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British Industrial History

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Thomas Grant

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Sir Thomas Tassell Grant (c.1795-1859), inventor

1795 Baptized at Portsea, Hampshire, on 27 March 1795 son of Thomas Grant and his wife, Ann, née Sumpter, of Soberton, near Portsmouth.

1812 He became a technical civil servant in the Admiralty.

1828 he was appointed storekeeper at the Royal Clarence Victualling Yard, Gosport, where he began his career of inventions

Married Emma; they had three sons and a daughter.

1829 He devised machinery for making ship's biscuits; the machinery was implemented by George Rennie and installed in the victualling yard c.1831 under the direction of Sir John Rennie. This mechanization speeded up the production process and substantially reduced costs.

In recompense for the savings achieved, parliament awarded Grant £2000. He also received a medal from the French king, Louis Philippe, and a gold medal from the Society of Arts in London.

1834 He invented a desalination plant which distilled fresh water at sea; this was adopted by the naval authorities 14 years later, and has been described as "the greatest benefit ever conferred on the sailor, materially advancing the sanitary and moral condition of the navy"[1].

c1839 Grant devised a patent naval fuel

1840 Elected a fellow of the Royal Society

1840s Developed a steam kitchen, which was first tried in HMS Illustrious.

Also constructed a new type of lifebuoy, and a feathering paddle wheel.

1850 He was promoted to the comptrollership of the Admiralty's victualling and transport service.

1854 The Crimean War provided many opportunities that made use of Grant's abilities. Victualling yards at home worked day and night turning out machine-made biscuits for the army and navy, while Grant's distilling apparatus provided fresh and clean water on the spot.

1858 Retired prematurely because of poor heath.

His public services were recognized with the appointment as KCB, and Queen Victoria presented him with a gold and silver vase.

1859 Died of cancer on 15 October 1859 at his home, 20 Chester Terrace, Regent's Park, London

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Times, 19 Oct 1859
  • Biography ODNB