'Richard Trevithick's Railroad, Euston Square, 1809', 1808.
© NRM / Pictorial Collection / Science & Society Picture Library
Watercolour by Thomas Rowlandson (1756-1827). Richard Trevithick (1771-1833), Cornish engineer and locomotive pioneer, was responsible for building the world's first steam locomotive to operate on rails, the 'Coalbrookdale' of 1803. In 1808 (rather than 1809 as the text beneath the image states), he established a 'steam circus' in Euston Square in London, charging members of the public one shilling for the opportunity of riding on a carriage pulled by his locomotive, the 'Catch Me Who Can'. It was built at the Hazledine foundry at Bridgnorth, Shropshire, and weighed eight tons. The ride, which was capable of travelling at speeds of up to 12 mph, was popular with the London public, but the weight of the locomotive broke the rails, and it closed after two months.