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England - Expo Paris 1867

England at the Exhibition Expo Paris 1867

The time has passed when we went to the English to take lessons in industrial mechanics. Even in industry, they have ceased to be our masters and become and remain our emulators. Today, industry is as much a part of the world as costume and customs: in whatever part of progressive Europe you go, whether it be England, Belgium, Prussia, Switzerland or ours, it is the same people everywhere, with local differences which are no greater from State to State than in the same nation from province to province. The gallery which our drawing represents would provide a demonstration of this, if this demonstration were still to be given. Leaving aside secondary details, we could still believe we are in Prussia, Belgium or France. Certainly, here are powerful cranes, beautiful looms, active sewing machines, ingenious machine tools, imposing locomotives, pumps of remarkable power, admirable lenticular lighthouses; but of each of these precious machines, we have the same here. And let us remember that if we are equal to our neighbours in execution, we are ahead of them in invention.

The great name of Fresnel is attached to that of the lenticular headlights. Long before him, it is true, one of these devices had been executed in England with the thought, at first sight very plausible, that it would be much brighter than the reflector headlights. But experience had belied these predictions; the mirrors, in spite of the enormous loss of rays which occurred on their surface in the act of reflection, carried more intense lights to the horizon, and the lenses were abandoned.

The unknown authors of this abortive attempt had walked at random. Fresnel saw at once where the difficulty lay. He saw that lenticular headlights would only become superior to reflector headlights by considerably increasing the intensity of the illuminating flame, by giving the lenses enormous dimensions which seemed to exceed anything that could be expected from an ordinary manufacture. He also recognized that these lenses should have a very short focus; that by making them according to the usual forms, they would have a great thickness and little diaphaneity, that their weight would be considerable, that it would tire the cogs intended to make the whole system turn, and that it would bring about their destruction quickly.

Fresnel overcame all these difficulties by replacing the ordinary lenses by the stepped lenses; and as it was impossible to manufacture thick masses of glass free from defects, he imagined that these lenses would be composed of small separate pieces. Echeloned lenses had been proposed for a completely different purpose by Buffon, and Condorcet had suggested that they be made in separate pieces. These precedents do not diminish the merit of Fresnel, who was unaware of them, but they are relevant to the glory of France.

Let us also remember that the sewing machine is a French invention. The inventor is B. Thimonnier aîné, tailor in Amplepuis, department of the Rhône. There had been a few attempts before him; they even go back to 1804, but they were shapeless attempts devoid of any practical character. It was on 17 April 1840 that Thimonnier took out his first patent for mechanical sewing. His machine formed a chain stitch. It sewed with a single thread, the needle was hooked and operated vertically. As it lowered, it perforated the fabric and went to pick up the thread underneath it and bring it back up. A back stitch was formed on the wrong side and a chain stitch on the right side, as in crochet embroidery. The inventor later made various modifications to his machine; there are patents from him with the following dates: 1845, 10 June, application of the crochet embroidery stitch system to mechanics, and consequently to sewing; 1845, 21 July, improved machine known as a chain-stitch sewing machine; 1848, 5 August, Thimonnier and Mangi, sewing and embroidery machines, A workshop was organised shortly after the first patent was taken out; it was somewhere in the rue de Sevres. But the mechanicals were not then in the odour of sanctity with the workers. They gathered and broke the sewing machines: Thimonnier, threatened, had only time to escape through a window. He did not make any profit from his invention; let the honour at least remain with him!
His children or grandchildren, who a few years ago were in a state bordering on misery, aroused the solicitude of the society of encouragement.

Finally, let us recall, because we must limit ourselves, that the organ to which the locomotive owes its power and speed, the tubular boiler, is also a French invention; the invention of our illustrious compatriot, M. Seguin aîné, nephew of the Montgolfiers. He had just invented wire bridges and built the first bridge of this kind seen in France and elsewhere, that of Tournon, on the Rhone, which cost three times less than a stone bridge would have cost. He was in the process of organising the first steamboat service on the Rhone that had ever plied the waters of that river. It was then that he imagined using a tubular boiler. At about the same time, having obtained the concession for the railway from Saint-Etienne to Lyon, which is the oldest of those that Fiance possesses, he made use of his boilers on this then unique route. This was in 1827; he took out a patent the following year, and it was not until more than a year and a half later (October 1829) that England made similar boilers. They then appeared in the locomotive competition on the Liverpool to Manchester route.

