Thomas Hackworth – Locomotive Engineer

Thomas Hackworth – Locomotive Engineer

Thomas Hackworth was the son of John and Elizabeth, nee Sanderson. His father was a master Blacksmith at Wylam Colliery, where he served a seven year apprenticeship.

In 1824 he took over from his older brother Timothy as manager at Walbottle Colliery.

His brother Timothy had an engineering works at Shildon, County Durham. In 1833 he put Thomas and Nicholas Downing in charge of the works. They built locomotive, marine and industrial engines and boilers. The company was named the Phoenix Iron Works. Some time later Downing left the company. Thomas carried on until 1840 when his brother Timothy took over the works again.

Thomas married Adele Celestine Harmon at Shildon, in 1836. Adele was seventeen years younger than him. At the time of their marriage she was living in Darlington, but was born in France.

After Timothy took over the works, Thomas and his family moved to Stockton. He then set up business with George Fossick. Their company, Fossick & Hackworth built locomotives and carriages. In 1853 they went into marine engineering, and this, after some time, took over from the railway work. At the time Thomas retired in 1865 his works manager was George Blair, who was by this time a partner.

Thomas and Adele were devastated when their three eldest children died. Thomas was born in 1841, Mary in 1838, and Nicholas in 1839. They all died in the cholera epidemic in March 1848, aged three, ten and nine years respectively. Thomas and Adele had four other children, John in 1843, Adele in 1845, Thomas in 1847, and Mary (Marie) in 1853. By the 1871 census Thomas, his wife and the two daughters were living in Newton Abbott, Devon. His wife Adele died in 1874. Thomas died in 1877, he was 80 years old.

In his book, Thomas Hackworth, Locomotive Engineer, George Turner Smith stated that Thomas Hackworth had been overlooked by history: “his acumen and engineering expertise were major contributions to the growth of both Shildon and Stockton-on-Tees, where he established one of the world’s leading Marine Engineering companies….”

Stories from the High Street participant: Pauline Heath.

The ‘Stories…’ project is part of the Council’s wider “Grants for Heritage Buildings’ programme, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Council, to help promote awareness and understanding of the town’s heritage.

Visit www.stockton.gov.uk/grantsforheritagebuildings for further information on the project.