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William Murdock

(1754—1839) engineer and inventor


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(1754–1839). Inventor. Murdock was born in Ayrshire and spent almost all his life in the employment of Boulton and Watt's firm at Soho. For many years he represented them in Cornwall, where they had sold many pumping-engines, which he maintained. While at Redruth he succeeded in lighting his house by coal-gas and in 1802 there was a great gas illumination at Soho to celebrate the peace of Amiens. There were difficulties in obtaining a steady light with no objectionable smell but during the 1800s gas lighting was installed in a number of factories and Murdock read a paper on the subject in 1808 to the Royal Society. He was also interested in the possibility of steam locomotion, though his employers were far from encouraging, and he experimented with compressed air and steam guns. There is a bust of Murdock by Chantrey in Handsworth church (Birmingham), along with busts of James Watt and Matthew Boulton.

From The Oxford Companion to British History in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: British History.


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