It is French history that we are dealing with, so we will be allowed to insist and to invoke the testimony of Arago, who spoke in these terms on 9 May 1838 in the gallery of the Chamber of Deputies.

The locomotive engine is the boiler," he said, "it does not exist in this little mechanism that is admired by the uneducated, it is in the rapid, efficient means of generating the steam that the machine needs to run. Well, it is the work of a French civil engineer, of M. Seguin, the English cannot dispute it. A well-characterised patent, published in France, had preceded Stephenson's machine. "

But where we have the underbelly with the English, is when on the threshold of their exhibition of machines they erect that quadrangular pyramid of 3".05 sides at the base and 13™.54 in elevation, which is seen in our drawing, and which was erected by the care of the Commissioners of the Colony of Victoria. This pyramid represents the volume of gold extracted from this colony during a period of fifteen years (from 1851 to 1866); the quantity of the precious metal thus figured is 36514361 ounces having a total value of 3,651,436,100 francs. We have nothing to put against this, - but we will not dwell on it further, the subject having been treated with great interest by M. de la Blanchère in No. 29 of the Illustrated Exhibition.

In front of this triumphant pyramid (in front for those who enter the gallery through the main door) is a brave steam crane of six tons strength, which boasts of having been employed from February 5th of this year to April 1st, the day of the inauguration of the Palace, in unloading the parcels of machinery destined for the English section of the Exhibition, a job which was accomplished without the slightest accident and which the same crane promises to repeat when the time comes for this immense removal.

On one side of the same monument, we have a very nice model of the beautiful and powerful steam dredges built by Messrs. Thomas Wingate and Co. The dimensions, not of the model, but of the dredger are in English measures: length 158 feet; width 39 feet; depth 11 feet 6 inches. The force is 50 horsepower. It extracts 1000 tons per hour from a depth of 50 feet.

On the other side of the pyramid are the well-known pumps of Merryweather and Sons, soon followed by the Bastier pump-chain, followed by the centrifugal pumps of Owens and Company, Williamsons Brothers, Gwynne's, etc., etc.; three lines of et cetera; for, in England as in France, the improvement of pumps never ceases to be the aim of researchers. Nothing will seem simpler if we consider the immense role that water plays in our existence, and the necessity we almost always have, in order to make it serve our purposes, to raise it above the level at which it presents itself to us. A distinguished technologist said that there is hardly a man familiar with invention who has not tried, at least once in his life, to provide his contemporaries with a lamp, superior in some way to all common lamps; it can be said, with the same truth, that there is no inventor who has not cherished the dream of a pump without defects. Moreover, no announcement has, more than that of the invention of a pump, the gift of arousing the attention of a multitude of interested parties. This one, indeed, is in search of a domestic pump not subject to frequent disturbances; that one, of a fire pump uniting to a considerable flow a great lifting force, F agriculture thinks of its irrigations; the engineer of the mines and the contractor of the works claim for the drainings; the town councillors would like some machine operating with economy an abundant distribution of water; it would be necessary to the sailor a pump able, according to the circumstances, to preserve his ship from one or the other of these two scourges: fire and water. But the list of needs to be met is endless. Therefore, pumps of varying degrees of innovation, and above all of varying degrees of practicality, appear at every exhibition. The Exhibition of 1867 was no exception to this rule, and the English section observed it no less exactly than any other section. Merryweather's fire pumps, already mentioned above, won the first grand prize. Some are steam-driven, others hand-driven. In the former, in less than seven minutes the steam is brought up to a sufficient pressure and the least experienced persons can take charge. The manufacturers have placed them for the English government in all the docks of the United Kingdom. In an experiment made at the Champ de Mars, one of them, very large, and named the Emperor, carried a jet of water of 45 millimetres in diameter 65 metres.

We remember the success of Appold's centrifugal pump at the first of our universal exhibitions. Centrifugal pumps are distinguished by the great simplicity of their simply arranged components; they occupy little space, can be mounted anywhere, receive the impulse of a motor without the intervention of connecting rods or any other kind of rod, and finally lift volumes of liquid that no other pump can move with the same ease. This can be seen from the water tower maintained by the Gwynne pump; the real waterfall, against whose splashes a glass partition protects the walkers, attracts all eyes. This pump is as successful today as Appold's was in the past. This is the highest award that has been given to the mechanicals exhibited in this class.

