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Life of Richard Trevithick by F. Trevithick: Volume 2: Chapter 21

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CHAPTER XXI. ENGINES FOR SOUTH AMERICA.

[Rough draft.]

CAMBORNE,
May 20th, 1813.

SIR,
Yours of the 7th inst. I should have answered by return, as requested; but an unexpected circumstance prevented my being at Swansea as early as proposed, which, as it happens, best suits your purpose as well as my own. I shall not be able to be there within twenty days from this time, of which I will give you timely notice. I hope before that time Mrs. Rastrick will be safe out of the straw. I have been detained in consequence of a strange gentleman calling on me, who arrived at Falmouth about ten days since, from Lima, in South America, for the sole purpose of taking out steam-engines, pumps, and sundry other mining materials to the gold and silver mines of Mexico and Peru. He was recommended to me to furnish him with mining utensils and mining information. He was six months on his passage, which did not agree with his health, and has kept his bed ever since he came on shore; but is now much recovered, and hopes to be able to go down in the Cornish mines with me in a few days. I have already an order from him for six engines, which is but a very small part of what he wants. I am making drawings for you, and intend to be with you as soon as they are finished. Money is very plentiful with him, and if you will engage to finish a certain quantity of work by a given time, you may have the money before you begin the job. The West India engine will suit his purpose. I shall have a great deal of business to do with you when we meet. In the meantime please to forward the thrashing engines to Cornwall as quickly as possible. The engine for Plymouth will be put to break the ground as soon as I can find time too go up there. Please to say when and by what ship shall have the small engines.

I remain, Sir,
Your very obedient servant,

R. T.

To MR. JOHN U. RASTRICK,
Bridgenorth, Shropshire.

The copper mine mentioned in my last is improving very fast.


The strange gentleman referred to was Don Francisco Uville, a person of great influence in Lima, who a year or two before had travelled from Peru to England and back, in search of steam-engines to pump water from the ancient gold and silver mines then flooded and idle. Boulton and Watt, at Soho, on being consulted, discouraged the attempt, because of the difficulty of conveying heavy machinery over mountain pathways, also because their low-pressure vacuum engine, using steam but slightly above atmospheric pressure, would be much less effective in the comparatively light atmosphere on the high summits of the Cordillera Mountains than in England. Uville, who had heard of wonderful ability of English engineers to construct steam pumping engines, was utterly downhearted at this decision of the great Soho engineers, and while dejectedly wandering through the streets of London, unconsciously gazed into the shop window of Mr. Roland in Fitzroy Square, near the spot on which Trevithick had run his railway locomotive three years before. [1] Rumour of passed events may have led him to visit the ground on which had worked a new kind of steam engine. His searching glance discovered among numerous articles for sale, an unknown form that might be the talisman he had travelled thousands of miles in search of. The shopkeeper informed him that it was a model of Richard Trevithick's high-pressure steam-engine, which worked without condensing water, or vacuum. If what he heard was true, why should it not work equally well in the light atmosphere of the mines? The great engineer at Soho might be in error or ignorance. The experiment, as a last resource, was worth making. He would pay the £20 for the model, carry it to the mines of Cerro de Pasco, in the high mountains above Lima, where, if it worked as well as it did in London, the rich mines of Peru would again reveal their long-hidden treasure. The model was conveyed by ship to Lima, and then on a mule up the narrow precipitous ascents to Cerro de Pasco, over mountains more than 20,000 feet high. Fire was placed in the small boiler as he had seen it done in London, and with the same result, to the great joy of Uville, who determined to revisit England in search of the inventor of this new and wonderful power. On his return voyage, when rounding Cape Horn, bets were made on the chances of his finding the man who had invented the high-pressure steam-puffer engine, [2] and of his being able to persuade such a person to make the required engines and accompany them to Peru. Such gloomy forebodings ended in an attack of brain fever. The vessel touched at Jamaica, where Uville was landed. On recovering health and strength he embarked for England in one of the packet-ships, and during the voyage still spoke of the object of his search. A fellow-traveller, called Captain Teague, rejoiced him by saying, "I know all about it; it is the easiest thing in the world. The inventor of your high-pressure steam-engine is a cousin of mine, living within a few miles of Falmouth, the port we are bound for." On landing, Uville, still weak and obliged to keep his bed, was told that Trevithick, the engineer, lived in London, and was constructing the Thames Tunnel but further inquiry showed that he also had suffered from brain fever, and had just returned to Penponds, only a few miles from Falmouth. On the 10th of May, 1813, a letter reached Trevithick, requesting him to visit the sick Uville, and in a fortnight from that time the engineer had mastered the requirements of the Peruvian mines, and had designed and made arrangements for the supply of six pumping engines, together with the pumps and all things necessary for the underground workings; the whole to be delivered in four months.

[Rough draft.]

