Top positive review
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A giant among engineers.
on 11 September 2002
The opening chapters of this informative book give the history of Cornwall in a nutshell:- the mining, the unforgiving coastline, the wrecks, the climate and the people. Specifically from the mining aspect, we see how the conditions lent themselves to some form of mechanised help with raising tin & copper ore and draing the shafts & tunnels. Newcomen and Watt were the first to provide the engines, but Trevithick saw how these could be improved, much to the dismay of Boulton & Watt, who kept up a litiginous fight against Trevithick for decades.
Trevithick prevailed and also saw that the static engines could be moved around by their own power to the next site, which set into motion the beginning of the railways and motor cars (little realising what this would become in 200 years!)....
This is a well-researched book, with plenty of apposite quotes and comments, but at the same time it is never dull - the story flows like well-turned novel, urging one into the next chapter. The great thing about the book is the way you are constantly kept aware of how new the technology was; and how daunting that power was to those used to the limitations of horse-power. And it reveals the impetuous yet single-minded nature of this ebullient giant who would let nothing stop him in his quest to further Cornish development.
The author opened my eyes to the unsung genius of Trevithick; we all remember Watt as the 'Father of Steam' (he actually hindered progress!) and Stevenson as the 'Inventor of the Railway Engine', but Trevithick made more technical strides - although they were quickly superseded - nontheless, it does not detract from the man's vision and tenacity in the face of opposition from the Patent law and his rivals.
Recommended reading ****