Manx Victorian Inventors………Bob Stimpson………19.6.13

What an intriguing title. How many of us could name even one Manx Victorian inventor? Bob began his illustrated talk with views of the Royal Society of Arts building in John Adam Street, London. The RSA was founded in 1754 with the aim of encouraging developments in arts, manufacturing and sciences. Members are elected as leaders in their fields of study and mark accomplishment. It plays a major part in education through study and examination. A number of Manxmen have received awards and certificates. The earliest mentioned is George Quayle of Castletown in 1793. He’d invented a control device to balance water flow onto water wheels. These were a major source of power and regulating them automatically was a huge advantage and widely adopted. Examples are still in use.

George’s influence after many persuasive letters enabled the Isle of Man to be accepted as part of the R.S.A. Another George Qualyle invention was a machine that could weave fishing nets at a rate of 100yds per day. Compare that to hand weaving. Lack of finance sank hundreds of potentially useful inventions. Nothing changes – so much potential lost for want of an informed, enthusiastic banking system! We next looked at Mark Cosnahan, 1784 – 1859, a navigator between Liverpool and Jamaica. He invented methods for storing and rigging sails more easily and invented a design to improve the efficiency of paddles on steamers and an on-board still, no, not for alcohol but to obtain freshwater from seawater. Similar devices are still used.

In 1828, William Kennish was awarded an R.S.A. gold medal for inventing a device that focused a broadside from the guns on a small part of an enemy ship, concentrating the damage. Amazingly, this device achieved a similar degree of accuracy to a modern gun turret. Kennish also surveyed a lock-free route for the Panama Canal, in 1855. He designed a hydraulic (water) motor to drive mills. These were widely used in sawmills and even suggested for blowing organs. Does anyone know of any example of this? Given the plentitude of running water, these days and the rising cost of fuels, we ought to look at this again.

We romped along with Robinson’s sliding appliance – a third leg that visitors could attach to have their photographs taken in the Isle of Man and more usefully, Jonathan Kermode of Peel’s invention of an oil burner for ship’s boilers. This was the start of oil-fired marine boilers and he went on to work with Parson’s turbines. How I wish I could mention dozens more!

After refreshments we had a fantastic question and answer session discovering that Bob had thirty odd patents, himself! Next event is a walking treasure hunt. Start at Creg Malin car park 6.15 pm Friday 28th June and afterwards to ‘Mylvoirrey’ by golf course entrance for a BBQ at 7.30pm. Ring Trish Teare 843480 or Corrie Wooding 843502 for a ticket. Thanks to Norman and Trish Teare for their hospitality.