Search

Engineer commemorated

PUBLISHED: 16:16 09 April 2008 | UPDATED: 11:11 12 August 2010

A PLAQUE marking the former home of engineering pioneer has been erected. English Heritage unveiled the blue plaque at the former Sydenham Hill home of Sir Francis Pettit Smith who led the way in using the screw-propeller on steamboats. Sir Francis, who

A PLAQUE marking the former home of engineering pioneer has been erected.

English Heritage unveiled the blue plaque at the former Sydenham Hill home of Sir Francis Pettit Smith who led the way in using the screw-propeller on steamboats.

Sir Francis, who lived at 17 Sydenham Hill from 1864 until 1870, is lauded for ensuring the screw-propeller overtook the paddle-wheel as the standard method of steamship propulsion.

Though his idea was not unique, Pieter van der Merwe of the National Maritime Museum described his work as having led to an 'epoch-making change'.

In 1835, Kent-born Smith demonstrated the method of propulsion, invented in the 17th century, was possible to integrate in a steam engine with a driveshaft that would work effectively and remain watertight where it passed through a ship's hull.

In 1836, Smith built a six-ton launch, the Francis Smith, which was fitted with a 32-inch two-turn wooden screw and a single cylinder engine.

During the trials, half the screw broke off and they discovered that with a shorter propeller the vessel's speed actually increased.

Fitted with a shorter propeller, the Francis Smith steamed around the Kent coast and its excellent performance in stormy weather attracted the attention of the Admiralty, who persuaded Smith to build a larger ship, The Archimedes, which was launched in 1838.

In 1840, the Admiralty ordered the construction of HMS Rattler, the Navy's first screw-driven warship and 20 years later, some 2,300 Navy and merchant ships had been fitted with the screw.

Despite its apparent success, Smith and his backers derived little profit from his invention, receiving a one-off payment by the authorities to all propeller designers.

Initially sales in his system were very low, but his reputation among colleagues meant that he received a national testimonial in 1857.

In 1860, he was appointed curator of the Patent Office Museum in South Kensington and he was knighted in 1871, three years before his death.

0 comments

Latest news

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Wondering what the weather has in store for us this weekend? Watch our Met Office video forecast.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Ravens beaten by Peterborough United in FA Cup last weekend despite brave effort

Friday, November 16, 2018

Now back from recording the second series of All Together Now, Brit School teacher and Bromley local Georg Tormann is now warming up for Christmas with his Beckenham-based choir.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Parents sporting ‘Say Yes To Bullers’ T-shirts packed into Bromley Civic Centre for the closing of a planning inquiry into a proposed school.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

There are three weeks left to donate to this year’s Christmas Charity Appeal and help to give families in need some happy memories around the festive period.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Detectives investigating the fatal stabbing of 22-year-old Ayodeji Habeeb Azeez in Anerley have charged a 23-year-old man with murder.

Most read

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Bromley Times e-edition today
E-edition

Newsletter Sign Up

Bromley Times twice-weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Show Job Lists

Family Notices 24