Who will get recognized?

When there are several people working on the same projects, it can be difficult to determine which person is responsible for creating the final design. Many of the inventors and designers will work on similar projects and using the same type of techniques, as this is the top of the line and it is what everybody is thinking and talking about.

Steam powered road vehicles

In the period when Gurney worked on his steam-powered road vehicles there were also others working on the same. Trevithick also made the same, almost identical carriages. Many of these other inventors meet with problems of founding and were unable to really get in touch with the upper class, who at the time held most of the power.

Gurney and also several others were able to attract investors that were willing to invest money in what as seeming the next big thing, without really knowing much about it. It was also rather dangerous as team power was still at the “trial and error” phase. So engines would blow up and damage people.

A lot happened in the course of a few years and today it is the Cornish engine that was mainly developed by Trevithic that is best remembered.

The bumps in the road

In addition the purely scientific parts of any invention, you have the many environmental, and society aspects. Not all inventions are welcome. Some are scrapped entirely, whereas others may be put to use later. In terms of the steam engine to use in road vehicles that Gurney worked on, people owning horse-drawn carriages became frightened by the perceived competition.

Through a smear campaign, false information and so forth, they were able to get the government to enforce a toll on steam powered carriages. This toll was a total of 2 pounds, whereas the horse drawn carriages paid 6 shillings or less. Of course this meant that the steam carriages were doomed.


One would think that people taking out patents and so forth would be recognized even decades later. However, in the case of Gurney, he lost most of his patents after his company went bankrupt after the toll was placed on the steam carriages.

This was a popular inventor that had a lot of support from many high-class friends and he still lost most of his patents and money. What about all the inventors that had less connections and less money? There are many great inventors and inventions that are lost forever.