Tag Archives: willam West

The tale of a Cornish engine across the Atlantic starts

The President Steam engine and its lattice beam

In my  threads of history talk on the William West, ‘The Last Great Cornish Engineer’ I gave a passing mention to an example of a lattice work beam in the USA. Now that the preparation for that talk is over, I have the chance to follow that thread of history, a thread that leads to events many miles away across the Atlantic.

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The open lattice work beam was a design used on by William West on all his most important engines, but it was a design rarely copied by other engineers. The only two non William West lattice beams I know of is the  massive Cruquius engine in the Netherlands the  ‘President’ engine at Pennsylvania. Both engines are examples of the massive size that the Cornish Engine principle reached towards the end of its development, and both engine have indirect links with William West.

The Cruquius was the largest steam engine in the world, and the President was the largest beam engine in the USA.  The latter engine had family connections with William West, so it is the history of that engine that I hope to explore in a bit more depth in this blog.

I will  dig into two rich sources of material as I explore; the research  of Damian Nance, and Mark Connar.  I am not yet sure where this wander across the Atlantic will take this blog,  but I am sure there will be some fascinating stories to uncover.  So feel free to follow this blog, and enjoy the journey

 

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William West of Tredenham – A new page is launched

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The Last Great Cornish Engineer now has a web page

The completion of my talk at the Friends of  Luxyluyan Valley was a good reason to dig back through all the assorted posts on William West and place then in some sort of logical order. The result of this piece of web house keeping is a page dedicated to William West of Tredenham, with links across to the various rabbit holes that my research has tempted me to dive into.

I have no doubt that this will be a page that will get added to as time goes by, there are plenty of ideas bubbling away, demanding to be explored. So if Victorian Engineers are an interest of yours, especially those with a Cornish connection, pop back to this website once in a while to have a browse.

And now that bit of tidying up the site is completed, time to go exploring history again…. 

 

 

 

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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.

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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

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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

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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 

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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.

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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.

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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>

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The Last Great Cornish Engineer Book Cover

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Still exploring wordpress-so please bear with me..but so far this kindle fire plus wordpress seems pretty good fun. Especially with the blue tooth keyboard to tap away on. Anyway here is my first picture upload, success.
Follow this link to buy on Amazon.
The Last Great Cornish Engineer (Paperback)

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