Sorocold, George

Sorocold, George
SUBJECT AREA: Public utilities
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b. probably Ashton-in-Makerfield, England fl. c. 1685–1715
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English civil engineer who set up numerous water-driven pumping plants.
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He began to practise in Derbyshire and South Yorkshire and later moved to London, where his most important work was carried out. Little is known of his birth or, indeed, of the date of his death, although it is thought that he may have been born in Ashton-in- Makerfield.
His first known work was a water-driven pumping plant in Derby erected in 1693 to supply water to houses and to points in the town through pipes from the pumps by the river Derwent. These water-driven pumping plants and the delivery of water to various towns were the result of entrepreneurial development by groups of "adventurers". Sorocold went on to set up many more pumping plants, including those at Leeds Bridge (1694–5), Macclesfield, Wirksworth, Yarmouth, Portsmouth, Norwich and King's Lynn.
His best-known work was the installation of a pumping plant at the north end of London Bridge to replace a sixteenth-century plant. This consisted of four water-wheels placed between the starlings of the bridge. As the bridge is situated on the tidal Thames, the water-wheels were contrived so that their shafts could be raised or lowered to meet the state of the tidal flow. Whilst the waterworks designed by Sorocold are well known, it is clear that he had come to be regarded as a consulting engineer. One scheme that was carried through was the creation of a navigation between the river Trent and Derby on the line of the river Derwent. He appeared as a witness for the Derwent Navigation Act in 1703. He also held a patent for "A new machine for cutting and sawing all sorts of boards, timber and stone, and twisting all kinds of ropes, cords and cables by the strength of horses of water": this illustrates that his knowledge of power sources was predominant in his practice.
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Further Reading
R.Jenkins, 1936, "George Sorocold. A chapter in the history of public water supply", The Collected Papers of Rhys Jenkins, Newcomen Society.
H.Beighton, 1731, article in The Philosophical Transactions (provides details of the London Bridge Waterworks).
KM

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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