Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Stephenson's Works of Fine Art on Display; 150 Years on from His Death, Local Hero Robert Stephenson Is Back in the Spotlight, as Barbara Hodgson Reports

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Stephenson's Works of Fine Art on Display; 150 Years on from His Death, Local Hero Robert Stephenson Is Back in the Spotlight, as Barbara Hodgson Reports

Article excerpt

Byline: Barbara Hodgson

HE was a man of vision and steely determination, as symbolic of the North East as his iconic High Level Bridge.

Now a new exhibition tracking the achievements of Robert Stephenson, one of the North's great pioneers, has opened at Newcastle Arts Centre.

Art of Engineering celebrates Stephenson's life and work on the 150th anniversary of his death.

Visitors will be able to see first-hand the detail and care taken by a man whose work helped change the world's perception of speed and time and reduced distance between nations.

And the display in the gallery of the Westgate Road venue includes original working drawings for the London and Birmingham railway.

"That was the world's first mainline inter-city railway and Robert Stephenson was chief engineer," explains Mike Tilley who runs Newcastle Arts Centre.

"We've the first proper documentation of any railway construction - it had never been done before. We acquired a rare copy of a set of lithographs by John Cooke Bourne and have made digital prints where you can see all the detail."

Bourne, suggests Mike, would have been a photographer had he been born any later. As it was, he produced the first detailed records - pre-documentary photography - of the making of a major structure.

He lived a short walk away from where Stephenson, then in London, was beginning to build the railway line in 1836.

The London and Birmingham Railway - the first metropolitan steam-hauled example - started at Euston and ran through the streets and tenements of Camden Town then on towards the Midlands.

Bourne, then 22, began a series of drawings of Stephenson's construction work, which led to the publication of his extraordinarily detailed Bourne's London and Birmingham Railway in 1838.

Stephenson - son of George, "the father of railways" - was born at Willington Quay near Wallsend in 1803.

He worked with his father on the Stockton and Darlington railway and gave his name to the world's first locomotive works, Robert Stephenson & Co, which opened in South Street in 1823. …

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