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British Industrial History

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Robert Wilkins

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Robert Wilkins (1779-1856)

Born 1779

1857 Obituary [1]

MR. ROBERT WILKINS was born in the year 1779, and received his education in London.

In conjunction with his senior partner, Mr. Robinson, he altered the method of illuminating the Edystone Lighthouse, from candles to reflectors, and was extensively employed by the Trinity Corporation in the manufacture of lanterns and lighting apparatus for the lighthouses and light vessels of the coast.

When that body tardily adopted the dioptric and catadioptric system of M. Fresnel, in the place of the Trinity- House reflectors, introduced by the late Captain Huddart, Mr. Wilkins was almost exclusively intrusted with their construction.

The Start Point Lighthouse was one of the first at which Fresnel’s apparatus was adopted, in England, and, about the same time, a nearly identical arrangement was adopted for the lighthouse at St. Katharine’s, in the Isle of Wight ; the lenticulated portions of the apparatus being principally obtained from Paris.

Mr. Wilkins also constructed the light-apparatus and lantern at Europa Point, Gibraltar, the present improved lanterns, gimble lamps, and reflectors for floating-lights, and the lights at the South Foreland, where the low light is on Captain Huddart’s principle, and the high light is on the system of M. Fresnel. $he mechanism of these lights is of a high order, and the management easy ; it may be taken as a fair specimen of the workmanship which generally issued from Mr. Wilkins’ manufactory. He was also employed in the construction of the lighting-apparatus of several of the lighthouses for the Colonies, as well as for foreign Governments, in all instances giving perfect satisfaction.

Mr. Wilkins joined the Institution as an Associate in the year 1843, and frequently attended the meetings. He was a good mechanic, intelligent in seizing the ideas of the Engineers under whom he was employed, and very conscientious in the execution of the work intrusted to him.

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