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Gardner and Co

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January 1880.

of Armagh

1830 Company established.

Samuel Gardner of Armagh was an engineer and millwright. He went into partnership with William Kirk, a textile manufacturer with a view to producing Fourneyron turbines. Gardner and/or Kirk travelled to France to learn more about this type of machine. Benoit Fourneyron was uncooperative, as he was with William Cullen who also travelled from Armagh on a similar mission (see MacAdam, Brothers and Co: Water Turbines. Nevetheless, Gardner embarked on producing water turbines.[1]

We refer with pleasure to an advertisement in today’s paper, from the Messrs. Gardner, by which it may seen that these gentlemen, much to their own honour, and the credit of this city,- have succeeded in bringing to perfection the best water wheel ever invented — the turbine. The Overshot, Breast, Undershot, and Poncelet wheels have had their day, and some of them may yet answer peculiar circumstances, but we believe there is no one practically acquaint with machinery, but gives the preference in an infinite degree to Monsiuer Founeyron’s modern invention, either in point of economy or power. It is peculiarly adapted to Ireland, rendering unnecessary the expense of erecting a steam engine and a water wheel in the one concern, which was becoming general practice, by being equally adapted to the very lowest as well as the highest fall of water ; so that once the turbine is erected, in any thing like a fair locality, the owner of the machinery is to a great extent freed from every disadvantage attending cosmical laws, which have heretofore defied the power of science.— The work may be prosecuted in all seasons of the year, and even that is no small desideratum, for manufacturers know that with all the other engines, the very time they are most required is the time when from one cause or other they cannot be called into operation ; affecting not only the interests of the employer but the employed and many others besides. One of the Messrs. Gardner went to France specially to examine M. Fourneyron’s invention, and and his brother having since devoted their genius and talent, with the assistance of the Rev. Dr. ROBINSON, have succeeded in bringing it to perfection, and we trust that a little time will amply remunerate them.
Having said thus much, we quote the opinion of a person intimately conversant with the subject:-
"The turbine is horizontal wheel furnished with curved float boards, on which the water presses from a cylinder which is suspended over the wheel, and the base of which is divided by curved partitions, that the water may be directed in issuing, to produce upon the curved float-boards of the wheel its greatest effect. The best curvature to be given to the fixed partitions and to the float boards is a delicate problem, but practically it has been completely solved. The construction of the machine is simple ; its parts not liable to go out of order, and as the action of the water is by pressure, the force is under the most favourable circumstances for being utilized.
"The effective economy of the turbine appears equal to that of the overshot wheel. But this economy in the turbine is accompanied by some conditions which rendered it peculiarly valuable. In a water wheel you cannot have great economy of power without very slow motion, and hence where high velocity is required at the working point, a train of mechanism is necessary, which causes material loss of force. Now in the turbine, the greatest economy is accompanied by rapid motion, and hence the connected machinery may be rendered less complex. Thus if a turbine is working with a force of ten horses, and that its supply of water is suddenly doubled, it becomes of twenty horse power; if the supply reduced to one-half, it still works five horse power : whilst such sudden and extreme changes would altogether disarrange water wheels, which can only be constructed for the minimum and allow the overplus to waste.
"In all cases of very high or very low falls, Mr. Ruhlman as well all other engineers who have written on the subject, gives decided preference to the turbine, and considers, that their universal application to such circumstances can only be retarded by want of foresight and of knowledge of their actual performance.
"The extreme conditions under which the turbine will act, are shewn very satisfactorily by the result of one erected at St. Blasien, and by which is driven the machinery of a cotton mill, containing 8000 spindles, with carding machines, beaters, and all other necessary engines. The flow of water was one cubic foot per second, but a height of 332 feet was available. On a fifty foot overshot wheel, this quantity of water would give but five and three-fourths theoretical, and but four and one-fourth practical horse power ; but the water, being collected at distance of two miles, brought to St. Blasien by a metal pipe eighteen inches diameter, and delivered to the turbine with all its pressure available. The wheel of the turbine is but one foot diameter, and it makes about 2250 revolutions in a minute. Its theoretical force is thirty-eight horse power, of which nearly three-fourths or twenty-eight horse power is delivered in practice.
"Contrasted with this machine, are the great turbines erected at St. Maur, near Paris, to grind corn. The wheel of each turbine is six feet in diameter : its paddles ten inches high.— The head of water averages 11 ft. 9 in., and the discharge thirty-four cubic feet per second. Each turbine drives ten pair of millstones, with all accompanying cleansing machinery, and in twenty-four hours grinds fifteen tons of corn. The theoretical power of each turbine equals forty-five and a half horse power ; the practical efficiency is thirty-three. In another case where the height of the fall of water to the turbine was but thirteen inches, the economy in practice was 55 per cent, of the theoretical power."
Such is Professor Kane's impartial decision, and there is no need for saying more in order to convince our friends and the public of the vast superiority of the turbine or horizontal water wheel.'[2]

1850 'ARMAGH FOUNDRY.- A new turbine wheel, on an improved principle, and of an ingenious construction, manufactured by the Messrs. Gardner, Armagh, has recently forwarded to Curraghmore, near Waterford, for the Marquis of Waterford. In the foundry in question, one of the very few remaining manufactories of Armagh, fifty men have regular employment.— Mr. Cullen, wheelwright, of Armagh, and a mechanic of rare ability, lately drew an admirable design of turbine wheel, one which, we understand, is getting manufactured at the Soho Foundry, Belfast.' [3]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. 'Early water turbines in the British Isles' by Alan Crocker, Industrial Archaeology Review, XXII: 2, 2000
  2. Armagh Guardian, 10 August 1847
  3. Armagh Guardian, 1 July 1850