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British Industrial History

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John Melling

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John Melling of Rainhill was a railway engine builder

1817 Birth of son Thomas Melling

In 1837 Melling patented a type of valve gear without eccentrics. He is also credited with improving locomotives in his charge by introducing lap to the slide valves (1838). In 1838 or 1840 he took over a glass bottle-making works to use it for engineering purposes. In his son's time the works started producing coal gas, and also pumping water to the neighbourhood from a well on the site. After the Mellings' time the works became the Rainhill Gas and Water Co. Amongst its equipment were two small steam engines based on cylinders taken from the early locomotive Novelty, one being used to work a winch, the other to drive a lathe. The latter was very much in its original state, and was presented by the company to the Science Museum.[1]. The cylinder was subsequently on display at Rainhill Library.


Late 1830s: became superintendent of the Edge Hill Works

1840 Received order for three locomotives for the Grand Junction Railway. These are only locomotives known to have been built

1842 The company became Melling and Son

1849 The Practical Mechanic's Journal described and illustrated 'Melling's Iron Twisting Machine' which had been in operation at Rainhill Iron Works 'for a considerable period'.[2]

1851 Living at St. Helens Road, Rainhill: John Melling (age 69 born Haigh Park, Lancs), Engineer, Iron and Brass Founder employing 20 hands. With his wife Alice Melling (age 73 born Kirkham in Hyde, Lancs) and their son Thomas Melling (age 32 born Smethellshell, Lancs), Engineer, Iron and Brass Founder.[3]

1856 Death notice: 'On the 16th. instant, at his residence, aged 74 years, Mr. Melling, senior, of the Rainhill Iron Works, near Prescot.[4].

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. [1] The Engineer, 26 Jan 1906: 'Links in the History of the Locomotive'
  2. [The Practical Mechanic's Journal, pp.222-223, December 1849
  3. 1851 Census
  4. Liverpool Mail - Saturday 23 February 1856
  • British Steam Locomotive Builders by James W. Lowe. Published in 1975. ISBN 0-905100-816