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British Industrial History

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Distin and Chafe

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of Devonport

Also Distin, Chafe and Condy

Ironfounders and Ironmongers

Richard Distin (1806-1852)[1] and William Chafe (William Chaffe died in Totnes in 1857)

1841 Richard Distin 30, ironmonger, Hariet Distin 40, Harriet Distin 12, William Chafe 30, ironmonger, and some apprentices and others lived in Fore Street, Devonport[2]

1857 Plymouth Great Western Dock Company - 22nd half yearly meeting: 'Mr. Twichell inquired when it might be expected that the large pumping engine would be completed. …... Great delay had taken place in this matter owing to the very serious injury Mr. Chafe, who was making the engine, had received. …. Mr. Evans said that Mr. Chafe had given them more trouble in this matter than the engine was worth. It would have been better for them if they had gone to the other end of the world for an engine. Mr. Chafe had treated the company very badly, and he was not at all surprised the shareholder had asked a question respecting it.' [3]

1857 'FAILURE AT DEVONPORT. - We regret much to hear of the failure of Mr. Chafe, the ironfounder, of the firm of Distin, Chafe, and Co., of Devonport. A large number of hands were employed by the firm, who will, by this failure, be thrown out of employ.-Plymouth Journal.' [4]

1857 'EXETER DISTRICT COURT OF BANKRUPTCY. (Before Mr. Commissioner Bere). Tuesday Nov. 10. In Re Samuel Chafe, of the Firm Chafe and Co., Ironmongers, Devonport.—This was a meeting for choice of assignees. Mr. Stogdon, instructed Mr. T. Hawker, Devonport, represented the petitioning creditors. The case was brought to Exeter instead of Plymouth, to be heard, at the request of the creditors. Some opposition was anticipated, but none was made. It seems that the debts of the estate are about £17,000, and the assets about £7,000. Mr. Charles Davey, draper, Devonport, was appointed assignee, and an allowance of £3 a week was made to Mr. Chafe, who has a family of five children, and lately sustained a severe fracture of the leg, which causes present lameness. Mr. Chafe's services will be required to assist the assignees finishing some work now in hand.' [5]

1857 'TOTNES New Crane.—The new crane contracted for Messrs. Distin, Chafe, and Condy, has at length been fixed in its place on the Town Quay, which now presents a respectable appearance. The crane is warranted to lift six tons at time, and we doubt not but that the boon conferred by this means to carriers by water will be highly appreciated.' [6]

1858 Advertisement: 'BANKRUPT'S EFFECTS. To Ironfounders, Smiths, Timber Merchants, and Others
TO be SOLD by AUCTION, by D. H. HAINSSELIN on Tuesday and Wednesday, the 27th and 28th April instant, at the Stores at Mutton Cove, in Devonport, by order of the Assignee of the late Mr. Chafe, a Bankrupt, the following ARTICLES:
Flasks and Corbars. About 30 tons of Moulding Sand. Ditto 30 cwt. Charcoal Dust. Several Lots of Chain. Smiths' Forges and Bellows. Smiths' and Boiler-makers' Tools. Cast and Wrought Scrap and Bar Iron. 3-inch Angle Iron. 1 Camp Forge. 1 Tube for a Boiler. 1 Boiler-maker's Furnace. 1 Fan-box. 2 Anvils. 1 Boiler Waggon. 8½-inch Clack Seat-piece. 8½-inch Wind-bore. 9-inch Pump. Double and single Purchase Crabs. 1 Crab for Crane. 3 New Kibbles. 3 Spars, 23 feet long. 1 Set of Shears, 50 feet, for breaking Iron. Several pieces of Deal. Ditto ditto of Balk. Ditto lots of Fire-wood. 4 Pieces of American Elm. A number of Patterns. 300 Coils of Safety. Several Mining Picks. Several Lots of Fire-brick. 4 large Grinding Stones. Yellow Ochre. Copal Varnish. &c. &c .....[7]

1858 Advertisement: 'BANKRUPT'S EFFECTS.
MESSRS. HAINSSELIN & SON will SELL by AUCTION, on TUESDAY, and WEDNESDAY, the 17th and 18th August, 1858, on the premises known as the DEVONPORT FOUNDRY, All the extensive and valuable MACHINERY, TOOLS. &c. worked by the late Mr. Chafe:
Comprising a nearly new steam engine, with 16-inch cylinder and 2ft. 6in. stroke; high-pressure ditto, with 7-inch cylinder, regulator, fly-wheel, shafting, &c.; a donkey engine; two 5-feet steam boilers, ,With steam chests, safety-valves, feed-pipes, &c.; a powerful steam hammer, by Nasmyth; superior screw-cutting machine, with stocks; superior large drilling machine, by Smith, Beacock and Tannett; small ditto; planing machine with table 7ft. by 2 ft. 4in.;a shaping machine by Nasmyth; a 60-inch face plate, with slide rest, and o 20 feet bed; a first-class self-acting lathe with 18ft.6in. bed, slide-rest, screw-cutting gear, and two face plates 4ft. 6in. and 2ft. 4in.; self-acting lathe with 13ft. bed, slide-rest, and face-plate ; two lathes, with 8ft. beds, slide-rests, and 24in. face-plates ; a, 19ft. wood bed lathe, with face-plate, slide-rest &c. ; 5ft. 6in, 4ft. 6in. iron lathes, with slide-rest, &c; blast furnace and pipes; blowing fan, 4ft.diameter; a 7ft. plate-bending machine, with hammered rollers ; small plate-bending machine; large foundry kettle, with tipping gear; powerful iron and wood cranes, with double and single purchases; swage blecks; carriage and tram way; one 4-ton and one 52-cwt. weigh bridge, revolving crab, drying stove, brass-melting furnace and crane, punching and shearing machines, small punching machine, with travelling bed; large vices and benches, 6 barrel crab-winch, treble and double blocks and sheaves, loam and blacking mill, with driving gear; seven blacksmiths' forges and cranes, nine anvils, an hydraulic lead press, a powerful hydraulic pump for testing boilers, &c.; 12 foundry kettles, shear-legs, with chain blocks and fall.; a large assortment of turning .and smiths' tools, large quantity of shafting and riggers, leather belting, old steel, scrap iron, and various other articles….. St. Aubyn-street, Devonport, August 3rd, 1858.'[8]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. BMD
  2. 1841 census
  3. London Standard, 28 August 1857
  4. London Daily News, 31 October 1857
  5. Western Times, 14 November 1857
  6. Exeter and Plymouth Gazette, 5 December 1857
  7. Royal Cornwall Gazette, 23 April 1858
  8. Bristol Mercury, 14 August 1858