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British Industrial History

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Mather, Dixon and Grantham

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of North Foundry, Liverpool

Successors to Mather, Dixon and Co

1843 'THE SCREW PROPELLER. A small iron steam vessel has for some time been causing considerable interest on the river, and may be considered a subject of great public importance from the improvement which it exhibits over the present mode of applying steam power for the propulsion of vessels. When we look at the ordinary paddle wheels, it is a matter of surprise that they can be secured from injury when the steamer is labouring in a heavy sea, or that the vessel can driven forward against the wind with such incumbrances. It is somewhat surprising also that seamen, with all their prejudices, could ever be reconciled sufficiently to such cumbersome appendages, when the predilection of a seaman for a snug vessel is proverbial. From the specimen we have lately seen, and are about to describe, we foretell the speedy removal of those unsightly machines, which will probably be looked back upon nothing other than a pair of mill wheels suspended over the sides of the vessel.
When we first saw the small vessel which is the subject of this notice, skimming almost like magic on the Mersey, we were disposed to cry out in a similar strain with a gentleman who also witnessed her performance for the first time, "Good bye to paddle wheels."
It will be very generally known that the screw propeller has for some time excited considerable attention, from its causing the removal of paddle-wheels and boxes; but it has made but little progress in actual practice from two causes—one being the supposition that it could never be made so efficient in propelling as the paddle-wheel — and the other that, to obtain sufficient velocity, it was necessary that it should make more revolutions than the engines which worked it, requiring the intervention of spur wheels, or straps and pulleys. This small steam-vessel, which was built by Messrs. Mather, Dixon, and Grantham, of this town, however, proves very clearly that such doubts are fallacious. The engines are applied direct to the shaft to which the screw is attached, and no spur wheels are required to obtain the necessary speed; and the makers have assured us that this principle can carried out in the largest vessels without employing any means that practice has not already successfully established the use of paddles on the old system. That high velocities can attained shewn by this vessel, which has now beaten every steamer on the Mersey, and this with an expenditure of fuel not much exceeding one cwt. per hour.
We ourselves witnessed a race between her and the government tender, in which the latter was certainly left behind ; this is remarkable, as the tender is of great length, and we are informed has a much greater power in proportion to her sectional displacement.
Another proof of the value of these improvements is shown in the fact, that the relative speed of the vessel and the screw are 93 to 100, while with the paddle wheel the proportion is generally as 70 to 100, showing saving of upwards of 20 per cent., or, in other words, that an engine of 80 horses’ power, with a screw, will drive a vessel as fast in smooth water as one of 100 horses’, with paddle wheels. But this not all; every one knows that the loss with paddles when the vessel is in rough water, or loaded deeply with cargo, or when pressed over with canvas, but the screw is little affected by any of these changes.
This has already been shown with the little vessel in question, and more than realizes the most sanguine expectations of her projectors.
The screw employed was patented by Mr. Woodcroft, of Manchester, several years since, but has not been generally known, although, from the results, it has evidently great value. The pitch of the screw not uniform, as usually made, but expands or increases in the length of the pitch, the object being, that as the water receives motion by the first impact of the screw, the blade of the screw should follow it up with greater rapidity.
Mr. Grantham has shewn us drawings by which this plan can applied to ships of war, so that all the machinery shall be below the water line. The government have lately launched a large vessel to which the screw is to be applied ; and, although the propeller is to be below water, the engine is as vulnerable as ever, and it is much to regretted that the present principle was not known when this vessel was commenced. Trials have been made in towing, and here the superiority is equally obvious. As applied also to the ferries, this principle is evidently of the greatest importance, and is likely to prove an additional facility in crossing to Cheshire.
Messrs Mather, Dixon, and Grantham have obtained a patent for these improvements, and we wish them all the success that the importance of the question demands. It had always appeared to us that so long as it was necessary apply spur wheels, the screw propeller would never be brought into general use, from the well known disadvantages attending such machinery in vessels; but now that we see these objections removed, we can have little doubt that the paddle-wheels will soon be superseded.— Liverpool Standard.'[1]

1843 Sale Notice

Spelling as per original.