CAMBORNE,
May 22nd, 1813

SIR,
I have engaged to get six engines, with pit-work, &e., to send abroad. A great part of the wrought-iron work and the boilers I have arranged for in Cornwall. These engines will be high-pressure engines, because the place they are for has a very deep adit driven into the mountain and lifting condensing water to the surface would be a greater load than the whole of the work under the adit level.

I call a set of work, a 24-inch cylinder single engine, 6-feet stroke, piston, cylinder bottom, single nozzle, with two 5-inch valves and perpendicular pipe; no cylinder top; the piston-rod not to be turned; 3-inch safety-valve, fire-door, two small Y shafts and gear-handles, &c.; a good strong winch set in a broadish frame, such as is often used on quays or in quarries, 25 fathoms of 12-inch pumps, a 12-inch plunger, an 11-inch working barrel, clack-seat and wind-bore, with brass boshes and clacks, a force-pump for the boiler, and 10 fathoms of 3-inch pipes to carry the water to and from the engines. I have engaged to supply six full sets of the above-mentioned materials. All these castings must be delivered in Cornwall in four months from the time the orders are given; therefore, if you take the job, or any part of it, you must enter into an engagement to fulfil it in the time. As there ought not to be a moment lost, I wish you to answer me immediately in what time you will deliver those materials in Cornwall; or other ways, what part of them you can execute in the time.

I am making the drawing, which will be ready before I can receive your answer. For whatever part of the job you may engage will lodge the money to pay for the whole in Mr. Fox's hands, which will then be paid for before you begin the work, as soon as you execute the agreement.

R. T.

MR. PENGILLY,
Neath Abbey, South Wales.


It is an odd coincidence that while writing of the events of fifty-eight years ago, pumping engines are being sent to those same mines with the steam-cylinder in twenty-two pieces, no piece to weigh more than 300 lbs. — a facility in mechanical arrangements not enjoyed by Trevithick — having Trevithick's high-pressure boilers, giving steam of 50 lbs. on the inch. [3]

[Rough draft.] CAMBORNE,
June 2nd, 1813

SIR,
I drop you this note just to inform you that I have begun your job. Yesterday I engaged a great many smiths and boiler-builders, who set to work this morning. I have also engaged all the boiler-plates in the county, which will be sent to-day to the different workmen. The master-smiths that I have engaged are the best in the kingdom. I have obligated them to put the best quality of iron, and to be delivered at Falmouth within four months. I have been obliged to give them a greater price than I expected, otherwise they would not turn aside their usual business employment for a short job of four months.

Mr. Teague is with me, and one other, assisting about the drawings. If you call at Camborne about Friday, shall be able to show you the designs. The drawings for the castings will be sent to the iron-founders by the end of this week and by the end of next week shall have the whole of the different tradesmen in full employ. If you wish to have a greater quantity of machinery ready by the end of September, there ought to be as little time as possible lost in giving your orders. I can get you double the quantity, provided you give the orders in time.

As soon as it is convenient to you to arrange the payments I would thank you to inform me, because we find in practice that the best way to make a labouring machine turn quickly on its centres, is to keep them well oiled.

R. T.

F. UVILLE, Esq., MR. HOOPER'S, Falmouth.

N.B.—If you intend to be at Camborne, please to drop me a note by post, and I will be at home.


In all Trevithick's moves there was a scramble for money, in which he invariably came worst off. He could give a good hint that working centres would not turn well without the essential oil but he failed to apply the principle to himself. Liberal words and golden prospects carried him off at once; and before Uville was strong enough to visit the Cornish mines and to fully explain what he wanted, the machinery was being made, though at that same time the thrashing and ploughing engines, and the locomotive and rock-boring engine, and the great fight with Watt at Dolcoath, were in progress.

[Rough draft.]

CAMBORNE,
June 8th, 1813.

Mr. RASTRICK,
Sir,- Enclosed I send to you a drawing for a set of pumps for one of the engines for South America, with a drawing for a part of the castings for one of the boilers, for you to make a beginning. The drawings for the engines I will send in a few days. The Spanish gentleman who is now gone to London to arrange his money concerns, will be down again in about ten or twelve days, and then we shall both call at Bridgenorth, and bring with us the engagement for you to sign, for the performance of such quantities of work as you can execute in four months.

I have made arrangements with the smiths and boiler-builders here, to weigh and pay at the end of every week. The regulation of your payment is left to you to point out in any way you please. As time is of the greatest consequence, I hope you will set to work immediately.

The reason for making the pumps so short, is on account of the extreme badness of the roads over the mountains, where these engines are to be conveyed, it being almost impossible to carry above five hundredweight in one piece. The West India engine is sold to send to Lima, but not to be conveyed over the mountains. I shall also bring drawings with me for one or two winding engines for the same place. Please write to me by return of post.

R. T.


[Rough draft.]

CAMBORNE, near TRURO,
June 11th, 1813.

