Talk:Robert Stephenson

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Article milestones
April 6, 2014Peer reviewNot reviewed
May 5, 2014Peer reviewReviewed

Marriage and children?[edit]

There have been descendants of the Stephenson family living in England till recent times. It would be interesting to know where they fit into the story. Did Robert have issue? George is described as the 'second child', which usually means first and maybe only son. (talk) 00:22, 14 January 2012 (UTC)

Robert was the only surviving child of George, he had a sister, but she died at three weeks. Robert did not have any children. George had brothers and sisters (including Robert's Aunt Nelly), but this detail is probably better in the George Stephenson article. Edgepedia (talk) 13:36, 4 March 2014 (UTC)


Just started an expansion, will work through the article section by section. Hope to get this important article to FA; will open a Peer Review when I'm ready. Edgepedia (talk) 13:36, 4 March 2014 (UTC)

Now waiting for a book from the library ... Edgepedia (talk) 17:34, 21 March 2014 (UTC)

railgauge template[edit]

I reverted the railgauge template for a number of reasons:

  1. It's not compliant with Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style/Dates_and_numbers#Unit_names_and_symbols "unit names should be given in full if used only a few times..."
  2. Conversions are given in mm, not metres. Whilst this is the standard unit for modern railways, I don't see it as a useful conversion for say the 4 ft waggonways, and could imply a greater level of precision than is appropriate.
  3. In the use in the sentence that starts "In early documents...", these don't give a conversion, so I didn't convert. Again we could imply a greater level of precision than is appropriate.
  4. Note that {{railgauge|7ft}} gives 7 ft (2,134 mm); the source talks about the 7 ft gauge, without the extra ​14 in.
  5. I don't see any reason for the change. Seems to me to be a case similar to WP:NOTBROKEN. Edgepedia (talk) 13:29, 19 April 2014 (UTC)

re #1: you did not quote the "but ..." part of your link. And you omit the very first bullet there: "Unit names and symbols should follow the practice of reliable sources". I can add that the template allows for subtle presentations.

re #2 Conversions are given in mm, not metres you say. What or how is this a problem? I do not understand this.

re #3: don't give a conversion. The template has the documented option |disp=1.

re #4: yep. That is Brunel gauge. It's a definition, not a conversion calculation.

re #5: I don't see any reason -- that's you looking. I do see reasons.

I will adjust the page accordingly. btw, general talk is at Template talk:RailGauge. -DePiep (talk) 18:59, 19 April 2014 (UTC)

