Friday 15 February 2013

Men of Yore: Richard Trevithick

This is another in a series of posts about men from history who have either achieved great things in one form or another by pushing boundaries: either in themselves or in society or science or exploration of some form.  Boundary pushing and growth is what men do, it's their nature: to grow and push outwards.  We, as men, are the frontiersmen/the vanguard, the first to discover/uncover new territory, in a metaphysical sense (i.e. including both material and the immaterial) that is later colonised and 'civilised' by the rest of humanity. 

It is also partly intended to show images, be they paintings, statues or photographs of the countenaces of men of yore.  Because, quite frankly, many men wear the countenances of women these days: smiling, smirking, cooing, rolling their eyes, looking smug etc.  It's a sign of the times, and by showing some images of men from the past, I hope to show some modern men why looking surly, frowning and giving hard-ball stares at people is something to do, something to practice.

Richard Trevithick, 1816 (aged 45)

Richard Trevithick (13 April 1771 – 22 April 1833) was a British inventor and mining engineer from Cornwall.[1] Born in the mining heartland of Cornwall, Trevithick was immersed in mining and engineering from a young age. The son of a mining captain, he performed poorly in school, but went on to be an early pioneer in steam-powered rail. His most significant contribution was to the development of the first high pressure steam engine, he also built the first full-scale working railway steam locomotive. On 21 February 1804 the world's first locomotive-hauled railway journey took place as Trevithick's unnamed steam locomotive hauled a train along the tramway of the Penydarren Ironworks, in Merthyr Tydfil in Wales.[2][3]
Richard Trevithick was born at Tregajorran (in the parish of Illogan), between Camborne and Redruth, in the heart of one of the rich mineral mining areas of Cornwall. He was the youngest-but-one child and the only boy in a family of six children. He was very tall for the era at 6 ft 2in, as well as athletic and concentrated more on sport than schoolwork. Sent to the village school at Camborne, he did not take much advantage of the education provided – one of his school masters described him as "a disobedient, slow, obstinate, spoiled boy, frequently absent and very inattentive". An exception was arithmetic, for which he had an aptitude, but arrived at the correct answers by unconventional means.[4]
Trevithick became engineer at the Ding Dong Mine in 1797, and there (in conjunction with Edward Bull) he pioneered the use of high-pressure steam. He worked on building and modifying steam engines to avoid the royalties due to Watt on the separate condenser patent.
According to his son Francis, Trevithick was the first to make high pressure steam work in England in 1799. Not only would a high pressure steam engine eliminate the condenser, but it would allow the use of a smaller cylinder, saving space and weight. He reasoned that his engine could now be more compact, lighter and small enough to carry its own weight even with a carriage attached.


If he had been born today in the US or UK, he may have been considered to have ADHD because of his inability to sit still and be attentive during academic classes, and thus would have been administered Ritalin.  If he had been doped up with Ritalin then he probably wouldn't have come up with the innovations that he did.  Each man excells in his own way, there isn't a 'one size fits all' method that you can use on humans, particularly men.  Cage us, tame us, level us, and domesticate us and civilization, nay, society would not last a generation.  Men learn and innovate and solve problems by their own means, their own methods, their own way.  If you impose Your will upon them, then you kill Their will; or to paraphrase Chechar 'you steal their souls'.  To allow boys and men to learn, then you must act as a servant to them: understand their needs and meet them.  Farmers have done this for millenia, good parents have done this for millenia, you help a thing to grow by meeting It's needs, It's want's.

Check out some of the other entries from the 'Men of Yore' series:

Wyatt Earp
William 'Wild Bill' Cody
Andrew Carnegie
Duke of Viseu (Henry the Navigator)
Meriwether Lewis
Arthur Schopenhauer
Theodore Roosevelt
Rudolph Diesel
John Snow
Ludwig van Beethoven
Henry Ford
George Custer


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