MR. FRANCIS UVILLE, at MESSRS. CAMPBELL AND CO.'S, London.
Sir, —I have your favour of the 9th instant, respecting the weight of the largest parts of the engines. I will take care to reduce the weight if possible, so as to be carried on the backs of mules.

By the time I receive your letter I shall have arranged the whole of the engine business, and intend to go immediately to Wales and Shropshire, to get the engagements executed for the performance of the work by the time proposed. I shall write to you again before I leave home, and as soon as I arrive in Wales will also write to you. I shall not stay in Wales above two days, but go to Bridgenorth in Shropshire, where I hope to have the pleasure of meeting you, as it will only be about twelve hours' ride out of your road to Cornwall

In the North I shall introduce you to the sight of a great deal of mining and machinery, and in about ten days from the time, you arrive at Bridgenorth, shall be able to accomplish the business so as to return again to Cornwall.

I would thank you to inform me as early as you can, of the number of engines you intend to get executed by the proposed tune, when I am in the North I shall be able to arrange with the founders accordingly. The smiths are all at work for you.

R. T.


[Rough draft.]

CORNWALL, CAMBORNE,
June 19th, 1813.

Mr. UVILLE,
Sir, Your favour of the 8th instant, dated from Falmouth, I received, and in return wrote to you immediately directed for you at Messrs. Campbell and Co.'s, London. As you said in your last letter, that immediately on your arrival in town you would write to me, I have expected every post since last Tuesday would have brought me a letter; but as I have not received it according to your promise, I am fearful that your letter may be unexpectedly detained, especially as you told me the last time I saw you at Falmouth, that you would enclose me a bank post bill. All the founders and other tradesmen are in full employ on your engines.

I intended to have left Cornwall for Wales and Shropshire by this time, with the founders' articles for execution; but being disappointed in not hearing from you, agreeable to our appointment, I shall delay it until I hear from you, which I must request you to have the goodness to do by return of post, because those delays make very much against the execution of your work; and as time is of so great a consequence to you, I hope you will not lose a moment in writing and giving me the necessary instructions, with a few drops of that essential oil that you proposed sending me on our arrival in town.

R. T.


The sugar rolling-mill engine that had been made for the West Indies so pleased Uville that he purchased it at once, intending it for the Mint at Lima. He also ordered one or two winding engines, in addition to the pumping. engines. Trevithick had arranged that no piece should exceed 560 lbs. in weight. Then came Uville's order, 'if possible to be reduced so as to be carried on the backs of mules.'

Since that time the path on the mountains has been improved, yet the present limit of weight is 300 lbs. The absence of the promised bank post bill was another difficulty.

[Rough draft.]

CAMBORNE,
June 23rd, 1813.

MR. FRANCIS UVILLE, at MESSRS. CAMPBELL AND Co.'s, Park Buildings, London.
Sir, Your favour of the 19th instant came safe to hand.

I was in hopes that I should have found a remittance enclosed. All the tradesmen that I have employed on your work were to have been paid every Saturday, and I made my arrangement with you accordingly. Unless this mode of proceeding is followed up, you cannot get your work done in any reasonable time, especially as you are an entire stranger. For my own part I have placed the greatest confidence in your honour, with which I am fully satisfied.

But I have to get this work from a great number of different tradesmen, and must make regular payments agreeable with my engagements with them. As the articles are about to be executed by different tradesmen, regular weekly payments ought to be established, of which I informed you before the work began.

I am ready for my journey to Wales and Shropshire, but cannot proceed with further engagements until I hear again from you. I have placed the fullest confidence in your word, a proof of which you have in the great exertion I have made to get the work done; but unless you in return place some confidence in me, or any other engineer that you may employ, a work of this magnitude cannot be carried on with promptitude.

As the whole of the work in my part has been put into immediate operation, it would be a very serious loss both of money and time to discharge the hands. I hope you will fully consider this business, and must beg you will have the goodness to write to me by return of post. On receiving the needful from you I shall leave Cornwall for Wales and Shropshire.

R. T.


Trevithick for once in his life was wise, and would not start on his journey to Bridgenorth until the money had reached him. This prudent resolve was soon forgotten in the love of making the steam-engine useful and as such creations in his hands grew into shape and size before other men would have got through preliminary discussions, pecuniary difficulties sprang up, as mushrooms do in a night.

[Rough draft.]

CAMBORNE,
September 4th, 1813.

MESSRS. HAZELDINE, RASTRICK, AND CO.,
Gentlemen, - Enclosed you have three of Mr. Uville's drafts, value one hundred and fifty pounds.

I should have sent it in one draft, but had not a suitable stamp. The castings, pipes, ale, &c., arrived safely. I hope that all the boilers and wrought-iron work will be finished by the end of this month, and shipped off for London. Immediately after Mr. Uville and I shall leave Cornwall for Bridgenorth on our journey to town. We are both very anxious to see the 'Sans pareil' engine at work, and hope you will have it ready by that time. I have received orders from different persons since I have been here, for steam-engines for the West Indies, and must, if possible, have three ready early in November, as the ships sail then that will take them.

