Recently, the Chair of Network Rail, Lord Hendy, wrote to me to let me know of the organisation's plans to mark the bicentenary of the ‘first ever passenger train’. Lord Hendy has explained that in 2025 it will mark 200 years since ‘George Stephenson’s ‘Locomotion No.1’ first pulled passengers between Stockton and Shildon, via Darlington’. However, this was not the first ever passenger train to run on the railway.
The first ever train carrying passengers was in fact in 1804 at Penydarren Ironworks in Wales, when 70 employees of the ironworks were transported 9 miles by an engine designed by Richard Trevithick, a favourite son of Camborne.
As a pioneer, Richard Trevithick invented the steam locomotive in Camborne, and like many pioneers, he never actually made any money from his idea of building an engine, but the rest of the country did, and the world has benefited from that invention and everything that followed it. Whilst towns like Camborne and Redruth experienced some decline after the closure of the tin mines and Holman’s, new industries and technologies are beginning to establish themselves in our communities which offers the prospect of higher-paid employment in the future.
Back in 2010, when I was first elected to Parliament, I made Richard Trevithick the focus of my maiden speech. I found a wonderful statement from him saying that, although he had been criticised for trying new principles and was left in severe financial hardship as a result of his pioneering endeavours, he knew in his own heart that he had brought forward new ideas that would be of boundless value to his country. For many years, Trevithick's achievements were not really recognised which makes it all the more important that we do so when highlighting 200 years of the railway. As such, I have written to Lord Hendy to ask that when holding their event next year they consider making a special tribute to Trevithick and pay suitable respects to his achievements, which shaped the modern British Railway we see today.
Remembering Sir David Amess MP:
Last Sunday, we also marked the 2nd anniversary of the appalling murder of the Essex MP, Sir David Amess. David had been an MP for many years since 1983 in fact. I can remember that when I first became an MP in 2010, he was the sort of person who was always there to offer helpful advice and support as we all tried to find our feet and learn the ropes. He was very approachable and unassuming, and he had a sunny optimism and a beaming smile, with constant good humour that could lighten the mood on any occasion. He was undoubtedly one of the kindest people in politics.
He also cared deeply about animal welfare, a cause dear to my own heart too. In fact, next week I will be hosting an event about the Kept Animals Bill, and I am sure David would have been there alongside me calling for the Government to bring back this important piece of legislation and have the courage to see it through. My thoughts are with his family this week as we try to continue his important legacy.