'Important Sale of Valuable Machinery, Steam Engines, &c.,
Messrs. Thomas Winstanley & Sons have received instructions, from the Trustees of Messrs. Mather, Dickson, & Grantham, Millwrights, Engineers, Boiler-Makers, and Iron Ship-Builders, to SELL by AUCTION, on the Premises, William-Street, Great Howard-Street, on MONDAY, 2d October, and nine following days (Saturday and Sunday excepted), at ELEVEN o’clock precisely, each day,
The Valuable Machinery, Steam-Engines, Working Implements, Utensils, Stock-in-Trade, of the above extensive Establishment, and an Excellent and Powerful Horizontal Sugar Mill, with Duplicates, the whole being of the most Modern and Improved Construction, and now in excellent working condition.
A Capital Marine Condensing Steam-Engine of 16-horse power, with boiler; four horse Steam-Engine ; Ranges of Horizontal Shafting, with wheels and fixings.
BORING MACHINES—Costly Machine for boring Steam Cylinders, of all sizes; 6 ft. Vertical ditto, with 32 ft. Bed, adapted for boring Engine Beams, by Fairbairn; a ditto. 13-in. head stocks, with Bed 7ft. high.
DRILLING MACHINES. —A large Radial Drill, by Sharp, Roberts, & Co. , one 10-inch Drill, and one 4¾ inch, by Ditto; two Beam Drills. 2½-in. bar; three Bracket Drills, 1¾-in. bar; and a Column Drill, 2-in. bar.
SLOTTING MACHINES.—One 6 ft., and one 3 ft., both Sharp, Roberts, Co. , and 2 ft. 6 in., by Hetherington & Co.
PLANING MACHINES—A Machine 16 ft. Bed by 3 ft., Sharp, Roberts, & Co. ; Ditto, 7 ft. 6in. by 1ft. 6 in., Fox ; a 6 ft. by 2ft.; a 4ft 6 in. by 1 ft. 9 in., Collier & Co., and 2 Hand Ditto.
LATHES - A 27-in. Double-geared Self-acting Surface Lathe, by Fox, with Iron Bed, 13 ft.; a 16 in. Double-geared Self-acting Slide, by Fox, with Iron Bed, 24ft.; one 16-in. Ditto, with Iron Bed, 19½ ft.; one 13½-in Ditto, by Fox, with Iron Bed, 15 ft.; one 10-in. Ditto, Whitworth, with Iron Bed, 24 ft; a 12-in. Double geared Slide, with Iron Bed. 10 ft.; a 30-in. Double-geared Hand Ditto, 23 ft.; a 24-in. Ditto, with Ditto, 33 ft.; two 13-in. Double-geared Hand Lathes, with Iron Beds; one 12½ in., two 12-in., one 10-in., and two 9-in. Ditto, with Ditto; a 12-in. Double-geared Break Lathe, Wood Bed, 45ft.; a 9in. Ditto Ditto, Wood Bed, 22ft.; 14-in. Ditto, without Bed; four 9-in. Single-geared Lathes, with Iron Beds, one 8-in., and two 7 in. Ditto; 16-in. Ditto, for Wood Turning.
An assortment of Valuable Slide Rests, and Steel and Iron Lathe Tools.
CRANES, TOOLS. &c—An 8 and 3 ton Independent Crane; three 10-ton Fixed Foundry Ditto; two Small Iron-fixed Ditto ; Crab Winches, with Double and Single Purchases; Ditto, fixed on Columns; Hoisting Apparatus, Steam and Hand; Hydraulic Press; Fire-Engine ; 10-ton Weighing Machine, by Kitchen; Patent Ditto, by Fairbanks ; several Scale Beams. &c. ; Screwing Machines, and a valuable assortment of Screwing Tackle ; two Grinders’ Stones, on Cast Frames ; Grindstones ; Pulleys ; Grinding Machine ; Pair 15 inch Blast Cylinders ; Yard Trucks ; Shear Poles, Chains, and Blocks; two Gas Metres; Gas Piping and Burners; quantity of Water Pipes; Cisterns; Steam Pipes and Valves.
STORES—Quantity of Pig, Rolled, and Hammered Iron ; Large quantity of Cast and Wrought Scrap Ditto ; Cast, Shear, and Blister Steel ; quantity of Railway Waggon Axles, Springs, and Oil Boxes; Waggon Wheels, not Hooped ; Tyre Bars, and Tyres; Cast Steel Files, Chisels, Hammers, &c. The Smithies contain Smiths’ Hearths, fitted up; Anvils, Cranes, and Working Tools.
FOUNDRY. —Two Stoves, with Sheet-iron Sliding Door, Balance Weight., Railway, and Truck, for Do.; a variety of useful Moulding Boxes, Loam Plates, &c,
PATTERNS An Extensive and Costly variety of Patterns for Land, Marine, and Locomotive Steam Engines, Piping, Pumps, Railings, Gates, Lathes, and Mill-Work; Office Fixtures; Eight-day Clock, &c.
BOILER YARD - The Machinery and Tools comprise Punching and Shearing Machines; Drilling Machines; Swan Necks, Furnace; Smiths’ Hearths and Tools; Pair of Blowing Cylinders; two Sets Bending Rollers , Setting Blocks ; Chain Shackles ; Shears, Blocks, and Chains ; Stretching Screws and Steelyards. The Stock consists of New and Second-hand Boilers; Tanks; large variety of best Boiler Angle, Rod, and Rivet Iron ; Cast and Shear Steel; Cast Steel Files, Chisels, &c. The whole may be viewed..............'[2]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. Gloucestershire Chronicle, 27 May 1843
  2. Northern Whig, 23 September 1843