Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Riches and Watts

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Riches & Watts steam engine at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse
1870. Combined Engine and Boiler at the Oxford Show.
1883. Compound vertical engine.

Riches and Watts of Duke's Palace Ironworks, Norwich

Connected with James Watts and Co which was dissolved in 1846

1853 Trading as Watts Brothers of Steam Engine Works, Rose Lane, Norwich

Subsequently became Watts Brothers and Riches

1857 Joseph Howard joined Messrs Riches and Watts

1858 Listed as Howard, Riches and Watts of Duke's Palace Ironworks

1859 A notice announcing the sale of the 1,000th American Grist Mill, 'introduced in 1858 by Howard, Riches and Watts (now Riches & Watts)'

1859 The firm of Howard, Riches and Watts produced a catalogue where they describe themselves as Engineers, Millwrights, Iron and Brass Founders, General Machinists and manufacturers of improved high and low pressure expansive - condensing steam engines, non-condensing engines, corn mills, draining mills, water wheels &c., trading from Dukes Palace Ironworks

1860 July. Became Riches and Watts on the death of Joseph Howard

1865 Two types of portable engines shown at the Norwich Show

1867 Partner bankrupt. '...Charles James Watts, of the city of Norwich, Engineer, lately trading there in partnership with Richard Robert Riches, under the style or firm of Riches and Watts, having beep adjudged bankrupt...'[1]

1867 Exhibited horizontal steel grinding mills for beans, Indian corn, etc

1870 Description and illustration of a dredging machine and mud carrier for the River Witham improvement works, with W. F. Hobrough of Tattershall named as the designer.[2] However, a letter to 'Engineering' pointed out that Hobrough was not the designer.[3]. Then, in 1871, came the following letter:-
'Sir.- My attention has been directed to a letter which appeared in your valuable paper dated February 3rd, referring to Hobrough's dredger and mud-carrier, and which strikes me as being very unfair towards the above mentioned gentleman. I am, tberefore, desirous of stating that in the early part of 1867 the first carrier was made by Messrs. Clayton, Shuttleworth, and Co., and as their draughtsman I prepared the drawings for the same, the work being carried out under the supervision of Mr. Good, manager of the machine department at Stamp End Works. In every case Mr. Good obtained all particulars and information from Mr. Hobrough, and from him only, and has the strongest reason to believe the original idea emanated from him, although he improved upon many little matters of detail as the work proceeded. As both Mr. Good and myself are anxious that full justice should be done to Mr. Hobrough in the matter, your insertion of the foregoing facts will greatly oblige.
Yours truly, JOSEPH J. TYRRELL AND JAMES GOOD. Lincoln, February 13, 1871.'[4]. This was followed a week later by Hobrough's own account.[5]

1874 See 1874 Description of Works

1877 Exhibitor at the 1877 Royal Agricultural Show at Liverpool.[6].

A Riches & Watts portable engine is displayed at Pigeon Valley Steam Museum, Wakefield in New Zealand.

1892 The Norwich Electric Light Co purchased the site of Duke's Palace Ironworks for conversion into an electricity generating station. Initially they only used a third of the space so Riches and Watts were leased the remaining space to continue ironworking. The station commenced supply on 3rd August 1893.[7]

1896 Company ceased trading

See Also


Sources of Information

  • [5] Web Site
  • Steam Engine Builders of Norfolk by Ronald H. Clark. Published 1948 by The Augustine Steward Press