Strong Steam

Full length major drama about the true inventor of the steam engine. 3M, 1F or full cast. Running time 2 hours.

The inventor of the railway locomotive was not George Stevenson or his son Robert, it was a Cornishman – Richard Trevithick. And his invention first steamed along a railway track in South Wales.  Yet his name is surprisingly unknown to many people.  Surprising because Trevithick did more than invent the steam locomotive and, by extension, the railway as we know it, itself.  He invented or led to the invention of the shipping container, the ship propeller, floating docks, iron ships, portable room heaters, refrigerators and the steam turbine among many other now common things.

Whereas competitors, such as James Watt, built steam pumps, they used atmospheric pressure to do the actual work. Trevithick advocated the use of high-pressure steam – ‘Strong steam’ as he called it – to provide the muscle. And he was derided for the notion by many. 

He was a man way ahead of his time, but his mind was so full of new ideas that he didn’t stay with one long enough for it to become accepted, and left it to others to develop them and take the credit (and the financial rewards).  Brilliant but impetuous, he was his own worst enemy and he doesn’t enjoy the legacy he should. 

‘Strong Steam’ looks at the man and his achievements, his admirers, friends and enemies. It tries to understand him, and what makes him tick, as he comes to terms with the triumphs and disappointments in his life. And, in a small way, it hopes to correct the record.

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CASTING

There are seven main parts and several smaller parts, but with doubling, all could be played by a cast of three men and one woman.

MALE 1: Richard Trevithick

WOMAN: Jane Trevithick, his wife; Lady de Dunstanville; Pub Landlady; Servant.

MALE 2:  Davies Giddy – close friend, engineer and entrepreneur; Crayshaw – Iron master; Robert Stevenson – son of George; Andrew Vivian – cousin and partner; Man in Pub; Reporter 2; Robert Dickinson – partner; Thomas Newcomen – engineer.

MALE 3: Samuel Homfray – South Wales industrialist; François August Vuille; James Watt – inventor and engineer; Lord de Dunstanville; Stephen Williams; Reporter

FULL CAST LIST

Female parts

Jane Trevithick, his wife;

Lady de Dunstanville;

Pub Landlady;

Servant

Male parts

Richard Trevithick.

Davies Giddy – close friend, engineer and entrepreneur;

Crayshaw – Iron master;

Robert Stevenson – son of George;

Andrew Vivian – cousin and partner;

Man in Pub/Reporter 2

Robert Dickinson – partner;

Thomas Newcomen – engineer.

Samuel Homfray – South Wales industrialist;

François August Vuille;

James Watt – inventor and engineer;

Lord de Dunstanville;

Reporter/Stephen Williams

This article was updated on 29 August 2023