UCL News


Rail-industry leaders celebrate 200 years of passenger rail

13 June 2008


Exhibition cege.ucl.ac.uk/" target="_self">UCL Civil, Environmental & Geomatic Engineering

UCL hosted the Bicentennial Trevithick Dinner on 11 June 2008, in the presence of HRH The Duke of Gloucester, KG, GCVO, Patron of the Newcomen Society, the world's oldest society for the study of the history of engineering and technology. 

Commemorating Richard Trevithick's demonstration of 1808 (see below), the dinner celebrated 200 years of passenger rail and launched the Trevithick Bicentennial Exhibition and 4th International Early Railways Conference at UCL.

Sponsored by O2, with the promotions partnership of Eurostar, the dinner was attended by chairmen, chief executives and directors of industry including Eurostar, LCR, Virgin Trains, First Great Western, Stagecoach Group, Network Rail, Transport for London, Chiltern Railways, Balfour Beatty, ATOC and O2, as well as heritage and engineering institutions, media and government.

The Souvenir Menu of the Bicentennial Dinner, with a list of the guests, has already been archived by the Science Museum, which curated the special exhibition in the South Cloisters of rare historical material relating to Trevithick.

The dinner and exhibition were followed by the 4th International Early Railways Conference, which was held at UCL from 12-15 June 2008.

Professor Nick Tyler, Head of UCL Civil, Environmental & Geomatic Engineering, who initiated the event, commented on its "imagination, which engaged the most senior industry figures and demonstrated the importance of UCL Business Partnerships. We have been exceptionally fortunate in the support of our major partners and sponsors. This has allowed us to represent a range of transport vision, from inventive beginnings through the international, 'connected' travel of today to the research of the future."

Guests from Yamaguchi University also attended the exhibition, honouring the Choshu Five, Japanese noblemen who came to UCL in 1863, at a time when travel beyond Japan was banned. One of the Choshu Five, Masaru Inoue, became the founding President of the Japanese Board of Railways. Trevithick's grandson was in charge of the railway's Kobe workshops and was responsible for the first locomotive built entirely in Japan.

UCL-Eurostar awards

After Richard Trevithick (1771-1833) patented an effective high-pressure steam engine, he arranged an exhibition of his steam locomotive in London in 1808. He built an enclosed circular track on land near where UCL now stands, and designed an extraordinarily advanced engine, 'Catch Me Who Can', to provide rides for paying customers.

To celebrate the bicentenary of the 'Catch Me Who Can' experiment, the Eurostar-UCL Trevithick Innovation & Invention Prizes aimed to capture the essence of the paradigm change that resulted from Trevithick's endeavour. UCL staff and students were challenged to present a similar audacious approach to innovation in one of six areas. Eurostar donated tickets for the winners.

Winners of the UCL-Eurostar Innovation & Invention Competition were announced at the dinner:

  • Major Innovation Prize, for the best super-innovation proposal in transport - Taku Fujiyama (UCL Civil, Environmental & Geomatic Engineering), for 'A more environmentally friendly Eurostar'
  • Ideas Prize, for the best example of paradigm change - Andrew Stolagiewicz (UCL Civil, Environmental & Geomatic Engineering), for 'A digital rail network capable of organic growth'
  • Images Prize, for the best image of excitement resulting from increased travel opportunities - Roselle Thoreau (UCL Civil, Environmental & Geomatic Engineering), for 'The Eel'
  • Imagination Prize, for the best example of medical opportunities arising from transport innovations: Shepley Orr (UCL Civil, Environmental & Geomatic Engineering), for 'NHS carriage'
  • Intellect Prize, for the best example of change that could happen from the rapid transfer of ideas: Chris Brzezicki (UCL Mechanical Engineering), for 'Corkscrew Escalator'
  • Interdisciplinarity Prize, for the best example of an idea that transcends disciplinary boundaries - Professor Roger Mackett (UCL Civil, Environmental & Geomatic Engineering), for 'Enhancing Life'.

To find out more, contact Dr Anna Clark, Director of Business Partnerships: +44 (0) 20 7679 9822.

First image: The exhibition included important early models on loan from the Science Museum, London, the National Railway Museum, York, and other lending institutions, including the Steam Museum, Republic of Ireland

Second image: Professor David Perrett (President of the Newcomen Society), Professor Bernard Buxton (Dean of UCL Engineering Sciences), Professor Malcolm Grant (UCL President and Provost), HRH The Duke of Gloucester, Dr Anna Clark (UCL Business Partnerships), Mr Ian Johnston, (Representative Deputy Lieutenant for the Borough of Camden and Chief Constable British Transport Police), Professor Mike Spyer (UCL Vice-Provost for Enterprise) and Professor Nick Tyler

Third image: UCL Eurostar Innovations Prize winner Taku Fujiyama with Richard Brown (MPhil UCL Bartlett School of Planning 1977), CEO of Eurostar

Fourth image: Guests from Yamaguchi University honouring the Choshu Five connection - Marco Federighi, Sub-Dean of UCL Engineering Sciences, with Professor Marumoto, President of Yamaguchi University, Fusanori Miura, Dean of Yamaguchi University, and Midora Nishiura, Visiting Professor at Yamaguchi