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Frederick Ransome

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Frederick Ransome (1817-1893) of Ransome's Patent Stone Co

1817 June 18th. Born in Ipswich son of James Ransome and his wife Hannah[1]

Worked for J. R. and A. Ransome until 1844 when he left the partnership[2]

Inventor of the earliest form of rotary kiln, which was used to produce cement

1859 Operated as coal and coke merchants and commission agents in Ipswich in partnership with John Bradly Geard as Frederick Ransome and Co until 1859 when the partnership was dissolved; Frederick continued the business[3]

1861 Artificial stone manufacturer, employing about 60 hands; living in Ipswich with his wife Catherine and 9 children[4]

1877 Provisional patent to Frederick Ransome, of Rushmere Lodge, Lower Norwood, and Thomas Mitcheson Gray, of Battersea, both in the county of Surrey, for the invention of "improvements in the manufacture of boxes and other hollow-articles from paper pulp, and in apparatus therefor." The result partly of a communication to them from abroad by Seth Wheeler and Edgar Jerome, both of Albany, in the State of New York, United States of America, and partly their own invention.[5]

1893 Died in East Dulwich; executor John Wilmer Ransome, civil engineer[6]


1894 Obituary [7]

FREDERICK RANSOME, born on the 18th of June, 1818, was one who, by patient research, enriched the world’s knowledge of the chemical treatment of minerals.

Early in life the idea occurred to him that stone, like iron, might be melted and run into moulds, and that the myriads of little grains of sand by the sea-shore might be cemented indissolubly together.

So long ago as 1848 he presented to the Institution a Paper entitled 'On the Manufacture of Artificial Stone with a Silica base.'

After many years of experiment, during which he made several discoveries, some of them unexpectedly, he perfected his process of manufacture, which was based on one of the most beautiful of chemical reactions.

Flints were first dissolved by means of caustic alkali under high pressure, so as to form soda silicate - a kind of water glass. This viscous and tenacious substance was then rapidly mixed with a proportion of very fine and sharp silicious sand in a vessel, so as to form a soft plastic mass which could be moulded into any shape desired. The soft stone was then placed in a bath of calcium chloride solution, which was made to penetrate every pore by means of hydraulic or atmospheric pressure.

When this solution came into contact with the soda silicate a double decomposition took place, the silica combining with the calcium and forming a hard solid silicate of lime, and the soda uniting with the chlorine to form sodium chloride in a small quantity. Instead, then, of the particles of sand being covered with a thin film of the liquid silicate of soda,, they were covered and united together with a film of solid silicate of lime, one of the most indestructible substances known. The small quantity of soluble sodium chloride, one of the results of decomposition, was then washed out of the stone by a douche of clean water or by hydraulic pressure, and when dry the stone was ready for use.

A cube of stone 4 inches square took 44 tons to crush it, although only ten days old, while sections 22 inches square bore respectively 870 1bs. and 1,200 lbs.

The artificial material produced by Mr. Ransome was a sandstone, the silicious particles of which were bound together by a cement of silicate of lime. Its composition was precisely that of the best building stone known-such as Cragleith and some varieties of Yorkshire stone, which resist the most trying air and climate. When fractured it showed perfect homogeneity, so that it was admirably adapted for carving with chisels. It could be moulded into the most delicate forms while in a soft state, and could be surface-dressed or finished when hard, if necessary. Its plasticity during the first process of manufacture enabled it to be used with great economy in all elaborate mouldings and repeated ornamentation, and many of the public buildings in England, Bombay, Calcutta, and New Zealand may be regarded as memorials of Mr. Ransome’s success, such as the new India Offices, St. Thomas’s Hospital, the Brighton Aquarium, the Albert Bridge at Chelsea, and many churches ; while for other purposes, as in the Metropolitan Railway stations and at the London Docks, the material was largely used.

The process was utilized for many other purposes, devised in succeeding years by Mr. Ransome, notably for emery wheels and for grindstones. He also constructed a filter, in which the water was passed through porous slabs. While engaged in such minor pursuits, the subject of this memoir continued to direct his studies to the manufacture of other materials, one of the results being the manufacture of cement from blast-furnace slag and lime. Into the details of the process it is scarcely necessary to enter, further than to state that he worked assiduously until he perfected it, overcoming all difficulties and producing a cement the tests of which showed that it possessed remarkable properties, the strength within a few days of manufacture being stated to be higher than that of Portland cement after seven years. Being made from waste materials, it could be produced at half the cost of Portland cement.

He next directed his energy to the mechanical details for burning the cement, and produced a novel type of revolving kiln, the characteristic feature of the process being that the material was burned in a state of powder, and that it emerged from the furnace in this condition, the object being to reduce the final grinding from a tedious and expensive process to a very simple and rapid operation.

Mr. Ransome spent the last few years of his life in retirement.

He died on the 19th of April, 1893, at the age of seventy-five.

