Wednesday, 29 April 2015

John Wesley Hackworth's Russian Train - by David Burke 1956

By David Burke (South Kensington Museum of Science and Innovation Autumn 1956)

John Wesley Hackworth
 (from the Joan Hackworth Weir Collection
He Took a Locomotive to the Tsar but he is Forgotten Today!

Exactly 120 years ago last month (Ed's note - it's actually now 179 years ago now, in 2015) a 16 year
old English boy gave Russia her first railway train. He faced blizzards, wolves and misfortune and at the end of his journey, crowds cheered him, priests blessed him and he received the Tsar's congratulations. Yet today the Reds have rubbed the name of this remarkable lad from their history books, and hardly anything is known of him even in the west. With Soviet technical advances reaching new heights, and satellites spinning around the globe, the anniversary of his achievement is an opportune time to recall a story of courage and enterprise.

His name was John Wesley Hackworth. he was the son of  Timothy Hackworth, the man railway historians call one of the 'Fathers of the Locomotive", a pioneer of the great steam transport revolution in which Britain led the world. He grew up in a cottage beside the New Shildon workshops (England) where his father was chief engineer of the world's first public railway, from Stockton to Darlington, opened by Stephenson's Locomotion in September 1825. The railway company hired Hackworth Senior, a former colliery mechanic, at £150 a year, and agreed "to him a house and pay for his house, rent and fire". A modest, unambitious inventive genius, The Royal George, which restored the his directors faith in steam power when they were ready to scrap it as unsatisfactory and go back to horses. (Ed's note - it was the first to have the blast pipe, which helped to make it commercially viable). His renown Tsar Nicholas 1 to build a locomotive for Russia. it was needed for Tsarskoye Selo, the first Russian passenger railway, which thousands of peasant labourers were building from St. Petersburg (Leningrad0, 15 miles south to the Imperial Summer Palace as Tsarskoye Selo.
Hackworth built an important engine in 1827 called
gradually spread, and in 1835 he received at New Shildon, an order from

Hackworth made a locomotive to the familiar pattern of the day - illustrations show it having a tall funnel, slender, slender boiler, a single pair of large driving wheels with smaller pony wheels on each side, and an unprotected platform for the driver. Now comes the problem of getting it to Russia, across 1600 miles of ocean and wild terrain, before the northern winter closed in.

Son's Fearsome Task
History is slender on the point but apparently Hackworth had no hesitation in placing his son in charge of theTzarskoselsky was opened before great crowds of cheering, gaping Russians who had never seen an 'iron horse' before. John drove his puffing, hissing, charge to Tsarskoye Selo where Tsar Nicholas, his family, politicians and generals, waited to see him arrive. Not that the opening of the first first railway in once Holy Russia was as simple as that - a score of Orthodox priests descended on the engine with crosses, candles, censers, and holy water to perform the blessing ceremony. "They splashed me in the process" Hackworth wrote in his diary. the Russians were proud of the Hackworth Locomotive No 1 - so much that they ran it only on Sundays and Holy days and used horses to pull the weekday trains.
fearsome task - transporting the locomotive, assembling and testing it at St. Petersburg, and teaching the Russians to drive. John, an apprentice at New Shildon, well built and mature looking, had just turned 16. He left England late in 1866, in company with a foreman, a few trusty workmen, and the 17-ton locomotive, dismantled and packed in three huge crates. In his pocket, he took the bill for their labours - £1884.2.91/2. Ice already covered the seas when they were forced to land at a lower Baltic port and transfer the cargo to great wooden sledges. The lumbering party set off on the journey that would take them across 500 miles of frozen, desolate country before the spires of St. Petersburg came into site. Blizzards nearly blinded them several times on the way. Wolves attacked on the edge of the forests and only by whipping the horse teams to a frenzy did young Hackworth and his companions escape the snapping jaws. It  could have an unnerving experience for a young fellow who had never been so far away from home before. He could hardly have been blamed if, after the first few days, he had decided to throw in the project and leave it to someone older and more experienced. But John Hackworth seems to have been a very self-sufficient young man and he took all his adversities in his stride. The conditions under which he had to live during his journey were far from the best; but the one thing in his mind was to discharge the trust his father had behind him, it was by no means the end of his troubles. Safe in St. Petersburg, he was called on to make a man-sized decision when a cylinder cracked during the assembling and not a workshop in the city could fix more than the common wheel. Coolly, John drew up a set of plans and sent his Foreman to the Moscow Armoury, 600 miles away, to have a replacement part cast. In November 1837, bells peeled in St. Petersburg, guns boomed and the

