Hackworth, Timothy (1786-1850), Railway Engineer 1786 - 1850

Hackworth, Timothy (1786–1850), Railway engineer, was born on 22 December 1786 in Wylam, Northumberland, he was the eldest of three sons and five daughters. His father was John Hackworth, master blacksmith at Wylam colliery and his mother Elizabeth Sanderson of Newcastle. Hackworth was apprenticed to his father at Wylam, where he later worked for Christopher Blackett and the coal viewer William Hedley and went on to be responsible for engines the ‘Wylam Grasshopper’ and the ‘Wylam Dilly’. Hackworth left Wylam in 1816 because of the Sunday working hours which conflicted with his Methodist beliefs. He moved to Warbottle Colliery where he worked for William Patter as a foreman blacksmith.

Timothy (b 1786 - d 1850), Railway Engineer and Hackworth, Jane (b 1785 - d 1852) (nee Golightly) were married in 1813 at Ovingham Parish Church, both were converted Methodists. Family legend suggests that Hackworth, Jane (b 1785-d 1852) was descended from a Scots lord who lost his land in the Jacobite risings, it does seem that Jane Hackworth was of a higher social status than Timothy. Jane was involved in religious life and correspondence from after her death describes her as an active Methodist. They had six daughters and three sons. One son, Thomas died shortly after his birth. Records suggest that Jane was involved with Timothy’s business activities; he often discussed business matters in correspondence to her asking her to pass on messages, give instructions whilst he was away.

Hackworth then moved to Forth Street Works in Newcastle; a works built to construct engines for the Stockton and Darlington Railway. He managed the works whilst George and Robert were away the former surveying Liverpool and Manchester Railway line and the latter working in South America. Apparently around this time Hackworth was offered the job of manager and a share in Forth Street Works but declined this offer. In 1825 he moved to Shildon to take up position of locomotive superintendent, manager and contractor for the Stockton and Darlington Railway Company. During this time he built marine engines, coal stathes at Middlesbrough and doubled the line between Brusselton foot and Stockton. He also designed locomotives for the line including the ‘Royal George’ a high performing locomotive which featured the ‘blast pipe’ an invention that discharged exhaust steam through a converging nozzle blast pipe in the chimney, greatly increasing combustion intensity and steam production. Went on to design more locos including ‘‘Majestic’’ and ‘’Wilberforce’’ type locomotives these were manufactured by Stephenson and co and R & W Hawthorne.

Hackworth entered his locomotive ‘‘Sanspareil’’ into the Rainhill Trials of 1829; a competition initiated by the directors of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway Company. The Sanspareil was not successful and Robert Stephenson’s ‘‘Rocket’’ won the contest. The Sanspareil was purchased by the directors for £500 went on to run successfully on the Bolton and Leigh Railway until 1844. It has been suggested that a cylinder of the Sanspareil had been sabotaged by in the Forth Street, thus resulting in Hackworth losing the trail, however this view has generally been dismissed by historians.

In 1833 Hackworth ceased to be a salaried employee and instead contracted work to the Stockton and Darlington Railway Company and also did work on a private basis. By this time his role had evolved from superintendent of locomotives to also managing the workshops, tools and machinery. Private contracts that he carried out during this time including manufacturing an engine for the Russian government in 1836, which John Wesley Hackworth couriered to Russia and manufacturing locomotives for the Albion Coal Mining Company in Nova Scotia, order by John Buddle in 1838.

In 1840 Hackworth gave up his contract with the Stockton and Darlington Railway concentrated on his own works in Soho works in Shildon. He took over the works from his brother Thomas Hackworth who had run Hackworth and Downing from the premises. Timothy fulfilled contracts for the Clarence Railway and various collieries and also built stationary marine and industrial engines. In 1846 began to build engines for the London and Brighton Railway when John Gray was Locomotive superintendent. Gray designed a class of express passenger locomotives and the whole of this class (12 engines) was built by Timothy Hackworth at Soho 1846-1848. In 1849 Hackworth built Sanspareil no.1, he had difficulty selling this locomotive and it remained unsold by the time of his death of typhus on 07/07/1850 at Soho Works, Shildon after an outbreak in the area. His wife outlived Timothy by two years, dying in 19/08/1852.

His sons and other relatives went on to be engineers. His eldest son, John Wesley Hackworth did a lot of work to promote his fathers memory after he died. His daughters, friends, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and ancestors to this day have worked to try and gain him a prominent place in railway history. Notably his grandson son Robert Young wrote a book Timothy Hackworth and the locomotive (London: Locomotive Publishing Company, 1923) in a bid to preserve and promote his memory.