Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 124,801 pages of information and 194,307 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Charles Edwards Amos

From Graces Guide

Jump to: navigation, search
1859. Amos and John Francis' water pressure engines.

Charles Edwards Amos (1806-1882)

1806 Charles E. Amos born at March, Isle of Ely.

His grandfather owned a millwright's business at March in the Isle of Ely and was involved with pumping plant and drainage equipment

1836 Aged 31 he joined James Easton and formed Easton and Amos

1848 Appointed the engineer for the Royal Agricultural Society of England

1851 Living at 15 Nelson Square, Southwark (age 46 born March, Isle of Ely), Engineer employing 160 men, Paper Card Maker Wandsworth, Survey employing 53 men. With wife (age 39 born Halfield, Herts) and children James Chap (age 14 born Wandsworth), Charles F. (age 3). Two servants. [1]

1861 Charles Edwards Amos, Grove Works, Southwark.[2]

1862 of The Grove, Southwark

1881 Living at 5 Cedars Road, Clapham (age 75 born March), Retired Engineer. With wife Catherine (age 60 born Critchel, Dorset) and children Frances J. (age 36), Eva A. (age 20), Edward M. (age 16), Rosalie (age 15), and grand-daughter Phoebe E. Houlder (age 22). Four servants. [3]


1883 Obituary [4]

. . . one of the last links connecting the old-fashioned millwright with the modern engineer.

He was born at March, in Cambridgeshire, on the 27th of November, 1806, his father being Mr. Jonas Amos, who had married the daughter of a millwright and carpenter of the district. Shortly after his birth his family removed to the Wildmore Fen, in Lincolnshire, where the elder Amos became manager on the farm of a Mr. Clements, of Horncastle. . .

At the age of about eighteen years, he apprenticed himself to Mr. John Wilkinson, millwright and machine maker at Elm. . . . Being now twenty-two years of age and an experienced journeyman, he, accompanied by a fellow-apprentice, determined to go 'on tramp,' and soon found employment at the workshop of Mr. Beamont of Ramsey, Hunts, whose practice was almost exclusively confined to fen-work. . . . went into the shop of Mr. John Clark, millwright of Houghton, Huntingdonshire, where, in the practical construction of corn-mills, water-wheels, windmills, and tannery and brewery work, abundant field for experience was found . . .

About the year 1829 Amos entered the employment of Joseph Jordan, millwright of Hertingfordbury, Herts, whose practice was of a similar character to Mr. Clark’s. Here he was employed in the erection of several water corn-mills then in progress. Mr. Jordan was executing some steam-engine work and other machinery for Mr. Thomas Creswick, of Hatfield Paper Mills, and Amos was sent to erect and start it. . . . came in contact with its constructor, was the late James Easton ; the acquaintance resulted in a partnership, which commenced in 1836.

The compound engine, on the system tried at Mr. Dives’ mill, became a speciality in the hands of Easton and Amos : but, although many such engines were built, the principle did not make general headway, and J. and E. Hall, of Dartford, John Wentworth and Sons, of Wandsworth, and they remained the principal constructors, so far as the South of England was concerned. . . . Soon after the establishment of the firm, the remodelling of Mr. Walker’s oil-mills at Dover was placed in their hands. For driving some of the machinery a pair of side-lever marine engines from one of the old packets, the “Royal George,” was employed. Mr. Amos removed the cylinder of one, and compounded it with the other engine by putting a smaller cylinder in its place. As the cranks were at right angles the disused cylinder was placed between the engines as an equaliser. . . .

Hydraulics, and the practice incidental thereto, were favourite matters both with Mr. Amos and his partner. The supplying of towns and water-works machinery became special objects of attention, and a large practice resulted. One of the consequences was the revival of the use of the “bucket and plunger” or “double acting pump.” . . .

On the retirement of Josiah Parkes, M. Inst. C.E., the firm were appointed Consulting Engineers to the Royal Agricultural Society. . . Mr. Amos relinquished the post of Consulting Engineer after the Oxford Show in 1870, . . .

In 1866 Mr. Amos retired from business, . . . [much more]


1883 Obituary [5]

CHARLES EDWARDS Amos was born on 27th November 1805, at March, in the Isle of Ely, Cambridgeshire. Soon after his birth his parents settled in Wildmore Fen, Lincolnshire, but he was left with his grandfather, Mr. Edward Sharpe, millwright and carpenter, at March.

His early years were spent mainly in agricultural employment, but at the age of about eighteen years he apprenticed himself to Mr. John Wilkinson, millwright and machine-maker of Elm. Starting on a weekly wage of 10s. 6d., with which he had to maintain himself, he soon became so far useful to his master as "leading-hand" on out-door work as to be frequently placed in charge of such jobs; and remained about four years, during which he acquired a competent knowledge of windmills, sluice work, threshing machines, and other mechanism incidental to a country business.