Tsar Nicholas 1
Summoned to the Court, John received Tsar Nicholas's congratulations for delivering the engine safely to Tzarskoselsky. Ironically, they said it would enable men to move about too freely, and it might assist rebellion.
Russia. His majesty remarked it was an occasion of great progress and other 'Iron horses' would surely spread across the nation. many Russian aristocrats had opposed the building of the

When the 75,000 mile Soviet Railway system celebrated its anniversary in November 1956, the name of Hackworth was not heard. Today it is the Russians who claim that they invented the steam locomotive, together with the bicycle, submarine, aeroplane, wireless, and all the rest. Maybe if the Hackworth's were living now Sputnik would be called 'Britannia' and carry, not the red Star, but the Union Jack."

Written by David Burke 1956 (Date and paper unfortunately not given).

Timothy Hackworth, 1830, was the first locomotive superintendent in the world. He built many of the first locomotives including the Sans Pareil, now (19560 in South Kensington museum, London, and invented 'exhaust up the funnel - blast pipe) to produce forced draught.

Notes - This typewritten paper by David Burke c November or December 1956, was sent to me by Ulick Loring, a descendant of Timothy Hackworth. Although there are no details about  David Burke on the paper or of where the paper was published, David, however, seems to have been associated with The South Kensington Museum of Science and Innovation, where they have or had items of  Timothy Hackworth. Perhaps he was the Curator! The occasion seems to have been the anniversary of the opening of the railways in Russia 1836 in which history was rewritten to exclude the role played by Timothy and John Wesley Hackworth and indeed the other British railway engineers who contributed to its birth. abut makes a great introduction to the site, David Burke laments the name John Wesley Hackworth has been lost to history - hopefully this site will go someway to ensuring John Wesley Hackworth is not forgotten! The paper was actually entitled John Hackworth's Russian Train but I have included his middle name as he was known as John Wesley Hackworth. David's source was Wm R. Hackworth in 1930, when he photographed the oil painting of  Timothy Hackworth in the South Kensington Museum of Science and Industry).

Saturday, 15 November 2014

John Wesley Hackworth 1820 - 1891 - An Introduction

"I am just a poor boy
Though my story's seldom told"
Paul Simon - The Boxer.

An Introduction to this Site
John Wesley Hackworth delivered the first locomotive to Russia, built by his father Timothy Hackworth. Petersburg but welcomed by Tsar Nicholas 1 at the Summer Palace. John grew up watching his father as Superintendent of the Stockton and Darlington Railway and a locomotive builder and innovator. Later John set up his own firm in Darlington with a long list of patents to his name. His story is 'seldom told'  but for a chapter in Robert Young's book on Timothy Hackworth published in the 1930's and mentions in various articles and here and there and on the world wide web.
John had just turned 16 when he risked his life to deliver the engine via the Baltic in 1836, attacked by wolves along the sledging route to St.

John Wesley Hackworth was the great, great great grandfather of our lads on their mother's side. Their grandmother was Joan Hackworth Weir, who was photographed by the Northern Echo at the centenary of the Stockton and Darlington Railway with her Hackworth relatives when she was only 5. When Joan passed away she left a case full of  Hackworth archives and a painting and some photos of  John Wesley Hackworth. The painting has now been donated to NRM at Shildon and her archives are now on the Joan Hackworth Weir site.

