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R. and J. Harris

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R & J Harris of Masbrough, Rotherham

1861 'Enormous Casting. —During the last few days there has been considerable curiosity on the high road between Sheffield and Rotherham, caused by the conveyance of an enormous casting from the foundry of Messrs. R. and G. Harris, of Rotherham. The total weight of the casting is 32 tons 10cwt., and it is to form a bed for an immense tilt hammer at the new works of Messrs. John Brown and Co., in Carlisle-street. We understand that it is the largest casting in Sheffield, and that the operations which produced it are highly creditable to the founders. The metal was run from the cupolas in four and a half minutes. Thirty-three horses have been required to drag the enormous mass of metal on the road, and several mishaps have occurred in the breaking of the carriage, &c. The journey was commenced two or three days ago, but the destination has not yet been reached, as we are informed a stoppage took place yesterday at the foot of Spital-hill.'[1]

1863 'Removal of an Immense Casting.— The capabilities of Boydell's traction engine, which has recently been purchased by Messrs. R. and J. Harris, iron-founders, of Westgate, Rotherham, have just been tested. Yesterday week an attempt was made to remove an immense casting — the weight of which is fifty-four tons— from the foundry to Sheffield. The engine, with its ponderous load, proceeded safely until it reached Ickles, where, in consequence of the clayey nature of the road, the wheels of the laden carriage became so firmly embedded in the earth that it was found impossible to proceed. The casting was left in the road until yesterday, when, with the assistance of an additional engine obtained from Sheffield, it was brought as far as the Twelve o’Clock bar. The progress of the engines with their load was witnessed by some thousands of spectators who had assembled on the road, and who appeared to take the deepest interest in the undertaking.'[2]

1864 'Inquest on Body Mr. R. Harris, Rotherham.—An inquest was held yesterday at the Batchers' Arms, Moorgate, Rotherham, before the Deputy-Coroner, W. W. Woodhead, Esq. on the body of Mr. K. Harris, of the firm of Harris Brothers, ironfounders, Westgate, who died from injuries received on the 28th. ult.

'After the jury had viewed the body the only evidence taken was that of Mr. Jarvis Harris, brother of the deceased. It appeared that on the day named the Messrs. Harris were superintending the. removal of large anvil block from Messrs. Bessemer and Co's., Carlisle-street, Sheffield, and on arriving at Attercliffe Common, the road was of such loose material, that plates were used for the truck to run upon. By some means, however, one of the fore wheels got off the plate, and the traction engine was uncoupled to adjust it, the wheel being embedded the earth. The engine was reversed the deceased holding the drawbar of the dray, when it slipped from his hold, the engine forcing him against the dray and mutilating him in a shocking manner.

'Mr. Shaw, surgeon, of Attercliffe, was sent for, and his assistant came. The deceased recovered a little from the shock, and was speedily removed to his home in Moorgate. He appeared to be going well till Saturday, from which time he gradually sank from the injuries he had received, and died on Thursday. Mr. Knight, surgeon, who attended him in conjunction with Mr. E. Robinson, gave his opinion that death resulted from a fracture on the skull and extravasation of blood on the brain. The jury were of opinion that no blame could be attached to anyone, and a verdict of "accidental death" was returned. The deceased was 47 years of age, and left a wife and family.'[3]


1864 'Haulage by Steam on Common Roads.—Another of those monster castings for which Sheffield is daily becoming more celebrated was recently drawn by steam along the public roads from the foundry of Messrs. R. and J. Harris, of Rotherham, to the works of Messrs. J. Bessemer in this town.

'Although this casting was not so heavy as the last one moved by the same means, it was sufficient still further to demonstrate the advantage of this system of haulage over the ordinary one of horses for such purposes. We understand that this casting weighed about 30 tons, whereas the previous one was 45 tons, and on a former occasion when one of these of larger dimensions was moved, it was necessary to employ no less than 60 horses. To those who have witnessed one fourth of this number working together it will be evident how difficult such an operation must be, while the obstruction to general traffic and damage done to the roads, although unavoidable, must be very great.

'These objections are greatly reduced, if not entirely removed, by the use of the steam horse, who, with his load, occupies but little more space than an ordinary waggon and four horses, and, being under the most perfect control of the driver, is easily made to exert his whole strength at the time and places and in the manner required, and, what is of great importance, is enabled to stop it instantaneously.

'The engine owned by Messrs. Harris left their foundry with the load on a truck, and proceeded about a mile, when, from the roads being soft, the wheels of the truck cut through the surface, causing some delay, and it was thought advisable to avail themselves of the use of the smaller engine in addition, which they had also used on the last occasion, and they then proceeded and arrived without let or hindrance at the foot of Spital-hill.

'Since the similar operation in November, which we reported at the time, an alteration has been made in the engine, which greatly facilitated the means of turning the sharpest angles, with its full power, in any direction ; and the advantage thus derived was here very evident, as it turned with the greatest ease out of the Rotherham road, round on to Spital-hill, with the load attached.

'At this point (it now being dark) the small engine was detached, and the larger one alone drew the load up the hill to the entrance of Mr. Bessemer's works, where it was found that the gateway was too narrow for the engine to enter. It was therefore detached, and the smaller one put in its place, when, with care and skilful management, it entered the gateway, which was only just wide enough to admit the casting, and it was left safely on the truck in the yard.

'To those of our readers — and there must be many — to whom this new system of haulage is interesting, and who have not themselves witnessed it in operation, it may be necessary to state that the great advantage claimed for it arises solely from the adoption of the "endless railway"' invented by the late James Boydell, formerly well known as a large ironmaster in Staffordshire. As its name imports, the wheels of the engine lay their own rails to run on, and the broad shoe, or sleeper, which bears them, coming between the wheels and the ground, takes off all friction from the surface of the road, and gives a hold or bite to the driving wheels of the engine, enabling it thus to exert its greatest steam power without loss from slipping, an object hitherto unattained and unattainable by any engines, the wheels of which come in direct contact with the ground. A careful examination of this "endless railway" in operation during the recent trials in this neighbourhood must have satisfied everyone of the advantages of this system, as the raising of each sleeper successively from the ground, even where at the softest, showed a defined print of its shape, but with a total absence of all abrasion or friction on the surface of the road. It was also evident that none of the stoppages or obstructions on these several journeys had any reference to the engine, but solely to the load breaking through the crust of the road, although on one occasion the whole four wheels of the truck were 16 inches broad, we understand that a truck is now being constructed to which the "endless railway"' will be partially applied, which, while it will enable the same steam-power to draw heavier weights with greater ease, will also by the distribution of weight over a largely extended surface, and the comparative absence of fiction, greatly lessen the damage done to the roads, which the carriage of such ponderous loads on any ordinary wheels must always occasion, and which, although, at present unavoidable, is, to say the least, very objectionable.' — Sheffield Daily Telegraph [4]

See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. Sheffield Daily Telegraph - Saturday 9 March 1861
  2. Sheffield Independent, 10th November 1863:-
  3. Sheffield Daily Telegraph, Saturday 7th May 1864
  4. Morning Post, 22nd February 1864