I wish you would say in your next if this can be done in time, because these persons are very extensive agents for the planters, and are extremely anxious to generally adopt them in the West Indies.

We find from your letter that you are getting on pretty fairly with Uville's work.

I remain,
Your very humble servant,

RICHARD TREVITHICK.


[Rough draft.]

CAMBORNE,
September 7th, 1813.

GENTLEMEN,
After writing to you on Sunday last, Mr. Uville received letters from Cadiz, from the Spanish Government, informing him that there was a line-of-battle ship there that should take the engines to Lima. Now as this ship is detained for this purpose, all possible dispatch must be made to get the whole of the materials shipped as early as possible for Cadiz. I am pushing the smiths as hard as possible, and you must do the same at your works, that the greatest dispatch may be made. I am ordered by Mr. Uville to request you to get one water-engine, pumps, &c., complete, one winding engine, winding apparatus, &c., complete, and one crushing apparatus, complete, in addition to the former order. I wish you would also get on as fast as possible with the new engine, but do not let this engine prevent the getting forward the work for Lima.

I wish to have made apparatus to work expansively, and also a temporary water-pump, to load the engine, so as to prove its duty by the consumption of coal.

If the jobs are not completed by our arrival, you need not expect any rest until its completion. Your answer will oblige,

MESSRS. HAZELDINE, RASTRICK AND CO.


The money difficulty was for a time surmounted, with a prospect of the completion and shipment of the work for London within four months of the giving of the order and the Spanish Government proposed that a line-of-battle ship should take the engines to Lima from Cadiz. An order was given for another pumping engine and another winding engine, to be provided with gear for working expansively, and a temporary water-pump, that in case of need the amount of work the engines could do with a given amount of coal might be tested. A crushing machine, now called 'quartz-crusher', also formed part of this additional order.

The new engine, which he hoped they would get on with, was probably the steam locomotive plough then being constructed at Bridgenorth.

[Rough draft.]

CAMBORNE,
September 22nd, 1813.

GENTLEMEN,
I have your favour of the 14th instant, and hope to find you as forward on your job on our arrival at Bridgenorth as you state. I expect all the boiler and smith work will be shipped for London early in October; we shall then leave Cornwall for your works, at which time you will be very much annoyed with our company, unless we find your assertions grounded on facts. Enclosed I send you Mr. Uville's draft for £150. Your receipt for the draft enclosed in my letter of the 16th instant has not yet arrived.

I hope you will also have all the apparatus ready to try the new engine; Mr. Uville is very anxious to take the first of these new engines with him. When you send a receipt for the enclosed, please to say what state of forwardness the whole of our work is in, and do not neglect a moment to get the whole executed with all possible dispatch.

Nothing short of a want of cast iron will confine our friend in England one day after the end of this month.

I am, Gentlemen,
Your very humble servant,

RICHARD TREVITHICK.

MESSRS. HAZELDINE, BASTRICK, AND CO.


It seems probable that in 1813 a railway locomotive, with apparatus for rock boring, and steam-crane, was made for South America as the forerunner of the 'Sans-pareil' of 1829.

CAMBORNE,
October 1st, 1813.

GENTLEMEN,
I received your favour of the 27th last evening, and now enclose you another draft of Mr. Uville's for £150. We shall wait impatiently for your next letter to know when you will finish. Mind, this is the 1st of October, and agreeable to promise the time is up. Mr. Uville wishes you to cast sixty carriage-wheels for him, 11 inches in diameter from out to out, and to weigh about 20 lbs.; cast them of strong iron, and of a strong pattern, to take a 12-inch axle by 2.5 inches deep in the hole; also cast four plunger-pistons 11 inches diameter to suit the 11-inch working barrels, provided it should be used for the purpose of a plunger. They must be in every respect the same as the 14-inch plunger-pistons, only 3 inches less in diameter.

Trevithick 21 207.jpg

Soon after the receipt of your next letter you may expect to see us, as a vessel has been engaged to take all the boilers and smith work on board to-morrow week for London.

I remain, Sir,
Your humble servant,

RICHARD TREVITHICK.

MESSRS. HAZELDINE, RASTRICK, AND CO.


Probably those cast-iron wheels were ordered with a view to steam locomotion in the Cordilleras. An engine is described in the invoice as having chimney, axles, carriage-wheels, &c.

[Rough draft].

CAMBORNE,
October 11th, 1813.

