, Adele Celestine Hennon, but as Robert Young says John Wesley Hackworth was ‘a well set up youth, nearly as tall as his father, and a keen and clever engineer, absorbed in his profession and in appearance, much older than his years.’

(Robert Young - Timothy Hackworth and the Locomotive. 1923 Chapter X1X)

Hackworth's Locomotive for Russia

Two engines were outsourced to the Hackworth’s Soho works, New Shildon but only one

was built, but was the first to be delivered to Tsar Nicholas 1. George Turner Smith says, “In effect, the engine was a typical Stephenson 2-2-2 ‘Patentee…The engine was crated up and transported on a modified flatbed wagon, along the S&D rails to Port Darlington in Middlesbrough…The locomotive was loaded on to the brig – Barbara” 

(George Turner Smith - Thomas Hackworth (Locomotive Engineer) 2015 p10)

On the 17th September 1836, The Durham Advertiser reported -

"On Thursday, 15th September, a large and powerful locomotive engine, built by Timothy Hackworth of New Shildon for the Emperor of Russia was shipped on board the 'Barbara' at Middlesbro'. This engine is constructed on an improved principle and finished in the best manner. She has been tried on the premises and propelled at the rate of 72 miles per hour. It is said that this machine and the similar one built at Newcastle, will on their arrival at St. Petersburg, have cost the Emperor upwards of £2,000 each. Who, a few years ago, would have dreamed of the exportation of machinery from the River Tees? This engine is for travelling on the railroad from St. Petersburg to Pavlovsky where stands one of the country palaces of his Imperial Majesty." 

(Railcentre website )

The locomotive arrived at Port Darlington, Middlesbrough along with Hackworth’s team of engineers. It is assumed the Barbara would be a brig but nothing much is known about it. For any Middlesbrough historians wanting to do some research on the ship, the records from Customs House, Middlesbrough are now in Teesside archives.

Six years earlier, Timothy Hackworth designed the coal staithes in Middlesbrough, in 1830, and there is a plaque at Middlesbrough docks placed there by Jane Hackworth-Young , great great grand-daughter of Timothy Hackworth, in 1981.

Local historian, George Markham Tweddell gave a description of the coal staithes in 1890.

The railway to Middlesbrough was opened December 20th, 1830, with a train of

passengers and coal, one immense block of "black diamonds" from the Old Boy Colliery figuring conspicuously, which, when broken, was calculated to make two London chaldrons. Staithes had already been erected to load six ships at one time, and the visitors witnessed the loading of the Sunnyside, under the management of Mr. William Fallows, then in his thirty-third year, who the year previous had been appointed agent to the Stockton and Darlington Railway at Stockton.  The mode of loading the vessels laying along the low-banked river was very ingenious. Each waggon of coal was run on to a cradle, then raised by steam power to the staithes, and lowered by "drops" to the decks, a labourer descending with each waggon, undoing the fastening of the bottom, and thus allowing the coals to fall at once into the ship's hold, when he ascended with the empty waggon, which was returned to the railway with the same machinery, in the principal gallery of the staithes, covered in and adorned for the festive occasion, and lighted by portable gas - the first ever burnt in Middlesbrough - a table, 134 yards long, loaded with provisions, supplied the needed bodily refreshment to nearly six hundred hungry spectators, all of whom entertained glowing hopes of the prosperity of the new venture

(George Markham Tweddell in his History of Middlesbrough in Bulmer’s North Yorkshire Directory 1890 -

It was previously surmised that John Wesley Hackworth travelled with the team from Shildon to Middlesbrough but in searching the Hackworth archive we discover that John

Wesley Hackworth was traveling to London with his father, on business and intended to board a ship in London to catch up with the team in Hamburg. He missed the initial connection, but managed to board a later ship and reunite with the team.

A description of the Letter from Timothy Hackworth (Guild Hall Coffee House) to Jane Hackworth 22nd September 1836  reads “we were to (sic) late in reaching London the vessel had been gone 15 minutes.  One Mr Kitching from Lancashire has to go to St Petersburg to fix two weighing machines, he together with his niece and son John all go on board on Friday night and sail for Hamburg on Saturday morning and I think of coming home by Majestic…….

