MEMOIR OF JOHN ELDER
accounts of the family of Elder show it to have flourished in the county of
Kinross, in the east of Scotland, during the sixteenth and seventeenth
centuries. The leading "branch of the family seems to have been that which
possessed the estate of Arlarie, near the town of Milnathort. There are on
record the names of two John Elders of Balbughtie, cadets of the family of
Arlarie, one of whom lived in the sixteenth, and the other in the
seventeenth century, both forefathers of the subject of this Memoir.
The line of his direct ancestors for nearly two centuries
affords a remarkable example of a fact which is more common than is usually
supposed— the hereditary transmission of skill and talent; for they all
practised that art from which (as Fairbairn tells us) mechanical engineering
has sprung — that of the millwright — and were all remarkable for ability
The first of those regarding whom we possess definite
information was Alexander Elder,
wright at Craigo, about two miles west of Milnathort, born towards the end
of the seventeenth century. He married Marion Ireland. His son David Elder, born
in 1724, was a wright at Little Seggie, in the same neighbourhood; and from
note-books of his, which are still preserved, he appears to have been a man
of talent and information, and to have possessed considerable knowledge of
mathematical and mechanical science. He was cut off in 1756, at the early
age of thirty-two, leaving, by his wife Ellen Henderson, three sons and
three daughters. His eldest son, Alexander,
born at Little Seggie about 1748, carried on at that place, and afterwards
at Milnathort, the same business. He married Elizabeth Morrison, by whom he
had two sons and three daughters, and died at Milnathort in December 1823.
In his eldest son, David Elder,
the talent of the race, handed down through so many generations, began to
achieve public distinction. He was born at Little Seggie on the 7th of
January 1784, and died at Glasgow on the 31st of January 1866, at the close
of a vigorous old age, being then in his eighty-second year. A memoir of his
life by Mr James E. Napier, in which full justice is done to his remarkable
character and abilities, was published in the ' Transactions of the
Institution of Engineers in Scotland' for 1865-66; and therefore it is
sufficient now to recapitulate the leading events of his career only. He
learned the practical part of his trade as an apprentice to his father, and
its scientific principles by the private study of mathematical books during
intervals of leisure.
In 1808 he succeeded to his father's business at Little
Seggie, which he quitted a few years afterwards for Paisley; and in 1817 he
removed to Glasgow, thus obtaining a wide field for the exercise of his
knowledge and skill as a millwright and mechanical engineer. In 1821 he
became manager of the works of Mr Eobert Napier, which office he continued
to hold until induced by advancing age to retire.
In 1812 he married Grace, daughter of Mr John Gilroy; and the
subject of the present Memoir was their third son.
John Elder was
born at Glasgow on the 8th of March 1824. His elementary education was
obtained in the High School of Glasgow. It does not appear that he applied
himself to the study of the ancient classics; hut the result of his training
in English scholarship became manifest in after-life; for in writing and
speaking on those practical and scientific subjects which he understood so
well, he showed himself master of a clear, concise, and energetic style of
In arithmetic and mathematics, he was a pupil of Dr Connell,
one of the most able and successful teachers of the time; and here he at
once gave proofs of extraordinary talent and application, carrying off the
principal prizes of the class.
In every branch of drawing—an art intimately connected with
mechanical science—he was a most successful student.
The studies before mentioned constituted the principal part
of his early school education. A constitution naturally delicate prevented
him from deriving the full benefit of his attendance at the High School of
Glasgow, and from pursuing his studies to any considerable extent at a
university. A short attendance at the class of civil engineering in Glasgow
College was all the university education he received. He was fortunate in
being educated under the eye of his father, whose extensive information and
high capacity were devoted to the training of his son, and under whose
judicious advice he prosecuted his private studies with that ardour which
was so marked a characteristic of his later years. The scientific knowledge
of which he gave proof in after-life was not only varied and extensive, hut
was complete and exact, and free from the defects in thoroughness and
accuracy which often beset self-taught scholars.
To those who knew him well, and enjoyed the advantage of
personal communication with him, it was manifest that his eminence was due
not so much to teaching by others as to the fact that John Elder was that
rare character—a man of genius; and therefore in a great measure independent
of that external control and guidance which are necessary for the training
of ordinary students. In other words, his mind was gifted with the faculty
of subjecting itself to that systematic labour and discipline which has to
be enforced in ordinary cases by academic authority, and with that strong
and clear vision which gives the learner the power of finding his way
through the mazes of science without a guide.
He acquired, as his father also had done, considerable
knowledge and practical skill in music, especially that of the organ.
He served his apprenticeship of five years as an engineer in
the works of Mr Robert Napier, under the direction of his father, working
successively in the pattern-shop, moulding-shop, and drawing-office. He was
then employed for about a year as a patternmaker in the works of Messrs Hick
at Bolton-le-Moors, and afterwards as a draughtsman on the works of the
Great Grimsby Docks.
Before 1849 he returned to the works of Mr Napier to take
charge of the drawing-office, a most important appointment.
In the summer of 1852, the firm formerly called Randolph,
Elliott, & Co. of Glasgow, well known and of high standing as millwrights,
was joined by Mr Elder as a partner, and undertook the business of marine
engineering, which they had never practised before, and which they were now
enabled to undertake through possessing a partner with a thorough knowledge
of the principles and practice of that branch of applied mechanics. The firm
from that time was known by the designation of "Randolph, Elder, & Co."
until 1868; and subsequent to the retirement of the other partners, its name
became at first "John Elder," and then "John Elder & Co."
About 1860 the firm added shipbuilding to the other branches
of its business.
The career of Mr Elder as a marine engineer and shipbuilder
is so closely connected with the application of the compound expansive
steam-engine to the propulsion of ships, that it now becomes necessary to
introduce into this Memoir a brief explanation of the principles of that
class of steam-engines, and a summary of their history from the time of
their first invention.
In every machine a certain quantity of energy, or power of
doing work, is expended, in order that a certain amount of work may be done.
In every machine, and under all circumstances, the whole work done is equal
to the energy expended; but only part of that work is useful, the remainder
being useless, so that the energy expended in doing it is wasted. For
example, in a pumping steam-engine the useful work consists in raising, in a
given time, a certain quantity of water to a certain height: the useless, or
wasteful work, is that done in overcoming friction. The proportion which the
useful work done bears to the energy expended is called the efficiency. In
an absolutely perfect machine, the efficiency would be represented by
unity—but no such machine exists; and in every actual machine, the
efficiency is expressed by a fraction which falls short of unity by an
amount corresponding to the energy that is wasted.
In a steam-engine there are several successive causes of
waste of energy. In the first place, the whole of the energy which the fuel
is capable of producing by its combustion is not communicated to the water
in the boiler, but only a certain fraction of that energy, ranging in
ordinary cases from six-tenths to eight-tenths: this fraction is the efficiency
of the boiler; and
the amount by which it falls short of unity corresponds to the heat lost by
imperfect combustion, by conduction and radiation, and by the high
temperature at which the furnace-gas escapes through the chimney.
Secondly, the whole of the energy which in the form of heat
is communicated to the water in the boiler, so as to raise its temperature
and convert it into steam, is not obtained in the form of mechanical work
done by the steam in driving the piston. In fact, it has for some years been
known, through the progress of the science of thermodynamics, that the work
done by the steam in driving the piston (often called the indicated
its amount can be registered by a self-acting instrument called the
indicator) corresponds to a quantity of energy which has disappeared from
the form of heat, "being the difference between the heat brought by the
steam from the boiler, and the heat carried away by the same steam when it
leaves the cylinder. That difference, in every case which can occur in
practice, is but a small fraction of the whole heat brought by the steam
from the boiler, such as a twentieth, or a tenth; and that fraction is the efficiency
of the steam.
Thirdly, the whole of the energy exerted by the steam in
driving the piston is not communicated to the machine which it is the
purpose of the engine to drive; for a fraction of that energy, say from an
eighth to a fourth, is wasted in overcoming the friction of the engine—the
difference between that fraction and unity being the efficiency
of the mechanism.
Fourthly, when the machine which it is the purpose of the
engine to drive is an instrument for propelling a ship, a fraction of the
energy is wasted in agitating the water in which the propeller works, the
remainder only being usefully expended in overcoming the resistance of the
vessel, and driving her ahead; and the ratio which this last remainder bears
to the whole energy expended by the engine in driving the propeller is a
fraction called the efficiency
of the propeller.
The efficiency of the whole combination, made up of furnace,
boiler, engine, and propeller, is found by multiplying together the four
fractions already mentioned—viz., the efficiency of the boiler, the
efficiency of the steam, the efficiency of the mechanism, and the efficiency
of the propeller—and is of course a smaller fraction than any of the factors
of which, it is the product.
The object of improvements in the economy of the marine
steam-engine is to increase as far as practicable, consistently with due
regard to economy in first cost, each of the four factors of the efficiency.
Judgment, as well as skill, is specially required in applying
to practice in marine steam-engineering improvements whose objects are to
increase the mechanical efficiency of the furnace and boiler, of the steam
in the cylinder, and of the mechanism; for those improvements for the most
part tend more or less to increase the cost of construction; and thus there
arises in each case the commercial question, "Whether the economy in working
to be attained by means of a given increase of efficiency is sufficient to
warrant the additional expenditure? In decidiug that question, regard must
be had to many different-circumstances—such as the length of the
voyage, the intended speed, the price of fuel, and the nature of the
traffic, ' For example, it would be a waste of
money and labour to make elaborately-designed boilers and
engines of very high efficiency for vessels intended to run short trips
between places where coal is cheap and abundant; while for ships designed to
make long voyages, with few and distant coaling stations, and expensive
fuel, every improvement that increases efficiency may be a profitable
investment. It is not sufficient, then, for success in the business of
marine engineering, that the engineer should possess knowledge of the
mechanical principles of his art, and skill in their practical
application—for these qualifications alone might lead him into needless
expense in the production of a degree of mechanical efficiency not required
by the circumstances of particular cases; he ought also to have a sound
judgment regarding the commercial result of the adaptation of engines of a
given kind to a given vessel, intended for a given trade.
