Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

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Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 162,842 pages of information and 245,375 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Trevithick: Surviving Engines

From Graces Guide
c.1798 Road locomotive model,on display at the London Science Museum
High pressure engine and boiler made by Hazledine & Co c.1805, on display at the London Science Museum.
c.1805 engine and boiler on display at the London Science Museum
A rare glimpse of the internals of a Trevithick engine, displayed at the Museum of Iron, one of the Ironbridge Gorge Museums. See close-ups below
Piston and rod, cylinder cover, and gland
Top part of cylinder. The opening on the side of the cover would house the four-way quarter-turn valve which directs incoming or exhaust steam to and from the top and bottom of the cylinder
1811 or 1812 high-pressure threshing engine and boiler built for Christopher Hawkins at Trewithen
1819 pumping engine found in 1976 in an abandoned mine, 360 ft below Winster in Derbyshire. Designed by Richard Trevithick, castings made by the Coalbrookdale Co. The pumping engine was worked hydraulically, using water pressure from a pump on the surface to operate a pump which delivers water to a drainage sough. Now on display in the Peak District Mining Museum in Matlock Bath

See Richard Trevithick

A working model steam carriage is on display at the Science Museum (see photos). Reference to the photograph indicates how the operating cycle is controlled: a quarter-turn four-way cock is alternately turned through 90 degrees to allow admission admission and exhaust to and from the cylinder. The valve handle is moved by the slotted vertical rod connected to the engine crosshead. Dickenson and Titley dated this to 1798, and stated that its history can be traced back to 1810 when it was at the Soho Foundry in Ancoats, Manchester, of David Whitehead and Co. Their information presumably came from Francis Trevithick's Life of Richard Trevithick[1], which in turn references a 'Letter from Mr. Joseph Radford, in 1850 states that it had been in his family since 1810.' Joseph Radford was probably Joseph Radford, a Manchester ironfounder. The relevant text is: 'A model of Trevithick's, now in the Kensington Museum, spoken of by Mr. Radford as having come from the engine-works of Messrs. Whitehead and Co., Soho Iron Works, Manchester, is probably one of those spoken of by Mrs. Trevithick as having been made prior to 1800. It is a perfect specimen of a high-pressure steam-engine, with cylindrical boiler, adapted to locomotive purposes. It served as a guide to Messrs. Whitehead and Co., who manufactured engines for Trevithick in 1804.' The former Whitehead & Co's Soho Foundry's stock was advertised for sale in 1808, and the foundry itself in 1810.

A high-pressure threshing engine and wrought iron boiler, built for Christopher Hawkins at Trewithen in 1811 or 1812, and used until 1879, were presented to the Science Museum. See photo.

'The Engineer' in 1912 described and illustrated a Trevithick-type engine which had been presented to the forerunner of the Science Museum by the Earl of Shrewsbury and Talbot. It had been used for 50 years, until 1882 at salt works at Ingestre, Staffs, on the Earl's estate. Prior to that it had been used as a winding engine at a colliery at Brereton. It is thought to have been made in Bridgnorth.[2]

Remains of a Trevithick-type Steam Engine and Boiler: The Science Museum collection includes a Trevithick type cast iron steam boiler with enclosed engine cylinder, which constituted a stationary or semi-portable engine/boiler unit. Stated to have been built by Oak Farm Ironworks, Dudley, c.1845. However, the design and construction appear more consistent with the first decade of that century. Object number 1881-57, credited to E. B. Marten. See here for brief description and photos. The photos show the return flue as removed from the boiler, and the boiler minus its flue. Protruding from the boiler is the engine cylinder, complete with piston road and crosshead.

Note: The remains of a similar cylinder, piston, rod and crosshead are on display at the Museum of Iron, one of the Ironbridge Gorge Museums.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. [1] 'Life of Richard Trevithick' by F. Trevithick: Volume 1: Chapter 7
  2. [2] The Engineer, 21 June 1912, p.660