Monthly Archives: January 2017

Samuel Grose- Some key dates in the Cornish Engineer’s life

The most scientific engineer in Cornwall

robinsonsvalve

William West was given his opportunity to create history at Austen’s engine   as a result of his work for Samuel Grose at Wheal Towan.   This post gathers together some of the key dates in Groses’s life into short potted history .

Samuel Grose (1791-1866) made a major contribution to the development of the Cornish Steam engine. His work on improving the thermal efficiency of steam engines enabled some of the largest increases in performances  achieved in its history.



The Dates

1791

Samuel Grose was born  at Nether Stowey, Somerset . His parents Samuel Grose  and Eleanor Giddy were both from Redruth.  His farther was employed for many years as a ‘Captain’ at the Dodington Copper mine

1802

The Grose family returned to Cornwall in February, where Sam senior took up a position at the Wheal Alfred mine near Hayle. Sam junior became an apprentice under Richard Trevithick until the famous engineer left for London.

1810

Trevithick returned to Cornwall and began a busy period of erecting his pumping machinery at various mines, with his Grose as his overseer.  Grose supervised the  first “plunger pole” engine  to be erected at Wheal Prosper near Gwithian  This engine was completed in 1812 and others were erected by Grose at Beeralston (Devon) and Wheal Treasure (Fowey). He is also reported as working at Wheal Treskerby during this period.

Click here for more information on Wheal Prosper from the engineering timelines website>

1812plungerpolediag

The Wheal Prosper plunger pole completed, others were erected by Gros
e at Beeralston and Wheal Treasure. He is also reported as working at Wheal Treskerby and erecting a high-pressure engine for Wheal Prosper for Richard Trevthick.

Click here for a diagram of the plunger pump on engineering timelines website>

1816

Trevithick left for Peru.

1820sccc

Grose  became  associated with the Cornish Copper Co.

1825

Grose erects his engine at the Wheal Hope Mine 1825.  This engine first introduced the concept of insulating the  the cylinders, nozzles, and steam pipes, an introduction that greatly improved the efficiency of the engine.

1827

Grose erected an  80in. engine at Wheal Lowan mine that incorporated his developments.

He engaged William West as his assistant at Wheal Towan.

Groses  80″ engine at Wheal Towan reached the highest yet duty reported of 62.2m in July, TowanHeatherand 61.7 in August.

1828

1828 In April Grose’s Towan engine returned 87m, following an annual average of 77.3m

1834

He built a steam engine for the Torpoint ferry in 1834.

Grose at this stage was working for many mines all over Cornwall.

1837

building the pump for the Wherry mine at Penzancewherrycover

1840

“They were introduced by Captain Samuel Grose whose experiments upon the generation and preservation of heat led to great improvements and ultimately established a new era in the history of the Cornish engine. In 1826 Captain Grose’s engine at Wheal Hope attained a duty of 62,000,000 Ibs and in July of the following year one of Mr Woolf’s single cylinder engines performed the unprecedented duty of 67 million. From this time Captain Grose’s improvements were appreciated and generally introduced they led to a still greater advance in the duty which this year reached as high as 87 million Ibs” THE CIVIL ENGINEER AND ARCHITECT’S Journal DEc 1840

 

1844

“In 1825 Captain Samuel Grose erected an engine at Wheal Hope upon which he took the opportunity of making many experiments with a view to the further saving of fuel. These led to valuable improvements which considerably raised the duty of the engine.

One of the principal of these was the introduction of a more effectual system of preventing all needless condensation and waste of heat by carefully clothing the boilers pipes cylinder and all parts to which steam had access with a considerable thickness of some substance which was a bad conductor of caloric and thus preventing the radiation and loss of heat formerly dispersed from the metallic surfaces into the surrounding air. Watt Woolf and others had previously used clothing in some degree but Captain Grose carried it much further and made it more perfect and complete than it had ever been before. He also considerably increased the pressure of the steam used and thereby gained much economical advantage.

