Letters concerning an invention to extract carburetted hydrogen from coal mines

Letters concerning an invention by the mining agent to the Marquis of Stafford to extract carburetted hydrogen from coal mines ( Click to zoom in )

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Letters concerning an invention by the mining agent to the Marquis of Stafford to extract carburetted hydrogen from coal mines, 1823

SRO 593/M/2/2/5
©Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent Archive Service

Joseph Burgess was the mining agent for the mines of the Marquis of Stafford on his North Staffordshire estate. In this letter he is trying to gain the support of James Loch, the Marquis’ chief agent for a safety invention. Loch’s response indicates support but leaves the detail of whether to take the experiment forward singly or in partnership to Burgess.


Foley Coal Office December 17th 1823

Honoured Sir,

I received your letter of yester and am glad you understand the plan proposed for extracting the Hydrogen. Since I wrote you I have made a Model and it fully answers my expectation in every point and I have not the least doubt but it will answer. I have had many respectable persons as well as coal agent to look at it and not a single person of any discription as any doubt as to it being effectual , indeed I think it would require the order of nature to be reversed to prevent it answering and its operations may be encrease[d] to any dimentions without much power to put it in motion. The Fenton Park Co are in a dreadful state at several of there pits and are very anxious about it. I saw Mr Bouran yesterday and [he] wanted to know if I had heard from you on the subject. I told him you were out of Town but I had no doubt of hering from you on the subject in a few days. He said he hoped his Lordship would try it. But if I would give them a discretionary permission they would try it at the old field without delay. I said I would her from you first as I had no doubt if you thought the thing likely his Lordship would try it himself and that you probably would take his Lordships opinion as well as other likely persons- I am of opinion that in the end if it answers, it will be a saving rather than a Burden to the coal proprietors. Several of the coal agents are prejuced to any thing new and what is not of their own production and I profess to answer all objections tho’ they has here undergone ample discussion in every point and the most preduced are quite satisfied. There is no small noise here on the subject the wives and families of the working colliers are no little rejoiced at the idea of an expedient being found out which is [to] make the danger of their Husbands and fathers much less in this head and I do assure you that I am not a little teased by their enquiries and wishes that his Lordship may begin the experiment. I tell them that it is under Lord Stafford’s and your consideration & that I shall hear from you soon. I had a Tradesman from Manchester this week who offerd me £500 for the sight of it, others urge me to take out a Patent. All that I wish is to try it. If it should not answer the loss to us will not be much. Because the rope/ Posse should be such as will answer for the Engine we are errecting below my House- I am inclined to think the thing as not been tried before by any one. There has been inventions tried by Blowing in the work. I think the idea all the coal agents have Brambled themselves as there are many of them men of science and good commonsence But this man is far before the air Pump for inasmuch as it draws a foot of Gass out it admits of a foot more of pure air so that it destroys an enemy and brings in a friend.

96 Great Russell Street
December 23rd 1823

Dear Burgess,

I have shewn your several letters about the contrivance for extricating the Carburetted Hydrogen from Coal Mines And his Lordship is very willing to contribute his share in making the experiment- How this is to be done by a Joint operative is perhaps not easy to settle and if Fenton Park colliery are desirous to try it, you had better assist them in their experiment, and his Lordship can have one constructed also for his own use. If there was any way of trying the experiments in common that I think would suit his Lordships ideas best. You must consider and settle this

Yours truly

James Loch

Mr Burgess

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