Francis Stevenson M.I.C.E. (1827—1902)
Born in Scotland on 27th August 1827, Francis Stevenson was educated at
the Edinburgh Academy. At the age of 13, in 1840, he became a pupil of R B Dockray, Engineer on the
London & Birmingham Railway. He was an engineer on the Northampton & Peterborough line from
May 1843 and then Resident Engineer on the Coventry & Nuneaton, which was completed in 1850. He
then moved to the Southern Division New Works office in Euston as a Sub-Engineer under William Baker,
becoming Assistant Engineer on 1st December 1852.
When William Baker became Chief Engineer for New Works for the whole line in 1859, Francis Stevenson continued as Baker’s Assistant Engineer with an increased scope of responsibilities.
He became a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers from 5th February 1867.
On William Baker’s death on 20th December 1878, the Permanent Way, Works & Estate (PWW&E) Committee rapidly filled the vacancy by promoting Francis Stevenson, who then took responsibility for New Works on the whole system from 1st January 1879. This responsibility included the Parliamentary business in connection with bills for new lines and extensions.
On 1st July 1886, taking advantage of the imminent retirement of both Henry Woodhouse and Samuel Barton Worthington, respectively the Southern and Northern Division PW Superintendents, the PWW&E Committee modified the department structure again by amalgamating the Engineering and PW Departments. The Committee appointed Francis Stevenson as overall Chief Engineer. Stevenson had one Principal Assistant responsible for New Works and a second responsible for Permanent Way and Maintenance. The Telegraph Superintendent, who had previously reported directly to the Committee, was moved into the new organisation under the Chief Engineer.
Major works carried out while he was Chief Engineer include the widening and opening out of the Lime Street tunnel from Edge Hill, Manchester Exchange Station, the expansion of New Street, the quadrupling of the line between Staleybridge and Huddersfield through a new Standedge Tunnel, continuing the quadrupling of the West Coast and other mainlines, the Edge Hill Gridiron Sorting Sidings and the Leeds New Line. New works planned under Stevenson but not completed in his time were the Crewe Goods Avoiding lines and the Styal Loop.
Francis Stevenson died in London on 1st February 1902 aged 74 still in post. At his burial in Highgate Cemetry in London over 150 railway officials were present including Lord Stalbridge, then Chairman, and several other Directors, Frederick Harrison - General Manager, Robert Turnbull - Superintendent of the Line and the chiefs of all the other LNWR Departments. In his memory Alfred the Great No 1960 was named Francis Stevenson when it was finished in March 1902..