The Last Great Cornish Engineer
William West of Tredenham was one of the great Cornish Engineers, one of the engineers who developed the beam engine to the peak of its performance. He is best known for the record breaking Austen’s engine, but he achieved far more in his life than building that famous steam engine. His was a facinating life that started in relative poverty, but ended in wealth and fame. On his death he was recognised as the ‘Last Great Cornish Engineer’, a well deserved accolade.
William west was Born in 1801 at Dolcoath Mine, Cornwall. He 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 Samuel Grose, the most gifted Cornish engineer of the day, where he learnt much about achieving high performances from Cornish Beam Engines. West then went on to build the record breaking Austen’s engine at Fowey Consols, which lead to his introduction of Cornish engines to the London waterworks. His business empire expanded to include a foundry’s, mines, banks, quarries and a railway. William West died in 1879.
William West’s life is told in two books, a paperback ‘The Last Great Cornish Engineer‘ and in Kindle format as ‘A Sketch of the life of William West of Tredenham’. This blog is an exploration beyond those books, and this page contains links to those posts so far. If these posts are inspire you to learn more about this Victorian engineer then I recommend obtaining a copy of the ‘Last Great Cornish Engineer’, published by the Trevithick Society.
William West, some general thoughts
- 10 Facts about William West, The Last Great Cornish Engineer
- William West-A Rapid Fire Biography
- Some threads in the history of the Last Great Cornish Engineer
- Richard Nicholls Worth and ‘A Sketch of the life of William West of Tredenham
- William West The Last Great Cornish Engineer
- William West and St. Blazey-Some maps
- William West- The boy who held a candle for Trevithick
- George Stevenson did not invent the railway
- William West at Great Towan Mine-“a new era in duty of the steam engine”
- The Austen’s Engine trial
- Austen’s engine trial, a letter from James Sims
- West’s Double beat valve and the scourge of cholera
- Phoenix United-William West’s Speech
- 1870-Phoenix United Mine, William West, and a grand day
- Phoenix United map
- William West’s Caradon mines
Innovation, invention and investment
- Liskeard’s Lloyds Bank
- West and Darlington’s Hydraulic machinery
- West’s Hydraulic accumulator
- West’s Lattice Beams-Aesthetic engineering
- Luxullianite -West and Wellington
- Luxullianite-A close up
- The Man Engine- who invented it?
- Steam Capstans- William West’s hidden invention
- William West and St. Blazey-Some map