Richard Trevithick - Engineer and Inventor

Richard Trevithick
Richard Trevithick

Richard Trevithick was born in 1771 in Tregajorran near Illogan. His father was the manager of Dolcoath Mine and Richard was introduced to engineering at an early age, showing an aptitude for pumps and machinery. He became a mining engineer in Penzance.

Between 1796 and 1801, he developed a steam carriage, which he demonstrated in December 1801 through the streets of Camborne to Tuckingmill. This first steam engine ran at a speed of between four and nine miles per hour. It was later demonstrated in London.

The usefulness of steam was demonstrated by the fact that the carriage could reach the top of Camborne Hill with a heavy load, something that horses could only manage with great difficulty.

Trevithick Statue - Camborne
Trevithick Statue - Camborne

Trevithick spent eleven years in Peru and Costa Rica, working on pumping engines in the silver mines. He was largely responsible for the development of the high-pressure engine. Sadly he died penniless in 1833. A statue was raised in his honour in Camborne, and the town celebrates Trevithick Day every April.