@DePiep: Please revert and discuss per WP:BRD whilst the discussion is on-going.
re #1: I'm working to get this article to FA standard and I'm likely to be pulled up on non-compliant elements. If you wish to add this template to articles, please add parameters that allow compliance! You will need at least the |adj= and |abbr= parameters.
re #2: As I said, it implies a greater level of precision than is appropriate. Why mm when convert gives m? Why use this template, giving conversions in mm, for the distance between the rails and convert use for other dimensions, such as the distance between tracks and these will have conversions in m? Did you notice that I used mm for standard gauge to highlight this?
re #3: Ok, why not just type it out in full?
re #4: This is not sourced. My references say 7 ft gauge; whether this is just a name or a accurate measurement is not explained in my sources; this is probably not relevant detail for this article.
(I've fixed this by using exact7ft as the parameter. Why do we have "0 in"?) Edgepedia (talk) 19:53, 19 April 2014 (UTC)
re #5: There are disadvantages in that the article is currently non compliant with the MOS and has an unsourced statement. Any change in the template involves a knock-on effect in articles that need to carefully checked. Please explain the advantages you see. Edgepedia (talk) 19:37, 19 April 2014 (UTC)
I don't understand your edit comment: "Basically, we use {RailGauge} to catch the definitions"? As you say "we", please link to consensus discussion. What do you mean by "catch the definitions"? Edgepedia (talk) 19:58, 19 April 2014 (UTC) edited
re this: By using {{RailGauge}} instead of {{convert}}, we catch 1. defined gauges (not calculated, e.g. Brunel); and 2. all rail gauge articles (here in development). It has helped clean up topics by the thousands of pages already. -DePiep (talk) 20:12, 19 April 2014 (UTC)
"Catch" is to say that we can list the "what links here" pages for the template [1]. -DePiep (talk) 20:42, 19 April 2014 (UTC)
  • You are welcome of course to make this article an FA. For this: you can use {convert} in every place, time and form as you think useful. That would solve your #1. #2, #3, #4, #5 are not FA related. -DePiep (talk) 20:24, 19 April 2014 (UTC)
    • Thanks, what about [2]? I'm not happy with 7 ft 0 in as I'm finding this commonly used without the "0 in". For examples online see quote from Daniel Gooch's diary, [3], [4] and [5]. Edgepedia (talk) 21:00, 19 April 2014 (UTC)
      • @DePiep:, I really don't understand your comment above and your last edit, in which you've incorrectly used the {{railgauge}} template for distances between the tracks. As a compromise, and in response to your last comment, I changed two uses to use the convert template, so that the article would be MOS compliant. Why are you edit warring to a non-MOS compliant version? Edgepedia (talk) 21:08, 19 April 2014 (UTC)
        • And again you've re-added un-sourced information into the article. Edgepedia (talk) 21:11, 19 April 2014 (UTC)
I have responded to your numbered remarks. You did not point "un-sourced", but only now you do. Your remarks #2 to #5 are relative; for #1 I mentioned alternative {{convert}}. This subthread is about the "0" in "7 ft 0 in" I thought. -DePiep (talk) 21:34, 19 April 2014 (UTC)
(edit conflict)
OK, thx. So we are talking about this detail for now:
7ft7 ft (2,134 mm)
exact7ft → exact7ft
This is the Brunel thing. This should be solved/explained at Brunel gauge. There is a useful talk at talk here I remember. I repeat that if you want 100% MOS quality, {convert} is the way to go. I for tracking pages, would like to see which pages use "7ft". The "0" is there to stress a Brunel diff. Discuss is at Template talk:RailGauge. -DePiep (talk) 21:25, 19 April 2014 (UTC)
  • Edgepedia. Some of your earlier points #1 to #5 may be outdated by now. Could you/we restart and tell what current issues are? -DePiep (talk) 21:38, 19 April 2014 (UTC)
    • A1. Your last edit introduced unsourced information. As I mentioned above, the sources give the distance between the rails as 7 ft. I fixed this by using 7ftexact; as most of the sources just say 7 foot (or 7 ft). If we want to say this was really 7 ft 1/4 in, we need good quality, reliable sources, there's none in the Great Western Railway article, or on the talkpage. I think this detail is probably going off topic for this article.
    • B1. Please check your last edit, you've used railgauge inappropriately for distances between tracks.
    • C1. The article is not MOS compliant per Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style/Dates_and_numbers#Unit_names_and_symbols
    • D1. mm is an inappropriate level of precision for some of the conversions. Please see the first comment in Wikipedia:Featured article candidates/Metropolitan Railway/archive1 for comment about this sort of thing.

Edgepedia (talk) 22:08, 19 April 2014 (UTC)

A1, B1, C1, D1: all you do is being obstinante. Not a single factual example. You can improve the page as you like. (B1: rail gauge is about exactly that, or you can refine that in the text. Your D1 link does not say anything about "mm" at all. -DePiep (talk) 22:28, 19 April 2014 (UTC)
To be more precise.
re A1: rail gauge is distance between rails. Whenever it is defined otherwise, you can describe that.
re B1: just say what I wrote wrong. So far, this is illegible.
re C1: Suggest, point to, improve. Your C1 is way too generic.
re D1: "mm" is not even mentioned in our link (I get loads of hits on 'commmmnt' btw)
-DePiep (talk) 22:54, 19 April 2014 (UTC)

DePiep, has there been some edit conflict or something? Above you say "Please use convert as appropriate;" I thought about it and changed two [6]. Seven minutes later you reverted [7].

However, I shall rephrase my points:

re A1: ref 120 (Rolt 1984, pp. 280–281) gives the gauge of the GWR as 7-foot; therefore the extra 1/4 in currently in the article is unsourced. I have already linked above to a number of on-line sources that give the gauge as 7-foot (quote from Daniel Gooch's diary, [8], [9] and [10]). Of course, there are sources that give the gauge as 7 ft 1/4 in, but the point I was trying to make, perhaps obstinately, was that you can't just change a figure in the text without changing the reference. Please read up about citing articles, and WP:V.

