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British Industrial History

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Jerome Wheelock

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Jerome Wheelock (1834-1902)


1902 Obituary [1]

JEROME WHEELOCK was born in Grafton, Mass., United States, on 20th June 1834.

Having been educated in the schools of his native town, he served an apprenticeship from 1853 to 1856 at the Taunton Locomotive Works, and was engaged at the same works until 1858 in the drawing office and on general construction work.

He then went to Worcester, Mass., where he became manager of the mechanical department of the Washburn Iron Works. While in this position he invented a steam cylinder packing, and commenced its manufacture extensively. On the death of the proprietor of the works in 1867, he carried on the business alone, and then developed other inventions, the most prominent one being the Wheelock automatic steam-engine system, which is largely in use throughout Europe.

He received from various Institutes and Exhibitions gold medals and prizes for his steam-engine.

In 1888 his business was turned into a company, when he was able to devote more time to his inventions, in connection with which he crossed the Atlantic over sixty times.

His death occurred most suddenly. As he was walking along the street in Worcester, he suddenly fell unconscious, and expired in a few minutes from cerebral hemorrhage, on 26th February 1902, in his sixty-eighth year.

He became a Member of this Institution in 1898.


1902 Obituary [2]

JEROME WHEELOCK died suddenly of heart disease in the street near his home in Worcester, Massachusetts, on February 26, 1902. He was sixty-seven years old. The Wheelock engine is known everywhere that the steam engine is in use, and has won many prizes of honour for its efficiency. Its inventor developed his engine and made a commercial success of its manufacture, and amassed a considerable fortune before he sold out his interests in the business to a company.

When a boy, Mr. Wheelock ran away from his home in Grafton, Massachusetts, which was his birthplace, and sought a mechanical training, keeping his family in ignorance of his whereabouts for several years. He served his apprenticeship with the Taunton Locomotive Works, at Taunton, Massachusetts, and went from there to the Washburn Iron Works, Worcester. It was while employed there that he invented the Wheelock steam cylinder packing, which is even now in use, although he began its manufacture in 1865, in partnership with Charles A. Wheeler.

In 1870 he occupied a shop on Union Street, which was the home of the Wheelock engine works for twenty years. It was at this shop that the inventor worked out his ideas, his capital being what he had earned from his cylinder packing device and other minor inventions. His valve mechanism, as well as his engine as a whole, proved a great success, and he thrived.

He was elected a member of the Iron and Steel Institute in 1879, and regularly attended the meetings.


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