Tag Archives: willam West

The President Steam engine- an update

Protecting the only Cornish Engine House in the USA

screenshot_2017-06-13-12-07-40_kindlephoto-18444209.jpgA quick break from the South Caradon series of posts to pass on some news about from across the Atlantic. Here is an update from Mark Connar on activity a the President Engine house, a house that had close connections with William West.

 

Work by Lehigh University

Lehigh University (the property owner) has now leveled the land surrounding the engine house, removed much of the destructive vegetation and has installed a protective fence around the engine house and the pump shaft immediately in front of the engine house. Unfortunately, the site continues to experience vandalism largely in the form of graffiti tagging and Lehigh is seeking solutions to this problem.
The Lehigh University has submitted at the end of February an application for a preservation planning grant to the PA Historical and Museum Commission. Lehigh, through the grant process, is requesting funding to evaluate the engine house and other remains on the site as well as the potential to convert the site into a public recreation/heritage location. Some of the activities contemplated as part of the grant includes structural/stabilization analysis of the engine house and the creation of a 3-D scan of the existing structure to establish a current condition baseline. Other activities include a cultural resource assessment and other property survey work which would support future development.

Lehigh has an innovative, award winning academic program called the Technical Entrepreneurship Capstone program. One of the Capstone classes underway for this Spring and next Fall semester involves 7 undergraduate students, with concentrations in multiple disciplines, working together to develop heritage park concepts and to create an animated virtual reality model of the President pumping engine. The funding for this initiative is also being partially provided by Lehigh’s Office of Sustainability Green Fund. It is very exciting to follow the progress of these motivated students!”

A boiler is found

President Engine Boiler

Access to take the pictures was courtesy of American Atelier, Inc.r

“One of the boiler’s riveted 30-foot-long steam drums was found to still exist, resting on saddles on the mud floor basement of a former furniture factory on Front Street in Allentown  still in use as a water holding tank!”

A date for the diary

Michael Kaas, Dr. Gerard Lennon and Mark Connar are scheduled to present on the Ueberroth Mine/President Pump and how Lehigh University students are supporting the preservation efforts at the 47th Annual Conference of the Society for Industrial Archeology in Richmond Va. in June 2018.


wpid-wp-1415226867597.jpeg William West the Last Great Cornish Engineer

William West was the uncle of John West, the President engine’s engineer. ‘The Last Great Cornish Engineer’ tells the fascinating rags to riches story of William West of Tredenham.

 

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Jope’s Shaft Pumping engine House

Christmas is well gone and past, and so this series of posts on South Caradon mine has restarted.  Winter brought with it one of those amazing clear air days last weekend, no mist, no drizzle no rain, just pure blue light. And so, armed with a camera and Christmas cake and set off to Caradon hill to update some of my photographs of the mine.  

South Caradon Mine’s best preserved engine house

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Jope's engine house in 2018

Jope’s Shaft pumping engine house is the best preserved on South Caradon Mine, with its ivy clad engine house and chimney still standing to full height. It is fascinating engine house, packed with features.

Jope’s shaft  is located on the south western corner of Caradon Hill , overlooking the entrance to Seaton Coombe.

It possibly housed one of the few Sims compound engines built in Cornwall the shaft was also historically important as the site of the last man engine to be built.

The engine

Jope's pumping engine house looking through the cylinder arch

The raised plug doorway is shown on the far side of the building.

This is no ordinary engine house. This is an engine house with it has its plug door located at a level higher than normal instead of being on the same floor as the cylinder bed it hangs precariously one level up. Why this should be seems to a subject of disagreement, with two conflicting theories.

The engine transfer theory

This 60″ engine was built in New for South Garras lead mine in 1855 at Landeryou’s shaft. That mine was not a success, and the engine was sold to South Caradon in 1862.

Click here to see the location of South Garras on OS Maps online>

Kenneth Brown in his excellent exploring Cornish Mines book (vol 2) explains that sometimes plug doorways were placed in a raised position  when the cylinder was set down into loading to reduce the height of the engine house. This arrangement resulted in a raised engine driver’s position.

Click here to find the book on Amazon>

This was not case at Jope’s but may have been the case at South Gerras.

The Sims engine theory

This is the explanation given by Adam Sharpe in the Minion’s study (cau). The study states that the engine was a Sim’s compound, a design of engine that William West, South Caradon’s engineer, was an enthusiast of.

