George Stephenson (1781-1848) was an English mechanical engineer. He built the first public railway line in the world, using steam locomotives. He is considered the father of Railways.
Stephenson did not invent the first locomotive engine; that credit goes to Richard Trevithick who in 1804 rigged such engines to help pull coal out of coal mines. Stephenson’s first locomotive engine, designed in 1814, was also for hauling coal out of coal mines (Killingworth wagon way, and named Blucher after the German whose blueprint for the design he said influenced his design).
What made Stephenson famous was constructing an eight mile railway from Hetton Colliery to Sunderland in 1820. This was the first railway not to use animal power but steam power.
In 1821 Stephenson built the 25 mile railway from Stockton to Darlington to connect several collieries near Bishop Auckland to the River tees at Stockton. In 1825 this railway was employed for carrying human passengers; this was the first time locomotives were used solely for human passenger business and thus initiated the age of railways as the chief means of transporting people between cities and towns and later all across the country.
In 1830 the Liverpool to Manchester Railway was opened, making it possible to transport both goods and human beings from an inland city to the coast, port, for onwards transportation overseas. This is a revolution in how people and goods are transported and changed the face of England and eventually the entire world.
Britain’s development of the Railway hastened her already begun industrial revolution and gave her an age over other countries. Of course, other countries later got into the railway business, and by the late 1830s railways dotted the face of Europe and North America.
Samuel Smiles. The Life of George Stephenson. (1857)