Those different qualifications are so seldom found united in
one man, that the tendency of popular opinion is to regard them as
incompatible, and to look especially upon the knowledge, skill, and
enterprise which lead an engineer to adopt new or unusual improvements in
practice as being fraught with danger to his success in business; and so no
doubt they are, unless regulated by commercial sagacity.
The success of Mr Elder and of his firm proved that his
commercial sagacity was not inferior to his knowledge, skill, and
enterprise, and that his was one of those rare minds in which was realised
that uncommon combination of talent.
It now becomes necessary to point out more in detail the
nature of the improvements which ]\Ir Elder, by himself, or with the
co-operation of his firm, carried out in the practice of marine engineering
; and as the most important of these were connected with the second and
third factors of efficiency already referred to—that of the steam in its
action on the piston, and that of the mechanism— the circumstances on which
that second factor depends will, in the first place, be explained.
The expenditure of energy in the form of heat required in
order to produce a given weight of steam, when the water is supplied to the
boiler at a given temperature, increases when the pressure and temperature
of the steam increase, but at a comparatively slow rate. Eor example, the
expenditure of heat required to produce a given weight of steam at the
pressure of ten
147 lb. on the square inch of absolute pressure, or 132.3 lb. on the square
inch above the atmosphere), the feed-water being at the temperature of about
100° Fahrenheit, is greater than that required to produce an equal weight at
the atmospheric pressure, in the proportion only of 1.04 to 1, or 26 to 25
nearly. Hence the problem of obtaining the greatest possible quantity of
indicated work from a given
expenditure of heat in
producing steam, is so nearly identical with that of obtaining the greatest
possible quantity of work from
a given weight of steam, that
in practice the difference between those two problems may be neglected.
All mechanical work is done by the exertion of a force
through a space, and is calculated and expressed as a quantity by
multiplying the mean amount of the force into the space through which it
acts. In the case of steam, the space is the distance through which the
piston is driven in a given time; the force is the excess of the forward
pressure exerted by the steam behind the piston as it comes from the boiler,
and afterwards expands, above the backward pressure exerted by the steam in
front of the piston while it is being expelled from the cylinder into the
condenser in condensing engines, or into the atmosphere in non-condensing
engines. In a non-condensing engine the back-pressure is a little greater
than that of the atmosphere, say from 15 lb. to 18 lb. on the square inch.
In a condensing engine the back-pressure is lower than that of the
atmosphere, to an extent depending on the efficiency with which the
condenser acts (or on the goodness of the vacuum, as it is commonly called),
and ranges in ordinary cases from 3 lb. to 5 lb. on the square inch.
In an expansive steam-engine, the forward pressure exerted by
the quantity of steam that is admitted behind the piston at each stroke has
two stages in its action—the admission and the expansion. During the
admission the steam is coming from the boiler into the cylinder, and it
exerts a pressure less than that in the boiler only by the amount required
to overcome the friction of pipes, passages, and valve-ports : say about a
twelfth of the absolute pressure in the boiler in ordinary cases. The
admission is terminated by the cut-off—that is, by the closing of the valve
which admits the steam into the cylinder. Then follows the expansion of the
steam which is confined in the cylinder; and during this stage of its
action, it goes on occupying a continually increasing space as it drives the
piston before it, and exerting a continually diminishing pressure. The exact
law according to which the pressure diminishes while the steam expands is
complicated, and is different under different circumstances as to heat. For
ordinary practical calculations, however, it is sufficiently accurate to
assume the simple approximate" law that the pressure varies inversely as the
volume, falling to one-half of its original intensity when the volume is
doubled, to one-third when the volume is trebled; and so on.
It is obvious that work continues to be done by the steam in
driving the piston so long as the pressure behind the piston, or forward
pressure, continues to be greater than the pressure in front, or
back-pressure, exerted by the steam which has already done its work, and
which" the piston is expelling from the cylinder; and hence it follows, that
in order to realise the greatest quantity of work which the steam is capable
of performing, the expansion ought to be carried on until the forward
pressure of the steam behind the piston has fallen so low as to be just
sufficient to overcome the back-pressure, and that to end the expansive
working of the steam at an earlier period of the stroke is to throw away
part of the power of the steam.
This statement must, however, be taken with the qualification
that when the excess of the forward pressure above the back - pressure falls
below the pressure which is just sufficient to overcome the friction," the
work done is no longer partly useful and partly wasteful, but is wholly
wasteful; whence it follows that, although in order to obtain the greatest indicated work
from a given weight of steam the expansion should be continued until the
forward pressure becomes just equal to the back-pressure, the greatest
is obtained by making the expansion cease when the forward pressure is just
equal to the back-pressure added to a pressure equivalent to the friction of
Another obvious principle is, that both the indicated and the
useful work obtained from a given weight of steam must be the greater the
greater the proportion in which the forward pressure exceeds the
back-pressure. To take an extreme case: If the mean forward pressure be
simply equal to the backpressure, no indicated work whatsoever is obtained
from the steam; and if the mean forward pressure is simply equal to the
back-pressure added to the friction, no useful work is obtained. Hence the
higher the forward pressure, and the lower the back-pressure, the greater is
the efficiency of the steam in an engine; and as the pressure increases and
diminishes with the temperature, the same principle may be otherwise
expressed by saying that the temperature of the steam on its admission ought
to be as high as possible, and that in a condensing engine the temperature
in the condenser, on which the back-pressure depends, ought to be as low as
possible. In a non-condensing engine, the back-pressure, as formerly-stated,
is a little above that of the atmosphere.
The foregoing principle, as applied to the temperature in a
condensing engine, was first distinctly stated by James Watt; and he
invented the separate condenser as a means of carrying it into effect.
The pressure at which the steam is admitted is limited only
by the strength and safety of the boiler. In Watt's time, he, in common with
most other engineers, was very cautious in the use of high pressures ; and
he therefore relied more on a low backpressure than on a high forward
pressure for the efficiency of his engines. Improvements in the construction
of boilers, and experience of their safety under high pressures when
properly designed and managed, have caused subsequent engineers to become
gradually bolder in the use of such pressures.
In order to realise the greatest theoretical efficiency in
the expansive working of steam, the expansion ought to take place in a
non-conducting cylinder, with a non-conducting piston. This condition cannot
be absolutely realised in practice; but means may be taken to diminish the
loss of efficiency arising from the conducting power of the cylinder and
piston until it becomes unimportant.
If that loss arose solely from the waste of heat by its
passage through the metal of the cylinder to the air outside, it would be
sufficient for its practical prevention to clothe the cylinder with bad
conductors, such as wood and felt. But by far the greater part of that loss
arises in a different and more complex way, which was not thoroughly
understood until about 1849 or 1850, when the consequences of the
disappearance of heat in performing mechanical work were demonstrated. Until
that time it was erroneously believed, from reasoning based on the
hypothesis of caloric, that a given weight of steam, after performing work
by expansion, contained exactly as much heat as before, and was therefore
superheated; because the quantity of heat sufficient to keep it in the
vaporous state at the higher pressure was more than sufficient to produce
the same effect at the lower pressure; and that statement was so confidently
believed that it was distinctly laid down as a fundamental principle in all,
or almost all, writings on the theory of the steam-engine.
One of the earliest consequences deduced from the principles
of thermodynamics was, that when steam performs work by expansion, a
quantity of heat disappears sufficient not only to lower the temperature of
the steam to that corresponding to its lowered pressure, but to cause a
certain portion of the steam to pass into the liquid state. The steam thus
spontaneously liquified collects in the form of water in the cylinder; and
if the cylinder and piston were made of a non-conducting material, that
water would simply be discharged from time to time into the condenser,
without causing any waste of heat. But the cylinder and piston, being made
of a conducting material, give out heat to the liquid water which adheres to
them, so as to re-evaporate it when the communication with the condenser is
opened; and that heat is carried off to the condenser with the
exhaust-steam, leaving the piston and the inside of the cylinder at a low
temperature, even though the outside of the cylinder should be clothed with
an absolute non-conductor. When steam from the boiler is admitted at the
beginning of the next stroke, part of it is immediately liquified through
the expenditure of its heat in raising the piston and the inside of the
cylinder again to a high temperature, the result being that at the end of
the second stroke the quantity of liquid water which is re-evaporated, and
carries off heat to the condenser, is greater than it was at the end of the
first stroke. At each successive stroke that quantity augments until it
reaches a fixed amount, depending mainly on the difference of the
temperatures of the steam at the beginning and end of the expansion; and the
effect is the same as if a certain quantity of steam at each stroke passed
directly from the boiler to the condenser without performing work. In some
experiments lately made, the quantity of steam which thus ran to waste was
found to be greater than that which performed work; so that the expenditure
of steam was more than doubled.
