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on 1 January 2008
This biography covers the life of Richard Trevithick, a brilliant but wayward Cornish engineer and inventor who gave the world its first steam-powered locomotive 200 years ago. A well written book that highlights Trevithick's great advances and inventions in the age of steam from the Penydarren engine, the world's first steam locomotive, his portable high power steam engines, his work on tunnels, boats and more. There is also a very interesting period where he goes to Peru to work on the silver mines and gets caught up in a revolution and then actually meets George Stephenson of all people in Costa Rica. A tempestuous man of great strength, drive and energy, Trevithick never made his fortune but he left a rich trail of advancement during the industrial revolution.

A well written book that I enjoyed but tempered with too many letter extracts for my liking and I wish I could have been able to follow the technical explanations in the book a bit better. Never the less a very interesting read.
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VINE VOICEon 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 ****
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on 27 March 2010
Like many people, I mainly thought of Trevithick as the father of the steam l;ocomotive and the inventor of high-pressure steam engines, but knew little more except that he died in relative poverty. I have previously enjoyed Anthony Burton's The Railway Empire and hoped this would be equally interesting. It exceeded my expectations. Trevithick's is a fascinating life and it was an eye-opener to see how much he accomplished - with the exception, unfortunately, of making much money from his inventions, although he was more successful than I had realised. Anthony Burton writes in a very readable style with lots of interesting stories and anecdotes, bringing the history alive. The book should appeal to anyone with an interest in steam traction, engineering or industrial history, and quite possibly to anyone who simply likes biographies as there are all sorts of interesting nuggets, like his work in gold and silver mining in South America (sorry about the pun) and exploration of an overland route across the Central American isthmus through uncharted jungle and mountains, which nearly cost him his life. Highly recommended.
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on 14 October 2016
A highly informative biography of the life of a previously, to me, unknown and unsung hero. Burton has done Trevithick a great service in revealing to us all that he achieved in one highly readable chronological account of his life. In addition Burton lays bare Trevithick’s personality foibles that in large measure prevented him from standing centre stage along with the likes of Robert Stephenson, James Watt, Thomas Telford and I K Brunel.

Trevithick is revealed to be a physical giant with an overactive mind that was forever coming up with new inventions, not just the inventor of the first locomotive steam engine, but many other things, but steam was what he loved the most. Inventing steam engines that could be used in a variety and at times, multiple ways, was his passion, his raison d’etre, which propelled him, amongst many other things to spending ten years of his life in South America. Here he lay down the foundations of the Peruvian and Costa Rican economies by his involvement with silver and gold mines. At times his life reads like a C19th Indiana Jones. He thought little of his personal safety and little of securing for himself and his family their just financial rewards for his various endeavours. He came tantalisingly close on more than one occasion to making a fortune, only for sometimes his stubbornness and irascibility to get in the way. At other times, events completely outside of his control prevented the money from flowing in. So many times, others who came after him developed his initial brain storming ideas and reaped the rewards because Trevithick could never stay with one idea long enough to consolidate his intellectual property.

My only criticism, if I have one of this biography, is that at times the descriptions of the steam engines, and in particular their operating mechanics, I found difficult to keep up with, not being at all mechanically minded. More simplistic descriptions for the ‘lay’ readers may have been helpful.

I thoroughly recommend this book.
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on 10 February 2001
When I got this book, I thought it would probably be some borinng review of what Richard Trevithicjk did in his spare time, but then I read it. It most certainly was not what I had imagined. The book is divided into various chapter, each discussing a time in his Life. It covers all the details, and begins with a brief bit about the Trevithick family in general, and moves right through his life, through Cornwall, England and South America right up to his death in Yorkshire. Anyone studying this magnificent engineer would be suprised by how much he did, not just the well known steam engines. It gives a very detailed account of important turning points, and explains the workings of his inventions. Overall, It was amazing. I would reccomend this to any budding historian and cornishman alike. Very much worth it.
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on 10 February 2001
When I got this book, I thought it would probably be some borinng review of what Richard Trevithicjk did in his spare time, but then I read it. It most certainly was not what I had imagined. The book is divided into various chapter, each discussing a time in his Life. It covers all the details, and begins with a brief bit about the Trevithick family in general, and moves right through his life, through Cornwall, England and South America right up to his death in Yorkshire. Anyone studying this magnificent engineer would be suprised by how much he did, not just the well known steam engines. It gives a very detailed account of important turning points, and explains the workings of his inventions. Overall, It was amazing. I would reccomend this to any budding historian and cornishman alike. Very much worth it.
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on 14 February 2011
Richard Trevitick is most famous for putting the first steam locomotive on rails. The success of this achievement was however reaped by others such as the Stephensons whose 'Rocket' ran 20 years after the Trevithick engine.in this spendid well researched book Anthony Burton gives an insight into Trevithick's life that paints a picture of the cornishman jumping from new project to new project leaving others to reap the future success. It is an account of the industrial revolution as it happens sped on by the introduction of high pressure steam engines (strong steam). This book once picked up cannot be put down.
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on 16 January 2016
Enjoyed this book. And in my opinion very well written.
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on 22 August 2014
A present enjoyed by the receiver
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on 17 October 2014
VERY PLEASE
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