(Hackworth Family Archives NRM York letter dated 22nd September 1836 (TH9385)

At that time, the Baltic was frozen over so the team had to travel from Hamburg through 500 miles of frozen desolate country with wooden sledges, before the spires of St. Petersburg came into view. David Burke, who had sight of the lost John Wesley Hackworth diary of the trip, says “Blizzards nearly blinded them, wolves attacked them and only by whipping the horse teams into a frenzy did young Hackworth and his team escape the snapping jaws.” And Robert Young adds that “the weather was so severe that the spirit bottles broke with the frost

Clearly in 1836, delivering a locomotive was no easy task but it was by no means the end of their troubles. While assembling the locomotive in St. Petersburg, a cylinder cracked and with no workshops in the city capable of fixing it, Hackworth’s foreman George Thompson heroically took the cylinder from St. Petersburg to Moscow, a distance of some 600 miles, to the armoury where they made a pattern for the cylinder, got it cast, bored out and fitted, returned to St. Petersburg, and fixed it in the engine. 

The Launch of the Russian Locomotive

David Burke tells us “In November 1836 bells pealed in St. Petersburg, guns boomed,

and the line was opened with great crowds cheering, gaping Russians who had never seen an ‘Iron horse’ before’. John Wesley Hackworth drove his puffing, hissing charge into Tsarskoye-selo
where the Tsar Nicholas 1 and his family and generals waited to see him arrive. Not that the opening of the first railway in once Holy Russia was as simple as that – a score of orthodox priests descended on the engine with crosses, candles, censers, and holy water to perform the blessing ceremony”. “They splashed me in the process” Hackworth wrote in his diary.

Robert Young elaborates “This was the baptismal ceremony of consecration according to the rites of the Greek Church done in the presence of an assembled crowd. Water was obtained from a neighbouring bog or “stele” in a golden censer and sanctified by immersions of a golden cross amid chanting of choristers and intonations of priests, while a hundred lighted tapers were held round it. This was followed by the invocation of special blessings upon the Tsar and Imperial Family, and fervent supplications that on all occasions of travel by the new mode, just being inaugurated, they might be well and safely conveyed. Then came the due Administration of the Ordinance by one priest bearing the holy censer; while a second, operating with a huge brush and dipping in the censer, dashed each wheel with the sign of the cross, with final copious showers all over the engine, of which John Hackworth was an involuntary partaker.”

Hackworth related in his diary how he was introduced to the Tsar who told him of a visit to England in 1816, when he had witnessed the running of Blenkinsop’s engine on the colliery line from Middleton to Leeds. The Tsar added some complimentary remarks regarding the new locomotive, saying he ‘could not have conceived it possible so radical a change could have been effected within the last 20 years. The Tsar also told him that “
It was an occasion of great progress and other ‘Iron horses’ would surely spread across the nation.”

The Hackworth team, despite the delays and difficulties in getting there and in travelling to Moscow for the repair, were the first to launch. The launch,original scheduled for September was delayed until November 1836 to enable the other teams to set up.

Pushkin, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy and the Railway.

The Locomotive and its Literary Influence.

This literary section is probably more of an indulgence on my part, as it doesn't directly engage with John Wesley Hackworth, but I think it's an interesting divulgence before continuing with his life and work.

The former Green Dragon Museum in Stockton had a documentary on loop that showed how the birth of the railways influence the birth of the blues, with its harmonica whistles and railway blues / symbolism. The film may be at Preston Park now. (More here).

According to Jane Hackworth-Young new research suggests that Timothy Hackworth influenced the building of the first engines in America. The birth of the railways had a huge impact on music and literature – Charles Dickens (known to use the new form of transport) seems to have set the ball rolling with his novel Dombey and Son (1846-48) and later Mugby Junction. Later there was Émile Zola’s La Bête Humaine (1890) and The Railway Children by E. Nesbit was published in 1906, but what of Russia literature?

"Dickens employs railways as image and plot device in Dombey and Son well represent both the range of effects they had on Victorian Britain and its usefulness as image and analogy. 

Dickens recognized the ways this new transportation technology could affect Victorian cities for the better, ridding them of their worst slums and leading to new housing for the poorer classes. He also presents those who work on the railway, particularly engine drivers, as valued members of society — solid citizens.

"A curse upon the fiery devil, thundering along so smoothly, tracked through the distant valley by a glare of light and lurid smoke, and gone! He felt as if he had been plucked out of its path, and saved from being torn asunder. It made him shrink and shudder even now, when its faintest hum was hushed, and when the lines of iron road he could trace in the moonlight, running to a point, were as empty and as silent as a desert."  from Dombey and Son by Charles Dickens

"As the belated traveller plodded up and down, a shadowy train went by him in the gloom which was no other than the train of a life. From whatsoever intangible deep cutting or dark tunnel it emerged, here it came, unsummoned and unannounced, stealing upon him and passing away into obscurity."

