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 142,380 pages of information and 227,858 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Edward Shorter

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Model at the London Science Museum, 2007

Edward Shorter, a master mechanic and a Freeman of the City of London. In 1800 he took out a patent for propelling vessels, which he had named ‘the perpetual sculling machine.’

1802 Trial of the propellor in the naval transport Doncaster off Malta, demonstrated its value as a means of making progress in calm weather[1]. It was powered in the trials by 8 men on the driving capstan, and made 1.5 mph in calm conditions (it was intended for towing large becalmed sailing ships). Shorter also stated that his propeller could also be driven by a steam engine.[2]

A superb model of the contraption was displayed at the Science Museum in the fascinating marine engineering section (see photo). Note the buoy, and the guy/steering ropes.

James Lowe was apprenticed to Edward Shorter, and subsequently went into partnership with him.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Engineer 1897/10/22
  2. 'Handbook of the Collections Illustrating Marine Engineering' by H. P. Spratt. Science Museum reprint. HMSO