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Stephenson, Robert Stephenson, Robert (1806-1859)

Robert Stephenson and his father built the first commercial railway locomotive - the Rocket.

Stephenson's father worked hard to find the money to put his son through school, although Robert always maintained that it was his father's personal training that made him one of the era's most successful engineers.

In the early 19th century, discovery was all the rage and Robert travelled to Costa Rica to work with the locomotive pioneer, Richard Trevithick. He brought invaluable knowledge back to his father's workshop, which he took over.

Together they built the Rocket, a steam locomotive that won the Rainhill speed trials and earned them a commission to build eight more locomotives to haul the carriages on the Liverpool & Manchester Railway.

Stephenson went on to build several railways and many bridges around the world, including the London to Birmingham line on which Cooke and Wheatstone's first telegraph was trialled. He was also was actively involved in integrating the telegraph onto the rail network. He became an MP in 1847 and, following his early death, was honoured by being buried in Westminster Abbey.

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