GENTLEMEN,

Trevithick 21 208.jpg

On making the drawings of the engine with the winding and crushing apparatus, when at work I find that if there is no crank, but the sweep rod is connected to a pin in the arm of the fly-wheel; in that case the fly-wheel will cut off the engineer from getting at the cock; but if the sweep is connected to a crank, then there will be sufficient room. The copy of materials taken from your books and given to Mr. Uville does not say in which way it was intended. I send you a sketch how it will stand worked by a pin in the fly-wheel, and also if worked by a crank over the cylinder, with the fly-wheel outside the wood partition of the house. If you have cast all the parts for the winding engine, you should try to alter it, having the fly-wheel outside the wall of the house, and a crank for the inside end of the shaft. The fly-wheel shaft will be nearly the same length both ways, only it must be long enough for the fly-wheel to pass between the wood partition and the 4-feet cogwheel. The centre of the winding cylinder will be 17 inches from the outside of the wood end of the house, against which the flywheel ought to run. I have received your favour of the 5th instant, and have enclosed, agreeably to your request, a draft of Mr. Uville's for £800, which will be the last from Cornwall. All I have to say is, you have taken longer time for the completion of your work than you first proposed, which has made Mr. Uville apprehensive that it will be the means of his losing the Spanish ship promised him to take the engines. He desires me to inform you that he has complied with this advance on purpose to enable you to push your work with the utmost exertion.

Please to inform us the precise time we must quit Cornwall for Bridgenorth; we now wait entirely on you without any other thing to engage us. I fear Mr. Rastrick being so much from home will impede our job. If we miss this ship it will certainly make much against us all, losing three or four mouths in getting a South Sea whaler, and having the engine in a vessel not able to defend herself against an enemy, and having to pay 15 or 20 per cent. insurance, and prevent our getting other orders for another set of engines, and if taken by the enemy perhaps altogether damn the undertaking. Therefore I would have you to well consider the great inconveniences attending delay.

I think I need not say much more to you on this head, as you ought to feel more for your own interest than I can scribble to you on paper.

Yours, &c.,

R. TREVITHICK.

MESSRS. HAZELDINE, RASTRICK, AND CO.


This rough hand-sketch and letter fully describing his requirements, is an illustration of the facility with which Trevithick designed his engines and made known his wishes to others.

[Rough draft.]

CAMBORNE,
October 23rd, 1813.

GENTLEMEN,
Mr. Uville wishes everything to be sent off as soon as finished, except the rolling engine, which is to remain until he arrives. We intend to leave Cornwall for Bridgenorth on Monday, November 1st. You may expect to see us three days after that date. The wheels ordered for the carriages are to run on the ground and not on railroads. Mr. Uville now wishes to have seventy-two instead of sixty as ordered before.

I remain, Gentlemen,
Yours, &c.,

R. TREVITHICK.

MESSRS. HAZELDINE AND CO.


The last-named engine was intended for the coinage operations in the Mint at Lima. The use of railway locomotion had been under discussion with the engine builders, and probably those particular carriage-wheels were ordered in the hope that the portable engine built for conveying itself from place to place in the sugar plantations of Jamaica, would in the Cordilleras be made to draw waggons on common roads.

The hand sketch of the winding engine in the letter of the 11th October, was to correct an error in an order hastily given a month before when, to save time, outline instructions for this complicated work were hurriedly sent to the manufacturer, that a commencement might be made while the more perfect detail drawings were being completed; the first-proposed position of the fly-wheel would prevent the engineman from conveniently reaching the four-way cock; Trevithick therefore suggested that the fly-wheel should be moved to the outside of the house, and a crank placed on the end of the driving shaft in lieu of the crank-pin in an arm of the fly-wheel. The sketch illustrating this change makes us fully acquainted with the kind of winding high-pressure steam-puffer engines of 8-horse power, with open-top cylinders of 12 inches in diameter and about 3 feet 6 inch stroke, sent to Peru in 1814. Steam, of 30 lbs, to the inch above the pressure of the atmosphere, was admitted under the bottom of the piston by a cock moved by an eccentric on the fly-wheel shaft; the gradual closing of the cock reduced the supply of steam when about one-third of the stroke had been made, wholly cutting it off some time before its completion, making it a high-pressure steam expansive engine. The movement of the cock then turned the steam from under the piston into the chimney blast-pipe, and the down-stroke was performed by the weight of the descending piston, made more than usually deep and heavy to prevent the tendency to twist in the cylinder from the angle of the jointed connecting rod, and also by the momentum of the fly-wheel and its balance-weight, moving at a speed of thirty strokes a minute. Its boiler was the Trevithick wrought-iron cylindrical, with internal tube and fire-place, but so arranged that if necessary the fire could be placed in brick flues under the boiler, returning through the tube.

