Robert Stephenson

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Robert Stephenson (1803-1859)
Son of Robert Stephenson (1788-1837), the founder of ‘Robert Stephenson and Co’, an engineering and locomotive manufacturing company in England founded in 1823. It was the first company set up specifically to build railway engines [1].

For the full biography see Grace's Guide 'Robert Stephenson'

From 1838 until the end of his life he was engaged on railway work, not only in Great Britain, but all over the world. [2].

Railway Achievements in connection with India

  • 1845. 'Great Indian Peninsula Railway' (GIPR), Consulting Engineer, London based, listed on formation of Company [3].
  • 1845. The GIPR plan was build a 1300 mile network for which a capital of £6 million was estimated. The railway was to link the ‘Peninsula’ with the port of Bombay and “the best port on the east coast”. Stephenson agreed to act as Consuling Engineer [4].
  • 1845. The ‘Madras Railway’ was also formed with a less ambitious proposal for an initial 70 mile line between Madras and the military base at Arcot. Stephenson agreed to act as Consulting Engineer . The subsequent recession removed the financial incentive for railways in India and the Madras scheme was dissolved the following year [4].
  • 1847. Stephenson reported preliminary findings to the directors of GIPR, although he cannot have been in a position to provide more than general advice and a reviews of the material gathered by the surveys This concluded that the best method to climb 1800 feet over the Ghat mountains in just 15 miles was to use locomotives assisted by ropes worked by a stationary engine. The subsequent recession removed the financial incentive for railways in India but the GIPR scheme continued but only through the involvement of the ’East India Company’ which guaranteed a minimum of 5% dividend , however only a 35 mile route between Bombay and Kalyan was authorised [4].
  • c.1850. Stephenson provided the directors with cost estimates and recommended James John Berkley as Chief Engineer to supervise the building of the line. The Court of Directors of the EIC appointed James John Berkley as Chief Resident Engineer and Charles Buchanan Ker and Robert W Graham as his assistants [5].
  • >1859. Stephenson was retained as the GIPR Consulting Engineer until his death in 1859 and other commitments led him to appoint George Berkley, brother to John, an independent consulting engineer, as his representative in London.

Stephenson was involved in a number of other schemes in India [4]:-

  • He was approached tin 1852 to represent the ‘‘Upper India Railway Company’ to persue a 400 mile route between Delhi and Allahabad. He passed this on to John Bidder, who represented the railway company jointly with Michael Borthwick, but the scheme did not proceed.
  • Stephenson was also consulted by the ‘Scinde Railway’ and the ‘Ceylon Railway Company