Notes and musings for the Friends of Luxulyan Valley William West talk.
This is post is a resource for all those who attended my talk in March 2017 in the Luxulyan Valley, an area rich in William West’s History. The post follows the order of the presentation, contains links to references within the Navbooks blog, along with a few facts, figures and dates.
If you did not attend the presentation, then feel free to wander among the links on this page, and perhaps enjoy forming your own conclusions about the significance of the Austen’s engine trial.
Thread one-The Steam engine Duty race
Steam engine development in Cornwall
- Newcomen engine first used at Wheal Vor in 1715
- The first James Watt engines in Cornwall 1777
The Cornish engine
- 1812 the first high pressure condensing engine
Number of pounds of water raised one foot by an engine using one bushel of coal.
The Duty race
- 1811 Lean’s Engine reporter started publication, Maximum duty recorded 22.3 Million
- 1815 Woolf’s compound 50 Million duty
- 1825 Grose erected his engine at the Wheal Hope Mine . 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’s 80″ at Wheal Towan is recorded at 67m.
Thread two- J.T Austen
Austen before the engine
- 1782 Austen is born
- 1778 His Mother inherited estate from her brother
- 1803 He came of age, and was managing the family estate, which was not in a good condition
- 1814 Early evidence of Austen investing in mining ventures.
Fowey Consols is formed
- 1816 Austen buys shares in Wheal Treasure, this would later develop into Fowey Consols.
- 1822 Wheal Treasure, Wheal Fortune and Wheal Chance combined as Fowey Consols
Fowey Consols success
- The total production of copper from the mines between 1815 and 1836 was 383,359 tons which brought in sales of £2,247,478.
A new engine is required
Thread three- William West
The engineer is born
- 1801 William West is born at Dolcoath
- 1808 West holds a candle for Trevithick
Dolcoath and engineering
- 1817 to 1819 West works at Dolcoath fitting shop
West becomes and engineer
- 1822 West is chief working engineer at South Roskear and other mines
- 1828 Grose achieved 87m with his Towan engine, trial is demanded, a trial is run.
- 1831 West was Engaged by J. T. Austen at Fowey Consols and Austens Engine was first proposed
- 1833 The contract for Austen’s engine signed
The threads converge at Austen’s engine
Fame and controversy
“I have no doubt that at least all practical engineers will agree with me, that it is perfectly absurd to think of making a fair trial of the duty of a steam engine (working under similar circumstances as the engine in question), in the short time of 24 hours” James Sims
A diverging thread, wealth
West is sought after
- 1848 St. Blazey foundry built by West
- 1852 Tredenham House is built
- 1864 Liskeard Bank is founded
- 1868 West gains majority shares in Phoenix United Mine
- 1898 Phoenix United closes.
A diverging thread-innovation
- 1835 Installed at South Hooe mine
- 1843 Installed at Par Consols
- 1843 The Sims family granted West the licence to build the Sims compound engine, and West installed several large engines of this design in Devon and Cornwall.
Open work beams
- 1846-1849 Cruquius engine 144″
“In 1869, the company’s engineer, Cornishman John West, was asked to design an engine capable of pumping 12,000 gals/min from a depth of 300 ft. His engine, a condensing, double-acting rotative beam engine weighing 675 tons, was unique, but proved to be as successful as it was gargantuan. With a 110-inch cylinder and two latticework beams, the engine worked pump rods in the shaft and a pair of huge flywheels inside the engine house.”NANCE, R. Damian,
The man engine
28th July 1851 William West engine at Fowey Consol’s started
- Powered by a 30 foot diameter water wheel, 12 foot strokes
- Co-designer John Puckey
- 1872 South Caradon engine installed
- 20 October 1919 Levant man engine disaster
A final diverging thread- the engine
Austen’s engine performance
- 1840 Hocking and Loam’s 85″ engine at Taylor’s United mine achieves 107m, the largest figure recorded in Lean’s
- 1850s onwards-duties decline the battle is over.
- 1905 The last issue of Lean’s is published.
The old Ford engine starts
The double beat valve
1866. Cholera’s final onslaught came through water provided by the East London waterworks
Reading list for William West of Tredenham
If you are passing through Liskeard then pop into The Book Shop to buy a copy of The Last Great Engineer in their excellent local history section.