Having completed his experiments on the Wheal Hope engine and satisfied himself of the advantage of his plans he proceeded to put them in practice in an engine with an 80 inch cylinder which he had manufactured with great care and erected at Wheal Towan in 1827. The result was that it immediately took by far the lead of all others performing a duty of upwards of 60 millions In July 1827 it reached 62 2 millions”

William Pole, On the Cornish Pumping Engine a Treatise, 1844

 

1854

An 80″engine was designed by Grose for Wheal Alfred that after a long career would become the famous Robinson’s engine at South Crofty.

1856

Grose retired to Goneva farm at Wall, Gwithian, although  he was still advising for a number of mines.

1862

An advertisement of one of the many engines built by him described him as “the oldest and most scientific engineer in Cornwall”

1866

Samuel Grose died at his home in Gwinear.

Obituary

“It is with much regret we announce the death of Mr. S. Grose, who is well known for his labours in bringing the Cornish engine to that state of excellence in which it now exists.

He died at his residence at Gwinear, at the age of seventy-five years. Mr. W. Husband, of Hayle, a gentleman who was intimately acquainted with him, and who for a great many years has been brought in frequent contact with him in the execution of his professional duties, speaks of him (in a communication to us) as a man of great ability and sound judgment, very unassuming in his manners, and highly respected as an authority on engineering questions. He was engineer to some of the principal mines in Cornwall up to the time of hie death.

In 1825 Mr. S. Grose first introduced clothing the cylinders, nozzles, steam pipes, &c., in an engine at Wheal Hope mine, and in 1827 he carried out his plans in an 80in. engine at Wheal Lowan mine; he also increased the pressure of steam there, obtaining from this engine a duty of 60,000,000. His engines were always characterised by a strict attention to detail, which displayed a keen discernment on the part of the designer.

We had the pleasure of his acquaintance, and much admired his kind disposition and unpretending manners. He lived not to astonish the world with very brilliant discoveries, but he “Did good by stealth and blushed to find it fame”, and left the world bequeathing to engineering science his improvements in the Cornish engine, which rank first in importance since the time of Trevithick and Wolf.”

The Engineer
June 29 1866

 Click here for original transcript in Grace’s guide>

1901

South Crofty mine started to sink Robinson’s shaftrobinsons

Robinson’s shaft on the heartlands website>

 

Grose’s engine installed at South Crofty, an engine that had worked four other mimes previously. Robinson’s engine was built in 1854 at the Copperhouse Foundry, and has a cylinder replaced by Harvey and Co.

1955

On 1st May 1955, Robinson’s engine stopped pumping. It was the last Cornish beam engine to work a Cornish mine.

2012

Heartlands opens at Robinson’s Shaft, with Grose’s engine as its focus.

Click here for the Heartlands website>heartlandsmap


Sources of information

 

Advertisements
Tagged , ,

Austen’s Engine Trial

austens2010The focal point of my talk at Luxulyan has to be the Austen engine at Fowey Consols. This post explains why.

An historic event at Fowey Consols

Overlooking St. Blazey Gate in Cornwall on October 22nd 1835 a crowd of the respectable, skilled and knowledgeable gathered to witness an event that would be a landmark in steam engineering history. It would be an event that  would change the life forever of its engineer, enshrine  the name of a landowner in history, bring wealth to a famous foundry  and have have impact  wherever water needed to be pumped in Britain.

Austen’s 80″ Cornish steam engine at Fowey Consols was at the center of the event.  Expert witnesses watched as coal stores were measures, stores locked, meters read, machinery inspections conducted and measurements taken. The objective of the day was simple to measure the efficiency of the engine in its ability to pump water out from the depths of the mine hundreds of  feet below its foundations.dscf9312

As an activity this was not unique, for since 1811 all over Cornwall engines’ efficiency had been measured, recorded and published. ‘Duty’ was the unit of measurement used, and a publication now refereed to as  ‘Leans Engine Reporter’ publicly shared the results; results that had driven a technology race in Cornish Mines.

What made the measurement of duty at Austen’s engine in 1835  was that this was a trial to prove or disprove the claims of duty being made for this engine. This was an engine whose arrival within the tables of Leans was with figures that outperformed all the existing  famous engines in Cornwall.  In addition its joint engineers, William West and William Petherick were relatively unknown in the public arena. The pair did not have a record of high performing engines, and their arrival straight to the top of the league tables sparked disbelief and accusations of foul play. And so the trial was organised, to prove in controlled conditions that Austen’s engine actually performing as the engineers claimed.

austensengine2016os

Austen’s Engine site 2017 Copyright OS Click here for map>

The mechanics of the trial required all the factors that made up the measurement of duty to be recorded. That is the amount of water lifted, by what distance with how much coal.

