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Richard Garrett (1829-1884)

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Richard Garrett IV (1829-84).

Richard Garrett (1829-84) of Richard Garrett and Sons

1829 July 22nd. Born at Leiston, the son of Richard Garrett (1807-1866)

1863 Death of Mary Jane in London, the wife of Richard Garrett, Junior of Leiston Works, Suffolk [1]

1884 July 30th. Death. At his residence at New Haven, Leiston, from heart disease, of Wangford Hall, near Brandon and formerly of Carlton Hall Aged 55. Gives list of chief mourners. [2] [3]

1884 Obituary. Richard Garrett. Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers and of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers [4]

1884 Will. Leaves all his interest in the Leiston Works to his brother and partner Frank Garrett, Senior. Also mentions his sisters Betsy Maria Grimwood, Ellen Johnson, Jane Emma Elkington, Clara Peck and Sarah Louisa Croft (SLC now deceased) [5]

Richard was a keen farmer and breeder of sheep, cattle and horses. he did not marry.


1884 Obituary [6]

RICHARD GARRETT, the fourth bearer of that name in succession, and one of a family which has given three members to this Institution, was born on the 22nd of July, 1829, at the Works House, Leiston.

The subject of this memoir was educated at an old-fashioned private school at Wickham Market, where he attained a popularity which still survives. A boy of unusual personal attractions and influence, untiring energy and courage, his school-life was in itself a little history upon which those who participated in its events look back with pride and pleasure.

At the age of fourteen, however, Richard Garrett left school to embark, under formal indentures of apprenticeship, upon that best of all educations for an engineer, the post of apprentice-assistant to his enterprising father, who, in the development of Leiston Works, stood in urgent need of such assistance. It need scarcely be said that the influence of so promising a pupil soon took effect at Leiston Works, and at an age when most lads can be scarcely said to regard life seriously, Richard Garrett the younger, was to all intents and purposes Works-Manager - a position of which he took formal occupation on attaining his majority in 1850.

In 1853 he became a partner with his father and younger brother, John D. Garrett, who seceded from the business in 1860; and on the death of his father in 1866, Mr. Garrett succeeded to the position of head of the Garrett family and senior member of the Leiston firm, in partnership with his two brothers, Henry Newson Garrett - who also seceded from the business in 1878 - and Frank Garrett, between whom and the subject of this memoir there existed bonds of close attachment.

Richard Garrett may be stated generally to have devoted his life to the construction and development of the thrashing-machine - first as a horse-power implement, and later as the finishing machine, otherwise termed the combined thrashing, dressing, and straw-shaking machine, and the merits of his celebrated invention, patented in combination with the late James Kerridge, the then foreman of the thrashing-machine department at Leiston Works, under date 18th January, 1869, No. 153, still finds high appreciation in all quarters of the globe. Under this arrangement, the wind employed for the two or three blasts necessary at different intervals in the preparation of the grain for market by the combined machine, is produced by one fan, which is keyed upon the same spindle as the thrashing-drum, and the blast is conveyed to the needful points of contact with the grain through wooden channels. The advantage of such a system-which was probably suggested to the inventors by the arrangement adopted in all large smithies for the blowing of the fires by one large fan instead of by a multiplicity of bellows - is so apparent, that it only needs to be added that the practical difficulties attending the application of the invention were completely mastered, in order to make its value understood.

Next to the thrashing-machine, the portable steam-engine may be said to have been the object of Richard Garrett’s engineering life ; and perhaps no man had a more thorough knowledge of the subject. Resolute in all his dealings and opinions, a most careful and trustworthy mechanic, and a perfect manager of workmen, firm and just and charitable, it is difficult to say whether he was most beloved or most respected by his men; and the old hands are still working at their benches at Leiston who helped him to carry the Leiston portable engine forward through its multiplicity of stages to its present prominent position. Mr. Garrett’s opinions were applied with characteristic vigour to matters of mechanical construction, and he never adopted a form of construction because it was simply 'fashionable.'