5 year old Joan Hackworth Weir nee Parsons in 1925
Northern Echo

In the case, were letters now referred to as the 'Blast Pipe' letters from Robert and George Stephenson which purports to prove that Timothy Hackworth had the blast pipe on the Royal George before the Stephenson built the Rocket. Those letters were donated to NRM in 2004 via Joan's cousin Jane Hackworth Young who with her father Reginald Young, initiated the Timothy Hackworth museum at Shildon in 1975.

The painting of  John Wesley Hackworth came to us after Joan died at the age of 86 and the lads and I Robert Young's book Timothy Hackworth and the Locomotive.
Joan Hackworth Weir (in pink) at the opening of
the Timothy Hackworth Museum in New Shildon 1975
with other family members.
wondered what his story was. We'd heard some of it  from Joan but it wasn't clear in our minds. The world wide web provided some clues but not a lot and the best read was the chapter in

We decided then and there to put Joan's archives on a website and to work on a site telling, as far as we can, John Wesley Hackworth's story. Thanks to Hackworth descendants Ulick Loring and Jane Hackworth Young, I now have more material to work with along with Joan's archives. Still, much more research is needed to show where John lived and worked in Darlington, his works in Priestgate and Bank Top; the whereabouts of John Wesley Hackworth's diary from his Russian trip; where the Hackworth's live in Walbottle etc. However, we have enough to tell a fuller story than before and hopeful will be able to add to this site as more information comes to light.

At this stage, therefore, this site is work in progress and if you have any information to share, please get in contact.

Trev Teasdel

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

John Wesley Hackworth 1820 - 1891

John Wesley Hackworth (from a painting in the
Joan Hackworth-Weir Collection.)
John Wesley Hackworth -
was born at Walbottle, (a village on the western outskirts of Newcastle) on May 8th, 1820, the son of the celebrated S & D railway engineer - Timothy Hackworth and his wife Jane Hackworth (née Golightly).

He was destined to become an engineer and prolific inventor in his own right and grew up in an environment where some of the most important, world-changing  industrial history was being made, some of it by his father, but his story is seldom told!

Jane Hackworth (née Golightly) (His mother)
Jane Hackworth (née Golightly), Timothy Hackworth's wife
 (from the Joan Hackworth-Weir Collection.)
Timothy Hackworth married Jane Golightly in 1813 at the age of 27 at Ovingham Parish Church where he had been baptised. Robert young tells us Jane "was a tall, handsome and well educated woman of roughly the same age." She entered into her husband's work, social, religious and professional life with great heartiness and sympathy. "Numerous family letters have been preserved which bear evidence of the knowledge and interest mutually held in Hackworth's business and doings, and of the affection and  and complete understanding between the two.." Robert Young Timothy Hackworth and the Locomotive p75

Later in the book Robert tells us " She was a women of great individuality, competent, energetic and an admirable housewife and.... had, in her younger days been a fine horsewoman. Like her husband, she had been attracted to Methodism, and on this account had been compelled to leave her home and live with a relative, her parents being rigorous members of  the established church."

Note - the two photos below are of Ovingham Church where Timothy and Jane were married)

On her death, a friend of the family - John Cleminson wrote " I have always looked up to her as one of the most Holy and devoted mothers of Israel. Her zeal for God was always manifested in her regular attendance on all the means of grace. At a time when the prayer meeting was kept up at 5 O'clock every morning in the week, she was generally there with the first and when she exercised in prayer, the power of God was always manifest. the whole of her life was that of the Holy devoted Christian. When the Wesleyan  Chapel in New Shildon was built, she went of her own accord and laid the foundation stone, and then gave an address in which she expressed the gladness that God was providing a house for his people to worship in...when the chapel was open she rode 40 miles at her own expense to seek an able minister to open it. And when a dispute arose respecting the settling of the deeds, she went to the owner of the land, and like the noble Queen Esther, pleaded the cause of God and His people.

Her benevolence to the power and cause of God was only bounded by her means, she loved all who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. She fed the hungry and clothed the naked, and, like her Divine Master, she did good to the bodies and souls of men."

