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Trevithick's Life Story Continued...

Although still fascinated by steam propulsion he seems to have turned his back on the idea of engines on rails. Instead he researched other high pressure steam engine projects for rolling mills, forge hammers and stone crushing and invented a barge powered by paddle wheels plus several dredgers.

His ideas were now channelled into the sea and ships such as iron floating docks, iron ships, telescopic iron masts, iron buoys and even using heat from the ships’ boilers for cooking. It seemed another door was opening when his high pressure steam engine was taken up to the 14,000ft silver mines in Peru to drain water.Trevithick sailed in 1816 for Peru as a consultant in mining methods and it seemed he was about to make his fortune.

But although he had £5,000 worth of ore the war of liberation broke out and he and colleagues fled on foot through the treacherous isthmus of Nicaragua where he fell ill at Cartegena. And here is one of the most interesting coincidences of history.

Robert Stephenson, on his way home from Colombia, hears about the sick Englishman called Trevithick and gives him £50 for his passage home in 1827. Back in England his mind was still full of ideas and in 1830 he invented an early form of storage room heater. And in recognition of the 1832 Reform Bill he designed a 1,000ft high column – mounted with a horse – but it was never built.

An invitation came to work on an engine for a new vessel in Dartford and it was there in 1833 he died of pneumonia and buried in an unmarked grave. His work and his memory is not forgotten and on February, 2004, people from all over the world came to Merthyr Tydfil to salute Trevithick by walking along part of the tramroad once vibrating with the noisy rattling and billowing puffs of steam from the Penydarren locomotive. It was fitting that the same evening descendents of the Crawshay and Homfray ironmasters should sit down to a commemorative dinner with members of the Trevithick family.

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