Three steam engines ensure the free operation of the spinning machines; a fourth operates the sawmills and the hydraulic machines. On the edge of the road is a Galleway machine, remarkable for its incomparable heaviness. Nearby is a fine 35 horsepower engine built by Messrs. Hick, Hargrave and Co. The cylinder extends, forms a shell and guides the piston slide in its concavity. The ordinary spool is replaced by small curved spools that turn through only a quarter of a revolution. Thus, the introduction - the exit of the steam occurs at the very ends of the cylinder; the admission takes place at full opening.

Up to now, little attention has been paid in England to saving fuel. Our neighbours are now coming to healthier ideas. A machine exhibited by Mr. Porter, and which is perhaps the most original thing in the English exhibition, responds to this new concern. It is a high-speed condensing steam engine. It is of the nominal force of 50 horse-power, but it can supply 100 horse-power at the brake with a pressure of 5 atmospheres and an expansion of one fifth. It completes its 200 revolutions per minute. The condenser is insulated and placed behind the cylinder. Up to now, no fast condensing machines have been built in France. But space is short and we have to leave it at that for now.

The Palais du Champ de Mars is the temple of Pan; the Exhibition embraces and summarizes the whole of human knowledge, exalted to its highest current point of perfection.

To walk around this palace, circular as the equator, is literally to turn around the world; all peoples have come; it is a jubilee, enemies live in peace side by side. As in the beginning of things on the orb of the waters, the divine Spirit hovers over this iron orb.

The ecumenical exhibition will go down in the history of time.

As we enter the machinery nave, we feel how impossible it is to study in a few pages and in a few days all the marvels that are piled up there.

Knowing that the smallest of inventions is in some way the fruit of a man's life, often all his hope, we deplore the inevitable gaps, and never has the poet's melancholy thought come back to us with more bitterness: arslonga, vila brevis.

As you enter this vast gallery, a quarter of a kilometre long and two-thirds of its length occupied by moving machines, through the great door, you see on the right the exhibition of the French Empire and on the left that of the British Empire; it is on this side that we shall follow the promenade.

Here is the Post-Office exhibition first. M. Bellet has published an article on this subject, and we would not return to it if we had not been struck by the danger offered by the apparatus designed to receive and leave letters without stopping the trains. They consist of two pieces of iron which project out of the door of the mail wagon, one of which leaves the mail bag for the station, and the other removes the mail bag from it.

This is all very well, but if someone was on the platform when the mail train passed, he would be removed like a mail bag, but in several pieces. To avoid this inconvenience, it will be sufficient to exchange the bags above the carriage and not at man's height. It is quite simple. Notice to our administration for the day when it will adopt this system, which is very practical, although inferior to a system based on the ring game principle, invented by a Frenchman several years ago.

Still belonging to the Post-Office, we notice the model of one of the steam-packets which make, with the velocity of a gull skimming the waves, the service of Ireland between Holy-Head and Kingstown near Dublin. These boats do 34 kilometres an hour! This is the fastest speed that has ever been achieved at sea. But this brilliant result is obtained by a very crude process; it is by giving a coaster ship a transatlantic engine, a 720 horsepower engine which consumes an appalling quantity of coal, that this abnormal speed is achieved.

We will leave aside the golden pyramid, the cranes, the pumps and the driving machines of which M. Meunier has spoken to our readers, and we will point out to them Ladd's curious electric machine.

Roughly speaking, this machine may be considered as consisting of two soft iron plates, covered with copper wire, between which turn two soft iron cylinders, also covered with copper wire in the longitudinal direction. This mass is absolutely inert; but, when the cylinders begin to turn rapidly between the plates, immediately, by a transformation of unknown mode, the motion is changed into electricity, and the current causes innumerable sparks to fly, or feeds an electric lamp.

Among the advances that can be seen at this exhibition is the increasingly frequent use of compressed water and air.
There are few occupations more arduous, more dangerous and more deadening than that of the miserable coal miners, who have to remove the coal from the walls of the mine galleries. Often the coal bed is thin, the shaft low and narrow, the man is obliged to dig on his knees or lying in the black mud; at the slightest landslide he is dead. Well, here is a "mechanical water pressure cutter" that will now take care of the awful task. Pushed by the compressed water, the knives with which the piston of the machine is armed penetrate the mineral matter to 1™, 20 deep and divide it into regular blocks.

