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Riches and Watts: 1874 Description of Works

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Note: This is a sub-section of Riches and Watts


(From Agricultural Gazzette.)[1]

The history of-the Duke’s Palace Ironworks, Norwich (Messrs. Riches and Watts), obviously dates back to the times of the great barons, when the Duke of Norfolk had a shoeing forge, &c., close by his palace in Norwich. The palace and the works remain until the present day, but changes have taken place, for the great Norfolk baron has beaten his sword into plough shear and his spear into pruning-hook, and the ironworks are busily engaged in the manufacture of the peaceful instruments rural industry. The subject matter is broad enough to form interesting chapter, but we must be content to condense it into a single paragraph.

The peculiar specialities now manufactured by this firm arc portable, horizontal, and vertical steam engines, threshing machines, grist mills, weighing machines, and horse rakes. It is to this firm that we are indebted for the introduction of the American mist mill, other makers working by license from them. Chaff cutters, fixed and portable, oilcake mills, root cutters, and pulpers, cider mills, horse gear, sheep racks, and water carts are also made by Riches and Watts in great variety.

Like most other old works, the Duke Palace Iron Works consist of a series of additions. With the extended and manufacture of improved agricultural implements and machinery, one large building after another has been added, so that at the present time the whole comprises a conjoint series capable of responding to the increasing demands upon them. In design and practical tails there is much that merits approbation. As in most other examples, the whole is divided into departments, and these for the sake of brevity and perspicuity, we shall notice separately.

The Foundry is very large building, with the necessary sub departments adjoining. The moulding floor is capacious, and covered cranes for lowering and lifting mould frames, &c. There are three cupola furnaces, so that two can always be blast and occasionally three, in times of heavy demands on the foundry. The wood pattern shop and stores are conveniently situated, and are the iron-pattern stores. Doth three stores (wood and iron) are necessarily large, owing to the extensive and increasing magnitude of the works. When wood patterns are perfected, castings arc taken from them, and these (metal patterns) arc afterwards preferred. need hardly say that the pattern stores are kept in the usual way, each pattern in its own place, so that no time is lost in obtaining pattern and in restoring it to its proper box or place when the moulders call for it, return it to the storekeeper. As usual the fettling shop adjoins the foundry. , ,

The Smithy is, like the foundry, a large, commodious shop, the forges and finishing benches bring well arranged for getting through work on the subdivision of labour principle. Here there is a steam hammer, with tackle for heavy work, also a steam-hammer forge, scrap iron furnace, and so on. wrought iron “fittings” are mostly made for the other departments in this shop.

An Iron Turnery is always interesting department, and that of the Duke’s Palace Ironworks is particularly so. It is large shop, with a vast number of lathes, some for heavy work, others for small spindles. There are the necessary compliment of finishing benches, vices, shearing and punching machines, drilling and boring machines - the whole driven by a splendid steam engine in a neat engine house. It is one of Riches and Watts own improved compound high-pressure expansion and condensing horizontal engines, of 16 horse power nominal, capable of working up to 48-borse power.

A large fitting department is conveniently situated to the turnery, chiefly for ironwork. Articles j appear in all stages of manufacture ; some parts to go to other shops, as the boiler and portable engine department. Around the shop are the usual ranges of finishing benches, vices, &c., also drilling and boring machines.

The Boiler Department is large one in which a number of portable and vertical boilers were being built. Some were nearly finished, others but commencing. The horizontals are made from 60 to 80-hp nominal. nominal. The portables 6-hp and under up to 20 h.p.; and verticals from 4-h.p. to 30 h.p. nominal. This firm pays great attention this department. Riches and Watts also manufacture compound expansive and condensing beam engines from 12-h.p. 40-b.p., and single expansive and condensing horizontal engines from 10 hp. to 60-hp.

The American Grist Mill Department is a large one ; it in the form of fitting and finishing shop, so that parts come from the foundry, smithy, and turnery to he fitted here; also wood framing etc. when such used. There are now great variety of these mills in use, and perhaps a still greater diversity of size, consequently the stores of fittings are immense, and so are the supply of duplicates for those who require them when parts wear out or get broken by accident. Turnip cotters, root pulpers, oil cake mills, and chaff-cutters form a kindred manufacture, also weighing machines Large bar iron stores adjoin the smithy and boiler department, and the pig iron and coke stores are conveniently situated to the foundry. There is a large stock of well-seasoned wood, a large saw with circular, vertical, and hand saws, a planing machine, turning lathes, drilling and morticing machine, and a large supply of sawn timber of all kinds ready for the carpenter’s shops.

Threshing Machine Department.- This includes barn works generally. Both single and finishing threshing machines are made Messrs. Riches and Watts. The latter are supplied with “Child’s Patent Aspirator,” with whose construction and advantages most of our readers are now familiar. Its peculiar mechanism and action consist in so combining the blast and exhaust with the screening and riddling as not only to remove all impurities, but also to weigh every particle of grain, or in the language of the inventor, “each grain is weighed in the aspirating air as in the most delicate balance.” The aspirator as combined with Messrs. Riches and Watts finishing threshing is said to perform its functions successfully without any complicated and expensive mechanism. The first fan being placed over the threshing machine enables it to bag the chaff and return to the drum any heads of unthreshed grain.

In connection with this department we have noted horse gear, the manufacture of sheeps’ cribs, water and liquid manure carts, American hay rakes; also Messrs. Riches and Watts’ large portable Eureka-pattern combined chaff-cutter and crushing mill; also Riches’ patent revolving gathering horse rake, exhibited the patentee at the last Smithfield Club’s show in the Agricultural Hall, 1873. It is, like the American ones, a double-teeth turnover rake, self-acting means of a lever at the side the driver. It was tried last harvest (1873) in raking barley, and the farmer has ordered one for hay harvest, 1874.

Child’s Aspirator Department.- A great many of these dressing machines are now in use, and accordingly in this large shop a corresponding number were in hand to comply with orders. There are I four varieties of American separators, as many different kinds of Excelsior separators, four kinds of aspirators, besides decorticators, grain polishers, &c. The shop is a busy one, and evidently getting through business on a large scale. These machines are adapted for millers, corn and seed merchants, and factors, maltsters, and brewers, as well as farmers; and this no doubt accounts largely for the immense numbers said to be in use by the patentee. The aspirator has been awarded several gold and silver medals. .

Besides American Grist Mills, Messrs. Riches and Watts manufacture portable and fixed grinding mills, with Derby and French stones of various diameters, linseed and malt mills. They also maim-, facture pumping machinery, and apparatus of various kinds adapted for landowners, farmers, and brewers ; also circular saw benches, screw lifting jacks, besides a great many things too numerous to individualise iu connection with the foundry, smithy, and wood departments.

The business offices and draughtsmen’s department, the latter on the second floor, arc conveniently situated. Stairs and doorsteps are getting the worse for the wear; hut this is one of those practical proofs of business that sneak for themselves. In the manager’s office and principal's office, &c., on the ground floor, everything was ready at hand, and on looking over the working drawings found the same upstairs. The foremen of the departments have each desk close to his works ; and between a large body of workmen and their employers there was the best understanding—the first condition of a successful manufactory.


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Sources of Information

  1. Norwich Mercury - Saturday 04 April 1874