Category Archives: J.T.Treffry

Austen’s Engine- A letter from James Sims

My preparations for the Luxulyan valley talk has now reached the historic event of Austen’s engine trial at Fowey Consols. Before this series of posts moves on to explore the impact the day made on the rest of  William West’s  life, it will take a quick look at some of the controversy that arose from the trial. 

austinpan
The Austin engine’s record breaking 125 million duty did not go unchallenged. Despite of the day being surrounded by all the trappings of an impartial scientific trial, many accusations appeared in the press, raising doubts about the validity of the result.

One such letter is reproduced here, a letter from a well respected engineer, James Sims. In reading this letter it must be taken into consideration that Sims thought that he would be the engineer to build the engine at Austen’s shaft, but lost the contract to the young, and relatively unknown William West.  No doubt this added extra vitriol to Sim’s pen as he compiled his words to the Mechanic’s magazine.

ON THE TRIAL OF AUSTEN’S STEAM ENGINE

“[After the official Report of the trial of Mr Austen’s engine, inserted in a preceding part of this Number, was in the hands of the printer, we received the following copy of a letter which Mr. James Sims of Chacewater, lately addressed on the subject to the Falmouth Packet, with a request that if we inserted the one we should also insert the other. As the request is a very fair one we readily comply with it.” Ed. M.M.]

“Sir-The account given of a steam engine in your paper of last week, and which is stated to be an extraordinary steam-engine, is, in the fullest sense of the word, extraordinary, not only in the duty as recorded, but so in the mode which was adopted for conducting a trial of that kind. 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; and on referring to the average duty performed by this engine for the last six months, and comparing it with the duty as recorded to have been performed during this trial, I consider that I am fully justified in making this remark. Duty as recorded at the trial 125,095,713 lifted one foot high by the consumption of one bushel of coal; average duty for the last six months 89,964 183 ;-balance in favour of 24 hours’ trial 35 131,530. The effectual working of this engine for six months, as reported by Mr Lean, gives 89,964,183, and which is the data that any practical man would refer to, in order to ascertain the duty performed.

I find by the monthly reports of steam-engines, that by comparing the average duty

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Austen’s engine house

performed by this engine for six months, beginning with April last, and ending with September; and Borlase’s engine at Wheal Vor for six months, beginning with December 1832, and ending with May, 1833 there is a difference in favour of Austen’s engine of 4,816 182; Austen’s engine having performed during that time 89,964,183, and Borlase’s engine 85,148,001. Borlase’s engine never having been subjected to a trial of 24 hours only, there has been no proof of what the duty would amount to for that time, but so far as my opinion goes in matters of this kind, and I have no doubt that I hold it in common with every engineer in this county, there is no reason on earth why the duty should not be in a like proportion, provided it was tried in the same way, and by the same committee; therefore, if Mr Lean have given correct reports of these engines, (of which I hope there is no doubt), I am at a loss to know to which the greatest praise is due-viz. Messrs. Petherick and West the engineers of Austen’s engine, or Captain Richards, engineer of Borlase’s engine. Messrs. Petherick and West’s engine shows the greatest number of millions – but when it is known that an improvement which would enable them to save one bushel of coal, would raise the duty to nearly what it is above Richards’s engine, and taking into consideration the differences under which the two engines are working, ( Richards’s engine having 190

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William West

fathoms of pump-work and four balance-bobs to contend with, and Petherick and West’s engine only 128 fathoms of pump-work and one balance-bob), it ceases to be a matter of surprise why Petherick and West’s engine should for a fair average of duty performed for the last six months do 4,816,182, or a little more than 1-19 more duty than Richards’s engine in the same time. I beg to state, that there is what is termed an advantage which Richards’s engine has that of Petherick and West’s in the number of strokes per minute, the average of Richards’s engine for the six months I have quoted being 6,33 strokes per minute, and the other 3,16 strokes per minute; but even this is of little importance, as I find on referring to different reports, a 50 inch engine working at 19 strokes per minute, and performing  51,740,126 duty; and on the same report a 53 inch engine working 4,66 strokes per minute, and performing 49,405,880 duty; and in another report, which was for April last, a 70 inch engine working 2,3 stokes per minute, and performing 66,845,381; and  a 70 inch engine working 8,54 strokes minute, and performing 64,378,231, plainly showing that whether an engine works three strokes per minute, or six strokes per minute, the difference in duty is of little importance.  Having thus far explained this matter in manner which I hope will enable the country to be undeceived respecting this wonderful engine, I conclude by saying that I deem it unnecessary to point out any other engines which have not been much below this in duty, as this can easily be ascertained by a short perusal of the Monthly Reports.