The remedy for this cause of loss is to prevent that
spontaneous liquifaction of the steam during its expansive working, in which
the process just described originates; and that is done either by enclosing
the cylinder in a jacket or
casing supplied with hot steam from the boiler, or by superheating the steam
before its admission into the cylinder; or by both those means combined. The
steam is thus kept in a nearly dry state, so as to be a bad conductor of
heat; and the moisture which it contains, though sufficient to lubricate the
piston, is not allowed to increase to such an extent as to carry away any
appreciable quantity of heat from the metal of the cylinder and piston to
The steam-jacket outside the cylinder was invented and used
by "Watt. "Whether he fully understood the nature of its action can never be
known; for he did not publish any reason for using it except that of keeping
the steam as hot as possible. Its real action was certainly not understood
by Watt's immediate successors, nor indeed by any one, until the principles
of thermodynamics were applied to the question about twenty years ago; and
many engineers, reasoning correctly from the erroneous hypothesis of
caloric, concluded that the steam-jacket was unnecessary, and abandoned its
use. The fact of liquid water collecting in the cylinder was known, but was
ascribed to "priming," or the carrying of spray from the boiler. The use of
the steam-jacket was retained in a few special kinds of engines, such as the
Cornish pumping-engines; and in them the economy properly due to high rates
of expansion of the steam was realised; but in almost all other engines, and
certainly in marine engines, the jacket was abandoned, with this result—that
little or no practical advantage was found to result from expansive working
when the steam was expanded to more than about double, or two and a half
times its original volume; and this became a received maxim amongst
engineers, and especially amongst marine engineers, for its truth in the
case of unjacketed cylinders was established by practical experience, as
well as by experiments made for the purpose of testing it.
The jacketing of the piston, by filling its internal hollow
with hot steam from the boiler, was invented by M. Normand of Havre, and
introduced into Britain by Mr Davison at a comparatively recent date, after
the action of the steam-jacket had been explained according to the
principles of thermodynamics, and its use revived in practice.
So far as the theoretical action of the steam on the piston
is concerned, it is immaterial whether the expansion takes place in one
cylinder, or in two or more successive cylinders. The advantage of employing
the compound engine is connected with those causes which make the actual
indicated work of steam fall short of its theoretical amount, and also with
the strength of the engine and its framing, the steadiness of its action,
and the friction of its mechanism.
The force exerted by the steam on the piston of an engine is
transmitted by the piston-rod to the moving pieces of the machinery which it
drives—such as the connecting-rod, crank, and crank-shaft; and by the
bearings of the moving pieces it is transmitted to the framework. It
produces straining actions on all those pieces, moving and fixed; and each
of them must be made strong enough to bear safely the straining action
produced, not by the mean or average force exerted by the steam, but by the
greatest force. The mean force which the steam has to exert on the piston
depends on the power required to do the work of the engine, and on the mean
speed of the piston; and the greater the rate of expansion, the greater is
the inequality between the greatest force and the mean force, and the
stronger must the engine be made. For example, when the steam is expanded to
twice its original volume, its pressure during its admission is about once
and a fifth its mean pressure; when to five times, its pressure during
admission is about double of its mean pressure ; and when to ten times, its
pressure during admission is about three times its mean pressure; so that in
this last example, if the engine is single cylindered, all parts of the
mechanism and framing that are strained by the force of the steam must be
made three times as strong as they would require to be in an engine of the
same power working without expansion. That additional strength involves not
only additional cost of construction, but additional friction, because of
the greater size of the bearings ; and thus the economy of power due to
expansion is partly neutralised.
It was to obviate this disadvantage in the use of high rates
of expansion that the earliest form of compound steam-engine was contrived
by Horn-blower in 1781. That engine was single-acting, and adapted to the
pumping of mines ; it had two cylinders, standing side by side, and having
their pistons hung from the same end of the walking-beam; the larger
cylinder was of the dimensions suited for a single-cylinder engine of the
same power and speed; but instead of admitting the steam at its
comparatively high initial pressure to act upon the large area of the piston
of that cylinder, and thus to exert a great straining force, it was admitted
in the first place into the smaller cylinder, so as to exert a straining
force equal to the initial pressure multiplied by the area of the smaller
piston only; and after having done part of its work by expansion in the
smaller cylinder, it was transferred to the larger cylinder in a state of
increased volume and diminished pressure to complete its action there. The
cylinders were called the high-pressure and low-pressure cylinders
respectively, and the same terms are still used in describing compound
The same principle of action was applied by "Woolf to engines
with "Watt's separate condenser, and to double - acting steam - engines ;
and consequently compound engines came to be very generally known as "
In "Woolf's form of the compound engine, as well as in
Hornblower's, the two piston-rods are hung from the same end of a
walking-beam, so that the forces exerted through them act in the same
direction at the same time; and the straining actions produced on the
framing and mechanism are those due to the sum of those forces. The same is
the case in those forms of direct-acting compound engines for marine
purposes in which the high and low pressure piston-rods are hung from one
cross-head. Hence, although the straining actions of the two rods are, in a
well-designed engine of the construction just mentioned, less than in a
single-cylindered engine of equal power, they are not so small as they may
be made to become by causing the straining actions due to the two forces to
oppose each other. This improvement, so far as the straining actions on a
walking-beam and its bearings are concerned, was introduced by M'Naught, who
hung the two piston-rods from the opposite arms of the walking-beam, so as
to make the difference, instead of the sum of their straining forces, act on
the main centre. The sum, however, of those forces still acts on the
bearings of the shaft in M'Naught's engine, in the direct-acting engines
already referred to, and in the forms of compound engine described in Mr
Craddock's treatise on that subject. That book was published in 1847, and
contains the descriptions and drawings of compound engines adapted to
marine, locomotive, and other purposes, as patented by liim at different
times from 1840 to 1846.
Craddock's compound engine, as described by him in the
treatise just mentioned, is direct-acting. The high and low pressure
cylinders, placed side by side, are not exactly parallel to each other, but
make a small angle in order to enable the engine to " pass the centre." The
two piston-rods are connected with one crank; upon which, therefore, and
upon the shaft and its bearings, they exert a straining action due to the
resultant of their forces, which, though not quite, is very nearly equal to
Craddock's compound engine, as described in his treatise, is
further defective through the absence of steam-jackets, which are now known
to be essential to the realising of the economy properly due to high rates
of expansion; and unless that economy be fully realised, the additional cost
and complexity of a compound engine are thrown away.
It is true that in some steamers fitted with Craddock's
engines, or engines resembling them, at a later date (viz., in 1858 and
subsequently) the straining actions of the pistons were opposed to each
other, and the cylinders were jacketed; but this was long after the time at
which the proper principles of the construction of compound marine engines
had been brought into practical use by Messrs Randolph, Elder, & Co.
In 1850 a peculiar form of compound steam-engine called the "
continuous expansion engine" was patented by Mr Nicholson. The pistons of
the high and low pressure cylinders drive two cranks at right angles to each
other; and the straining action is the resultant of those due to the forces
acting through the two rods. This form has considerable advantages in
certain cases ; but it was not brought into practical use till about six or
seven years later.
It results, then, from the history of marine steam
engineering, that previous to the formation of the firm of Randolph, Elder,
& Co., the compound steam-engine had not been successfully applied in Great
Britain to the propulsion of vessels; that compound engines such as
Craddock's had been proposed for that purpose, but had not been designed so
as fully to realise the advantages of that form of engine; that the
abandonment of the steam-jacket in the practice of almost all marine
engineers had made it useless, if not wasteful, to employ those high rates
of expansion to which the compound engine is suited; and that as this
practical error originated in an erroneous theory of the mechanical action
of heat, founded on the hypothesis of substantial caloric, then universally
prevalent, it was not to be expected that it should be reformed except by an
engineer who had studied and understood the principles of the then almost
new science of thermodynamics.
Such an engineer was Mr Elder. He knew, in common with other
practical men, the fact that when high rates of expansion were used with a
view to economy of fuel, their economical action was defeated by the
gathering in the cylinders of large quantities of liquid water, which
evaporated when the exhaust-port opened, and carried away heat to the
condenser; but he had learned also—what was known to very few practical men
fifteen years ago—that the formation of that liquid water originated in the
disappearance of heat during the performance of work by the expansion of the
steam, and that the remedy was to supply the cylinder with additional heat
to replace that which so disappears, by returning to the practice of Watt
and the Cornish engineers, and resuming the use of the steam-jacket.
Mr Elder had also mastered a subject which, before his time,
had been almost wholly neglected, and which even now does not always meet
with the attention that it deserves, and that is, the diminution of the
friction of the engine by causing the forces which drive the shaft round to
balance and neutralise, as far as possible, each other's actions on the
bearings where the friction takes place. As an elementary illustration of
this subject, suppose that a shaft is made to rotate by means of a single
force applied to a single crank-pin. The whole of that force will be
transmitted to the bearings, and will there produce a pressure which will
cause a certain amount of friction in addition to that produced by the
weight of the shaft. But if we now divide the force required to drive the
shaft into two equal forces of half the amount, and apply them in opposite
directions to a pair of cranks exactly opposite to each other, those two
driving forces will balance each other as regards pressure on the bearings,
and the friction will be that due to the weight of the shaft alone. It is
impossible in practice to realise this balance of driving forces with
absolute precision, but an approach to it can always be made. One of the
most important advantages of compound cylinder engines with opposite cranks
is their enabling that balance of driving forces to be approximately
realised ; and that advantage had been neglected or very imperfectly
developed before Messrs Eandolph, Elder, & Co. constructed their marine
engines, which in this respect were a great improvement upon all compound
engines previously invented.
