Welcome        Walking Tours        Feedback        Contact        Links        Credits


Name: William Murdoch

Born: 1754 in Lugar, Scotland

Died: 1839 in Handsworth, England

Profession: Inventor, Engineer


See also:

James Watt



William Murdoch, the son of an Ayrshire mill designer, was born in 1754. Murdoch had an excellent grasp of mechanics and, in 1777, he walked 300 miles to Birmingham to meet James Watt, in the hope of persuading Watt to employ him at his factory. Watt's business partner, engineer Matthew Boulton, took him on. Boulton later described him as the finest engine erector he had ever seen.

Despite attempts to entice him to employment elsewhere, the loyal Murdoch remained works manager with Watt and Boulton's company - even after they persuaded him against patenting his own steam engine research into high pressure engines, which Watt and Boulton did not wish to involve themselves with.

Murdoch's best known contribution, then, was to gas lighting. In Redruth in Cornwall, while managing a pumping engine installation, Murdoch made an important discovery. He was relaxing by the fire one evening, when he placed some coal dust in the bowl of his pipe, and placed this in the fire. As coal gas was formed and came out of the mouthpiece, Murdoch saw it shine brightly. He had discovered the properties of gas as an illuminant.

From this quiet beginning stemmed Glasgow's first attempts at street and building illumination, and in 1817 the Glasgow's Gas Light Company was formed. On the 15th September 1818 the first proper streetlight was switched on in Glasgow. For a while, insurance companies threatened to increase rates if gas lighting was installed in private houses, fearing Glasgow properties might be prone to explosion.

With the introduction of coal gas, duties such as filling lamps and trimming wicks were no longer required. Lighting maintenance was now considerably cheaper, and lighting gradually spread throughout the city.

Image: wikipedia.orghttp://www.wikipedia.orgshapeimage_3_link_0

    People        Places        Stories