His geniality and kindness of heart gained him many friends. In middle life he was a frequent attendant at the meetings of the Institution, of which he was elected an Associate on the 7th


1893 Obituary [8]

FREDERICK RANSOM, who died at the age of seventy-five on April 19 last, at his residence in East Dulwich, was elected a member of the Iron and Steel Institute in 1887. He was best known as the inventor of a successful process for the manufacture of artificial stone. He also applied the same process to the manufacture of emery wheels, one of which, according to the Iron and Coal Trades Review, ground away 1/4 oz. of steel in sixteen minutes, as compared with eleven hours taken by a Newcastle grindstone, both pieces of steel being cut off the same bar. Mr. Ransoms was greatly interested in the utilisation of blast-furnace slag, and paid much attention to the manufacture of cement from that material.


1893 Obituaries [9]



1893 Obituary[10]

"THE LATE MR. FREDERICK RANSOME. By the death, at the age of 75 years, of Mr. Frederick Ransome at 42, Melbourne-grove, East Dulwich, there passed away on the 19th inst. one who, by patient research, enriched the world’s knowledge of the chemical treatment of minerals. Early in life the idea occurred to him that stone, like iron, might be melted and run into moulds, that the myriads of little grains of sand by the sea-shore might be cemented indissolubly together. After many years of experiment, during which he made several discoveries, some of them unexpectedly, he perfected his process of manufacture, which was based on one of the most beautiful of chemical reactions. Flints were first dissolved by means of caustic alkali under high pressure, so as to form silicate of soda, a kind of water glass. This viscous and tenacious substance was then rapidly mixed with a proportion of very fine and sharp silicious sand in a mould, so as to form a soft plastic mass which could be moulded into any shape that was desired. The soft stone was then placed in a bath of chloride of calcium solution, which was made to penetrate every pore by means of hydraulic or atmospheric pressure. When this solution came into contact with the silicate of soda a double decomposition took place, the silica combining with the calcium and forming a hard solid silicate of lime, and the soda uniting with the chlorine to form chloride of sodium in a small quantity. Instead, then, of the particles of sand being covered with a thin film of the liquid silicate of soda, they were covered and united together with a film of solid silicate of lime, one of the most indestructible substances known. The small quantity of soluble chloride of sodium, one of the results of decomposition, was then washed out of the stone by a douche of clean water or by hydraulic pressure, and when dry the stone was ready for use. A cube of stone 4 in. square took 44 tons to crush it, although only ten days old, while sections 21 in. square bore respectively 70 lb. and 1200 lb.

The artificial material produced by Mr. Ransome was a sandstone, the silicious particles of which were bound together by a cement of silicate of lime. Its composition was precisely that of the best building stone known — such as Cragleith and some varieties of Yorkshire stone, which resist the most trying air and climate. When fractured it showed perfect homogeneity, so that it was admirably adapted for carving with chisels. It could be moulded into the most delicate forms while in a soft state, and could be surface-dressed or finished when hard, if necessary. Its plasticity during the first process of manufacture enabled it to be used with great economy in all elaborate mouldings and repeated ornamentation, and many of the public buildings in England, Bombay, Calcutta, and New Zealand may be regarded as memorials of Ransome’s success, notably the new India Offices, St. Thomas’s Offices, the Brighton Aquarium, the Albert Bridge at Chelsea, and many churches, while for other purposes, as in the Metropolitan Railway stations and at the London Docks, it was largely used.

The process was utilised for many other purposes, devised in succeeding years by Mr. Ransome, notably for emery wheels, and for grindstones, which ground away £ oz. of steel in 16 minutes, against about 11 hours taken by a Newcastle stone, both pieces of steel being cut off the same bar. Mr. Ransome also constructed filter in which porous slabs were used for passing the water. While engaged in such minor pursuits, the subject of our memoir continued to direct his studies to the manufacture of other materials, one of the results being the manufacture of cement from blast furnace slag and lime. Into the details of the process it is scarcely necessary to enter, further than to state that he worked assiduously until he perfected it, overcoming all difficulties, and producing a cement the tests of which* showed that it possessed remarkable properties, the strength within a few days of manufacture being higher than that of Portland cement after seven years. Being made from waste materials, it could be produced at half the cost of Portland cement. He next directed his energy to the mechanical details for burning the cement, and produced a novel type of revolving kiln, the characteristic feature of the process!* being that the material was burned in a state of powder, and that it emerged from the furnace in this condition, the object being to reduce the final grinding from a tedious and expensive process to a very simple and rapid operation.

In recent years Mr. Ransome rested from his labours, the general tendency only of which we have indicated by some of the more conspicuous successes. His geniality and kindliness of heart made for him many friends, who regret his death, and not a few paid the last duty of friendship at Norwood Cemetery last Saturday."


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. BMD
  2. London Gazette 5 Jan 1844
  3. London Gazette 5 July 1859
  4. 1861 census
  5. London Gazette 2 march 1877
  6. Probate Calendar
  7. 1894 Institution of Civil Engineers: Obituaries
  8. 1893 Iron and Steel Institute: Obituaries
  9. The Engineer 1893/05/12, p412.
  10. Engineering 1893/04/28