Stephenson, Robert

views updated May 11 2018

Stephenson, Robert (1803–59). English railway engineer. The son of the pioneering railway-builder and designer of locomotives, George Stephenson (1781–1848), Robert was mostly responsible for the construction of the main lines from London to Birmingham (1833–8), in the North-East of England, and elsewhere. His greatest works were bridges, e.g. spanning the Tyne at Newcastle and the Tweed at Berwick (1846–9), but his master-piece was the Britannia Bridge (1845–50), a tubular-girder structure carrying the Chester to Holyhead line over the Menai Straits. In the detailed design of the last Stephenson was assisted by Fairbairn and others. He also designed the tubular bridge at Conway, Wales (1845–50). His Victoria Bridge over the St Lawrence, Montréal (1854–9), was for some time the longest bridge in the world.


Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004);
Rolt (1960);
Skempton et al. (eds.) (2002);
Smiles (1862)

Stephenson, Robert

views updated Jun 11 2018

Stephenson, Robert (1803–59). Only son of George Stephenson, Robert was born when his father was still an obscure north-eastern colliery workman. At first, he was dependent on his father's success, acting as his assistant in railway and other projects, and managing the Forth Bank works in Newcastle, an important centre of early railway engineering. By mid-century, he had acquired an independent reputation as one of the world's most famous engineers. His achievements at home and abroad included many railways and bridges, including the High Level bridge at Newcastle (1849), the Royal Border bridge, Berwick (1850), the Menai Straits bridge (1850), and the Victoria bridge at Montreal (1859). He was Conservative MP for Whitby from 1847 until his death. A popular figure, a generous philanthropist, and a considerate employer, he was buried in Westminster abbey amidst widespread mourning.

Norman McCord

Stephenson, Robert

views updated May 17 2018

Stephenson, Robert (1803–59) English engineer, son of George Stephenson. From 1827, Robert Stephenson managed his father's locomotive works. He built several railway lines and tubular bridges, including the Britannia Bridge across the Menai Strait, Wales. He served as a MP from 1847.