25 February 1804: Trevithick’s locomotive makes the press

The Cambrian – Saturday 25 February 1804

“Yesterday the long-expected trial of Mr Trevithick’s new-invented steam-engine, for which he has obtained his Majesty’s letters patent, to draw and work carriages of all descriptions on various kinds of roads (as well as for a number of other purposes to which its power may be usefully applied) took place near this town and was found to perform, to admiration, all that was expected from it by its warmest advocates.

“In the present instance, the novel application of steam by means of this truly valuable machine was made use of to convey along the Tram-road ten tons long weight of bar-iron from Penydarren Iron Works to the place where it joins the Glamorganshire Canal upwards of nine miles distance.

“It is necessary to observe that the weight of the load was soon increased from ten to fifteen tons by about seventy persons riding on the Trams who, drawn thither by invincible curiosity (as well as many hundreds of others) were eager to ride at the expense of this first display of the patentee’s abilities in this country.

“To those who are not acquainted with the exact principle of this new engine, it may not be improper to observe that it differs from all others yet brought before the public by disclaiming the use of condensing water and discharges its steam into the open air or applies it to the heating of fluids as conveniency may require.

“The expense of making engines on this principle does not exceed one half of any on the most improved plan made use of before this appeared. It takes much less coal to work it and it is only necessary to supply a small quantity of water for the purpose of creating the steam, which is a most essential matter.

“It performed the journey without feeding the boiler or using any water and will travel with ease at the rate of five miles an hour.

“It is not doubted but that the number of horses in the kingdom will be very considerably reduced and the machine, in the hands of the present proprietors, will be made use of in a thousand instances never yet thought of for an engine.”

The Cambrian was the first weekly newspaper to be published in Wales. It was established by George Haynes and L. W. Dillwyn in 1804 to help promote Swansea’s commercial growth.

The story of Richard Trevithick’s Penydarren Locomotive was probably it’s first ‘scoop’ – appearing in its fifth edition.

Swansea at that time was beginning to develop into a busy commercial and industrial town, with the communications infrastructure that was necessary for the distribution of the newspaper to the minority of English speakers and readers in the principal towns of South Wales.

Copies of The Cambrian – and an array of other historical Welsh newspapers – are available in the National Library of Wales free online resource Welsh Newspapers Online


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