Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Humphrey Edwards

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Humphrey Edwards was a Lambeth millwright and engineer specialising in steam engines.

Edwards was in partnership with Arthur Woolf, making high pressure condensing compound steam engines and high pressure boilers developed by Woolf. Some time after the partnership ended in 1811, Edwards went to France to market Woolf-type made compound steam engines in France where he had taken out a licence to import the machines. Later, in 1816, he started to construct, or partly construct, engines in the workshops of the Anzin Coal Co in France. For more detail on this aspect of Edwards' work, see Périer (France), where the sources of this information are identified.

A Woolf steam engine was installed in Gros Cailou (in Paris) in a trial with a view to replacing the exisiting engine (a single compound steam engine made by Watt). The engine was installed to lift water into a reservoir that would supply water to the west of Paris and the Left Bank.

Edwards had suggested that his engine would use 50% of the fuel used by the Watt engine. This saving appears not to have been achieved. A court case took place in between Edwards (supplier) and M. Lecour (purchaser of the new machine). Expert witnesses suggested that Edward’s machine saved only 13% and the Woolf engine was not installed as a result.

This case shows the difficulties faced by early steam engines / engineers. Edwards’s son Henry Hind Edwards took over the company but by 1847 he had given up on fixed steam engines and turned his attention to steam locomotives, joining the new Paris Railway Company in Strasburg.

See Also


Sources of Information

  • [1] Wikipedia France
  • Harveys of Hayle by Edmund Vale. 1966. ISBN 978 0 904040 78 4