Here's a timeline of his life:
and a little more background:
Note his association with Newcastle's 'Lit and Phil'.
Strictly speaking the developer of the land, Silverlink, has not ejected the Trust, it has been far more subtle than that. It has upped the rental to astronomical amounts, which naturally is not remotely affordable. Like all such ventures, it was funded mainly by supporters and volunteers. There was of course a get-out clause, that they could develop the buildings into a major visitor centre to bring in huge income (and presumably even more vastly inflated rental along with it). That too wasn't really very realistic, such a venture takes time and funding and the Trust presumably had neither. What it had achieved, however, was not something to be lightly thrown away. It took on dereliction and made the wider public aware of the significance of the site. It raised funds and repaired the building, and collected and had on loan sufficient artifacts to enable it to open its doors for enthusiasts to enjoy.
Alas, no longer - I gather all is packed and the future of the Stephenson Works uncertain. It is a Grade II listed building, listed in 2005 (and without the Trust would that have happened?). Whether or not the building will now attract a commercial venture keen to pay such a rent, or if it will join the several historic buildings around the wider Quayside area lost to mystery fires remains to be seen.
Although there have been numerous alterations to the fabric of the building over time, the listing is quite clear about the historic significance of what remains, and the site in general. Indeed, another adjacent site is also now listed, that of the Hawthorne Works. Make no mistake, in terms of world history this is a very important site indeed, although in far from salubrious surroundings tucked behind the magnificence of Newcastle Central Station.
Naturally this is part of a 'regeneration project' , too many of which seem to be centred mostly on fat developer profits in my experience. In fact this is to be The Stephenson Quarter (a meaningless term, 'quarter', used by any and every local authority devoid of imagination), although whether much Stephenson will remain in future has to be open to doubt.
So important and interesting was this site deemed that Prof Gavin Stamp, in his TV series based on Pevsner, for the Newcastle episode visited the works, and here's a clip thanks to the magic of YouTube:
I do hope that the Trust website can remain online, and even be further developed, as a valuable resource and a reminder of what has been lost:http://www.robertstephensontrust.com/home.htm
Listings:http://www.heritagegateway.org.uk/Gateway/Results_Single.aspx?uid=492014&resourceID=5 (note the cast iron lintel is in fact a beam from a beam engine - waste not want not).http://www.heritagegateway.org.uk/Gateway/Results_Single.aspx?uid=489007&resourceID=5
There is more information and a historic photograph of the works here:
The age of steam has been in the news in other ways recently, with the unveiling of Tornado, a steam locomotive newly recreated. I have to say I am not totally convinced about this: while of course a magnificent engineering achievement and a display of skills thankfully not lost, I do wonder why, I prefer to be steam hauled by a locomotive with some real history, and here is one of the most famous in action, as indeed it still, thankfully, is:
Steam excursions 2009:
Today I missed this, bet it was an exciting run from Hellifield to Carlisle, over Ribblehead Viaduct:
Fab picture here:
Also see comments, to which this refers: