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British Industrial History

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Timeline: Sugar Machinery

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1754 John Smeaton is credited with designing the first 'modern' horizontal sugar grinding mill for a Jamaican sugar producer named Gray. John Collinge produced many examples by 1794.[1]

1773 The 'trash turner' was developed and patented by John Fleming. This directed the sugarcane already crushed in the first set of rolls to the second, without the need for human contact, thus avoiding accidents, it is used even today in modern mill sets. The trash turner device was the forerunner of the modern automatic feeder belts currently used in all major mills in the world.[2]

c.1815 James Cook built a steam-driven sugar mill, having established a small workshop in Glasgow, c.1785.

Early 1800s Fawcett, Preston and Co of Liverpool were supplying steam powered sugar mill machinery, including equipment for four mills in Cuba in 1816-7.[3]

1820s The Butterley Co were supplying sugar milling machinery to the West Indies, Mauritius, and other destinations.

1830 Despite being widely used throughout the 19th century, the Collinge three-cylinder mill was soon technologically surpassed by the Jukes and Coulson mill in 1830. This featured a screw-driven arrangement that adjusted the distance between the crushing rollers. In addition, it had a smaller, fully detachable head that allowed replacement of worn components quickly and efficiently.[4]

1837 A. and W. Smith and Co was founded.

1840 P. and W. McOnie was established by the three brothers McOnie to manufacture sugar machinery in Glasgow.

c.1840 George Fletcher (1810-1874) started making sugar machinery in Lambeth, moving to Southwark in 1847.

mid-1800s David Cook and Co was the successor to James Cook; supplied sugar-making machinery to every part of the world. Chief designer was Robert Harvey.

When David Cook retired, Harvey established a new firm Robert Harvey and Co which took over the Cook company.

By 1848 the McOnie's concern had manufactured fifty engines and fifty mills. In that year the partnership was dissolved, William and Andrew McOnie formed W. and A. McOnie

1848 Peter McOnie joined with James Buchanan Mirrlees, forming McOnie and Mirrlees.

Between 1851 and 1876, W. and A. McOnie constructed 820 steam engines, 1650 sugar mills, 1200 steam boilers, 117 water wheels and 169 evaporating pans.

When Peter McOnie died, William Tait became partner in the renamed firm Mirrlees and Tait which spawned a number of other concerns including Watson, Laidlaw and Co; also Pott Cassells and Williamson. The output from these firms was prodigious.

1888 McOnie Harvey and Co was formed by the amalgamation of Harvey's and McOnie's.

As the industry in Glasgow expanded in the late nineteenth century, other firms began to build sugar machinery, notably Blair, Campbell and McLean, Duncan Stewart and Co and A. F. Craig and Co.

By 1908 McOnie Harvey and Co had become Harvey Engineering Co Ltd, specialising in the Harvey's patented design of evaporator.

1914 Another Glasgow company making sugar machinery was John McNeil and Co

After the Second World War, most of the surviving firms in Glasgow were taken over by A. and W. Smith and Co (now part of the Tate and Lyle group), with the exception of A. F. Craig and Co (which has recently ceased trading), and Duncan Stewart and Co (whose sugar business is now owned by Fletcher and Stewart of Derby).

A. and W. Smith and Co are heirs to most of the sugar manufacturing businesses that flourished in Glasgow from the early nineteenth century.

See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. [1] 'The Sugarmill' by Manuel Moreno Fraginals, translated by Cedric Belfrage: Monthly Review Press, 1976, 2008, p.101
  2. [2] Inovação e Trajetórias Tecnológicas: o caso dos dois sistemas para extração de sacarose no Brasil by F J Piacente p.66
  3. [3] 'The Sugarmill' by Manuel Moreno Fraginals, translated by Cedric Belfrage: Monthly Review Press, 1976, 2008, p.102
  4. [4] Inovação e Trajetórias Tecnológicas: o caso dos dois sistemas para extração de sacarose no Brasil by F J Piacente p.66