Most people who know about early railway history know about Timothy Hackworth, but his brother Thomas is less well known. Thomas was present at the birth of Puffing Billy and Wylam Dilly, and he built some of the finest locomotives used on the Stockton & Darlington Railway. His acumen and engineering expertise were major contributors to the growth of both Shildon and Stockton-on-Tees, where he established one of the world’s leading marine engineering companies. Yet Thomas’s life was eclipsed by the fame and genius of older brother Timothy, who once referred to him as ‘Poor Tom’ when he was made the scapegoat for a series of problems at Shildon.
Tom subsequently lost both job and home, was exploited by his business partner, and saw his young family devastated by cholera. In spite of this, he built a hundred steam locomotives, operated some of the earliest railways, and produced engines that powered the first steam ships, helping to shape the North East and British engineering as we know it today. It is time for his story to be told.
Thomas Hackworth: Locomotive Engineer is not only a fascinating exploration of the man and the engineer—it is also a highly researched chronicle of arguably the most turbulent chapter in Britain’s mechanical, industrial, and sociological history.