Clegg, Samuel

Clegg, Samuel
b. 2 March 1781 Manchester, England
d. 8 January 1861 Haverstock Hill, Hampstead, London, England
English inventor and gas engineer.
Clegg received scientific instruction from John Dalton, the founder of the atomic theory, and was apprenticed to Boulton \& Watt. While at their Soho factory in Birmingham, he assisted William Murdock with his experiments on coal gas. He left the firm in 1804 and set up as a gas engineer on his own account. He designed and installed gas plant and lighting in a number of factories, including Henry Lodge's cotton mill at Sowerby Bridge and in 1811 the Jesuit College at Stoneyhurst in Lancashire, the first non-industrial establishment to be equipped with gas lighting.
Clegg moved to London in 1813 and successfully installed gas lighting at the premises of Rudolf Ackermann in the Strand. His success in the manufacture of gas had earned him the Royal Society of Arts Silver Medal in 1808 for furthering "the art of gas production", and in 1813 it brought him the appointment of Chief Engineer to the first gas company, the Chartered Gas, Light \& Coke Company. He left in 1817, but remained in demand to set up gas works and advise on the formation of gas companies. Throughout this time there flowed from Clegg a series of inventions of fundamental importance in the gas industry. While at Lodge's mill he had begun purifying gas by adding lime to the gas holder, and at Stoneyhurst this had become a separate lime purifier. In 1815, and again in 1818, Clegg patented the wet-meter which proved to be the basis for future devices for measuring gas. He invented the gas governor and, favouring the horizontal retort, developed the form which was to become standard for the next forty years. But after all this, Clegg joined a concern in Liverpool which failed, taking all his possessions with it. He made a fresh start in Lisbon, where he undertook various engineering works for the Portuguese government. He returned to England to find railway construction gathering pace, but he again backed a loser by engaging in the ill-fated atmospheric-rail way project. He was finally discouraged from taking part in further enterprises, but he received a government appointment as Surveying Officer to conduct enquiries in connection with the various Bills on gas that were presented to Parliament. Clegg also contributed to his son's massive treatise on the manufacture of coal gas.
Principal Honours and Distinctions
Royal Society of Arts Silver Medal 1808.
Further Reading
Minutes of Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers (1862) 21:552–4.
S.Everard, 1949, The History of the Gas light and Coke Company, London: Ernest Benn.

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

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