Murdock's Locomotive, 1786.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Model. William Murdock (1754-1839) was one of the first British engineers to attempt to produce a self-propelled steam-powered road vehicle. He worked with James Watt, but when in 1786 Murdock built a model based on the steam traction engine developed in France in 1769 by Nicholas Cugnol, Watt, who was sceptical of the practical value of such a vehicle, was openly critical. Murdock went on to employ an apprentice named Richard Trevithick, the Cornish mining engineer who in 1801 invented the first true steam locomotive.