This miniature portrait on ivory shows Richard Trevithick as a young man aged about 19. In this portrait we can catch an early glimpse of Trevithick's self-confidence.
Image: Science Museum/SSPL

Richard Trevithick's life and inventions

If James Watt was a rather pessimistic, stern figure, Richard Trevithick was his complete opposite. He was a powerfully built and extrovert individual.

Trevithick was born in 1771 and brought up in Cornwall. Independently minded, he was not a good student. A school report says that he was 'a disobedient, slow, obstinate, spoiled boy, frequently absent and very inattentive'.

How did Trevithick move on from his schoolwork?