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British Industrial History

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Kuper and Co

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W. Küper and Company, wire rope manufacturers of Camberwell

1841 Johann Baptiste Wilhelm Heimann was granted an English patent for improvements in the manufacture of ropes and cables on March 8, 1841 (there is speculation that he had connection with Wilhelm Albert, in Germany, who had developed iron wire ropes for use in mines between 1831 and 1834). Heimann was a merchant of Ludgate Hill, London[1].

1842 Heimann and Johann Georg Wilhelm Küper formed a partnership to manufacture patent iron wire rope in London[2]. They established a wire rope factory on the Grand Surrey Canal at Camberwell.

1848 Heimann and Küper's partnership became bankrupt in November 1848. The mining engineer George Elliot[3], previously one of their customers, was appointed agent and reduced their debts within 2 years[4].

The company became W. Küper and Company with the claim that they were "Original patentees of the Untwisted Iron Rope". The firm expanded quickly; an office was opened at 115 Leadenhall Street in the City of London, the wire rope works on the Grand Surrey Canal expanded and new manufacturing premises established at Morden Wharf on the river Thames at East Greenwich[5].

1850s Kuper's iron wire rope found a considerable market as cables for mines and as standing rigging on sailing ships, so much so that the Royal Navy divided their contracts exclusively between Smith's and Kuper and Co.

1850 When E. Weatherly began to produce an armoured cable for the 1851 cross-Channel telegraphic cable, R. S. Newall sued for infringement of his patent and took over the job. R. S. Newall and Co carried out the bulk of the work, the rest being sub-contracted to Kuper and Co who held a similar patent for armoured cable.

1851 George Elliot became proprietor of the company, having paid off the creditors and the original members of the firm[6].

1852 Wm Kuper and Co, wire rope manufacturers, St George St Canal, Camberwell[7].

1852 Richard Atwood Glass introduced the wire-covering of submarine cables[8].

1853 Küper's quoted for making the armoured shore ends of a telegraph cable across the Irish Channel but this did not proceed.

1854 Application to extend Heimann’s iron wire rope patent was denied. Kuper's made and laid their first submarine cable, between Sweden and Denmark. Gained contract for the cable armouring work for the Mediterranean Electric Telegraph Co connecting Italy, Corsica and Sardinia, the longest underwater circuit then attempted. With Tupper and Carr, Kuper's manufactured the Mediterranean telegraph cable, which was laid under the supervision of John W. Brett, with his brother one of the originators of submarine telegraph[9].

1854 Elliot took Richard Atwood Glass into partnership. The firm was incorporated into a new company, Glass, Elliot and Co, which became a producer of submarine cables[10].

1855 Cable for the Cape Breton - Newfoundland connection was loaded on a ship at W. Kuper and Co's wharf at Greenwich[11].

1856 W. Kuper and Co, wire rope manufacturers, Leadenhall St; partnership dissolved as regards W. Kuper[12].

1857 Cable for the Atlantic connection was being manufactured at the rate of 200 miles per week at Messrs Kuper and Co at Greenwich and at Messrs Newall and Co at Birkenhead[13].

See Also


Sources of Information

  3. Biography of Sir George Elliot, ODNB [1]
  4. Lawson's Tyneside celebrities, 1873
  6. The Biograph and review, Volume 5, 1881
  7. Post Office London Directory, 1852
  8. The Biograph and review, Volume 5, 1881
  9. Letter in The Times, 2 February 1855
  11. The Times, 22 June 1855
  12. The Spectator, Volume 29, January 1856
  13. The Times, 2 April 1857