Joseph Bramah

Joseph Bramah- portrait in oils

About 1772 the lame son of a Stainborough (near Barnsley in Yorkshire) estate worker packed his bag and set off to walk to London. Unable to do farm work he turned his attention to his mechanical interests. After a few years in London he began a small business of his own and then found time for his developing a series in ingenious inventions.

the water closet – patented in 1778 and in use for more than a century

the lock – patented in 1784 and the most secure lock for seventy years and more

steam-engines – between 1792 and 1799 Bramah’s improved designs made for more efficient boilers

pumping machines and the hydraulic press – several inventions assisted in the brewing trade, for example a Beer Pump which raised the beer from the cask to the sale point in the bar

his greatest invention was his Hydraulic Press (1795) which was used on on a number of occasions by famous engineers including the hoisting of the Tubes of the Britannia Bridge (raising 1,144 tons)

wood-planing machine – (1802) produced smooth surfaces on demand and was later used on metal

the printing machine – 1806 machine which printed numbers and datelines on bank notes

civil engineering – Bramah was always involved with the manufacturing side of his inventions. In 1812 he patented an ambitious scheme to lay water pipes through London to carry pressurised water for extinguishing fires. He also designed the new waterworks in Norwich (1790-93) with great success

Bramah died in 1814 and his memorial in Silkstone church (Yorkshire) says of him

… by rare genius and eminent perseverance, he advanced himself to considerable eminence as an engineer and machinist and matures several inventions of the greatest public utility…

with acknowledgement to  Brian Elliott – The Making of Barnsley – Wharncliffe Publishing 1988

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