Another invention that will be cursed by those who will deliver it from the prison, but the children will bless the machine that the fathers will have hated.
Digging a mine or drilling a tunnel is getting closer; here, on the right, we have the apparatus used for the latter purpose. A crown of foils, set in motion by compressed air, strikes the surface of the rock with precipitous blows. The steel blades detach from the mass a cylinder which is extracted in debris. A circular gallery is thus dug out little by little, and the compressed air is distributed through a pipe to the heart of the mountain.

A thick mist escapes from the pump body with each stroke of the piston. Curious onlookers cautiously step aside for fear of being burned by the steam. Boldly plunge your hand into the jet, oh surprise! it is icy. This is due to the expansion and cooling of the compressed air as it is released into the atmosphere; the moisture with which the compressed air is charged condenses immediately.

We have now arrived at the innumerable series of machines for spinning and weaving. It is radically impossible for us to enter into a detailed description of very ingenious but excessively complicated devices, of which one could hardly give a clear idea by writing a whole volume; moreover, the improvements presented by each device are generally comprehensible, appreciable and interesting only for those in the trade, so to speak. We will therefore be reduced to speaking in some detail only about one particular exhibition, choosing a typical and complete exhibition such as that of Messrs Platt, frères et Cie, which won the gold medal.

There we find all the processes of spinning and some processes of weaving of wool and cotton. The first device through which the cotton passes is only used at the place of harvest; it is used to separate the flock from the seed of the cotton plant, and consists essentially of sharp blades oscillating with great speed. The cotton compressed by the hydraulic press is sent in this state to Europe.

In the European mills, the textile material is delivered to a threshing machine, which spreads it out and felts it into a cloth. This cloth is taken up by the carding machines. These are loaded with a light filling which is collected by a comb. The cotton is now just a vaporous, almost elusive cloud, but it begins to contract and, in the form of a large, extremely light cord, it is wound into the interior of a metal cylinder. Six of these cords are then welded together on the drawing bench, which tightens them into a smaller cord.

This machine seems animated and intelligent. If one of the cords breaks, it stops like a docile worker. The reason for this is that the cotton presses on a light lever which falls back and stops the movement as soon as the thread breaks.

After passing through this device three times, the threads are twisted on the spindle benches and finally spun by the Mull Jenny.

Depending on their fineness, the threads are marked with a number indicating the number of skeins contained in a pound. The English skein is 840 yards long, the French skein is just over a kilometre long. There is yarn number 1200 at the Exhibition! It can hardly be seen without a microscope.

Everyone knows about spinning mills, but do you know that there are huge factories that are only occupied with making the machines for spinning mills. Such is the case with Messrs. Platt, who are neither spinners nor weavers, and whose weaving machine factory employs seven thousand workers. Every week this establishment can assemble a thirty thousand-spindle spinning mill, and it has the disposal of its products.

Today, moreover, in the whole of Great Britain, the number of spindles exceeds thirty-six million. Their product amounts to one hundred and three million kilometres of cotton yarn every day. The working day being ten hours, it is concluded that the length of thread produced in the whole of England in one minute would be sufficient to go round the earth four times.

We find these astonishing figures in the excellent weekly review, Les Mondes, directed by one of the most tasteful, but unfortunately least assiduous, contributors to our publication, M. l'abbé Moigno.

Let us also note a small loom which, when a thread breaks, changes its own shuttle and continues its work.

On the other side of the promenade we find the splendid exhibition of Whitworth, of Manchester, who won the supreme prize, the grand prix.

The machines are not very numerous: a lathe for turning locomotive wheels, five or six formidable tools which cut iron as a carpenter's tools cut wood, that is all; but what perfection in form, what simplicity in combination, what purity in metal, silky and moiré as a luxurious fabric! It is impossible to have studied machines and to know what iron is without remaining in admiration before these products of one of the greatest workshops in the world. Notice, moreover, these prismatic balls, which are those of the Whithworth hexagonal cannons, whose formidable power has carried the fame of the illustrious manufacturer further than any of the remarkable devices of his establishments could have done.

After the ironworking machines, we come to the woodworking machines. These are in motion, chips are flying everywhere, and the almost sinister whistling of the circular saws can be heard.