The careful attention which Mr Elder had bestowed on the
friction of engines and the means of diminishing it, is fully shown in an
unpublished lecture which he delivered before the United Service Institution
in April 1866. He there takes a practical example of a marine engine, and
shows by detailed calculation how from 10 to 15 per cent of the whole
indicated power of an engine may be wasted in unnecessary friction through
neglect of proper arrangements for the mutual balancing of the forces
exerted on the shaft. In fact, he took a more correct view of the real
advantages of the compound engine than had previously been done by any
practical engineer; regarding it as a means, not so much of increasing the
indicated power produced by a given expenditure of steam, as of diminishing
that waste of power which causes the effective power to fall short of the
In the lecture already referred to, Mr Elder points out under
what circumstances it becomes advantageous to employ a compound engine
rather than a single-cylinder engine—viz., when the rate of expansion
exceeds four. He adds that, should rates of expansion greater than nine be
used, it will become advisable to expand the steam in three successive
cylinders instead of two.
Most of the improvements introduced by Messrs Randolph,
Elder, & Co. in marine engineering were secured by a series of patents, of
which the following is a summary—the patents being distinguished by letters
; and it is also shown which of those patents were taken in the names of
both partners, and which in the name of one only.
Randolph and John Elder—dated 24th January 1853. An arrangement of compound
engines adapted to the driving of the screw-propeller. The engines are
vertical, direct-acting, and geared. The pistons of the high and low
pressure cylinders move in contrary directions, and drive diametrically
opposite cranks, with a view to the diminution of strain and friction.
Elder—dated 28th February 1854. For an improved arrangement of the parts of
horizontal direct-acting condensing engines for screw-steamers.
Randolph and John Elder—dated 15th March 1856. This describes an arrangement
of compound engines which was applied with most successful results to a long
series of steamers. There are two diametrically opposite cranks and four
cylinders, making a pair of compound engines; the high and low pressure
cylinder of each engine lie side by side in an inclined position, and their
pistons move in contrary directions; and this arrangement not only promotes
the balance of driving forces, but enables the steam to pass from the high
pressure to the low pressure cylinder in the most direct manner possible,
without having to traverse long crooked passages as it did in Hornblower's
and Woolf's engines.
The directions in which the cylinders of the two engines lean
are contrary—that is to say, for example, in a paddle-wheel steamer the
forward engines incline backwards, and the after engines forward; and in a
screw-steamer the starboard and port engines lean respectively to starboard
and to port, so that their piston-rods make with each other an angle which,
in different engines, ranges from 60° to 90°. The whole arrangement is one
of the most simple and compact that is possible in a pair of compound
engines, and it produces as near an approach to a balance of driving forces
as is practicable when each engine has two cylinders only.
An ingenious contrivance for reversing the engine is
described, consisting in an arrangement of epicyclic gearing, whereby a
loose eccentric is made when required to overrun the shaft until it reaches
the position for backward gear.
The specification fully states the importance of providing
each cylinder with a steam-casing or jacket to prevent liquifaction: but
this is not claimed; for it was not a new invention, but, as has been
already explained, the revival of a practice which had fallen into neglect,
though essential to the economical use of high rates of expansion.
Elder—dated 29th January 1858. The specification of this patent describes an
arrangement of cylinders in the compound engine by which a nearly perfect
balance of driving forces is obtained, and not merely a good approximation
to such balance, as in the arrangements previously described; and
consequently it may be regarded as embodying the principles of the
construction of steam-engines of which Mr Elder approved, in their most
complete form, calculated to realise the greatest possible efficiency of the
mechanism as well as of the steam. There are three cranks on the shaft—two
pointing diametrically opposite to the third, which lies between them. Each
engine has three cylinders, lying parallel to each other and side by side ;
in the middle is the high-pressure cylinder, whose piston drives the middle
crank; at its two sides are a pair of low-pressure cylinders, whose pistons
move simultaneously in the contrary direction to that of the middle
cylinder, and drive the other two cranks. Thus the resultant of the forces
exerted through the two low-pressure piston-rods is not merely contrary in
direction, but directly opposed to the force exerted through the
high-pressure piston-rod; and if the rates of expansion in the high and low
pressure cylinders are properly adjusted to their dimensions, there is an
exact balance of the actions of those forces on the bearings.
When there is only one low-pressure cylinder, as in the
engines described under patent G, the
forces exerted through the two piston-rods may be equal and contrary, but
they are not directly opposed, because they are exerted at different points
in the shaft; and hence the balance of driving forces cannot be quite exact.
Two or more three-cylindered compound engines can be placed
at suitable angles of inclination to each other, so as to drive one shaft,
as in the arrangement of two-cylindered engines described in specification G.
As the three-cylindered compound engine is somewhat more
expensive than a two-cylindered compound engine of the same power, it has
been used only in certain cases where special economy of power was desired.
Its success in practice will be described further on.
In specification D, as
well as in specification C, the
importance of the steam-jacket is mentioned; but, for the reason already
stated, that part of the engine is not claimed.
Elder—dated 7th June 1858. This patent is for a very simple but very
important improvement —the making of paddle-floats of plates of iron or
steel, bevelled to a sharp edge, instead of thick wooden planks. The broad
edges of wooden paddle-floats oppose a resistance to the plunging them into
and drawing them out of the water; and the inventor considered that the
substitution for them of comparatively thin sharp-edged metal plates caused
a gain of from 4 to
6 per cent in the speed of a given vessel with engines of a given power.
This invention was perfectly successful in practice, and was applied to
several steamers in the course of the year in which the patent was obtained,
and it still continues to be put in practice by the firm with beneficial
Randolph and John Elder—dated 28th April 1859. This patent is for a variety
of improvements in engines and boilers, which it is unnecessary to describe
in detail. Amongst other inventions, it describes the making of a boiler
with two or more uptakes, in order to increase the surface for superheating
Elder—dated 15th October 1859. This patent relates to details of mechanism
for moving slide-valves.
Elder—dated 25th April 1862. This relates to a variety of improvements,
amongst which may be mentioned improvements on slide-valves, so contrived as
to give a smaller opening for the admission of steam and a larger for the
exhaust; reversing-gear, in which the position of the eccentric is changed
when required by the action of a spiral feather on a shaft which is capable
of being shifted longitudinally; arrangements for working steam expansively
in four successive cylinders; and an improved kind of water-tube boiler.
Randolph and John Elder—dated 20 th April 1863. Improvements in
surface-condensers, provisionally protected only.
Elder —dated 18th November 1863. This patent is for constructing plate-iron
floating-docks, so as to be capable of being navigated from place to place
by sails and steam. Three such floating-docks were built by the firm, but
were not navigated: one was for Java; another for the French Government,
fitted up at Saigon, in Cochin-China; the third was for a company in Peru.
The two latter have been of great service, and are at present in successful
Elder—dated 19th November 1863. This patent is for various modifications in
compound engines, and amongst others for a convenient arrangement of the
surface-condenser, in which it is divided into two parts, with tubes
parallel to the screw-propeller shaft.
Elder—dated 9th July 1866. This also is for modifications of compound
Charles Eandolph—dated 15th December 1866. This relates to hydraulic or
Elder — dated 28th September 1867. For improvements in floating-batteries—a
most remarkable and important invention, which will be described further on.
The first vessel fitted with compound engines by Messrs
Eandolph, Elder, & Co., was the screw-steamer Brandon. Her engines were of
the kind described in specification A.She
made her trial-trip in July 1854, when her rate of consumption of coal was
found to be about 3 J lb. per indicated horsepower per hour. It is well
known that the lowest rate of consumption of coal in steamers previous to
that time was about 4 lb. or 4| lb. per indicated horsepower per hour; and
such, indeed, is the greatest economy that can be expected from such rates
of expansion of the steam as are suitable for unjacketed cylinders.
The Brandon was chartered during the Crimean war as a
despatch - boat, and maintained during many years of service the same
economy which she had realised on her trial.
The second and third ships were the paddle-steamers Inca and
Valparaiso, for the Pacific Steam Navigation Company. The engines of the
Inca were started in May 1856, those of the Valparaiso in July 1856. Each of
these ships had a pair of engines of that compound class described in patent
C, already mentioned; the cylinders were jacketed at top and bottom only,
and not round the sides.
The first ship in which engines of the same kind had their
cylinders completely jacketed was the Admiral, built by Mr J. E. Napier, and
engined by Messrs Eandolph, Elder, & Co. Her trial-trip was made in June
1858 ; and in October 1858 she was followed by the Callao, built by Messrs
John Eeid & Co. of Port Glasgow. The rate of consumption of coal was found
to be: In the Inca, lb.; in the Valparaiso and the Admiral 3 lb.; and in the
Callao 2.7 lb. per indicated horse-power per hour—a degree of economy never
before realised in marine engines; and this was not only obtained on the
trial-trips, but maintained during many years' subsequent service at sea. It
amounted to saving of from 30 to 40 per cent of the coal previously burned
by steamers of the same class ; and it is not too much to say that it was
this saving which rendered it practicable to carry on steam navigation on
the Pacific Ocean with profit.
The success of the engines of those ships may be held to have
conclusively established the practical value of the principles on which they
were designed; and it was followed by the construction, by Messrs Randolph,
Elder, & Co., of a long series of steamers, in which the same principles,
being more fully carried out—that is to say, with higher initial pressures,
greater rates of expansion, and greater proportions of superheating
surface—realised even greater economy, the regular rates of consumption of
fuel ranging from lb. to lb. per indicated horsepower per hour.
Another natural consequence was the adoption in the practice
of other marine engineers of the same fundamental principles—that is to say,
the use of high rates of expansion in the engines of vessels intended for
long voyages, together with the means of causing such rates to realise their
proper economy —viz., jacketing and superheating. In carrying out these
principles, different forms of engine have been designed by different
engineers—some have devised peculiar forms of the compound engine, others
have preferred that the whole work of the steam should be done in one
cylinder. In some cases, forms of engine that had long before been proposed,
but not executed, have been revived and applied to practice. The detailed
history of all these inventions and improvements would be very interesting,
but it would be foreign to the purpose of the present Memoir.
