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The Character of George Stephenson : A self-made man who never forgot his humble beginnings.
The Character of George Stephenson

From ‘The Life of George Stephenson’ (1859), by Samuel Smiles.

George Stephenson (1781-1848) was an illiterate boy from the North East, who, through his pioneering railways and steam engines, became arguably the most important civil engineer in world history.

HE would frequently invite to his house the humbler companions of his early life, and take pleasure in talking over old times with them.

He never assumed any of the bearings of a great man on these occasions, but treated such visitors with the same friendliness and respect as if they had been his equals, sending them away pleased with themselves and delighted with him.

At other times, needy men who had known him in youth would knock at his door, and they were never refused access. But if he had heard of any misconduct on their part, he would rate them soundly.

One who knew him intimately in private life has seen him exhorting such backsliders, and denouncing their misconduct and imprudence, with the tears streaming down his cheeks.

And he would generally conclude by opening his purse, and giving them the help which they needed “to make a fresh start in the world.”

From ‘The Life of George Stephenson’ (1859), by Samuel Smiles.

The Engine that George Built

George Stephenson built the famous early steam locomotive "Locomotion No. 1" (see Wikipedia), which hauled the first train on the Stockton and Darlington Railway on 27 September 1825.

A replica of Locomotion No. 1 has been built, and you can see it in this short video from The Tanfield Railway in County Durham.

More like this

Samuel Smiles (22) Discovery and Invention (66) Character and Conduct (30) Victorian Era (61) George Stephenson (12) Northumberland (26) History (405)

Picture: © Andrew Gray, Wikimedia Commons. Licence: CC-BY-SA 3.0. View original
A statue of George Stephenson in the Oxford Museum of Natural History.
Based on an account by Samuel Smiles

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