Miller, Patrick

Miller, Patrick
SUBJECT AREA: Ports and shipping
b. 1731 Glasgow, Scotland
d. 9 December 1815 Dalswinton, Dumfriesshire, Scotland
Scottish merchant and banker, early experimenter in powered navigation and in ship form.
In his own words, Patrick Miller was "without a sixpence" in his early youth; this is difficult to prove one way or another as he ended his life as Director and Deputy Governor of the Bank of Scotland. One thing is clear however, that from his earliest days, in common with most of his counterparts of the late eighteenth century, he was interested in experimental and applied science. Having acquired a substantial income from other sources, Miller was able to indulge his interest in ships and engineering. His first important vessel was the trimaran Edinburgh, designed by him and launched at Leith in 1786. Propulsion was man-powered using paddle wheels positioned in the spaces between the outer and central hulls. This led to several trials of similar craft on the Forth in the 1780s, and ultimately to the celebrated Dalswinton Loch trials. In 1785 Miller had purchased the Dumfriesshire estate of Dalswinton and commenced a series of experiments on agricultural development and other matters. With the help of William Symington he built a double-hull steamship with internal paddle wheels which was tested on the Loch in 1788. The 7.6 m (25 ft) long ship travelled at 5 mph (8 km/h) on her trials, and according to unsubstantiated tradition carried a group of well-known people including the poet Robert Burns (1759–1796).
Miller carried out many more important experiments and in 1796 obtained a patent for the design of shallow-drafted ships able to carry substantial cargo on flat bottoms. His main achievement may have been to stimulate William Symington, who at the beginning of the nineteenth century went on to design and build two of the world's first important steamships, each named Charlotte Dundas, for service on the Forth and Clyde Canal.
Further Reading
H.Philip Spratt, 1958, The Birth of the Steamboat, London: Griffiths. W.S.Harvey and G.Downs-Rose, 1980, William Symington, Inventor and Engine
Builder, London: Northgate.
F.M.Walker, 1984, Song of the Clyde. A History of Clyde Shipbuilding, Cambridge: PSL.

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

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