Richard Trevithick, English engineer, late 18th century.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Miniature of Richard Trevithick (1771-1833), the first person to use high presured steam to drive an engine. Until 1800 the weaknes of existing boilers had restricted all engines to being atmospheric ones. Trevithick set about making a cylindrical boiler which could withstand steam at higher presures. This new engine was well suited to driving vehicles. In 1804 Trevithick was responsible for the first succesful railway locomotive.