Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 138,043 pages of information and 222,628 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Chunk Engine Works

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of Birmingham

1837 Advertisement about the purchase of half the shares in the Liverpool and Iowa Copper Company placed by Thomas Morton Jones and Co of the Chunk Engine Works[1]

1837 A letter about locomotive engines was signed by 'Richard Prosser, Civil Engineer, Chunk Engine Works, Birmingham'[2]

1839 Advert: 'Locomotive Engine-Makers, Engineers, and Machinists.
VERY VALUABLE MACHINERY, TOOLS, &c OF THE Chunk Engine Works. Birmingham, on the Banks of the Canal,
Consisting of a MOST COMPLETE AND COMPREHENSIVE LATHE, of very superior workmanship and design, EIGHTEEN FEET BED. with three feet Headstock, compound Sliding Rest, self-acting for turning cones, surfaces, or cylinders, with an apparatus applicable at pleasure to the sliding rest for drilling against the Face-plate, cutting and sawing Metal, also for cutting the teeth of Wheels of any pitch; this LATHE is a complete self-acting BORING AND PLANING APPARATUS for any sized cylinder up four feet diameter, and will plane a SURFACE of eight feet by three feet six inches, and cut Slots or Key Ways, fifteen inches long in the interior of cylinder from two inches to five feet diameter, or thirteen feet in length on the exterior of any cylinder under six feet diameter;
TWELVE OTHER VERY VALUABLE AND COMPLETE LATHES, from six to ten feet long in the Bed, with Slide Rests, Cutting and DIVIDING ENGINES, Boring. Slotting, and Screw-cutting Apparatus; GAS TUBE WELDING MACHINE, Cupola, twelve-inch Blowing Machine. Railway Velocipede; universal Self-adjusting CENTERING MACHINE for shafts from a quarter of an inch to six inches diameter; SELF-FEEDING MACHINE for Cutting out blanks; Button-making Machines, Casting Boxes, Vices, Smiths' Tools, &c.; Straight Edges, Surfaces, &c.
TO be SOLD by AUCTION, on the Premises, on TUESDAY THE NINTH OF APRIL NEXT, and following days, commencing each day at eleven o'clock.
JOHN RODERICK, Auctioneer.
Offices, 54, New-street, Birmingham.
May be viewed seven days prior to the sale, with catalogues, price one shilling, to be had upon application Mr. Prosser, Civil Engineer, No. 2, Cherry-street. Birmingham, who will give every information respecting the various lots; and also may had at the Guardian Office, Manchester; Mercury Office, Liverpool; Iris Office, Sheffield; Journal Office. Bristol; Railway Times Office, Chronicle Office, Wolverhampton; the Works; and the Offices of the Auctioneer.
As the limits an advertisement will not allow a full description of the VERY MAGNIFICENT LATHE, a Lithographic Drawing will be published with the catalogues.'[3]

1839 'SALE AT THE CHUNK ENGINE WORKS.—Attention is directed to the advertisement of valuable Machinery at the Chunk Engine Works, near this town, which will be offered for sale by auction, by Mr. Roderick, commencing on Tuesday next. The descriptive catalogues are now in course of distribution. The valuable stock includes a magnificent lathe, of which a lithographic drawing is published with the catalogues. The following is an extract from the description which accompanies the engraving:- "This lathe is a complete self-acting boring and planing apparatus for any size cylinder up to four feet diameter ; will plane a surface of eight feet three feet six inches, and will cut slots, or key-ways, fifteen inches long, in the interior of any cylinder from two inches to five feet in diameter, thirteen feet in length on the exterior of any cylinder under six feet diameter. The isometrical projection, scale of half inch the foot, will show the general arrangement of this machine, which has been constructed without regard to expense: the aim having been make it the most complete and efficient instrument known up to the time of its completion. It possesses all the improvements which have been suggested in cutting, dividing, and planing machinery, suggested by Dr. Hook, Berthoud, in his 'Essai l'Horologie,' M. de la Faudriere, M. Taillemand, - Hulot. M. Fardoil, and other French writers, together with the later improvements of Hindley and Rehé. The dividing engine of the latter alone was purchased for 700l. at the Bishop of London's sale."

1842 '"THE GREAT LATHE," Formerly belonging to the Britannia Nail Works and the Chunk Engine Works. TO be DISPOSED OF by private Contract all that ' MOST COMPLETE AND COMPREHENSIVE LATHE, of very superior workmanship and design with 18 feet bed, head-stock centre 2 feet 11 inches, compound sliding-rest, self-acting for turning cones, surfaces, cylinders, with an apparatus applicable at pleasure to the sliding-rest for drilling against the face plate, cutting and sawing metal, also for the cutting teeth of wheels any pitch...... A quantity of cast steel Turning Tools, Boring Bars, Cutter Blocks, large number of cast steel Cutters, Boring Carriage, Planing Bed, &c. will be included in the purchase of the Lathe. For further particulars and to treat for the same apply to Mr. H. Gimblett, No. 34, Cherry-street, Birmingham.'[4]

At some point the Chunk Works came into the ownership of Alfred Lister, who advertised as a maker of fenders, stove grates and umbrella stands.[5]

Prosser The Engineer: "A Forgotten Birmingham Genius" - Richard Prosser's life and work is being studied in depth by Susan Darby, and a wealth of information has been made available online. The instalment of his biography 'Rescuing Richard: The Brothers' Feud & The "Chunk" Conundrum' covers information concerning The Chunk Engine Works.

'The Great Lathe'

Was this the machine designed by 'Dr. Church' (William Church?), described in 1843, as 'the GREAT LATHE, constructed at Birmingham, from the design, and under the superintendence of the ingenious Dr. Church; it became, eventually, the subject of a law suit, and is now broken up, a brief description of the planing and slotting apparatus attached to this lathe may therefore prove of some interest to our readers. The work to be planed was placed upon a bed or planing-table, moved by the guide screw; the cutters had a rotary motion, and the surface to be planed, passed under the cutters. The slotting apparatus for cutting keyways in the interior of cylinders, was attached to the slide-rest; in this way a slot or key-way centre cut in an inclined or parallel direction, without the necesssity of rechucking the work.'[6]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. Aris's Birmingham Gazette - Monday 21 August 1837
  2. Birmingham Journal - Saturday 21 October 1837
  3. Sheffield Iris - Tuesday 26 March 1839
  4. Aris's Birmingham Gazette - Monday 22 August 1842
  5. 'Workshop of the World - Birmingham's Industrial Legacy' by Ray Shill, Sutton Publishing, 2006
  6. [1] The Mechanic and Chemist: A Magazine of the Arts and Sciences p.412, 30 December 1843