Timothy Hackworth was born on 22nd December, 1786, at Wylam, Newcastle to John Hackworth, foreman blacksmith at Wylam Colliery. He left school at the age of 14 and served a seven years' apprenticeship at the colliery, under his father, in the same trade.
Of his son, John Hackworth is quoted as saying he:"...gave early indication of a natural bent and aptitude of mind for mechanical construction and research, and it formed a pleasurable theme of contemplation for the father to mark the studious application of his son to obtain the mastery of mechanical principles, and observe the energy and passionate ardour with which he grasped at a thorough knowledge of his art"
In the record books of the Stockton & Darlington Railway for May 13th, 1825, the following appointment is recorded "John Dixon reports that he has arranged with Timothy Hackworth to come and settle on the line, particularly to have the superintendence of the permanent and locomotive engines. The preliminary arrangement as regards salary is £150 per annum, the Company to find a house, and pay for his house, rent and fire." There is evidence to support the belief that Timothy Hackworth was the driving force behind the ultimate success of the locomotive and without him the Stockton and Darlington Railway may have faced financial ruin. It was he who had the difficult task of repairing and maintaining the unreliable locomotives of the Railway."...He entered upon the duties of a locomotive engineer under circumstances of great difficulty and discouragement. Skilled artisans were then few in number and difficult to obtain. Machinery for turning and fitting had not been brought to anything like its present perfection, and the work was consequently of a rude and imperfect kind; while it was also necessary to construct the early locomotives of slender materials. The 'Sans Pareil' was a marvel of mechanism considering the conditions under which it was made" - J.S. Jeans , 1875.
In 1827 Timothy Hackworth was engaged in designing 3 locomotives and as a result the committee authorised him to build a locomotive that would 'exceed the efficiency of horses'.
The results of his labours was the 'Royal George', which holds an honoured place in the history of locomotive design as the most powerful locomotive of its day. It had a direct drive from the cylinders to the wheels, and it was the first locomotive with three axles coupled by outside coupling rods. It was the first conventionally six-wheel coupled locomotive and as such it was the ancestor of the now famous 0-6-0 British goods engines.
With its weight increase of 50% over Stephenson designed locomotives, it had greater adhesion, moreover the even distribution of weight limited the damage to the rails.
The "Royal George" cost £425, and in 1828 it carried 22,422 tons of coal over 20 miles at a cost of £466 including repairs, maintenance and interest on capital. The same work performed by horses would have costed £998.
Notable engineers of the day were critical of 'Royal George' as being no more than 'a good serviceable engine' and contrary to general belief, it was not the first locomotive to exceed the efficiency of horse haulage. The suggestion was that, Hackworths locomotives, with their vertical or inclined cylinders were doomed to obsolescence, if only because of their slow operating speed. The criticism by those engineers appears tainted by 'sour grapes' as they completely misunderstood the needs of the Stockton & Darlington Railway, for which 'Royal George' had been designed.
'Royal George' served the Company well for almost two decades, reliable in service and with its six coupled wheels it gave stability pulling heavy loads in all types of weather. On a line dominated by the haulage of heavy minerals, and the fact that only a single line existed, speed was neither essential or desireable. Indeed, up to 1830, the locomotives supplied by Robert Stephenson & Co. were either unreliable in service or poorly constructed, which is not surprising, considering that their design was based upon experience gained on colliery lines which were short, and subjecting them to long hauls under ardous conditions revealed several defects. It is recorded that the Committee of the Stockton & Darlington Railway, expressed their satisfaction with the results of the working of 'Royal George' by voting a bonus of £20 to be paid to their engineer.
The locomotive continued in service until 26th December 1840, when it was sold to the Wingate Colliery Company for £125 more than its original cost of £425. After several years working it was again re-sold to the Earl of Durham.
With "Royal George" being a success, 1829 proved to be a good year for the Stockton and Darlington Railway, so much so, a new locomotive was ordered from the Shildon Works. Built on similar lines to the modified "Royal George", it had a boiler 12' 6" long by 4' 4" in diameter, with vertical outside bars as fitted to "Rocket".
It is reported by "Whishaw" that it had been "remodelled at Shildon and in this respect it is believed to have been rebuilt from an unidentified locomotive, but with a larger boiler.
"Victory" proved to be extremely reliable and in 1833, in just over 5 months it ran over 10,500 miles carrying over 650,000 tons.
The main disadvantage of this and similar engines was that the rear wheels could not be sprung as the pistons drove straight down onto the cranks, however there are indications that at some time a form of spring suspension was fitted.
It was rebuilt in 1833 and continued its successful work until it was eventually replaced by "Leader".
It was sold to the Wingate Colliery Co. in February 1841 for £600, where it joined its sister locomotive "Royal George".