Robert Nicholson was born in 1808 in Northumberland, and trained as a chartered surveyor. He was a close associate of Robert Stephenson and worked on a number of Tyneside railway projects, including being responsible for engineering on the Newcastle & North Shields Railway in 1836 when aged just 26.
In 1849 Nicholson was employed by a number of individuals to carry out the first survey of the potential route for the Severn Valley Railway. When the Severn Valley Railway Company was formed in August 1852, Nicolson was appointed Engineer. He prepared and costed the design of the route which was included in the first Severn Valley Railway Bill, and appeared before a Select Committee of the House of Lords in 1853 prior to its enactment in August of that year.
When it became obvious that cost savings would be required, Nicholson prepared proposals for the revised route incorporated in the second Severn Valley Railway Bill, which included the deviation to join the Shrewsbury & Hereford Railway at Sutton Bridge Junction and a revised route between Stourport and Bewdley incorporating Mount Pleasant Tunnel. However following submission of the Bill to parliament in November 1854, Nicholson died in May 1855 at the early age of 46. The second Severn Valley Railway Act went on to receive Royal Assent on 30 July 1855.
Nicholson was succeeded by John Fowler.
- The Severn Valley Railway, John Marshall (1989)
- The Rail Engineer, October 2012