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British Industrial History

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R. S. Newall and Co

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1848.
1868.
1874.
December 1908.
1923.

R. S. Newall and Co wire rope and cable manufacturers of Gateshead, and Birkenhead.

1838 Lewis Gordon, previously an assistant to I. K. Brunel, visited Wilhelm Albert in Clausthal in the Harz mountains who had developed iron wire ropes for use in mines between 1831 and 1834[1]. Wire ropes had clear advantages over hemp ropes. As a result, Gordon wrote to his friend, R. S. Newall, urging him to "invent a machine for making (wire ropes)"[2].

By 1838 Newall owned an engineering works in Dundee. On receipt of Gordon’s letter, he designed a machine for making wire rope. On Gordon’s return from Germany in 1839, they formed a partnership with Charles Liddell.

1840 Newall took out a patent for "certain improvements in wire rope and the machinery for making such rope".

1841 The 3 partners established R. S. Newall and Co [3] in Dundee to make wire ropes for mining, railway, ships rigging, etc. Newall’s wire rope featured a central core of hemp or other flexible material, which held the individual wires equidistant from each other.

The history of telegraphic cable development has been subject to a number of conflicting claims. Newall may have been the person who came up with the idea of a cable within a wire rope.

1850 When E. Weatherly began to produce an armoured cable for the 1851 cross-Channel cable for Submarine Telegraph Co, Newall sued for infringement of his patent and took over the job. R. S. Newall and Co carried out the bulk of the work at Weatherly's factory using men brought from their Gateshead factory[4], the rest being sub-contracted to Kuper and Co who held a similar patent.

The success of the 1851 cross-Channel cable brought many orders for cable to Newall's, who continued to purchase their core from the Gutta Percha Co. Newall's factory at Birkenhead, near Liverpool, was responsible for armouring half of the 1857 Atlantic cable, the rest being made by Glass, Elliot and Co of Greenwich.

1859 A cable manufactured by Newall's linking Suez and Karachi failed. This was the last cable made by the company for six years.

1861 Newall's London agent, George Boswall, was found to have employed a saboteur to infiltrate the crew laying a cable in 1858 for Glass, Elliot and Co. Newall abandoned the making of submarine cables and sold the good will of that part of his business to Siemens and Halske, who had worked with Newall since 1858 advising on technical matters and verifying the electrical quality of his cables. In the fullness of time Siemens were to become one of the chief players in the cable business, but not before Georg Halske withdrew from the English concern in protest at the risks that he anticipated in taking on Glass, Elliot & Company. [5].

1866 R. S. Newall and Co manufactured and laid a cable for the Danish government.

1870 The company made and laid a cable for the General Post Office between England and Ireland, the final cable manufactured by Newall's.

At some point Newall sold out to his partners and moved to Washington, then to Liverpool where, in 1889, he established R. S. Newall and Son with his son and subsequently with his grandson[6].

1887 Merged with the adjoining firm of Dixon and Corbitt as Dixon Corbitt and R. S. Newall and Co. The two premises were linked by a bridge across the River Team.

1908 Advert: Dixon Corbitt and R. S. Newall and Co were together at Teams Rope Works, Gateshead.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. http://www.atlantic-cable.com/CableCos/Telcon/index.htm
  2. http://www.atlantic-cable.com/Article/Origins/
  3. The Times, 12 September 1924
  4. R S Newall's 1882 account: http://www.atlantic-cable.com/Books/Newall/index.htm
  5. http://www.atlantic-cable.com/CableCos/Telcon/index.htm
  6. The Times, 12 September 1924
  • [1] Wikipedia
  • History of cable manufacturers: [[2]]