Collections of George Stephenson and Robert Stephenson

Scope and Content

Containing items created by/related to both Stephenson's, together with some family items. Also contains business records for the Stephenson's companies. As both father and son were major figures in early railway engineering, collections reflect this. Personal letters and items for both cross over with their professional activities, business records indicate how their companies developed and contain material on specific projects. Also included, is material on George Stephenson's safety lamp. Of significance is material relating to specific railway companies who the Stephenson's undertook work for, including Canterbury and Whitstable Railway, Liverpool and Manchester Railway and Manchester and Leeds Railway. Some items relate to engineers the Stephenson's employed/worked with such as, Joseph Locke, Michael Longridge, Thomas Longridge Gooch and Henry Swinburne. Only one item relates to George Robert Stephenson.

The collections contain both papers and items and include:

  • Legal papers, business and personal including papers and drawings related to patents
  • Personal effects of George Stephenson
  • Financial papers
  • Letters, business and personal
  • Portraits
  • Drawings and photographs
  • Employment papers, for Stephenson company employees
  • Company minutes

A selection of items have been digitised, including many of the letters and the Safety Lamp material and are available to all on our Virtual Archive .

Administrative / Biographical History

George Stephenson, the 'Father of the Railways', was an English civil engineer and mechanical engineer who built the first public inter-city railway line in the world to use steam locomotives, the Liverpool and Manchester Railway which opened in 1830.

His son, Robert Stephenson, worked with him and also developed his own independent career in civil and mechanical engineering. His work took him to South America where he helped to develop infrastructure there.

George Robert Stephenson, was George Stephenson's nephew and also an engineer.


Arranged by creator person/organisation:

  • STE/1: George Stephenson
  • STE/2: Robert Stephenson
  • STE/3: Clay Cross Company
  • STE/4: George Stephenson and Company
  • STE/5: George Stephenson & Son
  • STE/6: Robert Stephenson and Company
  • STE/7: George Robert Stephenson

Access Information

Open. We operate a booking system, 9.30-4.30 Mon-Fri. Please email us to make an appointment. Guidance on visiting us is available .

Other Finding Aids

Archivist's Note

Created, Karyn French, Archivist, IMechE.

Additional Information

It should be noted, the items within are mainly from the Phillimore Railway Collection and were purchased by a donor from Sotheby's, a few items may be from other sources but they have been included so to aid researchers.