Richard Trevithick
Born: 13 Apr, 1771
Died: 22 Apr, 1833
Field: Engineer
Location in the Abbey: Nave
Type of memorial: Window

A stained glass window in memory of Richard Trevithick, the famous Cornish inventor and engineer who was known as the 'father of the locomotive engine', was presented to Westminster Abbey by the President of the Institute of Civil Engineers and unveiled in the nave in 1888.

Made by the firm of Burlison & Grylls the window depicts St Michael at the top, flanked by two angels playing musical instruments, and figures of nine Cornish saints - top row (from left): Piran, Petroc, Pinnock, and Germanus, second row: Julian with Cyriacus, Constantin, Nonna and Geraint. The head of St Piran appears to be a portrait of Trevithick himself and the figure carries the banner of Cornwall (a white cross on a black ground). At the base are figures of four angels who carry scrolls on which are outline drawings of Trevithick's great inventions: the tramroad locomotive 1803, the Cornish pumping engine, the steam dredger 1803 and the railway locomotive 1808 (two are shown in the illustration). The window is now in the north west tower chapel in the nave having been moved from its original position in the north aisle in order to accommodate a series of 20th century windows by Ninian Comper. The inscription at the base reads:

"Richard Trevithick born 13 April 1771 died 22 April 1833".

He was born at Illogan in Cornwall, son of Richard (1735-97), a mine manager, and Anne (Teague). He was 6 feet 2 inches in height and known as a powerful wrestler! In 1797 he married Jane (1772-1868), daughter of John Harvey, and had six children: Richard, John, Francis, Frederick, Anne and Elizabeth. He died in poverty at Dartford in Kent and was buried in the churchyard there.

A photograph of the window can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library.

Further reading:

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004

 

Useful site: www.trevithick-society.org.uk