And so the coal was measured, the length of pump stroke measured and number of strokes taken by the large beam engine recorded. The resulting figure was a measurement of how much coal was needed to raise water from the depths of a Cornish mine. A figure of great importance to Cornwall, where its mine’s where deep, water was in abundance and coal expensive.

On the 23rd of October 1835 the trial finished. Measurements were taken and calculations complete; the resulting figure was spectacular. Austen’s engine had achieved 125 million duty, a performance that broke the existing records, and a performance that would never be overtaken by any other engine.

austensgoogle2017

Austen’s Engine on Google Maps 2017 Click here for map>

That day on Fowey Consols Cornish Steam engine technology appears to have reached its zenith. I say appears, because history is never as simple as that, disputes, accusations and controversy followed in the wake of the trial, and the duty recording system collapsed soon afterwards.

125 million did have its impact on history, despite of
the controversy. William West became very rich on its reputation, Harvey’s of Hayle would gain large amounts of extra work, and its influence would eventually result in improvements in clean water supply in the rapidly expanding British cities.

For another post about duty from this blog, ‘ Lean’s reporter, John Taylor and some layers of historyClick here>


51tRtgzctrL__SL160_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-dp,TopRight,12,-18_SH30_OU02_AA160_ If you enjoy reading on Kindle you can read more about William West of Tredenham>

Tagged , , , , , , ,

William West- Some key dates

wpid-screenshot_2015-08-21-17-43-45.pngDates in the life of William West of Tredenham

The Last Great Cornish Engineer

As a foundation to build my next talk around I have thrown together a few dates in William West’s life. Yes there are many gaps, and yes it is all a bit random in topics, but it does create a quick orientation time.  As this series of posts progress, so will this post be updated.  For a very quick biography of  William West Click here

1801

William West is born at Dolcoath

1808image003

West held a candle for Trevithick has he designed his ‘Catch-Me-Who-Can’ locomotive

1817 to 1819

West works at Dolcoath fitting shop

1822

West is chief working engineer at South Roskear and other mines

1828

Grose’s engine at Great Towan achieves an impressive 87 million duty with Wilson’s engine, a result TowanHeatherpartially the result of West’s improvement in insulation

1831

  •  Engaged by  J. T. Austin at Fowey Consols
  • Austins Engine was first proposed

1833

Contract for Austen’s engine signed51tRtgzctrL__SL160_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-dp,TopRight,12,-18_SH30_OU02_AA160_

1834

Austen’s Engine is started


1835


1837

  • West became the Fowey Consols sole engineer
  • The East Cornwall The engine was put up for sale by Harvey’s

The Victorian period starts

1838

The East London Engine was startedw13

1839

W4

1840

West started working for South Caradon mine

1843

  • West installed the first horizontal whim at Par Consols
  • West obtained a licence to build Sims compound engines

1845

  • West installed his first large Sims engine at Great Wheal Martha
  • Was contractor  on  Brunel’s atmospheric railway

1847-1858

Brownes engine reporter is printed

1848Map1881Tredenham

St. Blazey foundry is established by West

1850

William West commenced wpid-th-5.jpeghis association with Phoenix United Mine

1852

Tredhenam  house is built

1852

1856

St. Austell Lower foundry purchased by Westwpid-41f3tbq-cnl._sl500_1-2.jpg.jpeg

1863

Brenton Symons publishes his map of the Caradon mining District and Webb and Geach produce their book.

