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Perier (France)

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Les Frères Périer

Jacques-Constantin Périer and his brother Auguste-Charles Périer founded the Compagnie des eaux de Paris. They also established an engineering company (Frères Périer). They planned to supply water to the city of Paris with a 'pompe à feu', i.e. a steam-driven pump, following the early English terminology of 'fire pump' or 'fire engine'. Jacques-Constantin Périer obtained the concession in 1777 and founded the Compagnie des Eaux de Paris in 1778.

In 1781 they installed a steam-driven machine to pump water from the Seine in Paris. This, or at least the complex components, was supplied by Boulton and Watt. Using the first machines as models, the Périers constructed copies of the Watt machine in their own workshops at Chaillot, without ever paying any royalties to Boulton and Watt.

In Paris, the Rue des Frères-Périer is on the site of first Chaillot pump.

Jacques-Constantin Périer was also associated with Nicolas Bettinger in the development of the foundry and cannon forge at Indret, downstream of Nantes.

At the beginning of the 19th century, the Périer brothers produced steam engines for several coal mines at Littry. One of them, preserved in the museum of the Molay-Littry mine, is the oldest stationary steam engine preserved in France (see photos in Wikipedia entry).

The above information is based largely on the Google translation of the Wikipedia entry for Jacques-Constantin Périer[1]. See also Wikipedia entry.

The Pompe de Chaillot (or Pompe à feu de Chaillot) worked from 1781 to 1900. It was located in Chaillot, and pumped water from the Seine to the reservoirs at Passy. A second machine was built by the Frères-Périer for l'Hôpital de la Marine, at Rochefort, in 1783.[2] [3]

A description of the pump at the hôpital de la Marine à Rochefort is available online (in French)[4]. This was partly based on recollections written in 1815 by Messrs Hubert (Jean-Baptiste Hubert?) and Thomas, Engineer and Second Engineer respectively of the Marine. John Wilkinson in England supplied castings for the pumping machinery.

J. C. Périer had initially gone to England to purchase a steam engine from John Wilkinson. He tried to induce Wilkinson to supply one, but Wilkinson was unwilling to go behind the backs of Boulton and Watt. Périer later returned to England to place an order with Boulton & Watt. After installing two B&W engines, Périer continued to build that type without paying a licence fee. In 1786 Boulton and Watt paid a surprise visit to Périer, who admitted that it was 'un coup de soufflet diabolique pour lui'. This led to B&W petitioning the French King for compensation, but without wishing to stop Périer making engines. Watt wrote following the visit that 'He has succeeded, however, in having erected a most magnificent and commodious manufactory for steam engines where he executes all the part most exceedingly well. He is a man of abilities and would be very estimable if he were a little more just or more honest.'[5]

A scale model of a 1785 Périer beam engine is on display in the Musée des Arts et Métiers. Photo here.

Scipion Périer, Edwards and Chappert

Information from several separate sources:-

1822 'There are in France, and particularly in Paris, says a French Paper, divers establishments for the construction of steam-engines. Those of Perier and Brothers, at Chaillot, may be mentioned. These establishments, directed by an able English mechanician, are organized and conducted in such a manner to supply annually a great number of steam-engines, of the best construction, but always on the system of double pressure, so useful for the saving of fuel. They have at present on hand 25 engines, of different dimensions and of various powers, from 40 to 100 horse power. In the excellence of the system, and the perfection of the workmanship, the Journalist assures us, they not yield to the best models of England. France, therefore, which has hitherto resorted to England for these engines, can now supply herself from the fruits of her own industry and the exercise of her own skill.'[6]. The 'able English mechanician' was Humphrey Edwards, who had been in a partnership with Arthur Woolf until 1811, before moving to France a few years later. He eventually he joined Périer at the old Chaillot foundry, under the style of Scipion Périer, Edwards and Chappert. There, Edwards produced many compound engines and boilers of the type developed by Woolf.[7]

Support for the influence of Humphrey Edwards comes from a French source[8]. Jacques Payen wrote that after 1790, the design of steam engines did not evolve, remaining the same as those produced by Watt in 1785, although new applications were found. In contrast, in England, new features such as eccentrics, D-slide valves,all-metal construction, etc., had been adopted. This period of decadence ended in 1818, when J C Périer sold the Chaillot foundry to a young English steam engine maker, Humphrey Edwards, backed by French businessman Antoine-Scipion Périer (1776-1821).