The cylinder for the winding engine was probably fixed in the boiler, costing, with whim-barrel and winding apparatus complete and read for work, £210. Does the reader ask, Did so cheap an engine ever work? Or perhaps his knowledge of engineering gives rise to the question, How did it work? for it looks like a Newcomen of just exactly a hundred years before, only it needs no injection water or great main beam; and certainly it is not a Watt, for it has neither air-pump nor condenser, nor vacuum, nor cylinder-cover, nor parallel motion, nor any other thing like Watt invented; but it has high-pressure steam, which he disapproved of, and it really worked thousands of miles away, where there were no mechanics to keep it in order, and on mountains so difficult of access, and in so light an atmosphere, that Watt who had the first chance of supplying steam-engines to the New World, declared it to be impossible. The pumping engines are described in Trevithick's note of 22nd May. They also were high-pressure puffer-engines with open-top cylinder, 24 inches in diameter, 6-feet stroke, with a cross-head working in guides, and side rods connecting to the pump-rods. Two valves turned the steam on and off from under the piston, with the ordinary gear and handles. The boiler was similar to that for the winding engine but had not the cylinder fixed in it; a balance-beam regulated the movements, as it had no great main beam, and differed from ordinary engines just as the winding engine did. The power was 33 horses, and with an 11-inch pump barrel, 150 feet of 11-inch pumps, a winch, and all apparatus necessary for draining the mine, the cost was but £1,400.

[Rough draft.]

PLOUGH INN, BLACKWALL,
December 28th, 1813,

MR. RASTRICK,
Sir,— I am requested by Mr. Uville to write to you, to push the boilers as fast as possible. A ship will sail for the South Sea fishery in about five weeks, and will engage to take the whole of the engines. We have not finally closed with her, because we cannot state the exact time until we hear from you. You must not lose a moment in sending the boiler to town. I should have gone to Cornwall before this, but have been detained, getting a ship; and I do not like leaving until my agreements are executed, which cannot be done until the beginning of next week.

I have been obliged to have all the transactions between the mines, and the Spanish Government, and Mr. Uville, translated into English, before the outlines of an agreement could be drawn up, which has been a most tedious job.

Most of the people have been out of town, and those that were not would do no business in the Christmas, which has occasioned a loss of near ten days.

As soon as the agreements are executed, I will immediately send to you money from this place. I have been kept so long here, that it will not be worth returning to Cornwall until after Mr. Uville sails. I shall be at Bridgenorth in about ten days, and will remain until the work is finished. Write how the work is getting on, and what state the winding engine is in.

Yours, &c.,

RD. TREVITHICK.


[Rough draft.]

CAMBORNE,
March 4th, 1814.

DEAR SIR,
Your favour of the 23rd February was sent to me from Bridgenorth. I have also received your favour of the 1st instant, and will attend to the drawings you mention, and be prepared to meet you as early as you please, only give me as much notice as you can.

I hope by this time that Mr. Page has done something toward the needful, to be at your service. I have, agreeably with your letter this day, desired Capt. Thomas Trevarthen to hold himself in readiness for London about the end of this month. I have not yet seen Bull. I wish you to write me if I and to give him notice also to hold himself in readiness for town. I fear that those two persons will not be sufficient to conduct the work with speed, especially if Capt. Trevarthen should be unwell; he is a good miner and pit man, and could assist in fixing the engines. Bull can only act as an assistant to an engineer, therefore neither of them can take the sole direction of the work.

There will be those four large boilers to be put together on the spot, which neither of those persons know but little about. I think it would take a great charge and care from your mind to have a third person with you that could go through the whole of the undertaking, especially as the distance from England is so great. This undertaking of such immense magnitude and value ought not to depend solely on your own health, as neither of the other two could get on without your assistance in laying down and planning the outline of the whole of the work belonging to the machinery. If any one of the parts should be lost or broken, it would require some ability in that country to contrive a substitute. The expense of a third able man might prevent much loss of time and difficulty, and would not be an object in a business of such a scale as you have commenced with.

I recommend a third person, that you might count on a speedy and effectual start. Even in this kingdom, where machinery is so well understood, I have known several good undertakings fail, from not employing at first an experienced engineer to conduct the work; which I am doubtful would be the case at Pascoe, if you were not able to attend yourself to the erection, and do not take a person with you for that purpose. I beg your pardon for thus attempting to recommend to you a third person to go out; but I think a work of this magnitude, where expedition is important, ought not to rest on the health of one man, especially under a changeable climate. Please to consult your friends, and give me your opinion on it in your next. was probably the steam locomotive plough then being constructed at Bridgenorth was probably the steam locomotive plough then being constructed at Bridgenorth.

My health is much improved; my wife desires her best respects, and thanks for your present. Please to write soon.

Yours, &c., CC

RD. TREVITHICK.

MR. UVILLE, 12, East Stien, London.


[Rough draft.]

CAMBORNE,
March 8th, 1814.

MR. PAGE,
Sir,— Yesterday Mr. Joseph Edwards, of Truro, informed me that Teague had given notice of trial, and that the case would come on at the Assize on the 26th, and requested me to desire you to write to him immediately, and give him the whole of the transaction relative to Mr. Uville's arrest in London.

He also wishes that some attention had been paid to the threat that Mr. Uville received from Teague's so-called friend, so as to ascertain whether it came direct from him, which he thought would have some weight in court. I shall attend to give evidence at the Assize with Mr. Edwards. I shall anxiously await a reply to my last. How does Harvey's business get on?