1864

1867

  • Fowey Consols failed
  • South Fowey Consols founded

1869

Newquay and Junction Railway completed to Drinnick Mill

1868

  • Penquite house purchaced
  • West obtains majority shares in Phoenix United

1870

Presentation to West of a time piece by the Phoenix United minersPhoenixCounthouse

1872

The South Caradon man engine is installed

1873

Cornwall Minerals Railway’s Act of Parliament was laid

1874

Cornwall Minerals Railway opened

1879

wpid-w2.jpg

1891

St. Blazey Foundry closed

1897

Phoenix United closed


wpid-westcover.jpgThe Last Great Cornish Engineer

William West of Tredenham

A paperback from the Trevitihick Society

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Luxulyan Valley and William West-Some links

Its a new year, a new series of posts and a new William West talk to prepare for.  Luxulyan Valley is the theme for this one, although as of yet I am not quite sure on the direction my exploration will take me. But as a start I have thrown together a set of potential web resources, and I will see where the research will lead. This post will no doubt be added  to over the next couple months, so If you are interested in the Luxuyan Valley’s industrial history, keep popping back to this blog to have a look.

 

William Westwpid-screenshot_2015-08-21-17-43-45.png

Luxulyan Valley

luxmap

luxrailwalkmap

Treffry Tramways

Cornwall Minerals Railway

Fowey Consols

Joseph Treffry (Austin)

The Newquay and Cornwall Junction Railway

A Kindle Bookshelf on Cornish Railways

BookshelfCornishRailway

Tagged

Webb and Geach explored- The miscellaneous mines

A wander through the ‘History and Progress of Mining in the Liskeard and Caradon District’

CaradonCopperPan

That is the final post covering the mines within the miscellaneous section of Webb and Geach’s book  completed. So before this blog leaves the topic for some William West related topics here is an index of the posts.

These posts explores some of the smaller mines described within Webb and Geach’s  book of the Liskeard mining district in east Cornwall. This 1863 publication is currently available in paperback from the Trevthick Society, ISBN 978 0904040 88 3.wpid-wp-1441052784407.png

Each of the posts explores the mine sites through maps available on the internet, so by following the links a virtual exploration of the locations can be undertaken. The mines covered are all listed in the section titled ‘Miscellaneous’ within the book ( pages 98-102). In describing these mines Webb and Geach state-

“Several lodes in various parts of this district have been formerly worked, mostly for tin, but are now abandoned, many of them for long periods.”

Predictably, many of this mines have little or no evidence on maps, even by the 1880’s little remained on the Ordnance Survey maps. Tantalising traces do remain however, of some of these unsuccessful attempts to mine in the area around Caradon Hill.

Brwestcraddockmoorsymonsenton Symons’ map of 1863 contains evidence of many of these mines, and a copy of that amazing Victorian Cartography forms part of ‘The Liskeard Mining District in 1863‘ publication.

Its been great fun exploring these little known Cornish mines through the screen of my Kindle Fire. But William West of Tredenham, The Last Great Cornish Engineer is again requiring some fresh research. So this blog will be leaving Webb and Geach for a while, but will return in the future to look at some of the more successful mines of the Liskeard District.

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Dunsley Wheal Phoenix- Webb and Geach explored

Here is the last post in this series of exploring mines described by Webb and Geach within the ‘miscellaneous mines’ section.  Dunsley Wheal Phoenix’s description is on page 101 of the Trevithick Society’s reprint of The History and Progress of mining in the Liskeard and Caradon District.

Dunsley Wheal Phoenix is located beside the Upton Cross to Minions road on Bodmin Moor. This was one of the few mines described within the miscellaneous chapter that has left clear evidence on the maps available free on the internet.

OS 1883

Cornwall XXVIII.NW (includes: Linkinhorne; St Cleer.)
Surveyed: 1881 to 1882, Published: 1883

dunsleyos1882

Courtesy of the National Library of Scotland website> Click here for map

OS Map 2016

dunsleyos2016

Click here to view the current OS map>

dunsleyosair2016

Click here for OS aerial view> 

Google 2016

dunsleygoogle2016

Click here for current Google map>

Google street view

Cornwall Council

dunsleycornwall2016

PRN : 0
MINE NAME : Dunsley Wheal Phoenix
HOUSE NAME : –
SITE TYPE : ENGINE HOUSE
FORM : EXTANT
DATE : –
START DATE :
END DATE :
PERIOD :
SM NO. :
SM PRN :
SURVIVAL : <50% SURVIVAL
CONDITION : N/A
SOURCE : 1880 1ST EDITION OS
WHS AREA : Caradon Mining District
WHS AREA ID : A9
Click here for Cornwall Council interactive map>

Tagged , , , , , , ,