I am, &c. JAMES SIMS”

Dec 5th 1835

Sim’s key accusation was that a 24 hour trial did not represent a true reflection of an engine’s efficiency. It was the praise being dished out towards West and Petherick that appearedwpid-westcover.jpg to upset Sim’s the most, to him their engine was attracting an accolade that it did not deserve. History is never simple, if it was it would be boring.

The ‘Last Great Cornish Engineer‘ explores  West’s response to such accusations, but this post series must now move on to discover some of the stories surrounding the impact the engine made on William West’s life.

 


For William West book suggestions visit my William West book shelf, a growing collection.

westbookshelf


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J.T.Austen (Treffry)- Some Key Dates

As the talk on William West at Luxulyan approaches, so this blog moves on from his days with Samuel Grose to his involvement with with one of the most influential industrialist of Cornwall. This was an involvement that would lead to the famous  Austen engine trial at Fowey Consol’s 

From 1831 onward, Treffry and West’s success became intertwined, and therefore, to gain an kingmidcornwallunderstanding of how their two lives crossed paths I have dipped  into “The king of Mid Cornwall” by John Keast and pulled out some key dates from Treffy’s life and linked them with  William West’s timeline.

These dates do not represent a full account of Treffry’s life, but  will a give a framework onto which to add other facts.

Joseph Thomas Austin

The King of Mid Cornwall

J.T Austin, later to be named Treffry, was a remarkable figure.  He manaustin
aged to transform a relatively small and financially decaying estate until a large industrial and commercial empire. Treffry created an integrated business whose influence spread outwards from Fowey to dominate mid-Cornwall. It was a business that included transport links, mines, quarries, ships and manufacturing.

 

The Dates

Early Life

1782

He was baptized at St. Andrew’s Church Plymouth. The Austens Came from Great Deviock in St. Germans Parish, but later settled in the Friary Plymouth. Joseph’s Father Jacob was a brewer, his mother was Susanna Treffry of Place Fowey.

1786

His father died.

1778

His Mother inherited estate from her brother.

1891

Austen was sent to Exeter college Oxford.

1800

His sister Sarah died, leaving Joseph as the only child

1801

Matriculated from university

Gifted at mathematics and drawing

William West is Born at Dolcoath

Managing the estate in the early years

1803

He came of age, and was managing the family estate, which was not in a good condition.

1804

Austen left Oxford without taking a degree.

place_castle_fowey_-_south_front_c_1870

Place House (1870)   Wikimedia

 

1808

He obtained the interests from his cousins of the Place Estate.

William West held a candle for Trevithick 

1810

Austen Became involved in an unsuccessful attempt to move post office packet station from Falmouth to Fowey,  he helped boat’s crew to survey harbour.

1811

Austen was speaker at political meeting organised by Colman Rasheigh for political reform

1812

 

He purchased Penventinue farm from the Boconnoc Estate.  With it came the area of Caffa Mill where he built a lime kiln salt cellars. This was the site of Austn’s first commercial ventures. He built first ships here, and in later years built waterwheel to power an incline up to to a field near kiln 360ft above sea level; limestone, manure and sea sand used the  same route.

 

1814

Early evidence of Austen investing in mining ventures.

1815

Active member of Friends of freedom and The Reform Society.

1816

Austen buys shares in Wheal Treasure, this would later develop into Fowey Consols.

1817 West starts work at the Dolcoath fitting shop

1818

Time started to be taken up with parliamentary elections.

1819

Wheal Treasure closed.