Jane's religious zeal might not impress so many now in our largely secular society, but this the early 1800's and Timothy Hackworth was a personal friend of John Wesley (obviously reflected in the naming of his son!). Yet here is a portrait of John Wesley Hackworth's mother, showing her to be a women of strength, compassion, wisdom and initiative and reveals her relationship with Timothy Hackworth as impressively egalitarian for the times!

Timothy Hackworth (His father)
Timothy Hackworth 
Timothy Hackworth's story is well covered on line and in Robert Young's book Timothy Hackworth and the Locomotive. "Born in Wylam 1786, Timothy Hackworth was the eldest son of John Hackworth who was foreman blacksmith at Wylam Colliery until his death in 1804; the father had already acquired a considerable reputation as a mechanical worker and boiler maker. At the end of his apprenticeship in 1807 Timothy took over his father's position. 

In 1824, Hackworth occupied a temporary position as relief manager at the Forth Street factory of Robert Stephenson and Company, whilst Robert was away in South America and George was occupied with the surveying of new railways, notably the Liverpool and Manchester. Hackworth only stayed until the end of that year, following which, he returned to Walbottle occupying his time with contract work until, upon the recommendation of George Stephenson, he was appointed on 13 May 1825 to the position of locomotive superintendent of the Stockton and Darlington Railway, a post he was to occupy until May 1840.

Hackworth is believed to have been influential in the development of the first Stephenson locomotive intended for the Stockton and Darlington Railway during his time at the Forth Street factory. That locomotive, then named Active, now known as Locomotion No 1, was delivered to the railway just before the opening ceremony on 27 September 1825. Three more of the same type were delivered in the following months and difficulties in getting them into operating order were such as to risk compromising the use of steam locomotives for years to come, had it not been for Hackworth's persistence. This persistence resulted in his developing the first adequate locomotive adapted to the rigours of everyday road service. The outcome was the Royal George of 1827, an early 0-6-0 Locomotive, that among many new key features notably incorporated a correctly aligned steam blastpipe. Hackworth is usually acknowledged as the inventor of this concept. From 1830 onwards the blastpipe was employed by the Stephensons for their updated Rocket and all subsequent new types. Recent letters acquired by the National Railway Museum would appear to confirm Hackworth as the inventor of the device." read more here

This letter referred to, from Robert Stephenson to Timothy Hackworth, was until recently in the Joan Hackworth-Weir collection a direct descedent of John Wesley Hackworth and handed down and Joan donated it the museum at Shildon in 2005.). This is a link showing Jane Hackworth Young with the letter-

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Born in Walbottle 1820

Robert Young tells us that John Wesley Hackworth was born at Walbottle, Durham, on May 8th 1820 Robert Young's book Timothy Hackworth and the Locomotive)
Walbottle 1952
and lived there with his parents until he was 5 years old, when his father, Timothy, joined the Stockton and Darlington Railway. It's not clear in Robert Young's book which part of Walbottle Timothy lived Walbottle or North Walbottle. The colliery seems to have been in north walbottle and so one assumes that Timothy lived in North Walbottle, possible in Coronation Road where there were cottages for the mine managers and top people. The back to back terraces for the mine workers are now gone I believe. However I can't be sure of the location of his residence at this stage, if anyone knows, do get in touch.

Walbottle - a Potted History
"Walbottle is a village in Tyne and Wear. It is a western suburb of  Newcastle upon Tyne. The village name, recorded in 1176 as "Walbotl", is derived from the Old English botl (building) on Hadrian's Wall. There are a number of Northumbrian villages which are suffixed "-bottle".(it has been pointed out that  suffix Bottle was originally 'Pottle' (Latin Potus) meaning small fortified building on the Roman Wall. Source (comments).

Bede, in his Ecclesiastical History of the English People, refers to a royal estate called Ad Murum near the Roman Wall where, in 653 AD, the King of the Middle Angles, Peada, and the King of the East Saxons, Sigeberht, were both baptised into the Christian faith by Bishop Finan, having been persuaded to do so by King Oswy of Northumbria. Historians have identified Ad Murum with Walbottle.

