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Richard Turner

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Richard Turner (c1798-1881) of Oxmantown Foundry and Hammersmith Foundry, Dublin

Born Dublin, c.1798.

Irish iron-founder and structural engineer.

His works included the Palm House at Kew Gardens (with Decimus Burton), the glasshouse in the Winter Gardens at Regent's Park in London, the Palm House at Belfast Botanic Gardens and the Curvilinear Range at the Irish National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin, Ireland. He was a pioneer in the structural use of wrought iron. The glasshouses which he designed were sophisticated and innovative, as the use of wrought and cast iron was at the leading edge of building technology at the time. He used standardised components and prefabricated elements manufactured off-site for later assembly, together with curved glass in long lengths.

Turner designed and constructed the railway sheds at Westland Row and at the Broadstone in Dublin, and Lime Street in Liverpool, but also turned his hand to the design and manufacture of railings, boilers, cisterns and bedsteads. His entry in Thom’s directory for 1849 describes him as ‘manufacturer of wrought-iron gates, railway conservatories, hothouses etc., and hot water engineer’, indicating the broad range of activities which the firm undertook.

Turner's premises from the 1830s was at Hammersmith Works, Ballsbridge. In Samuel Lewis’s 1837 Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, he describes the new Hammersmith Works as part of the entry for ‘Ball’s-Bridge’ as follows: ‘Near the village are the Hammersmith iron-works, established in 1834 by Mr. R. Turner: the front of this extensive establishment is 200 feet long, presenting a handsome façade towards the road; and at the back are numerous dwelling houses for the workmen, which are called the Hammersmith cottages. The road on which these works are situated has been greatly improved; wide footpaths have been formed, and the whole is lighted with gas. Nearly adjoining the works are the botanical gardens belonging to Trinity College’ [1]

1844 Richard Turner was involved in the first use of rolled wrought iron 'I' beams for structural purposes. These were for the Palm House at Kew Gardens. The beams, patented by Kennedy and Vernon of Liverpool were rolled by Malins and Rawlinson of Millwall, and sent to Turner’s in Dublin to be joined and rolled to the correct curves, then sent to Kew [2]

Richard Turner's business was carried on by his son William, and encompassed the Oxmantown Foundry previously owned by Thomas Hughes.

A list of Richard Turner's works is included in the Dictionary of Irish Architects[3]

1859 'NEW PATENT BALANCE ROLLING BRIDGE. The inconvenience of the ordinary swivel-bridges at dock entrances has led Messrs. Turner and Gibson, of Hammersmith Iron Works, in this city, to devote their attention to the remedying of the objections complained of, and these gentlemen have recently patented an invention simpler in construction, less liable to get out of order, and presenting less impediment to the public traffic than those structures now in use. The principal features of the design are, that the motion is longitudinal, the bridge being lifted in toto out of its berth, balanced and travelling on two rollers, and raised, opened, and shut by two others. The massive and expensive stonework of swivel-bridges is dispensed with, as the ordinary roadway receives the bridge in its longitudinal course of motion; and the gearing is of a less complicated character. A working model may seen at Hammersmith Iron Works and Oxmantown Foundry.'[4]

1860 Turner and Gibson of Hammersmith erected a rolling bridge at George's Dock, North Wall, Dublin. Designed by M. Kenney. Crossed a waterway 47 ft wide.[5]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. [1] Wikipedia entry for Richard Turner
  2. [2] 'Civil Engineering Heritage - London and the Thames Valley': Dennis Smith; I.C.E. 2001
  3. [[3]]Dictionary of Irish Architects
  4. The Dublin Builder, 4 April 1859
  5. The Dublin Builder, 5 March 1860