Tag Archives: Runcorn Canal

New Engine and Propellers for Canal Navigation

Mr Peter Taylor, of Hollinwood, has recently taken out patents for two inventions — one for a rotary high-pressure marine steam engine on a new principle; and the other, that which chiefly calls for notice, for paddles or propellers, also of an entirely new construction. His principal object was to attain that desideratum in steam navigation on canals, sufficient motive power for considerable speed, without the injury to the canal banks caused by the action of the ordinary paddles.

The apparatus consists of a series of vanes or curved blades, placed obliquely, like the sails of a windmill, or like portions of a continuous screw. The apparatus is placed at the stern of the vessel in a small enclosure of water, the sides of the boat being continued beyond the stern, and the rudder being fixed beyond the propellers. They occupy a space of about a yard and a half in length, and, in the instance under notice, seven feet in breadth.

There are two parallel axes or shafts, which project from the stern, each shaft having four pairs of vanes or blades, at short distances, and so placed as to strike the water in quick succession, and obliquely, like the scull of a boat. The oars or blades on one shaft have an action like that of a right-hand screw, and those of the other like that of a left-hand one; and the vanes of each shaft work nearly up to the other shaft, and thus their joint action has the effect of propelling the boat forward, or when reversed, by altering the motion of the driving-wheel, in a direction stern first. They are said to differ (amongst other respects) from all propellers previously invented, both in their screw-like action, and in the axles being wholly under water.

By way of trying experiments with these propellers, Mr Taylor has had a set of them fitted to an old iron boat, about fifty-two feet in length, and seven feet in width, formerly worked on the canals by Messrs Buckley, Kershaw and Co. One of Mr Taylor’s new rotary engines of only five horses’ power has been fitted into the boat, which has been named “The Experiment of Hollinwood“. After several private trials, this boat made its first experimental trip on the river Irwell, yesterday week.

Mr Taylor and a few friends proceeded from the Old Quay, Manchester, as far as Barton-on-Irwell, and on the whole they state that the action of both engine and propellers was satisfactory; though in returning there was a deficiency of steam, from the filling-up of the fire-tubes with coke; a casualty which was remedied as soon as discovered. The speed was regarded as in a high degree satisfactory; being, it is stated, generally at the rate of six, and occasionally seven miles an hour. The motive power was deemed inadequate to accomplish all that the inventor had a right to anticipate; but it is mentioned as one proof of the superiority of his inventions, that the Jack Sharp, a passage boat belonging to the Old Quay Company (whose first trip, after being fitted with engine and stern paddles, we noticed some time ago), was not at all able to keep up with the Experiment, though the engine of the former is twelve horses’, and that of the latter is only five horses’ power.

On Wednesday the Experiment steamed down to Runcorn, by river and canal, and the whole distance was accomplished in about five hours’ working; including the stoppages at the locks, and those caused by the parties on the boat having themselves to open the bridges on the Runcorn Canal. The boat stopped a short time at Barton, and several hours at Warrington, which place it did not leave until dark, and performed the distance between Warrington and Runcorn (which, it is said, is about seven miles and three quarters) in about an hour, including delays from the cause just noticed. This increased rate was attributed to having obtained a better description of coke at Warrington.

The boat remained at Runcorn for some hours, and, having so far performed her work to the satisfaction of the voyagers, they determined to proceed in her to Liverpool. They started from Runcorn at half-past three o’clock on Thursday morning, with the tide, and reached the Rock Ferry, opposite Liverpool, by five o’clock, performing the distance in about an hour and a half.

The Experiment is considered to be by no means well adapted for the purposes of canal steam navigation. She is described as in form more like a box than a boat, and as drawing two feet nine inches water; a manifest disadvantage with so small an engine. We are informed, that all who have seen the boat’s performance, including several engineers who took a trip in her, have expressed themselves much pleased with her speed and general action. We understand there is some probability of the Old Quay Company making a trial of the propellers and engine in one of their twin quick passage boats on the Runcorn Canal.

The Experiment, in these trips, was placed under the care of Isaac Taylor, an experienced captain in the Old Quay Company’s employ, the aid of whose services, as pilot and steersman, was afforded for the occasion by Mr T O Lingard. Taylor says the boat answers her helm readily, turns well, and is very manageable. When at her greatest speed, it was found that the agitation and swell caused by her passing through the water, and by the propellers, had very little effect on the canal boats, the stream from the propellers being thrown off in the centre of the canal, leaving a considerable wake there.

Newcastle Courant 5 June 1840, quoting the Manchester Guardian

From the British Newspaper Archive run by Findmypast Newspaper Archive Limited, in partnership with the British Library.