Steam Boiler Assurance Company. Chief engineer’s report[s], 1859-1879. - one of our rare books for sale
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LONGRIDGE, Robert B.

Steam Boiler Assurance Company. Chief engineer’s report[s], 1859-1879.
Manchester, 1860-1879 (first 4 reports reprinted 1873), 1874

Description
The boiler was the indispensible component of every type of steam engine but the consequences when something went wrong were terrifying. With the advent of high-pressure steam engines, the number of boiler explosions increased dramatically and various bodies were set up within the engineering world to try and regulate design and strength, of which one of the most successful was the Steam Boiler Assurance Co. It was established in Manchester in 1859 and was the first boiler insurance company in the world.

This volume contains the reports for the first twenty years of its existence, which gather together an enormous amount of information on every aspect of this endlessly fascinating subject. Robert Longridge was the chief engineer of the company and his job was twofold: to carry out risk inspections on boilers which their owners wished to insure, and to report on the causes of accidents. However, by 1864 the company was so successful that it changed its name to the Boiler Insurance and Steam Power Co. with a team of inspectors all over the country. By the early 1870s it was insuring nearly 20,000 boilers.

Photograph from the Steam Boiler Assurance Company Chief Engineer’s reports, 1859-1879
From the Steam Boiler Assurance Company Chief Engineer’s report

In the early years, Longridge’s reports generally extrapolate common defects from his own inspections but soon they begin to cover specific topics in more detail as well as describing various explosions and their likely causes. Several of the later reports are illustrated with plates showing twisted and mangled boilers as well as indicator diagrams. He also includes extracts from the report and minutes of evidence of the select committee for the prevention of boiler explosions.

Photograph from the Steam Boiler Assurance Company Chief Engineer’s reports, 1859-1879
From the Steam Boiler Assurance Company Chief Engineer’s report

Longridge, who had begun as chief engineer to Fairbairn’s Manchester Steam Users’s Association when it was founded in 1855, must by the 1870s have had as much experience of anyone on performance and working of boilers. Throughout the reports he constantly recommends improvements or modifications.

The first four reports have title pages each dated 1873 and to begin with probably only existed in manuscript form. No doubt the company began printing its reports after 1864, when it changed its name, and printed the first four in 1873 to complete the run. An exceptionally rare item.

Collation

8vo. 17 items in 1. 8pp ; 11 + (1)pp ; 11 + (1)pp ; 12pp ; 20pp ; 18pp + 1 leaf showing table of premiums ; 22pp ; 29 + (1)pp, 7 actual mounted photo plates ; 32pp, 5 litho plates ; 38pp, 5 litho plat

Price

£550.00

Catalogue No: 6441