Richard Trevithick 1808 Catch Me Who Can

In 1808 Richard Trevithick ran the first fare-paying passenger train on a circular demonstration track in London. The world’s first locomotive-hauled railway journey took place on 21 February 1804, when Trevithick’s unnamed steam locomotive hauled a train along the tramway of the Penydarren Ironworks, in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales.

The 1808 locomotive was given the name Catch Me Who Can. It was the fourth Trevithick locomotive and it was built at the Hazledine Foundry in Bridgnorth by John Hazledine and John Urpeth Rastrick.

In truth Bridgnorth’s Catch Me Who Can was little more than a fairground ride. It was transported down to London, put on a short, circular track and people were invited to buy a ticket and ride in a carriage pulled behind the locomotive. After a while the train started to jump the tracks and Trevithick chose to remove it in the interests of public safety. It ended up in industrial use before being scrapped.

Little is known about the locomotive including the gauge of track it ran on. It is believed that it operated south of what is now Euston Square tube station. The dimensions of the locomotive aren’t recorded in any surviving document.

Trevithick was disappointed by the response and designed no more railway locomotives. It was not until 1812 that twin-cylinder steam locomotives, built by Matthew Murray in Holbeck, successfully started replacing horses for hauling coal wagons on the edge railed, rack and pinion Middleton Railway from Middleton colliery to Leeds, West Yorkshire.

In 2001 the idea of creating a replica of the Catch Me Who Can locomotive. It started with a public meeting organised by Chris Magner who had written a book on the engine. David Reynolds, an engineer at the Severn Valley Railway, proposed a replica of the locomotive. The idea was later considered for some time by Bridgnorth Low Town Action Group, along with other ideas, such as a statue of Trevithick. When the group concluded that the locomotive replica was not the way it wanted to go, Trevithick 200 was formed to pursue that objective.

Trevithick 200 was formed in 2008 to celebrate the bicentenary by building a replica of this locomotive.

The Bridgnorth built locomotive was estimated to cost around £100,000. The working engine was designed by David Reynolds and being built in Severn Valley Railway’s workshops, less than a mile from Rastrick and Hazledine’s original foundry.

David Reynolds used the high pressure stationary engine built by Hazledine & Co that is in the Science Museum in London. The boiler is about 10 inches longer than the one in the Science Museum.

The locomotive is still under construction.

Catch Me Who Can at Bridgnorth – September 2012
Catch Me Who can at Bridgnorth - April 2018.jpg
Catch Me Who Can at Bridgnorth – April 2018

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