Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Philip Taylor

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Philip Taylor (1786-1870), civil engineer

1786 Born the fourth son of John Taylor (1750-1826), hymn writer of Norwich, and his wife, Susanna Taylor (1755-1823); his grandmother was Margaret Meadows (d. 1781), whose only sister, Sarah, had sons David and Peter, who were sugar-refiners in London, and John (her fourth son) who was a brewer and became a partner in Whitbread and Co.[1]; she was also the grandmother of Harriet Martineau, the writer. He was the brother of Richard Taylor, Edward Taylor, John Taylor, Arthur Taylor, and Sarah Austin

He was educated at Dr. Houghton's school in Norwich

Initially studied surgery but then worked for a Mr Fitch in Norwich, chemist and druggist; set up a factory to make wooden pillboxes by machine.

1801-05 Taylor was with his brother John, who was employed by a copper mine in western Devon, for the Martineau family of Norwich

1812 Philip and his brother John started a chemical works at Stratford, East London. Initially Philip was concerned with pharmaceuticals and apparatus, while John worked on metallurgical chemistry. They were backed by the Martineau family. One joint invention was an "acetometer", used to check excise duty on vinegar. Philip Taylor resided in the adjoining parish of Bromley.

Philip Taylor and John Taylor went into business with John Martineau as J. P. Taylor and Martineau. The partnership was dissolved in 1827

In 1813 Taylor married Sarah, daughter of Robert Fitch, surgeon, of Ipswich (presumably the same person he had first worked for). He had eight children

1816 and 1818 Patented the application of high-pressure steam to evaporation, used in Whitbreads brewery and by sugar refiners.

Devised a method of making gas from oil for lighting public and private buildings; patented by John and Philip[2].

Between 1816 and 1825 applied for several patents

From 1816 Taylor was involved in steam engine design.

He testified in 1817 before a House of Commons select committee on steam navigation, and during his evidence said he did not know Arthur Woolf personally. At this time he was described as a "manufacturing" or "operative" chemist. His interest in steam came via high-pressure boilers, as reported in 1823 by Peter Ewart.

On 3 July 1824 he took out a patent for a horizontal steam engine (No. 4983).

In 1825 Taylor & Martineau was producing a standard factory stationary steam engine, of a type that would become common. Later they sold a boiler and steam engine to Marc Séguin, French rail pioneer, then working for a steamer company on the Rhône River. Harvey of Hayle produced engines to Taylor's design for Arthur Woolf

1821 Assisted Marc Isambard Brunel in his debt crisis

Director of the Thames Tunnel Co.

1824 On the exportation of machinery and the moral condition of the working class [3][4][5]

1824 Of City Road, Mddx. Patent for apparatus to produce gas. [6]

1824 Patent for improvements to steam engines [7]

1824 Moved to South Wales; involved with the British Iron Co; patent for making iron. Later moved to France.

1828 Patented the hot-blast process in the manufacture of iron in France. The validity of the patent was disputed and was not established until 1839.

1836 Founded engineering works at Marseilles with his sons

1845 he bought a shipbuilding yard at La Seyne, near Toulon, which became a large and flourishing concern employing 2000 men.

1855 Disposed of his business to the Compagnie des Forges et Chantiers de la Méditerranée.

1870 Died at home near Marseilles on 1 July. 'Taylor. — On the 1st inst, at his residence, St. Marguerite, near Marseilles, Philip Taylor, Esq., civil engineer, Knight of the Legion of Honour in Prance, and of Order of St. Maurice in Italy, in his 85th year.[8]


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. A memoir of the history of the Taylor Family of Norwich, by Philip Taylor, 1886 [1]
  2. East London Gas Industry [2]
  3. Mechanics Magazine 1824/03/13
  4. Mechanics Magazine 1824/03/20
  5. Mechanics Magazine 1824/03/27
  6. Mechanics Magazine 1824/08/07
  7. Mechanics Magazine 1824/08/28
  8. Sheffield Daily Telegraph - Thursday 07 July 1870
  • Biography of John Taylor, ODNB [3]
  • Biography of Philip Taylor, ODNB [4]
  • Wikipedia]