Hulls, Jonathan

Hulls, Jonathan
SUBJECT AREA: Ports and shipping
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b. 1699 Campden, Gloucestershire, England
d. after 1754
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English inventor (supposed) of the steamboat.
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Hulls was the first in Britain to attempt to employ steam in propelling a vessel in water. His experiment was made on the River Avon at Evesham in 1737, the main idea being to install a Newcomen engine, the only type then known, on a boat in front of the vessel it was intended to propel, and connected to it with a tow-rope. Six paddles in the stern of the tow boat were fastened to a cross axis connected by ropes to another shaft, which was turned by the engine. Hulls undoubtedly showed how to convert the rectilinear motion of a piston into rotary motion, which is an essential principle in steam locomotion, on land or water.
He is described as "the inventor of the Steamboat" on a portrait that once hung at the Institution of Marine Engineers, and his patent for the steamboat is dated 21 December 1736. He published his Description and Draught of a New-Invented Machine ("for carrying vessels or ships out or into any harbour, port or river against wind and tide, or in a calm: for which His Majesty has granted Letters Patent for the sole benefit of the author for the space of 14 years", 1737); this rare book was reprinted in 1855. According to De Morgan, Hull's work probably gave the idea to Symington, as Symington's did to Fulton. Erasmus Darwin had him in mind when he wrote "drag the slow barge". In 1754 Hulls published The Art of Measuring Made Easy by the Help of a New Sliding Scale, which he patented in 1753 together with a machine for weighing gold coins. He also wrote Maltmakers' Instructor.
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Further Reading
S.Smiles, Boulton and Watt, pp. 72–4. De Morgan, Budget of Paradoxes.
IMcN

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

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