The Last Great Cornish Engineer

Navsbooks>William West>The Last Great Cornish Engineer

Published by the Trevithick Society 2014
ISBN 9780957566026
To buy the Last Great Engineer on Amazon click here>

William West of Tredenhamwpid-screenshot_2015-08-21-17-43-45.png

William West  was part of that generation of engineers who brought the performance of the Cornish engine to its peak. He was reputed to have erected more engines in his career than any man in Cornwall.

Born at Dolcoath Mine, had a poor childhood and even poorer education. Had to go to work at a young age, and after trying unsuccessfully several jobs became recognised has having a natural engineering skill and found work in a fitting shop. From there his skills enabled him to advance rapidly and he worked for the most gifted Cornish engineer of the day, where he learnt much about achieving high performances from Cornish Beam Engines. He built a record breaking engine at Fowey Consols, introduced Cornish engines to London waterworks, produced several inventions and innovations and became very rich. His business empire expanded to include a foundry’s, mines, banks, quarries and a railway. William West died in 1879.

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The Last Great Cornish Engineer book

190 pages, 25 Illustrations.
The Last Great Cornish Engineer contains a reprint of an account of William West`s life printed shortly after his death, by an anonymous author. This uncritical sketch forms a narrative framework which I have used to explore the engineer’s fascinating life.

The key issues of every decade of West`s life are taken from the sketch and explored further. In doing so, the original Victorian words are enriched, and his history is shown to be not as simple as the sketch implied. In doing so the Book`s title is transformed from statement to question, a question on which the reader can make their own decision.

Despite of its Victorian origins, I was very keen to produce a book in an an easy to read modern layout. Crisp fonts, open spacing and illustrations have been used, supported by a comprehensive index and site gazeteer.

Where to buy the book
For those passing through Cornwall, then pop into the Liskeard Bookshop, King Edward BookshopLiskeardMine or Geevor Mine to buy a copy of my books.
To buy the Last Great Engineer on Amazon click here>

26 thoughts on “The Last Great Cornish Engineer

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  6. Thank you, for this wonderful book about my Great great great grandfather, William West. Our Great grandfather, Charles West, son of John Otho West, emigrated to Alberta Canada in the early part of the last century. There are a large number of West descendants in western Canada. We have been aware of Maurice Cook’s research. We have visited Cornwall, and have tried to find some of the sites you mention in your book. Your research and book are a great treasure. Thank you.


    1. Thank you very much Susan for your comments about the book, very much appreciated, it is great to know that you have enjoyed it.

      It was amazing to hear from one of William descendants, especially from so far across the water in Canada.

      I was so pleased to have been able to make some of Maurice’s research wider available, and more importantly bringing his passion he felt about the story of William, a story that was starting to get forgotten over here in Cornwall.

      I believe William used to stay at John Otho’s when visiting his Caradon Mines. As of yet I have not visited St. Pinnock Church, but it is is on my long list of West related places to visit.

      Are you happy for me to contact you on the GMail address?


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