The engines supplied to coal mines marked an important development, being used for both winding and pumping. An important customer was the Anzin Coal Co, who obtained the first of these engines in 1800, and placed orders for 20 winding engines, finding them more economical than horses for winding, particularly as pits got deeper. J C Périer was required to personally supervise their installation, and also the refurbishment of the company's Newcomen engines. Following installation, the performance of the engines seriously deteriorated, as indeed did the health of J C Périer and his company. Scipion Périer had joined the board of Anzin, and after his death he was succeeded by his brother, Casimir Périer, and they were determined to take action to improve the situation. Anzin had long been determined to make their own engine components, rather than buying them in, but it was not until 1816 when real progress started to be made. Enter Humphrey Edwards and Hugh Aitken, who were importing improved engines and boilers of the type developed by Woolf and produced by Woolf and Edwards until 1811, and then by Edwards under Woolf's patents. The engines were of the two cylinder high pressure compound condensing type, with high pressure boilers, and Edwards and Aitken were seeking a facility in France in which to manufacture them. Anzin provided facilities in their workshops, and plans were made for making the workshops self-sufficient. In the event, these plands were not completely fulfilled, but a number of engines were successfully produced, although it is probable that the main parts were imported from England. Anzin had severed all connections with the Périer brothers at Chaillot in 1810, but after the death of Jacques Périer, Scipion and Casimir Périer bought the Cahillot works and installed Edwards as manager. This put paid to any plans by the Anzin Co. to become self-sufficient. Note: To add to any confusion, Scipion and Casimir Périer were not(?) related to Jacques-Constantin Périer and his brother Auguste-Charles Périer, and Scipion and Casimir were on the board of the Anzin Co, but the Anzin Co. were not otherwise connected with the Chaillot business.[9]

In 1822 a description was given of a large cylinder boring machine installed at Chaillot. According to one source it was made by Fenton, Murray and Wood[10]. However, a recently-published source says that there is no hard evidence that the machine was supplied by Murray.[11]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. [1] Google translation of the Wikipedia entry for Jacques-Constantin Périer
  2. [2] Wikipedia entry for the 'Pompe à feu de Chaillot'
  3. [3] Google translation of the 'Pompe à feu de Chaillot'
  4. [4] 'Les frères Périer et la pompe à feu de l'hôpital de la Marine à Rochefort (1783)' by Jacques Payen. Revue d'histoire des sciences et de leurs applications, 1969 Volume 22, No. 1 pp. 66-69
  5. 'James Watt and the Steam Engine' by H. W. Dickinson & Rhys Jenkins, 1927
  6. Public Ledger and Daily Advertiser - Saturday 13 July 1822
  7. 'A Short History of the Steam Engine' by H. W. Dickinson, Cambridge, 1938
  8. 'Capital et machine à vapeur au XVIIIe siècle. Les Jures Sérier et l'introduction en France de la machine à vapeur de Watt' by Jacques Payen, Revue belge de philologie et d'histoire Année 1971 Volume 49 Numéro 1 pp. 148-152
  9. [5] 'Anzin Coal Company, 1800-1833: Big Business in the Early Stages of the French Industrial Revolution' by Reed G. Geiger, University of Delaware Press, 1974
  10. 'The Early History of the Cylinder Boring Machine' by E. A. Forward, Trans. Newcomen Soc. Volume: 5, Issue: 1, Jan 1924, pp. 24 - 38
  11. 'Matthew Murray 1765-1826 and the firm of Fenton Murray and Co 1795-1844' by Paul Murray Thompson, published by Paul Murray Thompson, 2015; p.392