When twenty-two years of age and an experienced journeyman, he found employment at the workshop of Mr. Beaumont, of Romney, Hants, whose practice was almost exclusively confined to fen work, i.e. the construction and repair of windmills, scoop-wheels, sluices, &c.

Being anxious to see some different class of work, he went into the shop of Mr. John Clark, millwright, of Houghton, Huntingdonshire, where, in the practical construction of corn mills, water-wheels, windmills, and tannery and brewery work, abundant field for experience was found.

About the year 1829 he entered the employment of Mr. Joseph Jordan, millwright, of Hertingfordbury, Herts, whose practice was of a similar character to Mr. Clark's, and who was executing some work on steam engines and other machinery for Mr. Thomas Creswick, of Hatfield Paper Mills. Mr. Amos was sent to erect and start it. Mr. Creswick was one of the most active and enterprising paper-makers of the day; and wishing to introduce several new improvements and processes into his manufactory and machinery, and to keep them private for trade purposes, he was anxious to have a steady and skilful constant hand exclusively to himself. He offered Mr. Amos this situation, which (after consulting Mr. Jordan and obtaining his approval) he accepted, and gradually he became Mr. Creswick's engineer, and was consulted by him in all concerning the machinery of the mill.

In the autumn of 1835 Mr. Creswick purchased the property known as the Iron Mills, Wandsworth, Surrey, which had been a rolling mill and foundry. The forming of a paper mill, and adaptation of the old iron mills for the purpose, and the removal of the machinery from the Hatfield Mills, became an important matter, which was entrusted by Mr. Creswick to Mr. Amos, on condition that the latter should remain in his employment until the completion of the work. In consequence he removed to Wandsworth, his last employment before leaving Hatfield being the examination and putting in order of the fire-engines, plant, and fire appliances of Hatfield House, immediately after the fire which partly destroyed that mansion. At Wandsworth the paper-mills work was placed in the hands of Mr. H. Pullen, engineer, who had also a contract with Mr. George Dives for a new steam-engine &c. at his mills in Battersea; and on the sudden death of Mr. Pullen, Mr. Amos undertook the completion of both these contracts.

Although the advantages of expansion in the working of steam engines were known, not much practical use was made of the knowledge. The general principle of the "Woolf" or compound engine had been set forth about 1804; but very little practical use had been made of it, and its employment in the presence of the then existing practice was attended with some hardihood.

Nevertheless a compound beam-engine was erected at Mr. Dives', the details of which were worked out by Mr. Amos; and the economical effect was, at the time, remarkable. The engine in question is (or was up to a short time since) still at work, and its performance bore respectable comparison with the engine-duties of the present day. Its success attracted a good deal of attention at the time, and among other persons who through it came in contact with Mr. Amos was the late Mr. James Easton; the acquaintance resulted in a partnership, which commenced in 1836, as millwrights, engineers, and lead-pipe manufacturers, at the Old Grove Works, Southwark.

The compound engine, on the system employed at Mr. Dives' mill, became a speciality in the hands of Easton and Amos. Soon after the establishment of the firm, the remodelling of Mr. Walker's Oil Mills at Dover was placed in their hands. For driving some of the machinery a pair of side-lever marine engines from one of the old packets, the "Royal George," was employed. Mr. Amos removed the cylinder of one, and compounded it with the other engine by putting in a smaller cylinder in its place. As the cranks were at right angles, the disused cylinder was placed between the engines as an equaliser. This succeeding, another pair of marine engines was similarly employed, the equaliser being dispensed with; but no important difference in working was observable. This is probably one of the oldest instances on record of compounding marine engines.

In another case, near Battersea, Mr. Amos employed two steam engines, the one a high- the other a low-pressure engine, using a spare boiler as the intermediate vessel, and keeping just so much fire beneath it as made good the loss by condensation &c. Although a novelty in its way, the arrangement answered very fairly.

His old experience of paper-making was also turned to account, and several of the principal mills of the country were either built, remodelled, or added to under his auspices. In 1849 he took out patents for a new knotter or pulp-strainer, also for a single-sheet cutting machine, which rapidly found favour both in the English and Continental paper mills; and a further patent for an automatic regulating valve, for giving steam of constant tension, notwithstanding variations of boiler pressure.

While advocating strongly the merits of compound engines, he was not insensible to the claims of single-cylinder expansion. He always stated that he believed he was the first man who successfully applied a cut-off slide, working direct on the back of an ordinary slide, for expansive working; and there are good grounds for supposing be was correct in this belief. The supplying of towns with waterworks machinery became a special object of attention, and a large practice resulted. One of the consequences of this, mechanically speaking, was the revival of the use of the "bucket-and-plunger" or "double-acting pump."

