Hackworth, Timothy

Railway engineer, born at Wylam on Tyne on 22 December 1786. He built up his career from relatively humble origins as a colliery blacksmith at Wylam, where he began experimenting with steam locomotion. He left the colliery in 1816 because of his Methodist objection to Sunday working. In 1825 he became resident engineer and manager at Shildon (Co. Durham) for the Stockton and Darlington Railway and began to win a reputation as a leading locomotive designer. He established his own company at New Shildon in 1840. The original 'Sanspareil' locomotive, which took part in the Rainhill trials of 1829 against Stephenson's 'Rocket' is on display at the South Kensington Science Museum. He also made locomotives for Russia and America and two, the Samson (1838) and the Albion (1839) for Nova Scotia. .

He was cheerful in manner and popular as an employer who showed concern for the welfare of his workers. He served as a WM local preacher. By his own hard work and financial generosity he did much to strengthen WM in the Bishop Auckland Circuit. The chapel at Shildon was built in 1829 through his efforts, and he was a generous supporter of connexional causes. He died on 7 July 1850 at Shildon, where there is a Timothy Hackworth Museum.

His eldest son, John Wesley Hackworth (1820-1891) followed in his father's footsteps as a railway engineer, but lacked business expertise. Two of his daughters married ministers.

  • Methodist Recorder, Winter Number,1907 pp.36-8
  • Robert Young, Timothy Hackworth and the Locomotive (1923; reprinted 1975)
  • John Marshall, Biographical Dictionary of Railway Engineers (1978)
  • G.E. Milburn, in WHS(NE), Aug. 1975 pp.4-33G.E. Milburn, Timothy Hackworth 1786-1850 (Shildon, 2000)
  • Oxford DNB

Entry written by: GEM
Category: Person
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