Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

Registered UK Charity (No. 115342)

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

J. and E. Harthan

From Graces Guide
Impulse turbine (form The Practical Mechanic's Journal, 1 October 1858

John and Ezra Harthan of Timbersbrook, Congleton, Cheshire

Silk throwsters and turbine pioneers.

1863 Trust, Composition and Inspectorship Deeds: 'John and Ezra HARTHAN, (Oct. 7,) silk throwsters, Wheelock, in Sandbach, and Timbersbrook, in Buglawton, under the firm of J. and E. Harthan. Trustee — Nathan Dumville, gentleman, Wheelock. Composition of 3s. fourteen days, 3s. at six months, and 3s. at ten months.'[1]

Patented Turbine

1858 Patent sealed: 'Dated 21st January, 1858.—John and Ezra Harthan, both of Timberbrook, silkmen, for improved engine for obtaining motive power. Dated 26th January, 1858.'[2]

J. and E. Harthan made the patented impulse turbines in small sizes for use with steam or air. Described and illustrated in The Practical Mechanic's Journal, 1 October 1858. One, weighing just 126 lbs, was supplied to Edwin Scragg of Buglawton, near Congleton, where it drove three slide lathes, a planing machine, shaping machine, two drilling machines, and a blast fan. Other turbines were at work at Harthan's silk mills and in the machine works of Mr. Lowndes at Congleton.

Their turbine was also patented in the USA, No. 21,494, dated September 14, 1858. See here. The patent also covered a turbine with two rows of runner blades iterposed by a row of fixed guide vanes (for what would later be called velocity compounding). Extract from US patent:-

'Care should be taken in working the engine that the speed of the wheel or wheels in the various modifications which we have described be so adjusted or regulated by the governor that the velocity of the revolving chambers shall never attain the half of the velocity of the actuating jet as by this mode of working the engine the greatest economy of fuel will be obtained. We prefer to so regulate the velocity of the chambers that it shall be about from one third to four tenths of that of the steam or air as it issues from the jet pipe. The form of jet pipe which we prefer to use is a pipe the mouth of which is contracted from the greatest to the smallest diameter by an inward curve as shown in our drawings.

'Having now described and particularly ascertained the nature of our said invention and in what manner the same is or may be used or carried into effect we may observe that we are aware that rotatory engines consisting of wheels having a number of projections formed or fitted upon their peripheries and actuated by the impingement of steam or air against such peripheral projections or chambers have long been known in this country and therefore we lay no claim to the principle of such arrangement. We may also observe that we do not confine or restrict ourselves to the precise details or arrangements which we have had occasion to describe or refer to as variations may be made therefrom without deviating from the principles or main features of our said invention; but.....'

The Exhibition consists of a revolving platform, with steam boiler fixed upon its centre. The engines are arranged round the boiler in chronological order, and can all worked at once, or separately, each being distinctly supplied with steam or air. The Engines are :
No. 1.— THE AEOLIPILE.—This is the first invention in steam power on record, invented and described in the works of Hero, of Alexandria, 130 years before the birth of Christ.
No. 2.—BRANCA'S STEAM WHEEL.—This engine was invented and described in a work published in Rome in 1629 by Giovanni Branca, an Italian.
No. 3.-WATT'S BEAM ENGINE.- With all its complex machinery, which during the last half century has caused such rapid progress in motive power.
No. 4.—DIRECT ACTING ENGINE.— This is like the third in principle, but dispensing with the beam and its connections. No. 5.— HARTHAN'S PATENT.— This engine combines all the principles the mechanical force steam, viz., impact, pressure, and re-action, it weighs only 126lbs., and is capable of doing the work of five horses, requiring not more than half the fuel used by other engines of the same power. It stands only 20 inches high, on a base plate of 14 inches by 13 inches. It is admitted to be the most marvellous production of the age, requiring neither cylinder, piston, valve, packing, connecting rod, beam, crank, nor flywheel, but consists simply of a plate wheel enclosed a brass case, and fixed upon a shaft free to revolve on bearings, and geared to a counter shaft by toothed wheels.
No. 6.— HARTHAN'S PATENT (Interior) .- This is intended illustrate the principle and workings of Harthan's engine. It is worked by a jet of air for the convenience of inspection.
For particulars, apply to Joseph Hackney, America-street, Tunstall, Staffordshire Potteries.'[3]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. Perry's Bankrupt Gazette, 7 November 1863
  2. Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser - Saturday 10 July 1858
  3. Staffordshire Advertiser - Saturday 24 November 1860