Promotion to Assistant Fireman - George Stephenson


Extract from: The Life of George Stephenson and of his son Robert Stephenson, by Samuel Smiles, 1881.

After he had driven the gin for some time at Dewley and Black Callerton, he was taken on as assistant to his father in firing the engine at Dewley. This was a step of promotion which he had anxiously desired, his only fear being lest he should be found too young for the work. Indeed, he afterward used to relate how he was wont to hide himself when the owner of the colliery went round, in case he should be thought too little a boy to earn the wages paid him.  Since he had modelled his clay engines in the bog, his young ambition was to be an engine-man; and to be an assistant fireman was the first step toward this position.  Great, therefore, was his joy when, at about fourteen years of age, he was appointed assistant fireman, at the wage of a shilling a day. 

But the coal at Dewley Burn being at length worked out, the pit was ordered to be "laid in," and old Robert, and his family were again under the necessity of shifting their home; for, to use the common phrase, they must "follow the wark."

Love of Wildlife < Smiley, 1881 >

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