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British Industrial History

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Edward Thomas

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Edward (Eduard) Thomas.

Born in Bristol in 1794. Brother of James Thomas.

Emigrated to Pempelfort (Dusseldorf).

1819 Founded workshops for Harkort & Co. in Wetter on the Ruhr, where he helped Friedrich Harkort, and played a significant role in the design and commissioning of the company's first steam engines. He installed plant in Saxony and Bohemia, including in 1823 the cotton spinning mill of Josef Kittel in Markersdorf (Markvartice) with the first operational steam engine of the Kronlands; another in 1824 in Wernstadt (Verneřice).

He left Harkort in 1829 and started business on his own account in Reichenberg (Liberec). After obtaining the necessary tools and equipment from Britain, he founded a workshop for the production of engines and machinery, the first in Bohemia. At the same time he went into partnership with Thomas Bracegirdle to make spinning, weaving and cloth finishing machines in the Harz village of Liberec-Starý Harcov.

In 1832, he relocated to a former spinning mill in Karolinenthal, near Prague, but remained in partnership with Bracegirdle until 1835.

In the first half of the 19th century, the Karolinenthal works of the Thomas brothers became the largest mechanical engineering company in Bohemia, producing 52 steam engines, and boilers, heaters, dryers, waterwheels, pumps, hydraulic presses, etc.

c.1838/39 Thomas visited Belgium and Britain to investigate the latest engineering developments. He subsequently transformed the ironworks in Althütten (Stará Huť near Beraun) into the most modern rolling mill of the monarchy.

In 1846 he was the owner of a ironworks in the Gratz (Nové Hrady).

In 1850 the company became Ruston & Evans, and then, from 1854, Ruston and Co (Prague), which in 1869 became Prager Maschinenbau AG.

The above information is condensed from a translation of the entry for Edward Thomas in the Österreichisches Biographisches Lexikon[1]

Additional information[2]: In 1819 Friedrich Harkort (1793-1880) had started building machines according to the 'English model'. He acquired land at Burgwetter and built a foundry, which was extended in 1826 by a blast furnace and in 1828 by a hammer, puddle and rolling mill in the Burggraben. His partners were Heinrich Kamp (1786-1853) and Edward Thomas. The company changed its name to Harkort, Thomas and Co in 1824. After the departure of Thomas, it became Harkort and Co between 1826 and 1834. In addition to Thomas, several Englishmen were engaged in the company until 1832, especially Samuel Godwin and his sons. One of them was involved in the Wuppertal branch of Harkort & Co. "Blank, Godwin & Co.". In the 1820s Friedrich Harkort acquired pits and fields in Olpe, Brilon, Wetzlar, Milspe and in Hombruch, to supply the workshop in Wetter with ore.

Note: Ruston & Co was established by Joseph John Ruston and his brother John Joseph Ruston. For more information, see Wikipedia entry.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. [1] Österreichisches Biographisches Lexikon und biographische Dokumentation: Thomas, Edward (Eduard) (1794–?), Techniker und Unternehmer
  2. [2] Archive in Nordrhein-Westfalen: Märkische Maschinenbau-Anstalt vorm. Kamp & Co.