1820

  • Austin was running out of cash, farming was going through bad period, but he had put his property in good order. Some building work undertaking himself.
  • Wheal Treasure re-opened along with adjacent mines

1822

  • Large amount of tree planting conducted on his estates, trees from Kelso in Scotland.
  • Wheal Treasure, Wheal Fortune and Wheal Chance combined as Fowey Consols.OS1881FoweyConsols

West is chief working engineer at South Roskear and other mines

1824

Route of a tramway surveyed  between Lanescott mine and Fowey.

1828 West assists Samuel Gross achieve 87 Million Duty at Great Towan Mine

1829

Work stated by Austen at  Par Harbour, and its associated Par Canal.

1831

Riots at Lanescott mine.

Engages William West

1833

Contract signed by William Petherick for Austen’s engine.

1834

  • Austen’s engine set to work.
  • Austin proposed a suspension bridge across the River Fowey as part of a new Torpoint to Truro road. William West had previosely visited Sunderland to inspection bridge there as an example of what could be achieved.

1835

Engineer James M. Rendel produces survey of proposed new coast road.


Austen’s engine trial at Fowey Consols achives a record 125 million dutydscf9312


1837

  • Deal signed to extend Fowey Consols at Carrogat.
  • Fowey Consols at its peak of success.

William West became the mine’s sole engineer

The Victorian era starts

A name is changed

1838

  • J.T Austen changes his name to J.T Treffry, the family name.
  • Austen purchases  Newquay Harbour.

West’s East London Engine was started

1839

treffey-viaduct

From Friends of Luxulyan Valley Map

  • The building  of the Luxulyan Viaduct commenced..
  • Par Consols started.

West installed a long stroke engine at Wheal Treasure.

1840

Work started on Carmears incline

West started his long association with the South Caradon Mine.

1841

Work started on building the Par Lead smelting works.

1842

  • Treffry Viaduct completed.dscf0456-bw-light
  • Treffry starts suffering ill health.

1843

Plymouth Breakwater lighthouse completed using granite from Treffy’s quarries.

1844

  • The West Fowey Consols mine opened.
  • The Newquay railway act is passed
  • Treffry is Chairman of newly formed Cornwall Railway. He convinced the committee to use Brunel as its engineer.

1846

  • An 80″ engine set to work at Par Consols by William West.
  • New Cornwall railway bill passed, with the route engineered by Brunel.
  • Treffry is in poor health.wpid-wp-1427407045752.jpeg

1847

Work started on  The Cornwall Railway.

1848 West establishes his St. Blazey foundry.

1849

  • First Cargo from East Wheal Rose to Newquay  harbour along the Newquay railway.
  • Branch opened to Hendra Downs.

Treffry’s era ends

1850

Treffry dies 29th of January age 68W50



1852

William West and Captain Puckey’s mans engine set to work at Fowey Consols

Newquay and Cornwall Junction Railway construction started.

1867

  • Fowey Consols failed

nsols

1864

  • South Fowey Consols founded

1873

Cornwall Minerals Railway’s Act of Parliament was laid

wpid-w2.jpg1879 William West died

Contents of Treffry’s Estate

This list is extracted from his estate act 1853, as reproduced in “The King of mid-Cornwall”. An idea of the range of Treffry’s interests can be gained from this list.

  • Harbours
  • Wharfs
  • Canal
  • Tramway and Branches
  • Mines
  • Quarries
  • Smelting works
  • Candle factory
  • Coal, Iron, Timber, granite, clay and claystone dealer
  • Lime burning
  • Farms
  • Ship owner

 

J.T. Austin (Treffry) had a major influence on the success of William West of Tredenham, and his life story and works is one that deserves further exploration. Among the events listed above are many that tempt me to discover more. Unfortunately distraction will not get the talk researched, so  this blog will therefore return to him in the future. Meanwhile on to the next topic….Fowey Consols I suspect.

Recommended web sitestreffry-bust

 


Some suggested reading 

 51tRtgzctrL__SL160_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-dp,TopRight,12,-18_SH30_OU02_AA160_wpid-westcover.jpgkingmidcornwall

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