As an instance of this characteristic, allusion may be made to one point in particular, in respect to which the Leiston engines differ from those of most other leading makers. Nothing would induce Mr. Garrett-at one time even at the risk of a most valuable connection-to construct the commercial portable engine, in which steam is only used expansively to a very limited extent, with a steam-jacket. Mr. Garrett had satisfied himself that a steam-jacket was under such conditions misapplied, and consequently he refused to sacrifice his conviction upon the altar of fashion.

As a young man he used to read a great deal, especially on the subject of the steam-engine, and other mechanical constructions, and although he was only known, as an engineer, by the practical results of his ingenuity, the latter was tempered by a sufficient admixture of sound theory to make his efforts singularly free from error. He was also much opposed to automatic expansion as applied to portable engines, and to the under-type of semi-portable, and these forms of construction he never hesitated to condemn.

Of the compound-system of expansion in double-cylinder portable engines he was as resolute an advocate; and although the credit of instituting this arrangement may be directly attributable to his brother and surviving partner, still the enterprise was undertaken under the highly interested approval and advice of Richard Garrett.

Another instance may be noted of steadfast adherence to his convictions. He was strongly opposed to the prize-system of the Royal Agricultural Society, as applied to agricultural machinery in general, and to portable steam-engines in particular ; and from 1850 onwards he consistently declined to assist at these, as he maintained, misleading competitions.

Notwithstanding the high reputation Mr. Garrett had as an agricultural engineer, he was better known among his neighbours as a tenant-farmer. As a practical agriculturist he held high rank, and the Carleton Hall stock has become famous in bucolic circles. At the time of his death he occupied something like 2,000 acres of land, the greater part of which lay in West Suffolk. He hold a strong opinion that the sporting rights should be combined with the cultivation of the land - an opinion which drove him to the western side of the county, where he accepted a tenancy on Mr. William Angerstein’s estate, near Brandon, just on the Suffolk side of the Ouse.

The Suffolk carthorse was the object of Mr. Garrett’s especial care and study. His enthusiasm took a practical form when, in the year 1869, the sale of Mr. T. Crisp’s Butley Abbey stock nearly occasioned the loss to Suffolk of the finest specimen of its breed (Cupbearer). At 300 guineas the horse was just on the point of being knocked down to a gentleman who desired to take it to a distant colony, when Mr. Garret secured the animal at 370 guineas. This has, for all time, made his name one to be remembered by Suffolk farmers and horse-breeders, and the Cupbearer stock bears testimony to the lasting service he did to the county. His collection of prize cups, which form a special bequest to his brother Frank, and were won chiefly by Cupbearer and his almost equally famous successor, Cupbearer III., is, perhaps, unrivalled in the county as an agricultural collection.

Mr. Garrett was also a breeder of Suffolk sheep, and possessed an excellent and improving herd of shorthorn cattle, which have added not a little to his other trophies. He took an active part in the Suffolk Agricultural Association, of which he had been for some years prior to his death a vice-president. He was likewise a prominent member of the Smithfield Fat-Cattle Club.

In 1877 he joined with Mr. A. W. Crisp and Lord Waveney in advocating the compilation of a Suffolk Stud-Book, and when the Suffolk Stud-Book Association was formed he was made a member of the committee. Whilst he was a large receiver of prizes, he was also a liberal donor, and many local shows have been much indebted to him for encouragement. One of his last acts in the agricultural world was to offer, in conjunction with his brother, Mr. Frank Garrett, the prize of the day at the first show of the Framlingham Association for the breeding of Live-Stock. The offer of the prize, which assumed the form of a challenge cup for the best cart-foal exhibited by a tenant-farmer in the show- yard, was a good example of the interest shown on his part in the encouragement of breeders of useful stock.

Another feature in Mr. Garrett’s career, which increased his popularity amongst agriculturists, was the prominent position which he took in sporting matters. He was an excellent and steady shot, and for many years rented a moor in Scotland, in the neighbourhood of Inverness - a rugged spot on which, to him who was disposed to overcome difficulties of progression, plenty of excellent grouse shooting was to be had, and afforded an entertaining means of spending a holiday to many of Mr. Garrett’s friends and relatives.

For the last few years of his life, however, the exertions of sport in this part were too much for his failing health, and a substitute was found in Mr. W. Angerstein’s sporting-manor. In the hunting-field Mr. Garrett was a familiar figure, and those interested in it will remember him for his plucky riding. No less remarkable was he for the persistency and untiring energy with which, against heavy odds, he struggled to maintain fox-hunting in his game-preserving county.