In 1865 a comparative trial was made by the Government of the
performance of three kinds of marine engines, fitted in three of her
Majesty's ships, the Arethusa, the Octavia, and the Constance. Those three
vessels are of nearly similar model, and of nearly equal size—the tonnage of
all three lying between 3100 and 3200 tons. Each vessel was fitted with
engines of 500 nominal horse-power, and with surface-condensers.
There is no reason to believe that the engines of any one of
those three ships were in the slightest degree inferior to those of the
others in materials or execution, all three being in these respects of the
very first order; and the comparison between them must therefore be regarded
as showing how the efficiency of the boilers, engines, and mechanism was
affected by the principles embodied in their respective designs.
The principal differences were in the construction of the
mechanism of the engine. The Arethusa had a pair of single-cylindered
direct-acting horizontal trunk-engines, with cranks at right angles, by
Messrs John Penn & Sons.
The Octavia had a set of three single cylinders, horizontal
and direct, with double piston-rods acting on three cranks, making with each
other equal angles of 120 degrees. These were made by Messrs Maudslay.
The Constance had a pair of three-cylindered compound
engines, of the construction designated by D in the account already given of
Mr Elder's inventions, and described as giving the closest approximation to
a balance of driving forces on the shaft. Thus the engines of the Arethusa
had in all two cylinders, those of the Octavia three, and those of the
Those three ships started together from Plymouth at six
o'clock in the evening of the 30th September 1865, in order to run by the
most direct course practicable to Eunchal in Madeira, a distance of very
nearly 1100 nautical miles.
Eor three days the three ships ran a nearly direct course
under steam alone, the Constance and the Arethusa gaining slightly on the
The Arethusa then made sail, and ran for three days more
under steam and canvas combined, her course diverging to the eastward.
During those three days the Constance and the Octavia continued to run a
nearly direct course for Funchal, almost wholly under steam alone, each of
those two ships having made sail for a few hours only. The Constance
continued to gain on the Octavia.
On the 6th of October the Constance was 30 nautical miles
from Funchal, 130 ahead of the Octavia, and about 200 from the Arethusa—the
last-named ship being about 170 miles to the E.S.E. of the direct course
from Plymouth to Funchal.
In the course of the same day the engines of the Arethusa and
of the Octavia were stopped, as their coal was nearly exhausted, and they
ran nearly all the rest of the way to Funchal under canvas alone, making
The engines of the Constance were eased on the 6th of
October, because of a westerly gale and head sea, and she arrived at Funchal
on the 7th of October at 3 p.m.,
the Octavia on the 9th at 6.45 a.m., and
the Arethusa on the 10th at 5.35 p.m.
Considering that the last two vessels completed the trip
under sail and in stormy weather, it is obvious that no fair comparison
between their engines and those of the Constance can be deduced from the total time
occupied between Plymouth and Funchal. In the case of the Arethusa, too, her
having been three days under steam and canvas combined makes it difficult,
if not impossible, to form a satisfactory judgment of her comparative
economy of power.
A comparison, however, though a rough one, of the three
vessels, as regards the consumption of coal per indicated horse-power per
hour, may be deduced from the official return published by the Admiralty of
the power and of the fuel consumed from the 30th September to the 6th
October, when the engines of the Arethusa and the Octavia were stopped, and
those of the Constance eased. The following is the calculation, with its
As regards the efficiency
of the mechanism,
the same return affords the means of comparing together in a general way the
Octavia and the Constance, the Arethusa being excluded from the comparison
because of her having run so long under canvas and steam combined. The
principle upon which the comparison is based is, that in similar vessels of
equal size, with mechanism of equal efficiency, the indicated power varies
as the cube of the speed; and consequently, that if for two or more similar
and equal vessels the cube of the speed of each vessel be divided by the
indicated power, the proportions of the quotients to each other will show
the comparative efficiency of the mechanism in the different vessels. The
following is the calculation for the Octavia and the Constance, with
Time under steam,
Distance run (nautical miles),
Mean speed (knots),
Cube of speed (omitting fractions),.
Indicated power, do.,
Proportionate efficiency of mechanism,
This may otherwise be expressed by saying, that at the same
speed the Octavia would require 27 per cent more indicated power than the
Constance, or the Constance 21 per cent less power than the Octavia. This
comparison is not to be considered as very precise, "because, strictly
speaking, it is the mean value of the cube of the speed, and not the cube of
the mean speed, that should be divided by the indicated horse-power.
The superior economy of fuel, as compared with indicated
power, in the Constance is, of course, to be accounted for by a higher
initial pressure and a greater rate of expansion than those used in the
other vessels, combined possibly with better jacketing and greater
superheating. But the superiority of the Constance over the Octavia in
efficiency of mechanism—in other words, in economy of indicated power as
compared with effective power—can be accounted for only by the comparative
smallness of the friction in the engines of the Constance; and when it is
considered that the engines of the Octavia were of a good design and of the
best possible workmanship, the comparative smallness of the friction in the
Constance must be ascribed mainly, if not wholly, to the balance of driving
forces—the result of the arrangement of cylinders and cranks in Mr Elder's
three-cylindered compound engines.
In a previous series of comparative trials of the Octavia and
the Constance, each of those vessels made a run of 100 miles at each of the
three speeds of 6, 8, and 10 knots, with the following results:—
During this series of comparative trials, the two ships
appear to have been nearly equal in economy of fuel for a given indicated
power. The superiority of the Constance in the efficiency of the mechanism,
though smaller than that deduced from the report of the trip to Funchal, is
still sufficient to prove a great diminution of friction through the balance
of driving forces in the three-cylindered compound engine, and thus to
furnish another practical proof of the soundness of Mr Elder's views
respecting the waste of power in the friction of engines, and the means of
diminishing that waste.
Although Mr Elder invented certain forms of boiler applicable
under special circumstances, he did not confine the practice of his firm to
any peculiar form, but adapted the boilers to the service for which the
vessel was intended. His opinion on this point is summed up in the following
quotation from the lecture already referred to: "A judicious engineer will
therefore design different forms of boilers for different circumstances, the
object being to construct all his work so as to give the best return to the
capitalist that employs him."
On the whole, however, he used cylindrical boilers, fired at
both ends, more frequently than other forms, and latterly he used this form
The same remark applies to superheaters. The form of
superheater which he generally employed consisted of an uptake passing
through the steam-chest; and he varied the extent of superheating surface
according to the degree of economy to be aimed at.
As regards condensation, he approved of the ordinary
jet-condenser for fresh-water navigation, and for trips of moderate length
in salt water.
long sea-voyages, his firm and he latterly adopted the surface-condenser, as
"being more economical in working,' thougli somewhat greater in first cost;
nevertheless, the remarkable economy of fuel in the earlier compound engines
made by the firm was attained without the aid of surface-condensation.
The power of calculating beforehand the probable •
engine-power required in order to drive a given ship at a given speed, or
the probable speed at which a given ship will be driven by a given amount of
engine-power, is obviously of much practical value.
It has long been well known that at moderate speeds the
engine-power required to drive a given ship varies nearly as the cube of the
About 1844 Mr Scott Russell discovered the law that regulates
the limits within which that principle is approximately true—viz., the speed
must not exceed that with which a wave naturally travels whose length bears
certain fixed "proportions to the lengths of the entrance and run of the
vessel; for so soon as the speed exceeds that limit, the power required
begins to increase more rapidly than the cube of the speed. Hence a moderate
a given vessel may be understood to mean a speed not exceeding the limit
determined by applying Mr Scott Russell's principle to that vessel. A speed
exceeding that limit may be called an excessive speed.
Early in 1858, an investigation of the laws of the resistance
of ships, based on experiment and observation, was made by the author of
this Memoir at the instance of Mr J. R. Napier, who required it for
practical purposes in shipbuilding; and it led to the result that at moderate
the sense before mentioned, the resistance is chiefly of the kind called
skin-resistance, depending on the friction between the water and the
immersed surface of the ship, and that the power required to drive her may
be calculated approximately by multiplying the cube of the speed by a
constant factor depending on the roughness or smoothness of the skin, and by
a quantity called the augmented
depends on the areas of the various parts of the skin, and on their
positions relatively to the course of the particles of water that glide over
them—it being always understood, however, that the figure of the vessel must
be such as to cause the particles to glide smoothly over her skin, and not
to strike or dash against it, or become broken into eddies or foam.
The first ship to which those principles were applied, in
order to calculate beforehand the power required at a given speed, was the
paddle-wheel steamer Admiral, built by Mr J. R. Napier, and engined by
Messrs Randolph, Elder, & Co., in 1858, as already mentioned; and the result
was perfectly successful. The theory on which those principles were based,
and the rules for applying them, were published in 1860. Mr Elder, with that
ready appreciation of the practical value of scientific principles by which
he was distinguished, at once made himself master of those principles, and
continued afterwards to use them in estimating the probable power required
in proposed vessels.
