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British Industrial History

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Martin Baldwin

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Martin Baldwin (1788-1872)

1826 Advertisement: 'STEAM ENGINES. ON SALE, six double power Condensing Steam Engines of superior workmanship, viz. one with 28-inch Cylinder, one with 26-inch ditto, two with 24-inch ditto, one with 20-inch ditto, and one with 18-inch ditto. For price and other particulars apply to Mr. Martin Baldwin, Glass House Foundry, near Bilston, if by letter, post paid.'[1]

1865 Martin Baldwin, Bovereux Iron Works, Bilston.[2] - Baldwin, Son and Co (query this connection?)

1872 February 16th. Died at his residence, Newbridge Crescent, Wolverhampton.

1873 Obituary [3]

MARTIN BALDWIN was born on 22nd November 1788 at Coalbrook-dale, Shropshire, his father, Mr. William Pearce Baldwin, being at that time the manager of the moulding department at the Coalbrookdale Iron Works, and afterwards at the iron works of Sir John Guest at Dowlais, Glamorganshire.

In 1809 the family became permanently resident in Staffordshire, where Mr. Martin Baldwin and his brothers carried on for many years an extensive engine factory at Bradley, near Bilston. At these works he constructed some of the largest and best engines in the district, amongst which were the first two pumping engines erected for the Birmingham Water Works in 1830 at Aston; and also the large pumping engine erected in 1829 at the Moat Colliery, Tipton, from his plans selected by Mr. J. U. Rastrick, which had a cylinder of 88 inches diameter, and was in all respects the largest at that time in South Staffordshire. [See below]

He constructed also many important engines for other districts and for foreign countries. In connection with his brothers he erected large tin-plate works at Bradley, and the adjacent Bankfield boiler-plate, sheet-iron, and hoop mills, where he invented the present mode of shearing strong boiler plates of any lengths up to 7 feet at each stroke.

He also carried on the Lower Bovereux Colliery and erected the blast furnaces there, for the working of which he constructed in 1851 the circular hot-blast oven described to the Institution in 1859 (see Proceedings Inst. M. E. 1859 pages 79-81).

He was well known as the inventor of many improvements in the construction of engines and machinery, all of which he freely threw open to general use; and amongst other inventions due to him may be mentioned the double-seated nozzle-valve, known as the American or bell valve. In his boyhood at Dowlais, having his attention drawn to the frequent necessity for renewing the cock then in use there for reversing the steam in the engine, he constructed in its stead a slide-valve of his own invention, which was very similar to those now in use, and without any knowledge of Murdock's slide-valve invented probably about the same time. In 1820 he cast without the aid of a pattern, by directly modelling the design in the sand, the large cast-iron column 45 feet high, which formerly stood in the market-place at Wolverhampton.

Mr. Baldwin was greatly esteemed by all who knew him, and in conjunction with his family he erected a church, parsonage, and schools, close to the works at Bradley, for the benefit of his work people and their families.

His death took place after a few days' illness on 16th February 1872 at his residence in Wolverhampton, in the eighty-fourth year of his age.

He became a Member of the Institution in 1865.

Tipton Moat Colliery Engine

'The largest Steam Engine hitherto erected, for the purpose of draining a Coal Mine, was started on Tuesday last at the Tipton Moat Colliery. The power of this immense machine is applied to the working a pump of 16 and a half inches diameter, from a depth of 650 feet; and on being put into motion, it was found to effect the object with the utmost regularity, and, if the expression may be used, with the greatest ease. The cylinder is 88 inches in diameter, and the weight of the beam is upwards of thirty tons.'[4]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. Birmingham Gazette, 16 October 1826
  2. 1865 Institution of Mechanical Engineers
  3. 1873 Institution of Mechanical Engineers: Obituaries
  4. Worcester Herald, 5 June 1830