As a young man he rode to hounds regularly twice a week throughout the season. He was also a great advocate of pugilism in the days when no discredit was attached to the prize-ring, and as an amateur he is said to have had no equal.

In politics Mr. Garrett was a pronounced Conservative and vigorous supporter of the County Members. The Liberal tendencies of commercial enterprise were not strong enough to overcome his Tory preferences. He was a great advocate of the Rifle Volunteer movement in Leiston, and was one of the first to join the local corps. He served for ten years, at the end of which time, having attained the rank of Major, he retired from the service amidst general regret. He might well be styled the father of the Leiston corps, for not only did he join it in its infancy, but_he was always liberal when money was required for the maintenance of the funds. His zeal for the welfare of Suffolk farmers naturally made hill1 take an interest in the Albert Memorial College, at Framlingham, which was intended expressly for the benefit of the agricultural community. Ever since the death of his father in 1866 he took a prominent part in the work connected with the College, and enjoyed the position of Governor. Of late, though retaining his office, he retired from active work in this direction, partly from failing health, but chiefly from the knowledge that now that the school was well established it was no longer in need of the active exertions which he had formerly made on its behalf.

In reviewing Mr. Garrett’s career it is impossible not to be struck with the wide area over which he gained fame and esteem. As an engineer his name is known by the whole agricultural population of the world, while in his native county he enjoyed the greatest popularity among all classes. A successful farmer, a capital judge of cattle and horses, a popular major of volunteers, an active politician, and a genial neighbour, he threw into his pursuits, for the time being, all his ardour. Such a character never fails of recognition in any part of the world, and least of all in England. It is easy to understand the feeling of sorrow with which the news of his death was received, not only by his friends and neighbours, but also by those who had met him in business, either as an engineer or as a farmer.

Mr. Garrett was elected an Associate of the Institution on the 7th of March, 1854, and was transferred to full Membership on the 30th of October, 1877.

He died suddenly, after some months of serious indisposition from heart-disease, on the 30th of July, 1884.


1884 Obituary [7]

RICHARD GARRETT was born at Leiston in the county of Suffolk on 22nd July 1829, and received his education at a private school at Wickham Market.

At the age of fourteen he was apprenticed to his father, the then proprietor of Leiston Works, which was established in the year 1778 as an iron foundry, sickle and general "agricultural implement manufactory," by the Richard Garrett of that day, who was the great-grandfather of the subject of this memoir, and who bad been previously engaged in a business of a similar character at Woodbridge.

In 1850 Mr. Garrett assumed the responsibility of works manager in this rapidly increasing business, and in 1853 he became a partner in Leiston Works, devoting his energies especially to the development of the thrashing machine, first as a horse implement, and afterwards as a steam machine combining the operations of thrashing, dressing, and straw-shaking.

On the portable steam engine he also bestowed great attention, arriving at very decided conclusions with respect to various controverted points: he regarded the steam-jacket as misapplied to commercial portable engines with low expansion, short stroke, and high speed of piston; while for double-cylinder portable engines of a higher class he strongly advocated the compound system of expansion regulated by governors operating directly upon the initial pressure of the steam, in preference to the more popular system of a high rate of independent expansion with a corresponding range of temperature in each cylinder, such independent expansion being in many cases effected by two pairs of slide-valves having their cut-off regulated automatically by the governors.

His health having been failing for some years, his death took place from heart disease, on 30th July 1884, at the age of fifty-five.

He became a Member of the Institution in 1882.

Read his obituary in The Engineer 1884/08/08, page 109.



See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. The Ipswich Journal, Saturday, October 17, 1863
  2. The Ipswich Journal, Saturday, August 2, 1884
  3. The Ipswich Journal, Tuesday, August 5, 1884
  4. The Ipswich Journal, Saturday, August 2, 1884
  5. The Essex Standard, West Suffolk Gazette, and Eastern Counties' Advertiser, Saturday, December 13, 1884
  6. 1884 Institution of Civil Engineers: Obituaries
  7. 1884 Institution of Mechanical Engineers: Obituaries