First of all, there is the boatman of Messrs Worssam and Co. There, planes driven in a rapid rotary movement, smooth out in a moment the most gnarled and jagged beams. Here another machine, the universal carpenter, saws, planes, mortises and tenons, squares, cuts grooves, etc., in short accomplishes the work of fifteen men. A final machine cuts out the mouldings and carves the ornaments by steam.

Other equally ingenious tools belonging to competitors are available to us, but we have to walk, and this reason alone prevents us from talking about them, we recall once and for all.

Let's look at this hammer of Thwaites and Carbutt. Two iron arms half a metre thick support the steam cylinder above the anvil, the piston of which is armed with the pestle. The mass, thrown with the stiffness of a ball by the high-pressure steam, kneads the glowing iron like a soft paste, and it is literally with cannon blows that the great lay shafts of steamers and all the huge pieces of metal put into use by modern mechanics are forged.

Among the instruments of general mechanics which succeed the machines, we noticed, among a thousand other ingenious devices, a weighing scale for weighing wagons of a particularly careful construction. Weighing up to 15,000 kilograms, the scale can accurately measure up to one kilogram.

It is not only because of the simplicity and finish of its construction that this powerful Roman scale is remarkable, but also because it is divided according to the metric system. The legal adoption of this system by Parliament is beginning to bear fruit. The English table of metric measures compared with the usual measures, drawn up by Mr. Charles Dowling, was proudly displayed in the coin pavilion by the International Clay Commission. It was this chart which, when displayed on the walls of Parliament, finally made the advantages of our system clear to all members and led them to adopt it voluntarily.

Beyond that we find the cars and locomotives fraternally united. We do not have to deal with the bodywork, which Mr. Poitevin has spoken of most ably. As for the locomotives, promising to study those of the French section as thoroughly as our framework, which is unfortunately so limited for all that needs to be included, will allow us to postpone what needs to be said about foreign locomotives, in order to avoid tedious repetition. We shall follow the same method for the study of telegraphs.

Let us make an exception, however, in favour of submarine cables, for England alone manufactures them on a large scale. Mr. Henley and Mr. Hooper exhibited samples of nearly all the cables which lie on the bottom of the sea, and this is very curious; but Mr. Hooper's cables, covered with vulcanised rubber, are stronger, cheaper, and more insulating than ordinary gutta-percha cables, and this is what won them the gold medal. They will be used next year to establish a telegraph line between France and America.

At the entrance to the transverse street, we must turn away to admire the window of Mr. Matthey, who received the same award for his platinum devices.

His workshops are the largest laboratories in the world; nowhere are so many precious metals, gold, silver, platinum, aluminium, etc., handled. In the past, platinum was painfully forged at the highest furnace temperature; it remained porous and was never very homogeneous; to solder it, gold had to be used at four times the cost of platinum. If one had the misfortune to heat the vases to nothing, the gold would melt and everything would come loose.

Messrs Sainte-Claire-Deville and Debray succeeded, by heating the metal with lighting gas burnt with oxygen, in melting platinum like lead; this singularly simplified the difficult metallurgy of this metal and made it possible to solder it with itself. But no one in France adopted the new method, and it was M. Matthey who had the merit of being the first to apply it in a major way. He owed him the off-line perfection of his products.

It would remain for us to speak of the British colonies, but fortunately, as we lack space, M. de la Blanchère has described them ex professo, and there is very little left to glean after him. Let us mention, however, in New Zealand, the bones, as big as those of an ox, of this bird, the moa, four metres high (twice the size of the ostrich), which has only disappeared from the country in recent years, if it does not yet exist in the forests of the interior.

In short, it is perhaps in this gallery of the common arts that the British genius is most powerfully and grandly revealed. Our neighbours have been able to attract our artists at a high price, to monopolise their works, but there is one thing they have not been able to acquire: the delicacy of taste. Their goldsmiths exhibit richly ornamented vases, but it is not the name of the chiseller that they think of putting on the object, it is the value in pounds sterling and the weight in pounds troy of their "massive" crockery as they so complacently.... and rightly write. Their instrument makers build organs with pure, harmonious sounds, but they daub the pipes with gaudy colours that make the organ case look like a mirliton shop.

©L'Exposition Universelle de 1867 Illustrée