Guard!  What place is this? Mugby Junction, sir. A windy place! Yes, it mostly is, sir. And looks comfortless indeed!”

"Red hot embers showering out upon the ground, down this dark avenue, and down the other, as if torturing fires were being raked clear; concurrently, shrieks and groans and grinds invading the ear, as if the tortured were at the height of their suffering. Iron-barred cages full of cattle jangling by midway, the drooping beasts with horns entangled, eyes frozen with terror, and mouths too: at least they have long icicles (or what seem so) hanging from their lips. Unknown languages in the air, conspiring in red, green, and white characters. An earthquake accompanied with thunder and lightning, going up express to London." Quotes from Mugby Junction Charles Dickens

"This was the 4.25 train for Dieppe. A stream of passengers hurried forward. One heard the roll of the trucks loaded with luggage, and the porters pushing the foot-warmers, one by one, into the compartments. The engine and tender had reached the first luggage van with a hollow clash, and the head-porter could then be seen tightening the screw of the spreader. The sky had become cloudy in the direction of Batignolles. An ashen crepuscule, effacing the façades, seemed to be already falling on the outspread fan of railway lines; and, in this dim light, one saw in the distance, the constant departure and arrival of trains on the Banlieue and Ceinture lines. Beyond the great sheet of span-roofing of the station, shreds of reddish smoke flew over darkened Paris."  From Émile Zola’s La Bête Humaine (1890) 

They were not railway children to begin with. I don’t suppose they had ever thought about railways except as a means of getting to Maskelyne and Cook’s, the Pantomime, Zoological Gardens, and Madame Tussaud’s....

"Never before had any of them been at a station, except for the purpose of catching trains—or perhaps waiting for them—and always with grown-ups in attendance, grown-ups who were not themselves interested in stations, except as places from which they wished to get away.

Never before had they passed close enough to a signal-box to be able to notice the wires, and to hear the mysterious 'ping, ping,' followed by the strong, firm clicking of machinery.

The very sleepers on which the rails lay were a delightful path to travel by—just far enough apart to serve as the stepping-stones in a game of foaming torrents hastily organised by Bobbie.

Then to arrive at the station, not through the booking office, but in a freebooting sort of way by the sloping end of the platform. This in itself was joy.

Joy, too, it was to peep into the porters' room, where the lamps are, and the Railway almanac on the wall, and one porter half asleep behind a paper.

From Pushkin to Tolstoy

The town of Tsarskoye-Selo (meaning Tsar’s village) was renamed Pushkin in 1937, one

hundred years after John’s return to England, and it was in honour of the Russian poet Alexander Pushkin, who studied at the Imperial Lyceum there 1811 to 1817. There’s no evidence to suggest John Wesley Hackworth met or was aware of Pushkin but it’s probable the Russian poet and his wife were at the launch. If so, and had he lived, it’s tempting to think the event might have found its way into his work. 

Pushkin was a poet, playwright, and novelist, considered by many to be the founder of modern Russian literature. Born into Russian nobility in Moscow, he published his first poem at 15 and was widely recognized by the literary establishment by the time of his graduation from

the Tsarskoye Selo Lyceum. His controversial poem "Ode to Liberty", led to him being exiled under Tsar Alexander 1 and under strict surveillance of the Tsar's political police, unable to publish freely. Pushkin married Natalia Pushkina and they became regulars of court society. Among her admirers was Tsar Nicholas 1 for whom John delivered the engine. It’s interesting to note that Pushkin was around the Summer Palace at that time but moreover, just as in Pushkin’s famous novel in verse, Eugene Onegin, that ended with a lovers duel, in November 1836, while John was there, Pushkin faced a rumour that Georges d'Anthès (a French military officer and politician) was having an affair with his wife. He received several copies of a "certificate" nominating him "Coadjutor of the International Order of Cuckolds." Pushkin immediately challenged Georges d'Anthès to a duel in November which was delayed until February 1837 and sadly then Pushkin was fatally wounded at the age of 37. Strange to think that John Wesley Hackworth's greatest moment was shared in close proximity in Tsarskoye-Selo with Alexander Pushkin - the greatest Russian Poet's most tragic moment!