As a large number of sources give the gauge as 7 ft as listed above, at the moment I see no reason to change and add the 1/4 in. I've re-read the GWR talk page and note that according to MacDermot, E.T. (1927). History of the Great Western Railway, vol. I: 1833-1863. Paddington: Great Western Railway. p. 49. "In laying the rails an extra quarter of an inch was allowed on the straight, making the gauge 7 ft. 0¼ in. strictly speaking, but it was always referred to as 7 feet.", so it seems this is the common name for the gauge.

This 1/4 in is less than 0.3% of 7 feet and as I'm an engineer, to me this difference is small and would be greater than any tolerance. This all seems far too much information for this article; surely all we need is that Brunel had a different, wider gauge?

Re B1: In the text "The L&MR was built with the tracks {{RailGauge|4ft8.5in}} apart, although later the distance was increased to {{RailGauge|6ft}}", we're taking about the distance between the tracks, not the rails, and therefore the {{RailGauge}} is inappropriate.See comment below

Re C1: I don't understand the "far too generic" comment, Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style/Dates_and_numbers#Unit_names_and_symbols is a small section. However, I point you to the second bullet point that says "In prose, unit names should be given in full if used only a few times..."

Re D1: I was making a point about precision, and asking is four digits appropriate for wooden rails? I linked to a FAC Wikipedia:Featured article candidates/Metropolitan Railway/archive1 where the first comment (entitled Drive-by comment) is a reviewer commenting on overly precise measurements.

Edgepedia (talk) 05:30, 20 April 2014 (UTC) edited Edgepedia (talk) 12:47, 20 April 2014 (UTC)

Later I have more time to respond. Natural place for this is Template talk:RailGauge, where some of these topics have been discussed before. I quickly point to option |lk=on producing 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in). -DePiep (talk) 18:40, 20 April 2014 (UTC)
I see no reason to split this discussion. We need to work to a consensus for this article, and splitting would make it difficult to close. The Peer Review will run for about a month, and I'm happy for this discussion to run in parallel. You are, of course, welcome to link previous discussions. Edgepedia (talk) 05:21, 21 April 2014 (UTC)
I considered that B1 was such an obvious clear error, as this is not talking about the railway gauge, so I corrected it here. Edgepedia (talk) 05:32, 21 April 2014 (UTC)

  1. The RailGauge template is a de facto standard for mentioning a particular railgauge on Wikipedia. It is used in more than 10,000 articles and dates back to at least 2007. I read through te Template talk:RailGauge archive pages, until now (non) compliance with MOS was never put into discussion.
  2. In metric countries defining the gauges in mm is common. See the Track gauge interwiki articles to metric countries like Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Danmark, etc. A gauge definition itself has nothing to do with the tolerances, which have indeed lessened in subsequent years throughout history. And we don't mention a gauge of around 4 ft.
  3. Conversion of imperial values to metric is helpful to the metric-oriented reader and is done in numerous articles, regardless of sources only mentioning imperial values. In particular cases the disp=1 parameter omits the conversion as dePiep stated and is used to prevent overconversion when particular railgauge templates are used more than once in an article.
  4. Here is a source for the 7 ft 1/4in: Great Western Railway: A History by Andrew Roden (preview). I added this reference to Great Western Railway#Early history. Chapter 2 - Gauge opinions gives an insight into the choice of the exact gauge used for the GWR:
    1. page 2 of this chapter states: "He (Brunel) wrote: I should propose 6 feet 10 inches to 7 feet as the width of the rails (...)"
    2. page 3 of this chapter states: "Brunel eventually arrived at a gauge of 7ft 1/4in (...)"
  5. See point 1.--Aaron-Tripel (talk) 17:17, 21 April 2014 (UTC)
re Edgepedia. Yes this discussion should be split. You have stirred up many {{RailGauge}} generic topics. Most of these apply to all {RailGauge} entries. That is good for WP, but it implies general approach. (really, discussing Brunel gauge here will not solve the details). -DePiep (talk)


