West Briton Newspaper January 1902
The Centenary of the Locomotive.
The Camborne Celebrations.
successful locomotive engine was run in the streets of Camborne on
Christmas-eve a hundred years ago; Trevithick and Vivian inventors.
These were the facts to which Camborne people tried to give emphasis
last Tuesday afternoon, when, in torrents of rain the leading townsmen
walked through the streets proceeded by a brass band and followed by a
novel procession, composed of eight traction engines. The start was made
from the bottom of Fore street, near the site of Tyaks smith shop where
Trevithicks engine had been put together. First went the Camborne Town
Band, and next walked a collection of representative townsmen, including
Messrs. T. Fiddick
J.P. (chairman Urban District Council), John H Holman, J.P., R Nettle,
J. Neague, W. H. Dunkin, J. S. V. Bickford, W. Vivian, S. J. Williams,
W. J.Bartle (members of the council), J. R. Daniell (clerk), and J.
Williams (inspector), H. B. Paull (steward of Tehidy), C. D. and W.
Bartle ( F.Bartle & Son), W Stephens (Climax Rock Drills) T. S.
Lowry, (manager Rabling & Co.), R. A. Thomas (manager Dolcoath), J.
J. Beringer, H. R. Beringer, A. Bell, J. Caspell, Temby, and Dickson
(all of the Mining School), Godfrey Vivian, (representing Mr H. P.
Vivian), and McCulloch (Tuckingmill Foundry Co.), J Vivian, J.P., C.C.,
W. J. Tyack, Revs. W. J. Christophers (U.M.F.C.) father OLoughlin (Roman
Catholic), and Messrs. J.C. Keast and W. Cock (secretaries).
The engines joining in the procession were lent by the following:-
Messrs. Hosken, Trevithick, Polkinhorn Co. (2), Trewella (2), Rabling
and Co., National Explosive Co., Nobel and Co. and Harvey and Co.
After walking through the principle thoroughfares of the town, a stop
was made at the Commercial Square, where Mr T. Fiddick (Chairman of the
District Council) made the following speech:-
"As Chairman of the
District Council, I have been asked to say a word or two respecting the
occasion of our demonstration this afternoon. We have met as Camborne
men to celebrate this centenary of a very remarkable event, an event
which had enormous influences and has been productive of untold benefits
to the whole civilised world. I refer to the first successful run of the
first practical high pressure locomotive engine in the worlds history.
Which took place in our own town exactly one hundred years ago this very
Christmas-eve. As Cambornians,
we feel proud of both Richard Trevithick and Andrew Vivian, the
inventors of the locomotive engine. Trevithick was born in Illogan, and
brought to Camborne when very young. Here he went to school; and here he
lived for many years. The thatched cottage in which he resided is still
standing. Andrew Vivian, his partner, was a Camborne man; was manager of
Dolcoath mine; and took a very active interest in parochial affairs. I
fear, however, that scant justice has been done to him in some quarters.
The locomotive was put together at John Tyacks smith shop, which stood
just opposite the site on which Gustavus Mission Room is built at the bottom of Fore street. At
the first trial run the engine started from there and ran through
Camborne Cross and part of the way up Beacon hill carrying a load of
delighted passengers. An eye witness Stephen Williams said:-
"In the year 1801, upon Christmas-eve coming en evening, Capt.
Dick got up steam, out on the highroad, outside the shop at Weith. When
we saw that Capt. Dick was again to turn on steam, we jumped up, as many
as could may be seven or eight of us. Twas a stiffish hill going from
the Weith up to Camborne Beacon, but she went off like a little bird.
The second days run it went down to Crane, that Capt. Andrew Vivians
family who lived there might see it. An old lady named Paull cried out
Good gracious, Mr Vivian, what will be done next. I can't compare un to
anything but a walking puffin devil."
On the 24th March 1802 Trevithick and Vivian secured a patent in steam
engines for propelling carriages and other purposes."
A vote of thanks was moved to Mr Fiddick by Mr. J.R.Daniell and seconded
by John H. Holman. Mr Fiddick responded, and thanked the band for their
At six o clock there was a public lantern exhibition in the Commercial
square, when large numbers of people gathered in spite of the miserable
weather. The slides included portraits of Trevithick and Vivian and of
Trevithicks house at Penponds, of the different locomotives of
Trevithick and other engines constructed by him. A number of portraits
of famous Cambonians were also thrown on the screen. The pictures were
interspersed with slides showing short and pithy sentences from Mr
Beringers lecture on Trevithick and these described the slides which
followed them. They formed a short but exceedingly comprehensive and
powerful address on the claims of
Camborne to be the home of the first locomotive. In the course of the
display, Murdoch and his engine were not forgotten, as they formed the
subject of slides; and it may be mentioned that Murdoch was cordially
greeted by the spectators**.
** A battle royal had been taking place in the columns of the newspaper
for a number of weeks over the claim of Redruth to be the place were the
first locomotive was built and run by the Scottish engineer and inventor
William Murdoch. The argument still continues today in some quarters.