Timothy Hackworth was born on 22nd December,
1786, at Wylam, Newcastle to John Hackworth, foreman blacksmith
at Wylam Colliery.
He left school at the age of 14 and served
a seven years' apprenticeship at the colliery, under his father,
in the same trade.
Of his son, John Hackworth is quoted as saying
early indication of a natural bent and aptitude of mind for
mechanical construction and research, and it formed a pleasurable
theme of contemplation for the father to mark the studious
application of his son to obtain the mastery of mechanical
principles, and observe the energy and passionate ardour with
which he grasped at a thorough knowledge of his art"
He completed his apprenticeship in 1807 and
was installed as foreman in the position occupied by his father,
before his death 3 years previous. It was a position he held
for 8 years.
In 1816 he took up a position at Walbottle
Colliery, where he remained for 8 years. During this time
he was "loaned" to the Forth Street works, whilst
George Stephenson was away on business for some months. On
his return George Stephenson was so impressed with the way
the works had been run during his absence that he offered
Timothy Hackworth one-half share of his own interest in the
business. Hackworth declined the offer. Hackworth returned
to Walbottle in the latter part of 1824, but did not resume
his position at the colliery.
In the record books of the Stockton &
Darlington Railway for May 13th, 1825, the following appointment
is recorded "John Dixon reports that he has arranged
with Timothy Hackworth to come and settle on the line, particularly
to have the superintendence of the permanent and locomotive
engines. The preliminary arrangement as regards salary is
£150 per annum, the Company to find a house, and pay
for his house, rent and fire."
entered upon the duties of a locomotive engineer under circumstances
of great difficulty and discouragement. Skilled artisans were
then few in number and difficult to obtain. Machinery for
turning and fitting had not been brought to anything like
its present perfection, and the work was consequently of a
rude and imperfect kind; while it was also necessary to construct
the early locomotives of slender materials. The 'Sans Pareil'
was a marvel of mechanism considering the conditions under
which it was made" - J.S. Jeans , 1875.
There is evidence to support the belief that
Timothy Hackworth was the driving force behind the ultimate
success of the locomotive and without him the Stockton and
Darlington Railway may have faced financial ruin. It was he
who had the difficult task of repairing and maintaining the
unreliable locomotives of the Railway.
Pangborn, when comparing the work of Stephenson
and Hackworth in 1830, said ;
...On the other hand, Timothy Hackworth is original, is actually
of himself improving the locomotive in essentials as no other
man is doing, and is incomparably in advance of George Stephenson
in everything which may be truly said to lay claim to distinction.
He has and is stamping a character upon the structure of the
locomotive of the very highest importance..."
To the people of Shildon, past and present,
Timothy Hackworth will always be "The Father of The