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Barnard William Farey

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Barnard William Farey (1827-1888), Civil Engineer. Of Bryan Donkin and Co.

1827 Born in Lambeth, son of William and Ann Farey[1]

1851 Civil engineer, living in Peckham with his widowed mother[2]

1861 Master engineer living in Peckham[3]

1871 Civil engineer living in Camberwell with his wife Eliza 32[4]

Died 1888, aged 61.[5]


1888 Obituary [6]

BARNARD WILLIAM FAREY was born on the 12th of August, 1827. His scientific abilities were partly inherited, his uncle, the late Mr. John Farey, M.Inst.C.E., being the author of a well-known work on the Steam-Engine; while another uncle, Mr. Colomb Gengembre, was an eminent engineer at Nantes, in France. To the latter young Farey, when only nine years old, was sent on the death of his father, and there he remained seven years. It was under the tuition of this uncle that the young man commenced his engineering education, serving a regular pupilage and being employed for some months at the Marine Engine- and Ship-building Works of the French Government at Indret, which were under the superintendence of Mr. Gengembre.

At the age of sixteen, however, Farey resigned his post, and returned to England to complete his technical education. He was first employed by Mr. William Bridges Adams, at the Fairfield Works at Bow.

After remaining there for two years and a-half, he obtained the post of assistant at the engineering establishment of Messrs. Swayne and Bovill, where he worked under Mr. (now Sir Frederick) Bramwell.

In 1847 he went to Messrs. Bryan Donkin and Co.’s Engineering Works, at Bermondsey, and a few years later became a partner in the firm. He had now an opportunity to display his scientific gifts and attainments. The first gas-valve with internal rack and pinion was made by Messrs. Donkin and Co. in 1847, for the Gas-Light and Coke Company, and was designed by Mr. Farey. So great has been the demand for these valves, that from that date to 1887 more than fifty thousand hare been constructed by the firm. Two years later, in 1849, he invented a double-cylinder rag-boiler for papermakers.

Mr. Farey was an indefatigable scientific worker. A few years after he became a partner in the above firm, he began a series of experiments at Bermondsey with Mr. Bryan Donkin, jun., extending over a period of ten years. These experiments were made on steam-engines with compound- and single-cylinders, and with and without steam-jackets, and were designed to ascertain their respective economical values. Various improvement8 were introduced, and accounts of the experiments were sent to "Engineering,” and were published from time to time in that journal.

Later, in 1875-76, he, in conjunction with the other members of the firm, made upwards of one hundred trials with a small experimental compound steam-engine, now in Professor Kennedy’s Engineering Laboratory at University College, London. Such constant activity bore fruit in various patents.

In 1852 Messrs. Bryan Donkin and Farey patented an improvement in paper-machines for measuring and marking off continuous webs of paper. As a cross-cutting machine for paper, this has since been found of great service.

In 1866 Mr. Farey took out a patent for a still more important invention, viz., a tandem horizontal compound-engine, with steam-jackets, the main advantage of which consists in the prevention of wear in the cylinders. This was effected by allowing the weight of the pistons to be taken on outside guides, by means of rods at each side. Many engines of this type are now at work. In 1869 he patented an apparatus for superheating the steam in a compound-engine during its passage from one cylinder to the other; and in 1873 he took out a patent for improving the slide-valve gear of steam-engines, by abolishing the stuffing-boxes between the high and low pressure valve-chests.

The following extract from a letter written by Mr. Bryan Donkin, late senior partner of the firm, after the death of Mr. Farey, shows the high opinion entertained of his ability and character by his colleagues:- “My long connection and personal intimacy with Mr. Farey led to frequent interesting conversations on a great rariety of subjects, and consequently enabled me thoroughly to appreciate not only his eminent talents and great mechanical resources, but also the high sense of truth and uprightness which so much distinguished him. My esteem for him was very great in every way.”

Mr. Farey married in August, 1869, Elizabeth Westley, of Cheltenham, but had no children. Failing health led him to resign his partnership in 1881, after having been connected for thirty-four years with the firm of Bryan Donkin and Co.

Since his retirement he lived quietly at Upper Norwood, where his death took place on the 9th of May, 1888.

Mr. Farey was elected a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers on the 7th of March, 1865.


1888 Obituary [7]



1888 Obituary [8]



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