Nicholas Wood was one of the greatest mining and railway engineers that Tyneside produced. Born in Ryton, on the 24th of April 1795, Nicholas became intimately connected with the technological improvement in mining and the railway system in both Northern England and in Europe. Nicholas Wood was a contemporary of George Stephenson. It was a tribute to Wood that George Stephenson’s son Robert was apprenticed to him as a colliery engineer from 1819 to 1821 at Killingworth colliery in Northumberland.
Wood’s interest in transport, both underground and surface, led him to publish a book in 1825 – ‘A Practical Treatise on Rail-Roads and Interior Communication in General’. This book was a classic work of early railway literature discussing the types of ‘motive’ power then in use. Wood’s reputation in railway matters was considerable. Often invited to give evidence to Parliament, Wood informed various railway bills debated between 1830 and 1850.
Nicholas Wood took a prominent role in the official investigations of the coal industry, most notably with regard to safety, ventilation and underground haulage technology. He was involved in discussions leading to the Mines Inspection Act of 1851 and it was Wood’s determination and persistence that helped to increase safety and reduce fatalities in mines.
In Newcastle upon Tyne, Wood is today remembered as a founder member and the first President of the North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers. The extensive library in Neville Hall in central Newcastle upon Tyne, reputedly the world’s largest mining library, is named in memorial to him and is open to the public.
See also the article in Wikipedia.