Ann Potter, the mother of  Lord Armstrong, the famous industrialist, was born at Walbottle Hall in 1780 and lived there until 1801. George Stephenson had also worked at Walbottle Colliery. Other notable people born in Walbottle were  Thomas Tommy Browell (1892–1955), professional footballer
Richard Armstrong (author) (1903–1986), who wrote for both adults and children. He was the winner of the Carnegie Medal in 1948 for his book Sea Change. He is also known for a biography of Grace Darling in which he challenges the conventional story: Grace Darling: Maid and Myth. He is often described on the cover of his books as "author and mariner"William Wilson (18 May 1809 died on 17 April 1862 in Nuremberg, Germany). Mechanical Engineer who pioneered railways in Germany in the nineteenth century after working alongside George Stephenson in England. The German Wikipedia article de:William Wilson (Ingenieur) mentions Wilson as being the driver supplied by the Stephenson Loco Works to operate the Bavarian Ludwig Railway." Source

Walbottle Colliery
"This colliery is situated in the parish of  Newburn, about 4½ miles west by north from Newcastle. It is of
This was the North Walbottle Colliery
considerable antiquity, the Duke Pit having been a working shaft upwards of 100 years.

Two basalt or whin dykes run through the colliery; and slip dykes and troubles are very prevalent here. The colliery has been remarkably fortunate in its exemption from explosions. There are three working pits, at which the coals are drawn by an aggregate of 83 horse power. There are also three pumping engines, combining 262 horse power. The waggon-way from the Coronation Pit to the staith at Lemington is about 2 miles long; and the waggons are conveyed thither by horses and inclined planes. The coals are forwarded to the ships by keels. Messrs. Lamb and Co. are the proprietors of the colliery. The coals are known in the market by the names of "Holywell Main," "Newburn Main," "Holywell Reins," and "Holywell Reins Splint."
Views of the Collieries (1844)" Source

From Robert Young - Timothy was born 1786, in Wylam to John Hackworth who was foreman blacksmith at Wylam Colliery and a celebrated boiler builder and general worker in metals as well for Christopher Blackett. Timothy had started a 7 year apprenticeship under his father and after his father's death and on finishing his apprenticeship, Christopher Blackett enabled him to take on his father's position. Thus Timothy stepped into a position of responsibility at an early age. Timothy's story is told here.  In Wylam he gained his formative experience that would set the standard of his future work as an engineer. At 22 he began work on the new steam locomotives that were being introduced at Wylam. He held this position for 8 years.

Writing of those early days when John Hackworth oversaw Timothy's apprenticeship, John Wesley Hackworth said the youth "gave early indication of a natural bent and aptitude of mind for mechanical construction and research, and it formed a pleasurable theme of contemplation for the father to mark the studious application of his son to obtain the mastery of mechanical principles, and observe the energy and passionate ardour with which he grasped at a through knowledge of his art."

Timothy Hackworth Marries Jane Golightly
In 1814, aged 27, Timothy Hackworth married Jane Golightly at Ovingham parish Church at which he'd
Ovingham Church
been baptized. Robert Young tells us that Jane was a tall, handsome, well educated woman, and the two were almost the same age. She entered into her husband's work, social, religious and professional with great heartiness ans sympathy. Numerous family letters have been preserved and they bear full evidence of the knowledge and interest mutually held in Hackworth's business and of the affection and complete understanding between the two. In their life together, which extended to 37 years, their children have borne testimony that though they had their full share of anxieties and troubles, yet in their home they were supremely happy and shared all the joys and sorrows pertaining to it.

