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James Samuel

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1858. Continuous Expansive Engine.
1858. Improvements in marine engines.

James Samuel (1824-1874), railway engineer of Glasgow and later George Street, Westminster.

1824 born in Glasgow on 21 March.

1846 He was appointed engineer to the Eastern Counties Railway.

He held two important patents but, in both cases, the invention may have been the work of another.

1844 James Samuel patented a railway fishplate

1848 Resident Engineer of the Eastern Counties Railway

He was a supporter of light railway vehicles and collaborated with William Bridges Adams on these. He designed a pair of light 2-2-0 locomotives for the Morayshire Railway. These were built by Neilson and Co for the opening of the line in August 1852. They were not a great success.

In 1850 James Samuel lodged patent 13029 for a form of locomotive compounding, giving "continuous expansion" using two cylinders of equal diameter, a system devised by John Nicholson, a driver on the Eastern Counties Railway. Two locomotives were built using this system—one for goods and one for passenger traffic—and, according to papers read by James Samuel before the Institute of Mechanical Engineers in January and April, 1852, the results were "highly satisfactory". Unfortunately, no other record of them is known to survive.

From 1858 he worked on civil engineering projects in Asia Minor, the US and Mexico.

1858 Worked with John Nicholson on marine engines.

c.1864 Worked for Smith, Knight and Co constructing railways in Mexico


1875 Obituary [1]

James Samuel was born at Glasgow on 2lst March 1824, and after attending the classes of engineering by Professor Gordon at the Glasgow University, was articled in 1839 to Mr. Daniel Mackain, Engineer of the Glasgow Water Works; after which he held for three years the position of Resident Engineer at the printing, dyeing, and bleaching works of his father near Glasgow, for which he designed and superintended the construction of the buildings, machinery, reservoirs, watercourses, &c.

In 1846 he settled in London and was appointed Resident Engineer of the Eastern Counties Railway, which position he held till 1850. It was during his connection with this railway that with Messrs. Adams and Richardson he brought out the fish-joint, which under various modifications has been adopted on all railways, and to its improvement and development he devoted years of study and labour.

He was deeply impressed with the necessity of economy in railway transit, on which subject he read a paper at the Institution in 1849, and also one in 1852 on the economy of working steam expansively (see Proceedings Inst. M. E. October 1849 p. 4, and 1852 p. 27, 41). He likewise carried out numerous experiments on light engines and steam carriages, with the object of reducing the weight and cost of the rolling stock of railways, with very satisfactory results (see Proceedings Inst. M. E. June 1848 p. 8).

Between 1851 and 1858 he constructed successively the Morayshire, the Newmarket, the Llanelly Extension, and the Yale of Towy Railways, and also the new stone Bridge over the river Avon at Evesham.

In 1858, in conjunction with John Pitt Kennedy, he made the plans and estimates for the railway from Smyrna to Kassaba and thence to Ushak in Asia Minor, the former part of which has since been carried out.

In 1861 he went to the United States to report upon and estimate for the completion of the Grand Rapids and Indiana Railway in the state of Michigan. He was then continuously engaged in inspecting and reporting upon various railways in Austria, France, Germany, and Russia ; and in 1863 went with a party of engineers to examine and report upon the feasibility of constructing a ship canal from the port of Greytown on the Atlantic, up the river San Juan and through the lakes of Nicaragua and Managua, to the bay of Tamarindo on the Pacific; but after making a careful examination he found the cost of this line of route, as laid down by the French engineers from whose preliminary surveys the scheme originated, would be far in excess of that contemplated, and the project was abandoned.

In 1864 he was appointed, together with Colonel Talcott, joint Engineer-in-Chief of the Mexican Railway from the port of Vera Cruz to the cities of Puebla and Mexico; Colonel Talcott retired from his connection with the line in 1866, and in 1869 Mr. Samuel exchanged the appointment of chief engineer to the railway for that of Consulting Engineer, which he continued to hold to the time of his death.

In 1871 and 1872 he carried out a railway of 3 ft. gauge in Cape Breton for developing the extensive coal mines in that region.

He died in London on 25th May 1874 at the age of 50, from paralysis of the brain, after an illness of three months, having been a Member of the Institution from 1848.


1875 Obituary [2]

MR. JAMES SAMUEL was born at Glasgow on the 21st of March, 1824.

He was educated at the High School of that city, and afterwards attended the classes for engineering by Professor Lewis Gordon at the Glasgow University.

In April 1830 he was articled to Mr. Daniel Mackain, M. Inst. C.E., engineer of the Glasgow Waterworks, and subsequently held for three years the position of resident engineer at the Printing, Dyeing and Bleaching Works of his father near Glasgow, for which he designed and superintended the construction of the buildings, machinery, reservoirs, watercourses, &c.

He came up to London, and was appointed resident engineer of the Eastern Counties railway in January 1846, which position he held till June 1850. It was during his connection with this railway that, in conjunction with Messrs. Adams and Richardson, he brought out the fish-joint patent, to the improvement and development of which he devoted years of study and labour, and which, under various modifications, has been adopted on all railways. He likewise carried out numerous experiments on light engines and steam carriages on railways with the object of reducing the weight and cost of the rolling stock, with very satisfactory results.

Between the years of 1851 and 1858 he constructed successively the Morayshire, the Newmarket, the Llanelly extension, and Vale of Towy railways: also the new stone bridge over the river Avon at Evesham.

Early in 1858 he made, in conjunction with Mr. John Pitt Kennedy, M. Inst. C.E., the plans and estimates for the line of railway from Smyrna to Cassaba, and thence to Ushak, in Asia Minor, the former part of which railway has since been carried out by Mr. Edward Purser, M. Inst. C.E.

In 1861 he went out to the United States to report upon and estimate for the completion of the Grand Rapids and Indiana railway, in the State of Michigan.

He was then continuously engaged in inspecting and reporting upon various railways in Austria, France, Germany, and Russia.

In May 1863 he accompanied a party of engineers to examine and report upon the feasibility of constructing a ship canal from the port of Greytown, on the Atlantic, up the river San Juan, and through the lakes of Nicaragua and Managua, to the bay of Tamarindo, on the Pacific Ocean; but, after a careful examination, he found that the cost of this route, as laid down by the French Engineers-from whose preliminary surveys the scheme originated-would be far in excess of that contemplated by the promoters, and the project was abandoned.

In the beginning of 1864 he was appointed, together with Colonel Talcott, joint engineer in chief of the Mexican railway from the port of Vera Cruz to the cities of Puebla and Mexico. Colonel Talcott retired from his connection with the line at the latter end of 1866.

In 1871 and 1873 Mr. Samuel carried out a railway of 3 feet gauge in Cape Breton for developing the extensive coal mines in that region.

In 1860 he exchanged the appointment of chief engineer to the Mexican railway for that of consulting engineer, a post he held till his death, which took place on the 25th of Map, 1874, of paralysis, after an illness of three months.

Mr. Samuel was elected a Member of the Institution on the 5th of June, 1849. He was a man of good commercial acumen and sound judgment; but his temperament was very sanguine, and he was easily led. His taste for inventing amounted to a passion, and he was always taking out patents, as well as becoming interested in the patents of other persons.


1874 Obituary [3]



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