The Loams-A Confusing dynasty of Cornish Engineers

My planning of Saturday’s book launch now takes me to the bit where I walk between Liskeard Museum and the Book shop. A short walk, but a walk with plenty of William West related sites along the way.

I have found the habit of Victorian families to re-cycle Christian names a real obstacle to researching history. For example take this simple plaque on the memorial fountain at Liskeard.


This plaque states that that the fountain was erected by Matthew Loam in 1871 in memory of his father Michael Loam. Unfortunately, the loam family had a habit of naming their sons Matthew and Michael, all involved with engineering.- for example:

Michael Loam jnr. (1797-1871), son of Matthew Loam snr. Was an assistant to the well known engineer. Introduced the man engine.
Matthew Loam jnr. (1794-1875), son of Matthew Loam snr.  Developed the double-beat valve and modern cataract.
Michael Loam jnr (1840-1927), son of Matthew Loam jnr. Continued the firm Loam & Son.
Matthew Loam jnr. (1819-1902), son of Michael Loam jnr.Formed ‘Loam & Son’ partnership with his father.

Confusing! The Michael Loam mentioned on page 98 of The Last Great Cornish Engineer is the first of this list. Michael Loam is famous for introducing the man engine into Cornwall. An invention whose development was closely associated with William West. Mathew Loam was mayor of Liskeard between 1869 and 1871.

The fountain was designed by Henry Rice, a well known local architect, whose buildings make up a major part of the townscape of Liskeard.

The Last Great Cornish Engineer: William West of Tredenham

2 thoughts on “The Loams-A Confusing dynasty of Cornish Engineers

  1. Pingback: The Man Engine- who invented it? | navsbooks

  2. Pingback: Some threads in history and the last Great Cornish Engineer | navsbooks

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