Sims compound
This was  single acting Cornish engine in which the smaller steam cylinder was mounted above a larger low pressure cylinder, with the pistons having a common rod.
The engine was devised by James Sims in the 1840s. The duty was rarely more than a conventional engine, and its complexity and difficult maintenance meant that most Sims compound engines had short lives.

Click here for more information about William West and Sims compounds>

Which theory is correct?

When it comes to Cornish engines Kenneth Brown was rarely wrong. This is a pity in this case, for Sims engine at South Caradon would be a wonderful example of Wests’s Sim’s compound installations. If you have more information, or comments, or views on the engine please pass me a message to share on this site.

Features to be found

This is a engine house rich in features.

The interior

The bedstone of Jope's engine

The cylinder bedstone

The three piece granite Bedstone is still in place within the engine house, the cylinder holding down bolt holes clearly visible. Beyond the stones the cockpit/cataract pit is still open (the underfloor space were the valve timing mechanism was located). The eduction pipe is opening can be seen at the base of the bob wall, and on the western wing wall the opening for the steam pipe down to the boiler house is obvious.

The exterior

To the west of the engine house is clearly defined remains of the Boilerhouse, a house which has evidence of a third boiler was added later in the engine’s life.

Jopes engine boiler house

The Chimney putlog holes

The stack at Jope’s has one of the best examples of putlog holes in Cornwall. These holesPutlog holes in Jope's stack in the side of the chimney are the remains of a crude form of scaffolding used to build the structure. Planks were inserted in the holes as the chimney rose skywards to give the masons safe footholds.

More features

Many other fascinating remains surround the engine house, but these I will leave to a later post when I resurrect the map of the Jope’s shaft area.

 



Important note


This blog is written to enhance the enjoyment of those exploring Cornwall’s amazing landscape and history. It is not intended as a guide for walkers. If you are exploring industrial landscapes in Cornwall, please check the rights of way with the latest Ordnance Survey map, and take great care of yourself  and anyone else accompanying you.   Despite of all the due care and diligence shown by landowners, any open access ground can be dangerous to those not  ensuring aware of the risks around them. So look after yourself.

 

 

 

 

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Sump Shaft Winding Engine House at South Caradon Mine

The South Caradon post series continue with the second of the engine houses at Sump shaft.

A horizontal whim engine house

Sump shaft winding engine house lies up-slope of Sump Shaft, and in addition to winding at Sump shaft this engine provided power by flat-rods to Pearce’s shaft higher up the hill.

A 22 inch horizontal engine was housed in this building (some sources state a 16/30″). The was engine designed by William West, and was probably installed in 1844 (ref CAU) .
Horizontal engines did not require a substantial bob wall and the structure was therefore lighter than a traditional Cornish Engine house.

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The engine house in the 1880s

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The picture clearly shows that the  sump shaft winding engine  house was not a traditional Cornish beam engine structure. The boiler house is sited on this side, and its lean to roof can be seen, the loadings and flywheel are on the opposite hidden face.The headgear of Pearce’s shaft lies to the left of the view and the chimney on the right was believed to have served a steam capstan.

This house now has two partial walls and a partial height chimney still standing. On the left side are the loadings for the winding drum and flat rods crank. On the opposite wall low walls mark the position of a long narrow boiler house with the chimney on its uphill side. The boiler house may have been extended to the south to accommodate a second boiler.

The engine house in 2012

These pictures were taken soon after the Caradon Hill Project had stabilised the structure.

SumpWindingEngineHouse

This view looks up slope towards Pearce’s Shaft. The ruined western and northern walls are closest to the camera, with the best preserved southern wall to the right of the view.

SumpWindingFromEast

Looking from the north-east corner, the whim cage loadings are on the right.

SumpWindingInside

The inside of the winding house, looking up the alignment of flat-rods

SumpWindingLoading

Looking down the loadings towards Sump Shaft and its pumping engine house. The tips in the background are those of West Caradon Mine.

Flat rods, Flatrods, Flat-rods
Horizontal wood or iron rods used for communicating power from one part of a mine to another.  Flat-rods were often used to transfer power from an engine, or waterwheel to a remote shaft. The rods ran on rollers, or pivoted arms.


Books about William West

South Caradon’s Engineer

Cover of the Last Great Cornish Engineer Book cover of the Sketch of the life of William West of Tredenham

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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

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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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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