My respects to Mr. Day, and shall be very glad to find him recovering his health as fast as I am. A crust of bread and clear air are far preferable to luxuries enveloped in clouds of smoke and heaps of filth.

Your obedient servant,

RD. TREVITHICK.

P.S.- I hear that Teague is still in London, and that his furniture is removed to his friend's house, to save it from the hands of surrounding evil spirits.


Trevithick showed no undue amount of discontent on discovering that Uville had led him into pecuniary difficulties, and even his tendency to interfere in engineering matters was not hastily resented.

In December, 1813, while in London, arranging for a vessel to convey the engines to Lima, and also to secure written agreements with Uville, who expected to leave England in a week or two, the going into the documents made known many weak points, one of them being shortness of money. The expected week or two had lengthened out to three months, and Uville was still in London, and Capt. Thomas Trevarthen and Bull were to be there, ready to start, about the middle of March, 1814. Four large boilers, in pieces, were to go for the pumping engines, to be put together in the mines and Trevithick strongly recommended the sending a third man, to take general charge of the practical work, which Mr. Uville thought he himself could manage.

Page and Day were lawyers, who drew up very long documents. Money to pay expenses was raised by the sale of shares in a company formed by Uville without sufficient authority, and Page was to go to the mines to look after his own and the English shareholders' interests; between them Uville was arrested, apparently for some trifle.

[Rough draft.]

CAMBORNE,
March 15th, 1814.

MR. UVILLE,
Sir, — I shall write to him again by this post, and push him to send down the transfer of my shares, already agreed on, for my execution, and hope I shall be able to meet Messrs. Hazeldine and Co.'s demand before it will be due. The young man Bull has been with me. I told him I expected that you intended to take him with you, and Capt. Trevarthen is making preparation for going. I am glad you intend to take a third person with you. I have not thought or said anything to anyone about this business. Mr. Vivian informed me that, from the conversation he had with you on the subject, he had expected to hear from you. I can answer for Mr. Vivian's honesty, ability, and pleasant behaviour, and he is a person very suitable for the engagement, only that one failing of making too free with an evening glass, which you were not unacquainted with while in Cornwall at Dolcoath Mine. I do not like to take an active part in this business, because if any accident should happen to him, my sister or his family might charge me with being accessory to his going therefore I must beg to be exempt from taking any part in this engagement.

I remain, Sir, yours,

RD. TREVITHICK.


[Rough draft.]

CAMBORNE,
April 9th, 1814.

MR PAGE,
Sir, — I have your favour of the 5th instant. I intend to be in town on Sunday week, but this need not prevent their writing to me here and both you and they may still be doing your best towards disposing of shares.

Your obedient servant,

RD. TREVITHICK.


[Rough draft.]

CAMBORNE,
April 9th, 1814.

MR. UVILLE,
Sir, I intend to be in London on Sunday, the 17th, and shall call immediately on this person for money, which shall be at your service. Wheal Alfred and Wheal Prosper agents wish you a prosperous voyage, and success in your mines.

I remain, Sir,
Your obedient servant,

RD. TREVITHICK.


Trevithick was now embarked with a crew of speculators, and in payment for his services was made a partner, and sold a portion of his shares to pay for the engines which Uville had ordered.

Henry Vivian, his brother-in-law, and the brother of his late partner Andrew Vivian, wished to be the third person engaged to go with the machinery to America. Trevithick spoke of his honesty and ability, but declined, on account of the family relationship, to take any part in the appointment.

The two notes on the 9th April, 1811, close the correspondence. Page was busy selling shares to raise money, and Trevithick was to get some money, which was to be at the service of Uville.

The delay between this period and the time of starting was mainly caused by financial and other arrangements managed by Uville. On the 1st September, 1814, Uville, Henry Vivian, Thomas Trevarthen, and William Bull sailed from Portsmouth for Lima in the 'Wildman,' taking with them four pumping engines, with pump-work and rods complete; four winding whim-engines, with all winding apparatus complete; one portable locomotive engine on wheels, to be used for a rolling train or other purposes; one mill for grinding ore; and one rolling mill, probably for the Mint at Lima. These nine steam-engines, with their apparatus complete for work at the mines, cost £6,838, the grinding and rolling mill cost £700 more; but various other expenses more than doubled the amount, which reached the large sum of over £16,000.

On reference to the conditions of agreement under which Uville acted, dated 17th July, 1812, Don Pedro Abadia, Don Jose Arismendi, and Don Francisco Uville, were partners engaging to drain a range of mines. Uville was to go to London to purchase two steam-engines, and was authorized to expend $30,000 (say £6,000). $2,000 (say £400) was to be paid to him as the value of Trevithick's model, which he had a few years before bought in London for £21. He was to engage one or two English workmen. No new Partner was to be allowed. They also contracted with the various workers of mines in Yauricocha, Yanacancha, Caya Chica, Santa Rosa, and in the mining ridge of Colquijilca, for a period of nine years, to commence within eighteen months of that time, to sink a general pit for the drainage of those mines, and to pump out the water by steam-engines. The payment for this drainage was to be one-twentieth part of the ore raised by the different mines.