Pushkin Biography

14-year-old Pushkin reciting his poem before old Derzhavin in the Lyceum (painting by Ilya Repin from 1911

"Adieu, thou witness of our glory,
   Petrovski Palace; come, astir!
   Drive on! the city barriers hoary
   Appear; along the road of Tver
   The coach is borne o’er ruts and holes,
   Past women, sentry-boxes, rolls,
   Past palaces and nunneries,
   Lamp-posts, shops, sledges, families,
   Bokharians, peasants, beds of greens,
   Boulevards, belfries, milliners,
   Huts, chemists, Cossacks, shopkeepers
   And fashionable magazines,
   Balconies, lion’s heads on doors,
   Jackdaws on every spire—in scores." (75)
Alexander Pushkin Eugene Oneagin

By 1860, Dostoevsky had mentioned St. Petersburg station in his classic novel ‘Crime and

Punishment’, but it was down to Leo Tolstoy, an aristocrat, to produce the first Russian novel evoking the railways. Most Russian aristocrats, were opposed to the railways, thinking it would lead men to move about too freely and might assist rebellion! That would come soon enough! Tolstoy’s novel Anna Karenina, published 1878, was one of the earliest novels after Dickens to incorporate the theme of trains and railroads as a central motif. Tolstoy was not a fan of trains and went as far to say, “The railroad is to travel as a whore is to love” Anna Karenina is full of important scenes on trains and in stations, but they also serve as a means of progressing the storyline

“Tolstoy felt that trains were destroying the old Russian way of life in favour of a new industrial and capitalistic Russia, while moving away from traditions and simplicity. Anna Karenina is a victim of her love affair, committing suicide by throwing herself under a train, while the theme of trains and railroads pierces the entire story. Tolstoy incorporates the symbols of railroads and trains as motifs of tragedy

brought by the advancing progress of Western technology in Russian society, the destructive nature of trains, and how characters such as Levin serve as a reminder of how trains are destroying closeness to nature and old true values

"The engine had already whistled in the distance. A few instants later the platform was quivering, and with puffs of steam hanging low in the air from the frost, the engine rolled up, with the lever of the middle wheel rhythmically moving up and down, and the stooping figure of the engine-driver covered with frost. Behind the tender, setting the platform more and more slowly swaying, came the luggage van with a dog whining in it. At last the passenger carriages rolled in, oscillating before

coming to a standstill.

A smart guard jumped out, giving a whistle, and after him one by one the impatient passengers began to get down: an officer of the guards, holding himself erect, and looking severely about him; a nimble little merchant with a satchel, smiling gaily; a peasant with a sack over his shoulder."

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

In the Joan Hackworth Weir collection there is a pook of poetry called Esther by Jane Elizabeth Holmes published in 1865 posthumously. This copy of the book belong to John Wesley Hackworth with his signature on the inside cover, and the date June 27th Darlington.

Although  it may not be in the league of Alexander Pushkin, it's certainly in the zone. Jane Hackworth-Young tells me that  "Jane Elizabeth Holmes was one of Samuel Holmes elder sisters - he was the fourth child of Elizabeth Holmes nee Hackworth (Timothy's third daughter) and Benjamin Holmes - who died in 1847 and the family returned to Soho House to live with Timothy and Jane Hackworth."

Clearly John Wesley Hackworth was a reader of poetry. Maybe he had heard or even read Pushkin - Pushkin's literary status was well known in Tsarskoye-Selo back then.

Here's a sample of the Jane Elizabeth Holmes story in verse Esther. I will upload the whole books as a pdf soon.

Below John Wesley Hackworth's signature on the book

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.

John Wesley Hackworth’s Passport

On the 12th December 1836, John was granted a Russian passport for the homeward journey, by the Tsar himself. The name on the passport read John William Hackworth, because, as George Turner Smith remarks “his name was considered unsuitable for a visitor to Mother Russia.” Timothy Hackworth was a Methodist and named his son after, John Wesley but for the passport they changed Wesley to William so as not offend the Russian Orthodox church. The passport was kept by John Wesley Hackworth’s descendants until 2005 when Joan Hackworth Weir donated it to the Hackworth Archives at NRM, York.

The passport reads -                                                                                                         

By Edict of his Majesty, the Sovereign Emperor. Nikolai Pavlovitch, Autocrat of all the Russias. To each and every person who it may concern, it is hereby announced that the presenter of this document, a citizen of Great Britain, John William Hackworth, mechanical engineer, is leaving this country via Lierandia and Kurlendia. In witness whereof and for freedom of passage he is given this passport, which remains valid for three weeks, to pass the bearer through the frontier. This passport is allocated by The St. Petersburg District Governor General with the affixed seal of His Imperial Majesty at St. Petersburg 12th day of December in the year 1836. No 3179 1560, Distinctive characteristics – Age 16, height medium, hair light brown, face oval, forehead average, eyebrows bushy, eyes hazel, mouth average, chin rounded.”