John Rastrick was born in 1780. After studying iron manufacturing in Shropshire he became the manager of a local foundry. In 1815 he built a cast iron bridge at Chepstow. The following year he became involved in making railway track.
In 1823 Rastrick was appointed engineer of the Stratford & Moreton Railway. Three years later he testified at the parliamentary investigation into the proposed Liverpool & Manchester Railway. In 1829 he built a railway at Shutt End Colliery and was one of the three judges at the Rainhill Trials.
John Rastrick made the initial survey for the Grand Junction Railway and the following year was appointed engineer of the London & Brighton Railway. Rastrick upset his old friend, George Stephenson, by supporting the direct route between London and Brighton that was being advocated by George Rennie. Rastrick was responsible for the Portsmouth to Hastings line and most of its branches. Other railways built by Rastrick included the Bolton & Preston (1841), Gravesend & Rochester (1845) and Nottingham & Grantham (1846). John Rastrick died in 1856.