It has already been shown that Messrs Eandolph, Elder, & Co.
did not confine their practice to the construction of that form of compound
engine which approaches the nearest to theoretical perfection, but adopted
modified forms suited to the circumstances of particular eases. In addition
to the instances already given, it may be mentioned that in many merchant
screw-steamers, where simplicity of construction and fewness of parts were
aimed at, they used a form of compound engine resembling that already
mentioned as having been first proposed by Nicholson—a form which of late
years has been adopted by many marine engineers. There are only two
cylinders in all—a high-pressure cylinder and a low-pressure cylinder; they
stand side by side, and their pistons drive two cranks at right angles to
each other ; and there is an intermediate steam-reservoir, believed to have
been first added to this kind of engine by Mr E. A. Cowper, into which the
steam passes from the high-pressnre cylinder before its admission into the
low-pressure cylinder. In the engines of this kind made by Mr Elder, the
reservoir forms an outer cylinder of the same diameter with the low-pressure
cylinder, and surrounding the high-pressure cylinder, the whole arrangement
being very compact and simple, though not having the same advantages in
point of balance of driving forces and diminution of friction which are
possessed in the highest degree by the engines described under Elder's
patent D, and in a less degree by those described under Eandolph and Elder's
There were cases in which, for the sake of still greater
simplicity and compactness, it became advisable to dispense with compound
engines and high rates of expansion, as not being required under the
circumstances, and of such cases the following is an example.
Between 1861 and 1864, a demand arose for a class of cargo
steamers of very shallow draught, capable of running at a very high speed,
not for a great length of time, but on occasions of emergency. Eive such
vessels were built and engined by Messrs
Randolph, Elder, & Co. They were of a very fine model, driven
by paddle-wheels, with feathering plate-iron floats, and each of them had a
pair of single -cylindered oscillating engines of ordinary form. Their
boiler-power was very great for their size, so as to provide the means of
producing steam with great rapidity and of high pressure when required. All
those vessels attained a speed of from 16£ to knots on their trial-trips ;
and that speed was not only realised at sea, but sometimes even exceeded. On
one occasion, for example, when one of them was very hard pressed, the bold
and skilful officer who commanded her succeeded, by an alteration of trim,
in increasing her speed to 17 knots, and thus enabled her to escape from
The firm of Randolph, Elder, & Co. was dissolved by the
expiration of the copartnery on the 30th of June 1868, having then existed
for sixteen years. During that period the firm had made 111 sets of marine
steam - engines, whose aggregate nominal horse-power amounted to 20,145 ;
they had built 106 vessels, whose aggregate tonnage amounted to 81,326; and
they had also constructed three floating-docks. After the dissolution of the
partnership, the works were carried on by Mr Elder alone.
The following statement of the quantity of work executed
during the time which elapsed from the dissolution of the partnership till
the end of the year 1869, shows that the business had in fact become one of
the greatest of its kind in the world: Number of sets of engines made, 18;
aggregate nominal horse-power, 6110; number of vessels built, 14; aggregate
tonnage, builders' measurement, 27,027.
The number of workmen employed in the engine-work and
shipbuilding yard is about four thousand. Mr Elder took a strong and
friendly interest in their comfort and wellbeing, and was regarded by them
with corresponding respect and gratitude as an employer who was just and
kind, as well as able. Amongst other acts of his for their benefit, he
promoted, about half a year before his lamented death, the establishment of
an accident fund, by undertaking to contribute to it in each month a sum
equal to that which the workmen should raise by subscription amongst
themselves, the result being that the income of the fund is about five
hundred pounds a-year. It is managed by a committee partly appointed by the
firm from amongst the foremen, partly elected by the workmen.
Besides the lecture to which reference has already beeĞ
frequently made, tlie views of Mr Elder on marine engineering are set forth
in three papers, which were read respectively to the British Association at
Leeds in 1858, at Aberdeen in 1859, and at Oxford in 1860, and printed in
the Transactions of that body.
Another lecture, delivered by Mr Elder to the United Service
Institution on the 25th of May 1868, and printed in their Journal, relates
to a very remarkable invention, that of circular ships of war. His
knowledge, to which reference has already been made, of the laws of the
resistance of the water to the motion of vessels, led him to the inference
that a ship with a hull of the form of a very flat segment of a sphere, like
a floating saucer or watch-glass, would require little or no additional
power to drive her at a moderate speed, beyond that which is required to
drive at the same speed a vessel of equal displacement and of the ordinary
form. He tested this conclusion by experiment on models of about five feet
in diameter, and found it to be correct; and although at first sight it may
seem paradoxical, its soundness will be understood when it is considered
that the stream-lines, or lines of motion of the particles of water as they
glide over the bottom of the vessel, are, in the case of a flat spherical
segment, of a fine form, being either exactly or nearly arcs of circles of a
radius equal to that of the sphere. Mr Elder proposed that a vessel of this
form, protected by a belt of armour, and by a deck of sufficient strength,
should carry a circular turret suitably armed with guns, and should be
provided with a system of submerged propellers, either of the screw or of
the hydraulic kind, so arranged as to drive her in any direction, and, when
required, to make her turn about her centre, thus dispensing with the
necessity for any separate means of making the turret rotate. The
probabilities in favour of the success of this invention are so strong, that
a trial of it on a practical scale is much to be desired.
Mr Elder was for four years a captain in the First
Lanarkshire Artillery Volunteers; but the multiplicity of his business
engagements at length made it impracticable for him to continue to hold that
In April 1869, at the annual meeting of the Institution of
Engineers and Shipbuilders in Scotland for the election of office-bearers,
Mr Elder was unanimously elected President of that body; and its members
looked forward with intense interest to the opening address which he would
have had to deliver at the commencement of the session 1869-70. But their
hopes were never to he fulfilled; for his health, which had never "been
robust, at last gave way, and he died in London on the 17th of September
1869, at the early age of forty-five.
He had been married on the 31st of March 1857 to Isabella,
daughter of Alexander Ure, Esq. of Glasgow ; and for about three quarters of
a year after his death, his business remained in the hands of that lady as
sole proprietrix, and was carried on with undiminished success. It then
passed into the hands of other partners, but it still continues to bear the
honoured name of John Elder.
Thus far this Memoir has related ehiefly to the intellectual
powers and the professional career of its subject. It is not to be supposed,
however, that his mental cultivation was limited to professional matters. He
possessed a large and varied stoek of information on most subjects of
general interest; and with his clear head and excellent judgment, it is
certain that in whatsoever pursuit he had chosen for his main occupation, he
must have risen to distinction. The moral qualities of his mind were of a
not less high order than his intellectual powers. "While firm of purpose and
energetic for every good object, he was kind, generous, and liberal, and one
of the most truthful, just, and honourable men that ever lived.
As regards the higher aspects of his character, the compiler
of this Memoir is fortunately able to produce the testimony of one whose
qualifications to speak on that subject are better than his own. The
following pages are extracted from a letter of the Reverend Norman Macleod,
"He was a member of my congregation, and I knew him well. I
have seen him in all variety of outward circumstances — in the heyday of his
strength, vigorous in mind and body; when suffering from a painful and
lingering illness; when ministering to his venerated father on his deathbed,
and to his admirable mother in her sorrow. 1 know what he was to his
wife—loved more than all; and very many know, and never will forget, what he
was as a friend; and the better I and others knew him, the more we admired
and loved him.
"Mr Elder was truly a religious man. He was not a man of the
slightest pretence in anything. He was far too sincere and truthful for that. Nor
was he given to express, in any degree corresponding to their reality and
depth, his feelings or affections, but was singularly calm, quiet, and
undemonstrative. His religion was not, therefore, of that type which too
commonly and very easily passes in society under the name, merely because
certain opinions are held, and certain stereotyped phrases and shibboleths
are made use of. His religion was a life, not
confined to the church or to Sunday, but carried out every day, in the
family, in the counting-house, in society, and in business, manifested in
untarnished honour, in the sweetest temper, in gentle words, and in
remarkable and most unselfish considerateness for the feelings and the wants
of others. Such a religion as his was the result of head, heart, and
conscience dealing honestly with truth, and of a very simple and genuine
faith in the love to him and authority over him of Jesus Christ. It was the
deliberate choice of a strong will, affected by a pure mind, quick
conscience, and affectionate heart. His character told upon every department
of his workshop and building-yard. Every one, from the oldest to the
youngest, felt the
presence of the man, and were influenced by his goodness as much as by his
genius. In visiting the other day his great building-yard, one of his oldest
and most trustworthy men, speaking of him, said to me: 'I never saw anyone
like him, nor expect to see his like again! He was so just, so true, so kind
to every one. Every man trusted him, and knew that he would do all that was
possible to benefit them in every respect. He had many plans for their good,
which, alas! he was not spared to cany out. I never heard a rough or unkind
word coming from his lips.'
"His funeral was one of the most impressive sights I ever
witnessed. The busy works south of the Clyde were shut, forge and hammer at
rest, and silent as the grave. The forest of masts along the river were
draped in flags, lowered half-mast in sign of mourning. A very army of
workmen, dressed like gentlemen, followed Ids body—column after column.
Respectful crowds lined the streets, as if gazing on the burial of a prince;
and every one of us, as we took the last look of his coffin and left his
grave, felt that we had left a friend behind us."
Extracts from Letters of the Rev. W. G. Fraser.
Looking back on my
brief interviews with Mr Elder, I always
felt he was not, like the old philosopher, so absorbed in his mathematics as
to forget more vital interests.
When speaking with me on religious subjects, in his own
quiet, clear, flowing, and forcible way, about translating the facts of
Christ's life into our own lives, the unmistakable impression was left on my
mind that he was actually making this part of his own religion, in
endeavouring to improve the temporal condition of those around him. Whatever
he did for the bodily comfort of those under him, flowed, I have no doubt,
from this living principle rising from the centre of his own spiritual being
—a God-given and Christ-implanted principle in the soul, leading to
imitation of Christ in doing good to the bodies of men.
One could not help feeling, in intercourse with Mr Elder on
matters religious, that what he said was not merely from the unseen region
of thought, not mere profession and assertion, but experimental from heart
and life. And judging only from conversations with him, in ignorance of his
mode of caring for his numerous -workmen, I shall be disappointed if there
is not some proof in the rccord of his life of the justness of my
impressions, that he was one who had at heart the temporal good of his
workmen, and who wished this, as Christ wished to fill
the nets of
those who had toiled all night without success. In the spirit of the master,
I should conclude, that he carried out Paul's precept, "Be ye kind and
affectionate one to another."