  • If FA requires to write "foot" &tc in full once, go ahead once. That is what I mean to say. Apart from having to write it more literally, one misses the option to link 7 ft (2,134 mm) Brunel gauge. But alas. For FA. This is the one and only FA issue I have read here.
  • Brunel gauge really is not to be discussed at Stevenson's page ;-). Because rail gauges are more generic.
  • About rounding vs definition: see template talk:RailGauge. This is not isolated. I can tell that a definition has nothing to do with (measurement) roundings, as one is tend to think.
  • Now, each and every continuance is at template talk:RailGauge. See you there. -DePiep (talk) 23:08, 22 April 2014 (UTC)


Sorry for not getting back to you sooner, I've been busy.
The {{RailGauge}} template may be used on many articles, but that doesn't make it appropriate in all cases. {{Convert}} is used on over 630,000 articles, but I've seen cases were conversions have been hand coded; there will always be corner cases. In my experience, most editors, if they can't get a template to do what they want, will find another way. Looking at the template documentation, it's clearly not suitable for use in certain styles of prose as it lacks the flexibility of {{Convert}}. The template could be changed to allow 5 ft (1,524 mm) to be also expressed as 5 feet (1,524 mm), 5-foot (1,524 mm) (and with an option for square brackets for use in quotations), but I really don't see that a template could cover all possibilities. Surely it is surely inefficient for a template to be bloated with code that is only used in one article. I also feel strongly that the "engaging, even brilliant, and of a professional standard" prose requirement of WP:FACR can't be limited by "generic".
The inappropriate use of this template has changed the style of a paragraph and a couple of footnotes. The third paragraph of WP:MOS starts "Style and formatting should be consistent within an article, though not necessarily throughout Wikipedia." This discussion is to determine what needs to be done to rectify this article. Depiep, I think there was confusion earlier: there are only three track gauges used in the body of the article, footnotes are not normally counted, and as three = "a few" these need to be given in full.
Is mm precision really applicable for these tracks?
However, looking at the paragraph (and its two footnotes) in detail I think that we could improve the article. Thanks for the comment about the about in note 19: hopefully I've removed the ambiguity by changing it here.
I have read the MOS on conversions (MOS:CONVERSIONS and MOS:UNCERTAINTY), the points that have been made above and read Template talk:RailGauge/Archive 2#To the nearest 1/16. BTW, I'm not sure what is meant by "definition", surely sources would refer to a specification (which would have a tolerance), measurement (with an accuracy) or a name (e.g. 7 foot)? However, I agree that millimeter precision would be usually appropriate when specifying a gauge for a railway with steel rails, but I think this would be excessive for waggonway gauges mentioned in note 19. Also the accuracy of a measurement could be low, an article could mention a gauge that has been determined by available evidence as "about 4 ft".
Also regarding the first use of 4 ft 8 in: we don't know if the rails were placed 4 ft 8 in or 4 ft 8​12 in apart (see note 20), so therefore millimeter precision is inappropriate here as this would imply that the rails were moved.
I really don't see how a discussion on a template talk page is going to help with the style issues in this article – I say this after seeing a discussion on Template talk:convert restart at Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Dates and numbers. However, you suggested more input is needed for Brunel's gauge, and get this from the widest group I've started a discussion at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject UK Railways.
  • I'm busy at the moment and will take a break for a few weeks. I will come back here after I return. Edgepedia (talk) 09:36, 5 May 2014 (UTC)
Precision is describing something should be comparable to the precision with which it was created. Brunel's broad gauge has the quarter inch because Brunel added it (for whatever reason, and from whatever original gauge). It was defined, at the time, as having this extra fraction and so the extra fraction should stay in its history. Similarly 4'8"1/2.
Mind you, I'd still see anything from 4' and above as "standard gauge", rather than claiming the Middleton Railway as narrow gauge, before there's a clear Stephenson gauge to be narrower than. Andy Dingley (talk) 10:01, 5 May 2014 (UTC)
Edgepedia when you are logged in again, I'll make time to respond more useful. (last month I was very bizzy with {{RailGauge}} in another area). I also found the WP:UK railroads thread. So far, this was too chaotic with too many topics intertwined. -DePiep (talk) 20:15, 2 June 2014 (UTC)


In whose opinion is this appellation predicated? In what sense was he a greater engineer than the far more prolific Sir Thomas Telford? -- who doesn't just have an English town named after him but is interred in St Paul's Cathedral. And just for the record, George Stephenson was the grandson of a Scotsman -- which is presumably why he went to Scotland to work. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:07, 22 May 2018 (UTC)