Trevithick's steam locomotive, December 1803.
©National Railway Museum/ Science & Society Picture Library
Drawing believed to have been made by John Llewellyn of Pen-y-darran. Found by FP Smith in 1862 and given by him to William Menelaus. Richard Trevithick (1771-1833) was the first to use high pressured steam to drive an engine. Until 1800, the weakness of existing boilers had restricted all engines to being atmospheric ones. Trevithick set about making a cylindrical boiler which could withstand steam at higher pressures. This new engine was well suited to driving vehicles. In 1804, Trevithick was responsible for the first successful railway locomotive.