Mr Elder, though always calm, seemed always cheerful, never
morose in conversation, sure to add some point or line of light on the
subject of discussion. He was one of those " flowing light-fountains " of
general knowledge, of unostentatious Christian principle, as well as eminent
engineering skill—"a living light-fountain," which one felt (when they had
found it) was both pleasant and profitable to abide under its radiance.
Had John Elder been spared to us, I am certain, from the
spirit that leavened his motives, from the power combined with gentleness
which characterised him, that he would have contributed large practical help
in solving some of the difficult problems that are so often springing up
between employers and employed in this country. I remember, after his
furlough in Russia, how he contrasted the price of labour there with our
higher prices here, and how, in genuine sympathy with the working man, he
regretted those strikes as frequently far more injurious and disastrous to
the men than to the masters, and how he wished to devise some plan whereby
the men might be saved the hardships of standing out so long, and trade be
prevented from leaving our shores, which it would ultimately do if strikes
That Mr Elder had not only the temporal interests of the men
at heart, but also their highest moral and spiritual interests, I feel
certain, from the way in which he spoke of their doubts in a conversation on
the infidelity of the age, and the mode he counselled us and all teachers to
adopt in grappling with doubters; the apt illustration being that of Thomas,
the doubting disciple, who did not at first believe that most vital and
fundamental truth, the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Yet the Saviour did
not frown upon him as an infidel, nor sneer sarcastically at him, but came
down and met him on his own ground, as if he entered into his doubts, and
asked him to examine for himself the unmistakable proofs of the facts of
his resurrection; whereas, had Thomas been treated coolly, and called hard
names for doubting what all the others believed, humanly speaking, he might
have turned away in confirmed unbelief
The great Teacher, however, dealing
sympathisingly and gently with Thomas, led him, from unbelief to faith, to
exclaim, "My Lord, and my God." In like manner (continued Mr Elder) we
should endeavour to meet all doubters on their own ground, giving them
credit for what they do believe, and striving to furnish evidence for what
they have difficulty about. In this way many might "be saved from the ranks
of unbelief. Tennyson's lines in ' In Memoriam,' "were partly quoted :—
"Perplexed in faith, but not in deeds, At last
he beats his music out; There lives more faith in honest doubt, Believe me,
than in half the creeds. He fought his doubts and gathered strength ; He
could not make his judgment blind; He faced the spectres of the mind, And
laid them : thus he came at length To find a stronger faith his own; And
power was with him in the night, Which makes the darkness and the light, And
dwells not in the light alone."
Although it was my privilege and happiness to have those
frequent interviews with Mr Elder, and although we had often a quiet chat on
religious subjects, yet I should conclude that generally he was reserved on
these matters. Never were they obtruded on the general company; and all that
he said on those topics was said in that quiet unostentatious manner that
impressed me with the feeling that there was in him a deep realising of
eternity as closely connected with time.
Pacific Steam Navigation Cot.'s Office, Liverpool, 21st Sept. 1869.
At a meeting of the Court of Directors held here this day, Mr
Charles Turner, M.P., the Chairman of the Company, presiding, the recent
death of Mr John Elder was brought under notice, and it was unanimously
resolved that, having regard to the late ]\Ir Elder's long and valued
connection with the Company, a vote of condolence with Mrs Elder he
recorded, that Mr Just communicate the same, and express the deep sympathy
of the Directors with her under her severe and trying affliction.
Pacific Steam Navigation Cot., Liverpool, 21st Sept. 1869.
My dear Mrs Elder,—It
is now my duty to transmit herewith an extract from the minutes of the Board
to-day, expressing the sincere sympathy of the Directors under your present
trying dispensation ; and I feel it due, alike to the memory of your late
respected husband and to the Directors, to add, that in his death they
recognise the loss of a valued connection and private friend.—I remain, my
dear Mrs Elder, yours very sincerely,
Elm Park, Govan, Glasgow.
Pacific Steam Navigation Company, Harrington Street,
Liverpool, 23<Z Nov. 1869.
am instructed by the Directors to inform you that they have this day
unanimously resolved that, in recognition of your late husband's services to
this Company, in the economy of fuel through the use of his compound
engines, one of the vessels now building by the firm for the West Coast
service should bear his name. The vessel last contracted for shall therefore
be called the " John Elder."—I am, dear Madam, yours very truly,
Pacific Steam Navigation Company, Harrington Street,
Liverpool, 21s( Oct. 1870.
In reply to your inquiry as to the extent and nature of the Company's
business connection with
lamented John Elder, and with the firm of Messrs Eandolph, Elder, & Co., of which he
was the guiding spirit—so far as regards marine steam-engines, I may explain
that it began in the year
1856, on the occasion
of supplying to the Valparaiso
a set of engines on Mr Elder's compound principle —the second,
as I believe, of the class
made by the firm;
shipbuilding being subsequently added to the engineering business, which together were
ultimately carried on by Mr Elder alone. The Company have built no fewer
22 steam-ships in that yard, and have been supplied,
including those now building, with 30 pairs of the double-cylindered
engines. In fact, on account of the advantages in the saving of fuel, which,
according to our experience, reaches 30 to 35 per cent, we would not think
of any other type of machinery.
As you are no doubt aware, the operations have, up to a
recent period, been confined to the west coast of South America, where, in
consequence of the high price, economy of fuel is of the first importance.
It was during the Russian war, when tonnage for the conveyance of coal hence
to the Pacific became so scarce, and the cost of the article abroad was
thereby more than doubled for a time, that we were led to inquire into the
question of a saving of coal. Mr Elder was called in and consulted, and the
double-cylinder engine adopted, as before mentioned, and with a success far
beyond our most sanguine expectations, or the advantages held out by Mr
Elder himself. Indeed I am in fairness bound to admit, that his
double-cylinder engines never exceeded the promised consumption, nor fell
short of the guaranteed speed. On the contrary, the promised results were
always more than realised; and I may add, that such was the progress in
improvement in the double-cylinder engines, that the last-delivered vessels
surpassed the Valparaiso in the economy of fuel as far as she surpassed the
ordinary type of machinery.
A short time before Mr Elder's death, the Company undertook
to carry out a mail service for the Chili Government between Europe and
Valparaiso, and he was called on to design and construct four large
steam-ships of upwards of 3000 tons and 500 horse-power. Those vessels have
been so remarkable as regards regularity in performance of the voyage, a
distance of 19,000 miles on the round— the greatest steam-line in the
world—and economical in the consumption of coal, that the attention of many
large steam-ship owners, who had long remained sceptical, has been more
particularly attracted to the merits of the compound engine, so that ere
long I believe the old type of machinery will be unheard of. For this rapid
stride in economy, steam-ship owners are, no doubt, indebted to Mr Elder ;
and many successful lines of steamers have been projected which never would
have had an existence but for the compound principle; thus carrying out the
great idea of not only bringing greater advantages and new pleasures into
existence, but so cheapening those that previously existed as to bring them
within the reach of many who otherwise could not have enjoyed them : and
thus also will Mr Elder's name be transmitted to posterity as a worthy
disciple of Watt.
Speaking from long experience, I can aver that, whether in
friendship or business, no man could have been more reliable, or more worthy
Institution op Engineers in Scotland.
Secretary's Office, 67 Renfield Street, Glasgow, 27th
Mr J. P. Smith begs herewith to transmit to Mrs Elder the
enclosed excerpt minute of meeting of council of the Institution of
Engineers, -which he trusts she will kindly receive. He would at the same
time desire to express his own sympathy.
The Institution of Engineers in Scotland, with
which is incorporated The
Scottish Shipbuilders' Association, Glasgow, 27th
(Excerpt of Minute of Council held on 3d
It was unanimously resolved that the council of the
Institution formally record their deep sense of the great loss the
Institution had sustained by the death of their President, Mr John Elder,
aud also of the misfortune which had befallen the profession, in losing in
the prime of life one whose skill, energy, and varied attainments had done
so much for its advancement.
It was further resolved that the council transmit to Mrs
Elder the expression of their sympathy in her bereavement, with the
assurance that Mr Elder's memory -will remain with them associated with all
that is to be esteemed for high professional ability, integrity of purpose,
and trustworthy friendship.
Extracted from the minutes.
J. P. Smith,
Burgh Chambers, Govan, 12th
the melancholy satisfaction of transmitting to yon the annexed excerpt from
the minutes of the Police Commissioners of the Burgh of Govan.— I have the
honour to he, Madam, your most obedient servant,
W. M. Wilson,
"At Govan, and within the Burgh Chambers, the eleventh
October 1869. At a general meeting of the Police Commissioners of the burgh,
Provost Thomas Eeid in the chair,—
"Inter alia, the
Chairman officially reported the death since last meeting of John Elder,
Esq., one of the Commissioners, and moved—' That the Commissioners resolve
to record in their minutes that by the death of John Elder, Esq., their
Board has been deprived of a member from whose presence, had health
permitted it, and life been spared, their deliberations would have derived
invaluable aid and enhanced authority; and that the general community of the
burgh honour the memory of a marine engineer of distinguished genius and
enterprise, while they lament the loss of a large and beneficent employer of
labour, a public-spirited citizen, and a good man; and resolve further, that
a copy of the minute be transmitted to Mrs Elder, with the respectful
condolence of the Commissioners upon her irreparable bereavement.'
"The Commissioners unanimously approved of the Provost's
motion, and instructed the clerk accordingly."
