I had a very productive day at work today. While I managed to knock off seven Object records, I also bulked out quite a few People records.
Here’s a taster…
William Muir (1806-1888) was a Scottish engineer who travelled the country going from engineering firm to engineering firm, meeting and working with some of the greatest Victorian innovators and builders. At each firm he picked up a little more expertise until he was called to go and work for the great Joseph Whitworth in Manchester.
He then met the guy who invented the train ticket, Thomas Edmondson. Over a pint (or two) William worked out how to build a machine which would print Thomas’ tickets. Without any thoughts of regret, William started his own engineering firm (William Muir & Co) in Shalford and, apart from plenty of other stuff, made train ticket printing machines while Thomas moved in upstairs and printed the actual tickets.
Muir’s grew and soon William moved, building the Britannia Works, Manchester. He died a wealthy and content man.
Then there was John Cooke Bourne (1814-1896), a watercolourist, lithographer and printer.
One day, John was sitting on a hill painting the scene before him. It was the beginnings of the London and Birmingham Railway, digging and transforming its way north. A chap stopped and admired his work. He then asked John if he was interested in a commission.
Of course, John jumped at the chance and was soon painting the same scenes but for money. The idea was to show the changing landscape as the railway progressed. It ended up being a book called ‘Drawings of the London and Birmingham Railway.’
The success of the book brought John lots of other work and, eventually, led to him travelling to Russia with the great bridge building engineer Charles Vignoles in order to paint ‘artist’s impressions’ of his new bridge over the Dnieper river in Kiev. John liked Russia so much he stayed, continuing to paint more great engineering feats.
Finally, there was Richard Joliffe Taplin (1797-1864), a Royal Navy engineer who invented a telescopic funnel.
He worked at the Royal Dockyards, Woolwich for 43 years, rising up through the ranks, finally retiring as an Assistant Inspector of Steam Machinery. Sadly he then died shortly after leaving work.
Because he worked for the Admiralty, he didn’t make any money from his invention (the Admiralty owned all intellectual property built for them) however, he did win a medal at the Great Exhibition of 1851 for the funnel.
There were others but I’ll save them for another post.
The other big thing today was the new entrance to the V&A. The official opening is tomorrow when Exhibition Road will be closed to traffic and a big party atmosphere will prevail all day. Today, however, there was a Members’ Preview so the big gate was open and the general hoi poloi could see into the new courtyard.
I heard on Front Row that the courtyard tiles are all porcelain and come from Holland. They were raving about porcelain tiles. I could have told them about porcelain tiles! We have enough of them. Anyway, the whole thing cost £50m and not one penny came from the public purse. (That’s better than the DUP.) It was all from private donors including lottery winners.
I’ll be investigating it all more closely next week. For now, here’s a short video of the Japanese section of the V&A.
And, because I can’t seem to stop finding beautiful things at the V&A…here’s an exquisite 8″ Little Red Riding Hood in terracotta: