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British Industrial History

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Barnes and Miller

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Barnes and Miller of Glasshouse Fields, Ratcliff, Poplar, London; later of Blackwall.

1822 John Barnes (1798-1852) and Joseph Miller (1797-1860) set up business at Glasshouse Fields, Ratcliff, as manufacturing engineers, with the aim of building engines for steam-vessels. Barnes was a godson of James Watt and both received their training at the Soho Foundry under William Murdoch.

1822 the firm of Barnes and Miller began construction of marine engines.

Established reputation in both England and on the Continent, especially in France, for steam-powered vessels suitable for river navigation.

1826-27 They took the steam-powered vessel Pioneer to navigate the River Soane, followed by the Rhone.

1828 Messrs. Barnes and Miller, steam engine manufacturers of Glass House- fields, Ratcliffe, placed the Sophia Jane on the station on .... with an engine of 50-horse power

Constructed engines for Mediterranean packets sailing from Marseilles, le Havre boats, the Star Company’s Gravesend packets (1834) which achieved speeds not previously attained.

1835 Barnes left the partnership. Miller purchased the establishment in Glasshouse Fields; Richard Ravenhill joined him in the firm of Miller and Ravenhill.

c.1835 Naval contracts were given to Barnes and Miller of Ratcliff for the first time.

1835 Engines of 120 H.P. were installed on H.M.S. ‘Blazer,’ the first vessel of the Royal Navy they equipped, followed by several others.

1837 Miller was consulted by Francis Pettit Smith about the screw propeller and encouraged to construct the engines and machinery for the ‘Archimedes’ but the firm was too busy; the vessel was designed by Pasco and built by Wimshurst in 1838.

1838 Miller and Barnes quoted for supplying a locomotive to the North Midland Railway

1839 Miller and Ravenhill repaired the boilers and engines of the ‘Archimedes’ after an accident.

1840 Miller and Barnes was taken over by Simpson and Co - perhaps this refers to the locomotive building activity.

1844 Made engines for H.M.S. ‘Amphion’ - the first use of direct-action horizontal screw-engines placed beneath the waterline by the British Navy.

1844 The firm secured the services of Mr. Pasco as their naval architect. At their new water-side premises at Blackwall, they constructed some very successful iron steamers, which attained great speed.

Salkeld was taken into partnership

Later the firm became Miller, Ravenhill, and Salkeld.

1852 Oscillating engines with feathering paddles supplied for the ‘Solent’ and the 'Tyne'.

December 1852, Miller retired from the firm.

See Also


Sources of Information

  • A Short History of Naval and Marine Engineering by E. C. Smith. Published 1937
  • British Steam Locomotive Builders by James W. Lowe. Published in 1975. ISBN 0-905100-816
  • The Engineer 1922/03/31