Extracted from the minutes by
W. M. Wilson,
Association of Engineers in Glasgow. Glasgow, 11th
— In acknowledgment of Mr Elder's letter of the 7th Sept. last, accepting
the honorary membership of this Association, I am directed by the council to
express to you our deep sense of the loss we have sustained by his lamented
death, and to express our very sincere sympathy with you in your heavy
bereavement.— I am, Madam, your respectful and obedient servant.
Wm. George Bowser, Secy.,
Extract from, Letter of W. Edward Mac Andrew, Esq., of Messrs
Mac Andrew fy Co.
Bond Court" Chambers, "VValbrook, London, Oct. 22,
In all, we had ten steamers built, and three more en-gined—thirteen
in all—by Mr Elder. I believe that he built his first screw-steamer for us,
and she is still running with most satisfactory results—indeed, our
unparalleled success in the steam business, in face of severe opposition, is
solely attributable to our connection with Mr Elder enabling us to effect
such economies over our opponents.
Mr Elder was our consulting engineer as well as the
contractor for the work, and everything that he could personally superintend
was uniformly successful in its results.
Both Mr Elder and myself were animated by a desire to
introduce improvements and economies into naval architecture and marine
engineering; and it was a knowledge of Mr Elder's views in this matter which
led to our seeking him in the first place. "We joined in experiments, which
naturally cost something at first, but were ultimately very successful and
pecuniarily advantageous to both firms. . . . I know that had he lived, he
would have introduced, at least, as great reforms into naval as into
mercantile building and engineering.
I have only to add that Mr Elder was always most liberal in
all matters of contract, and by bis constant urbanity and liberal execution
of all contracts, commanded a preference over all other builders. His
personal work and superintendence were hardly less valuable to the business
than his irresistible courtesy and unmistakable intelligence in going into
He was always ready to give his time to discussing any
suggestion, whether made by himself or others, and was not only thoroughly
scientific, but eminently practical. Unlike other inventors, he did not
overstate results to be attained, nor did he press his inventions on those
who were too prejudiced to adopt them. He built steamers and engines of the
old style for those who so wished them, and always laid the case fairly
before his customers.
Naturally, old plans and old ways are preferred by many, and
few could move
as fast as Mr Elder in evolving or executing improved systems.
TV. Edward MacAndrew.
Extract from Letter of H. Oliver Robinson, Esq., contractor
for the Dutch East Indian Steam-Packet Service.
This service (I may explain) embraces six lines of
intercolonial steam-navigation, centring at Batavia, the capital, performing
regular voyages to and from the following ports : Singapore (connecting with
the European lines), Samarang, Sourahaya, and Cheribon, in Java; Padang,
Bencoolen, and Palembang, in Sumatra; Macassar and Menado, in Celebes;
Amboyna, Banda, and-Ternate, in the Spice Islands; Sinkawang and
Bandjermassing, in Borneo; and requiring for the performance of this service
at least ten steam-vessels of different sizes or classes.
Those steam-vessels were required to be specially adapted for
a tropical climate, and for seas where " fouling " takes place with a
rapidity far exceeding those of a temperate climate; whilst the high cost of
coals (about £2 per
ton) rendered economy of consumption of the first importance.
When to these conditions is added the shallowness of the
coasts, the prevalence of coral reefs and sandbanks, and the absence of
lighthouses and beacons in this Eastern Archipelago, it will be readily
understood that steam-vessels of a highly special adaptation were
indispensable to success, both in a maritime and financial point of view.
It is unnecessary for me here to refer to the acquaintance I
had previously the pleasure to form with Mr Elder, beyond saying that from
it I felt the conviction that he possessed in a high degree the talents and
experience necessary to aid me in designing those steam-vessels, and in
determining the leading points in the construction of the vessels and
To him accordingly, upon my return from Java in August 1864,
as the contractor with the Dutch Colonial Government for this steam-service,
applied for this aid; and, with his well-known generosity and kindness, he
threw himself unsparingly into the subject, and by our joint labours the
working drawings and specifications of the whole of the necessary
steam-vessels, with their machinery and boilers, were finally settled.
The relative importance of those different lines of
steam-navigation necessarily determined the sizes and powers of the
steam-vessels, and three classes
were fixed upon as follows, viz.:—
First class, 1050 tons builders' measurement, and 200 horses'
Second class, 850 tons builders' measurement, and 150 horses'
Third class, 500 tons builders' measurement, and 80 horses'
From the fact that all the ten steam-vessels were required to
be out at Batavia ready to commence the service on the 1st January 1866, Mr
Elder's firm could only undertake to build and engine four, and to engine a
fifth steamer, being all of the first and second class; and accordingly,
contracts for their delivery " ready for sea " at certain fixed dates were
entered into with the firm, and were duly and faithfully performed • and on
the trial, the speed and consumption of coals completely fulfilled the
These steam-vessels have now been running nearly five years,
without any perceptible falling-off, and without requiring repairs to either
vessels, machinery, or "boilers— the only matter of regret being that the
whole of the fleet could not have been obtained from the same source.
It may be of interest to refer here to a few of the peculiar
points of those steam-vessels, which were considered necessary to adapt them
to the service in question.
Their draught light, with great beam. The passenger
accommodation all on deck, spacious and airy, covered by a spar deck. The
rig schooner, with taunt masts, and large canvas for the light -winds of the
Eastern Archipelago, where typhoons never reach. But the engines were more
especially the point to which Mr Elder devoted his attention, and on which
he showed the great liberality of his mind.
Owing to the circumstances that those steamers never would
have occasion to return to Europe in the ordinary course, and that the Suez
Canal was then not
a fact, it was obviously desirable to have their engines and boilers of the
most simple design, whilst the light construction of the vessels rendered it
of importance to keep down the weight of the machinery as much as possible.
To meet these desiderata, single - cylinder engines of the most economical
possible consumption, instead of his own double
were proposed to him by me. This idea he at once entered into, and applied
himself to the carrying of it out -with his usual ardour, and with such
success, that upon the trial-trips of the steamers the consumption of Scotch coal
was only 2f lb. per horsepower per hour (indicated).
In all' these matters of engineering and construction, the
only partner of the firm with whom I came in contact was Mr Elder, whom, in
addition to his great talents and liberal views in mechanical matters, I
found to be exceedingly straightforward, as well as easy to deal with on all
H. Oliver Bobinson.
I had been some time groping after some method of getting
better results from the marine engine, when I became acquainted with Mr
Elder, and at once saw he had thoroughly mastered the whole question. I have
had seven pairs of those engines, all working noAv in the most perfect
order, and giving the most complete satisfaction.
When I saw the results of the first pair, I ventured to
predict that they must entirely supersede all other marine engines; and I am
now seeing them adopted by those who were keenest in depreciation of them.
The vessels in which my engines were placed are doing their
work in all parts of the world, and doing it well. Nearly all of them have
been trading to the East, via the
Suez Canal; and no one can doubt that Mr Elder's invention has placed
steam-navigation on a footing which will enable it, by means of the Canal,
to extend indefinitely commerce and civilisation in the East.
It was a true pleasure to have business dealings with Mr
Elder, as it was a true happiness to enjoy his private friendship. I had to
send no inspector to see work faithfully done in an establishment where all
work was faithfully done. Mr Elder was ever ready to give information and
advice; and my experience has invariably been that I obtained in practice better results
than promised, a somewhat unusual experience of inventors. I often told Mr
Elder I wished I had known him sooner. It would have been well for the world
had he been spared to us longer.
Donald E. Macgregor.
Letter on part of Employees.
Fairfield Yard, Sept. 20,
My dear Sir,—The
employees of our late deceased employer, Mr Elder, are desirous of showing
their gratitude, and the manner in which they esteem his memory, by being
granted the liberty of following his remains to the place of interment, or
part of the way, in whatever manner the relations of our late worthy
employer shall see fit to appoint. They will feel grateful by this boon
being granted them, as it may be the last open mark that they shall have the
liberty of ascribing to his memory, and their sympathy towards his bereaved
wife and relations.—Your obedient servant,
Letter on the part of Foremen and Workmen.
a meeting of the Fairfield Accident Fund Committee (representing the entire
body of the foremen and workmen in Fairfield Shipbuilding Yard) it was
unanimously resolved to address to you a letter of condolence expressing our
sentiments of heartfelt sympathies with you in being bereaved of your loving
spouse, and ourselves deprived of a deservingly - esteemed employer.
"YVe would refrain from intruding upon your acute grief at
this time, but our feelings constrain us to give unqualified expression to
our sincere grief for the irreparable loss which you have sustained.
By this sad calamity we mourn the loss of the most benevolent
of employers and the most generous of masters —the community the loss of the
enterprising and important supporter—the benevolent and the Christian that
material aid which enabled them to make provision for the needy—the erring
restrained and advised towards a new life.
By this sad calamity we mourn the loss as a star of the first
magnitude in the engineering and shipbuilding system which has suddenly
vanished, but whose lustre shall outlive the present generation.
By this sad calamity Scotland has cause to weep for an
ingenious and illustrious son, rearing a memorial in the hearts of the
people which shall remain untarnished during succeeding ages.
And now that we have confidence that he has gone to his rest,
we earnestly desire that this providential visitation may be sanctified to
you and to us; may God the Father be to you the husband of the widow, your
stay and protector in all circumstances—God the Son your friend and
adviser—and God the Holy Spirit your comforter in your sad bereavement, is
the prayer of your sincere sympathisers and faithful servants,
Alexr. Neil, President, "Wm.
Millar, Secretary for
the Fairfield Accident Fund Committee.
To Mrs John