The Man who Discovered George Stephenson
by Miles Macnair
21 photographs, 12 maps, 18 line drawings
Hardback ISBN 978 0 901461 54 4
h = 234mm, w = 156mm, 144pp + 8pp colour plates + 8pp mono plates
PRICE hardback £24.95
(Despatch to UK POST FREE; Europe airmail add 15%; rest of world airmail add 30%)
William James played a crucial, but largely unremembered, role in the development of inland transport in the Industrial Revolution. What set him apart from his better-known contemporaries was the scale of his vision and the range of activities he pursued during his long career; as a lawyer, surveyor, land agent and estate manager, geologist, coal-miner, inventor and civil engineer.
This book (the first biography of James since 1861) is not only a completely new and comprehensive history of the gestation and birth of the railway system in the first thirty years of the 19th century, but the life story of a truly remarkable man. It throws new light on the evolution of the steam locomotive and, equally important, the rails on which it rode. It highlights the dramatic impact on James of Richard Trevithick’s ‘Catch-me-who-can’ experiment, leading to his visionary concept of the General Railroad Company in 1808 and his future commitment to ‘advanced locomotion’; his 1821 partnership with George Stephenson and his influential role as mentor to young Robert Stephenson; his initiation of the first ‘hundred mile’ railway in the world, leading to his employment of Thomas Telford, John Rastrick and George Stephenson’s brother Robert. It details all his railway projects in the Midlands, Somerset, Kent, East Anglia, London, Cheshire, Lancashire and Cornwall, most of which were later exploited by George Stephenson. One chapter is devoted to his single canal venture, the successful completion of the Stratford Canal.
“One of the neglected figures of the Industrial Revolution, William James now has a modern and scholarly biography” — Transport Digest
“a well-written, meticulously researched and highly readable book, with high quality plates” — Journal of the RCHS