Wesleyan Chapel
Some two years before his marriage, Timothy had begun attending services in the little Wesleyan Chapel in the Wylam and was so far attracted that he threw his lot in entirely with the methodists and became an ardent worker for them. This was in the days when Methodism had not reached the position which it later attained and to be labelled Methodist carried with it a certain amount of ridicule and opprobrium. Anything of this nature would not have the least effect on a man of Hackworth's temperament, nor was he the sort of man with whom anyone would venture to take liberties. Jane, like her husband, had been brought up in the Church of England, and when she joined the methodist Society she suffered considerably and , indeed, had to leave her home. It was when living with a relative that she became engaged and soon after married to Timothy Hackworth.
(For more background on Wylam,  I suggest Wylam (200 years of Railway History) by George Smith published 2012 available from Amazon
Leaving Wylam for Walbottle
In 1815 circumstances occurred which led to Timothy Hackworth's departure from Wylam. Timothy had Where's thee gannen?" the man asked. Hackworth replied "I am going to preach" "Is thee not gannen toe to du thee work?" asked the man. "I have other work to do today" Said Hackworth. "Well, if thou'lt not, somebody else will and thou will lose thee job"  to which Hackworth rejoined "Lose or not lose, I shall not break the Sabbath"
no wish to leave, his employment was congenial. he was in a modest way, comfortably off, it was his native place, and here was born his first child. John Wesley was the 4th of 9 children by Timothy and Jane - Ann, Mary, Elizabeth, John Wesley, Prudence, Timothy, Thomas, Hannah and Jane. In Wylam, there had been the 'Dillies' which had been deeply interested in and to which he desired to bring to them such a state of efficiency as should show beyond all doubt the their superiority to horse traction..but there were influences at work that affected the comfort of his his permanent residence at Wylam. Blackett had other interests besides the colliery from which he was frequently absent and the reins of authority passed to his viewer, William hedley. hackworth, whose views on the sanctity of the Sabbath were well known and had always been respected previously, was requested to do a piece of work at the colliery on the Sunday, to which he firmly declined to be a party. passing the colliery one Sunday on his way to a preaching appointment, the following conversation took place between a workman and himself. "

The result was that Hackworth had to give up his position, a matter about which he felt very keenly but as to which he never hesitated.

New Position in Walbottle
Robert Young provides a good portrait of Timothy's time at Walbottle "Timothy Hackworth's reputation had extended beyond the narrow confines of Wylam village, and he was honoured and respected as a good man and a clever craftsman. When it was known that he was leaving Wylam he received an offer from William Patter, viewer and part owner of Walbottle Colliery, to go there as foreman smith and accordingly he took up residence at Walbottle early 1816. here he remained for 8 years. William Patter, the manager was a man of high character, and a close friendship existed between the head of the colliery and his foreman smith, which remained unbroken during the whole of Hackworth's service there.

The Walbottle period may be considered the most peaceful and possibly the happiest of Hackworth's life.
There is little to record of public interest. he followed the even tenor of his way, punctually and efficiently  fulfilling his duties secular, social, family and religious. his leisure was spent in study, visiting the sick and similar good works, and he was keenly interested in the people among whom he worked and in whose moral and social advancement he was ever concerned. At Walbottle he made many intimate and lasting friendships, was held in high esteem and won golden opinions throughout the district for his integrity and the many many virtues he possesed. His industrial pursuits were numerous. He was  a keen gardener, made a study of horticulture but his chief affections were in the direction of mechanics and he built many steam engines for grinding salt and similar objects, manufactured safety lamps and had always before him the problems connected with the improvement of the locomotive. He did not therefore anticipate a further change of employment, just as he would have been content to remain at Wylam, so at Walbottle the simple life satisfied him. When the time came for his entrance into more absorbing field of locomotion development it was only after much careful thought that he agreed to make the great change.

Those quiet years spent at Walbottle cover a period of considerable activity in the construction of railroads with which Timothy had had no concern. many men were considering the problems of cheap haulage, without which no material advance was possible, many novel proposals were made public but despite that, during Hackworth's 8 years at Walbottle, no progress had been made in the improvement of the locomotive.

John Wesley Hackworth was 5 years old when Timothy moved from Walbottle and the story continues in the post below.


To Russia with Loco - 1836. (Story of the 1st Railway Locomotive Built for Russia)

Material to come to this.

Port Darlington, Middlesbrough 1836

Material to come to this.

Middlesbrough to St. Petersburg, Via the Baltic 1836.

Material to come to this.