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British Industrial History

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George Vaughan (of Sheffield)

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1821 Patented a blowing machine.

1824 Gentleman. Patent for improvements to steam engines. [1]

1825 'Improved Steam-engine. Letters patent have been granted to George Vaughan, of Sheffield, in the county of York, for an engine, by which power is gained and expense is saved. The above engine is now brought to perfection, and is likely to surpass every other engine in the kingdom. There is one put up at the iron-foundry of Mr. Samuel Kirk, at Rotherham, and one at Sheffield, in the the patentee's premises, and a third at, the iron-foundry of Messrs. Bird and co. at Cardiff, in South Wales; and they are found to perform better than any other engine in speed, power, and saving of fuel; and more particularly as the engine is very much simplified, and friction reduced, it is likely to be one of the greatest improvements ever made in the steam-engine, particularly as to the saving of fuel, and the gaining of power, as the engine only consumes half the. coals of other engines, and the power is gained by steam and the atmosphere being brought to act at one and the same time, in conjunction with each other. The cylinder is only half the size of cylinders used in other engines, and is not half as weighty, or bulky as other engines, and only takes half so much room, makes double the number of strokes; and any engine may be altered to increase its power by taking away the cylinder, and having a smaller one on the improved principle, as the improvement is principally in the cylinder. There are twelve pounds of steam, and fourteen pounds of atmosphere, both acting on the pistons in the cylinder at one and the same instant, that makes a pressure of twenty-six pounds on the inch on the pistons; deduct six pounds for friction, there is then left a working power of twenty pounds on the inch on the pistons. This engine is particularly adapted for steam navigation, and must excel all others, and will be found so save itself, in a short time, in fuel and extra work.'[2]

1825 Advertising as George Vaughan and Son, Steam-Engine Makers, of Sheffield [3]

1826 ' Important Saving in the Working of Steam Engines.— About three weeks since an engine, made by Mr. George Vaughan, of Sheffield, under his Patent, put up in the manufactory pf Messrs. Nill and Overton, Merchants, at Louth, in Lincolnshire, called a twelve-horse power, to work a bone mill, which ground in ten hours 800 bushels of bones, with only 900 weight of coals, and it is said to be as handsome an engine as any in the kingdom. By this engine, Messrs. Nill and Overton will now save 3l. and 4l. per week, as the engine they had before, which was made on Boulton and Watt's principle, and used to work a bone mill, consumed 2700 weight of coals to grind not so much as 800 bushels of bones, which was two days' work for the latter engine, therefore the saving must be quite clear, since there is the same work done with nine hundred weight of coals as there used to be with twenty-seven hundred weight! — (From the Manchester Guardian British Volunteer of the 1st April, 1826.'[4]

1830 'Suicide - George Vaughan, eighty-six years of age, blew his brains out on Saturday night, from vexation occasioned by the failure of an engine on a new principle, on which he had been several years sedulously engaged. On Tuesday evening an inquest was held at the Red Cow public house, Mile-end-road, on the body. From the evidence it appeared that the deceased, a gentleman possessed of considerable genius as a mechanist, had been for several years engaged in the invention and completion of an engine on a new principle. Having finished it on Saturday last, he set it up to try its practical effect, and not finding this exactly to come up to his expectation, he became most desponding, and in the course of the evening, while alone in his bedroom, he placed the muzzle of a pistol, heavily loaded with ball, in his mouth, and, discharging it, blew the greater part of his face about the room. The Jury, it further appearing that the deceased was naturally of an irritable disposition and easily excited, returned a verdict of "Suicide, committed while insane."' [5]

An 1836 description of George Vaughan's patented steam engine suggests that he had merely developed a version of a low pressure double-acting condensing engined which offered no advantages over existing engines, with added complexity and increased frictional losses. His engine had two pistons in cylinders which were open at the outer ends to the atmosphere, while the inner ends were subjected alternately to steam pressure and vacuum. [6]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. Mechanics Magazine 1824/06/12
  2. Liverpool Mercury, 7 January 1825
  3. Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, 3 September 1825
  4. Morning Post, 10 April 1826
  5. Sheffield Independent, Saturday 15 May 1830
  6. 'History and Progress of the Steam Engine' by Elijah Galloway and Luke Herbert