The construction of the Conway and Britannia Tubular Bridges in 1846-50, by Mr. Robert Stephenson, was the means of placing the designing and arrangement of the hydraulic machinery for the raising of the tubes of these structures in the bands of the firm, and preserved for them, and for Mr. Amos himself, the favourable opinion of Mr. Stephenson. It was probably partly due to Mr. Stephenson's recommendation that the firm became, on the retirement of Mr. Josiah Parkes, consulting engineers to the Royal Agricultural Society of England.

At the Norwich Show in 1849 Mr. Amos established the system of engine trials on the "Prony" brake, which has largely contributed to the high duty and general excellence of the modern portable engine. The invention of a dynamometer, whereby the actual dynamic effort involved in working any winch-driven implement was recorded by automatic lever and spring-balance movements, was the means of securing special recognition and a special gold medal from the Society in 1849. An apparatus for ascertaining the power consumed by horse-gear threshing machines was brought into use at the Exeter Show in 1850; and a rotary dynamometer, whereby the power consumed by any machine driven by steam or other prime motor was recorded, was invented and brought into use at the Lincoln Show in 1854. Many further improvements in the testing arrangements of the Society were afterwards carried out under Mr. Amos's superintendence, up to the time of his retirement in 1870.

The arrangement and construction of the cable-laying machinery, for the old Atlantic cable in 1857, was entrusted to the firm; and Mr. Amos suggested the placing of the paying-out drums in duplicate, so as to form a self-fleeting windlass — a device he had employed some years before with success at the Rhyl swivel bridges, on the Chester and Holyhead Railway.

The merit of the "dynamometer" arrangement, which was brought out and designed for this expedition, is also entirely due to Mr. Amos. This system has become of almost universal use in succeeding submarine telegraph expeditions. Mr. Amos assisted as a volunteer on board the Agamemnon, in the experimental cruise which Sir C. Bright conducted in the Bay of Biscay, prior to the sailing of the expedition across the Atlantic.

About the same date Mr. Amos was concerned in the arrangement and construction of the hydraulic machinery for raising the tubes of the Royal Albert Bridge at Saltash, under Mr. Brunel.

The invention of Appold's centrifugal pump was the means of establishing a lasting friendship between the late Mr. J. G. Appold, F.R.S., and Mr. Amos. He bestowed much time and thought on the investigation of the general laws governing the action of such Pumps, and in experimenting upon them under varying conditions.

He gave especial attention to their larger applications, e.g. to the pump constructed for the reclamation and permanent drainage of the Whittlesea Mere, which was 4 ft. 6 in. diameter, and delivered about 100 tons of water per minute, at from 4 to 5 ft. lift. Although machinery of far greater magnitude has been constructed since, it remains probably as successful an example as exists, and works as efficiently as it did in 1852.

He also brought out a design whereby the pump, engines, gearing, and all appurtenances were brought together in a self-contained form, and carried by one large circular cistern of iron. The fan was laid horizontally, with a vertical shaft supported from above, so that in case of repair all the working parts could be removed even when under water, and replaced similarly. The system was very successful, and was largely adopted for the West India sugar estates, reclamations in Holland, and fen drainage purposes; also for graving docks, as at H.M. Dockyard at Portsmouth, and elsewhere.

In the erection of the lift, invented by Mr. Edwin Clark, at the Thames Graving Dock, Victoria Dock, the hydraulic arrangements were placed in the hands of the firm; and Mr. Amos introduced a three-cylinder compound engine, and a system of working the hydraulic pumps in groups, throwing off in succession as the lift proceeded and the stress increased.

Many other improvements, as in slate-dressing, lead-pipe making, &c., were due to him; and even after his retirement in 1866 he was not idle, holding the chairmanship of the Sutton Gas Works, and a directorship of the Grays Chalk Quarries, and engaging also in other industrial pursuits. He found leisure to design and construct, at the request of the Society of Arts, a special dynamometer for testing the tractive force required on various pavements in Loudon with a given load, and to arrange a course of experiments thereon.

Mr. Amos became a Member of the Institution in 1861, and a Member of Council in 1868. He was also a Member of Council of the Royal Agricultural Society of England from 1858 to 1882. He officiated as British juror at the Paris Universal Exhibition of 1855, and at the London Universal Exhibition of 1862. He attended, by invitation, the Universal Agricultural Exhibition of Sweden and Norway, held at Gothenburg in 1871, when he was presented with a gold medal and diploma, and also received from Carl XV., the then reigning sovereign, the Cross of the Order of Vasa.

A severe attack of illness in the winter of 1881 effectually undermined his naturally strong constitution, and on 12th August 1882 he expired at his home at Clapham, apparently without pain or pang of any kind, in the seventy-seventh year of his age.


See Also

Loading...

Sources of Information

  1. 1851 census
  2. 1861 Institution of Mechanical Engineers
  3. 1881 Census
  4. 1883 Institution of Civil Engineers: Obituaries
  5. 1883 Institution of Mechanical Engineers: Obituaries