Letter: Rocket science

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The Independent Culture
Sir: As every schoolboy knows the steam locomotive was invented by Richard Trevithick in 1804, and so your story on George Stephenson's claim to fame ("Rail historians give Stephenson the rocket", 11 September) rather misses the point.

Stephenson was "so important to our heritage" because of his creation of the role of the railway engineer, taking responsibility for all aspects of a line's construction and operation.

That he adopted and adapted the work of his predecessors as locomotive engineers, that he made some mistakes in the new territory of railway building and that he was eventually surpassed in brilliance by his son Robert - all these charges made by those indulging in the fashionable practice of so-called "myth-debunking" do nothing to undermine his contribution to Britain's - and the world's - industrial development.

GORDON DUFF

Sheffield

South Yorkshire

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