An agreement made at London this 8th day of January, 1814, between Don Francisco Uville, of Lima, in the Vice-royalty of Peru, of the one part, and Richard Trevithick, of Camborne, in Cornwall, engineer, of the other part. Whereas, by an agreement of partnership made and signed at Lima, and whereas the said Francisco Uville did in pursuance of his contract with the said miners soon after the ratification thereof, embark for England, for the purpose of fulfilling the same on his part, and on his arrival there in the month of April last, made application to the said Richard Trevithick, who is an experienced engineer and miner, and requested him to assist him in promoting the object of his journey, which the said Richard Trevithick (being penetrated with a high sense of its utility) agreed to do, and hath accordingly applied himself wholly to that object, ever since the arrival of the said Francisco Uville in England: And whereas under the direction of the said Richard Trevithick, and by the orders of the said Francisco Uville, various machines and engines have been made for the purposes of the said concern, apart of which has been already paid for by the said Francisco Uville; but several of the bills brought by him to England not having been honoured, by reason of the absence from England of the parties upon whom they were drawn, the said Francisco Uville hath not at present sufficient funds to answer the engagements he has entered into in this country, and Don Juan . . . . , to whom he was in that case directed by his partners to offer shares in the said concern, and from whom he could have received supplies, not being at this time in London the said Francisco Uville has agreed to admit the said Richard Trevithick to be a partner in the concern, upon his advancing and paying a proportionable part of the expenses necessary for carrying on the same. Now these presents witness that in consideration of the said Richard Trevithick having paid and agreeing by these presents to pay certain bills for machinery ordered by the said Francisco Uville to the amount of £3,000 or thereabouts, the particulars of which have been ascertained and settled by and between the said Francisco Uville and Richard Trevithick, and also in consideration of the services which the said Richard Trevithick hath already rendered to the said undertaking, and of the future benefits which he is expected to perform for it, the said Francisco Uville for himself, and on the behalf and in the name of the said Pedro Abadia and Jose Arismendi (who will ratify these presents in the capital of Lima as soon as it shall be produced to them, to which the said Uville holds himself bound), Doth, by virtue of the power and authority given to him by his said partners, agree to admit the said Richard Trevithick to be a member of the said company, and doth hereby declare him to be a member thereof and a partner therein to the extent of 12,000 dollars, and as such, entitled to a share and interest in all the profits and advantages of the company in the proportion which the said sum of 12,000 dollars shall bear to the amount of capital employed by the company in the purposes of their establishment, which proportion will amount as nearly as can now be ascertained to one-fifth of the capital stock embarked in the said concern.

FRAN. UVILLE.
RICHARD TREVITHICK.

8th January, 1814.


So Trevithick paid £3,000 and received nothing for his engineer's work, to be made a partner, contrary to Uville's limit of authority, in a speculation that proved to be not worth a farthing.

The following is a summary of the detail invoice of engines and machinery which left London for Lima in September, 1814, in charge of Uville, just fifteen months after his landing at Falmouth in search of Trevithick:-

Invoice of four steam-engines, four winding engines, one portable rolling engine and materials for ditto, two crushing mills, four extra-patent boilers, spare materials for engines, boring rods, miners', blacksmiths', and carpenters' tools, &c., shipped on board the 'Wildman,' John Leith, master, from London to Lima, by, on account and risque of Don Francisco Uville, Don Pedro Abadia, and Don Jose Arismendi, merchants at Lima. Dated 1814.



The nine steam-engines, including a locomotive, with its chimney, axles, carriage-wheels, &c., a crushing mill and a rolling mill, cost but £7,560. Other expenses, for freight, insurance, &c., &c., increased the amount to £16,152.

William Williams, [4] on his return from the Cerro de Pasco Mines, states:

On the 3rd March, 1872, I saw in Yauricocha Mine two of Mr. Trevithick's engines at work; one of them was a horizontal 12-inch open-top cylinder pumping engine, about a 4-feet stroke; there were two fly-wheels about 10 feet diameter and a cogwheel 7 feet diameter, giving motion to two wrought-iron beams working a 10-inch pump bucket. The other was a 12-inch cylinder winding engine with a large fly-wheel. Three Cornish boilers about 5 feet 6 inches diameter, with 3 feet 9 inch tube, 30 feet long, made of 7/16ths of an inch plates, supplied steam of 40 lbs. on the inch.

See Also

Foot Note

  1. See vol. i., p. 194.
  2. See London locomotive, vol. i., p. 198.
  3. Made by Harvey and Co., Hayle, 1870.
  4. Residing at Angarraek, near Hayle, 1872.