Trevithick, Richard

views updated May 17 2018

Trevithick, Richard (1771–1833). Cornish engineer and inventor whose genius did not extend to business. A mine engineer from 1790 before erecting his first engine at Ding Dong (1795), he developed high-pressure, non-condensing engines from 1797 to patent both in 1802. His attainments include demonstrating the first practical steam carriage at Camborne (1801) and locomotive at Penydarran (1804), venting steam by the chimney to improve draught; a hydraulic engine and plunger pump for mines (1798); a steam barge (1805); iron storage tanks and iron ships (1808–9); a near-complete Thames tunnel (1809); a Cornish boiler and engine (1812); a portable agricultural engine (1812); a screw propeller (1815); and a tubular boiler (1816). Bankrupt in 1811, mining ventures led him to South America, 1816–27, at a loss, followed by a final flurry of patents including superheating and the jet propulsion of ships (1831). None made him a living, and he died the employee of a Kentish foundry, two of his sons succeeding where he failed in combining engineering with economy.

J. A. Chartres

Trevithick, Richard

views updated May 14 2018

Trevithick, Richard (1771–1833) English engineer. In 1801, he built a steam-powered road vehicle. In 1802, Trevithick patented a high-pressure steam engine, his most important invention. In 1803, he built the first steam railway locomotive. In 1816, he went to Peru to install his steam engines in mines.