MMIM Hall of Fame

William Murdoch

   William Murdoch was born 21st of August 1754, he was the third of seven children and the first son to survive beyond infancy. His home was Bello Mill near the village of Lugar, near Cumnock, East Ayrshire, where his father was a tenant on the estates of James Boswell, 9th Laird of Auchinleck.

   John Murdoch was a former gunner in the Hanoverian artillery and he was now a very capable Millwright and William learned the principles of mechanics, practical experimentation and working in metal and wood by assisting in his father's work. Around 1763 they built a "wooden horse on wheels" together, it was set upon three wheels and propelled by hand cranks. The significance being that William Murdoch was to be a designer who turned back and forth motion into rotary motion on steam engines, and that he quite probably got his affinity for mechanics from his father.

   Murdoch's early education was at the Old Cumnock Kirk School. From the age of eleven he attended Auchinleck school where he excelled in mathematics. His teacher at this time was one William Halbert, author of a highly regarded arithmetic textbook.

   It is also reported that in his early adulthood he assisted his father in engineering the Craikston Bridge over Lugar Water in 1774 and one of his pastimes was experimenting with the coal gas obtained by heating coal in a copper kettle in a small cave on the banks of the River Lugar near his father's mill, although there is no contemporary documentation of this.

  In August 1777, age 23, Murdoch walked from Ayrshire to Birmingham, a distance of over 300 miles (480 km), to find work at the famous Soho works of James Watt and Matthew Boulton, steam engineers. The story goes that Murdoch had a rather nice top hat which he nervously fiddled with during the interview. Predictably Murdoch dropped the hat which made a rather uncharacteristic sound. On closer inspection Boulton found that Murdoch's hat was made of wood! Murdoch had ‘turned’ it himself on a lathe on his own design. Reportedly Boulton was so impressed by Murdoch's wooden hat he gave him a job. While this may, or may not be, true it is more probable that both parties were aware of each other because of their connections with Laird Auchinleck James Boswell, who had made several visits to Watt's workshop at Soho.


   At this time Murdoch found the "ch" in his name caused problems for the English people around him so, having settled in England, he anglicised his name to "Murdock". Murdoch started with Boulton and Watt, in the pattern workshop of the Soho foundry, in Smethwick, making patterns for the casting of machine parts. He progressed to work on the fitting and erecting steam engines and was often sent from Soho for this purpose.    

   By 1778 William's ingenuity and ability was recognised by James Watt who wrote:

“if William Murdoch is not at home he should be sent for immediately as he understands the patterns and care must be taken to avoid mistakes of which our engine shop has been too guilty.”

Boulton too was impressed by Murdoch and wrote to Watt in 1779:

“I think Wm. Murdock a valuable man and deserves every civility and encouragement”

   Later that year (September 1779) they appointed Murdoch Senior Engine Erector in Cornwall, the company's most important and competitive area. Murdoch was just 25 years of age


   Given that the first Boulton and Watt engine in Cornwall was built at Chacewater-Whealbusy in 1778, replacing a Newcomen engine, we can see that Murdoch was prominent within the firm from the earliest days of Boulton and Watt in Cornwall. He was responsible for the erection, maintenance & repair of all Boulton & Watt engines there. Cornish miners were a hard bunch and often unruly, gaining the respect of these men needed more than just William's inventive mind. Fortunately he was over six feet tall and of a muscular build, such physical stature was a suitable match for his towering intellect, and came in handy for gaining respect!

   Murdoch had extensive knowledge having already supervised the construction of several of Watt's early steam engines. Unsupervised in Cornwall Murdoch started employing his own ideas. On the very first engine he erected in Cornwall Murdoch made the first of many improvements to the standard Boulton and Watt engine. He rearranged the gearing so the steam valve would work automatically due to the action of the exhaust shaft. This became the long slide ‘D’ valve and was patented in 1781. Murdoch would have had to deal with a wide range of mechanical problems related to the basic company engines, this would lead him to make practical improvements to those steam engine designs. Clearly there were a number of engine erectors in direct competition with each other. Each had their own ideas but none were averse to copying of mechanical innovations of others. They might gain information from direct observation but also through casual conversations between engineers. Direct violation of patents occurred and Murdoch was also required to monitor any infringement of Boulton and Watt Patents.

   The engines were very important for the safety of miners and the profitability of the businesses, as well as the satisfaction of the 'adventurers' (shareholders). Efficiency and efficacy of the engines was paramount. It was also important to Boulton and Watt as steam engines were not actually sold to customers but operated, and maintained by the builders.  The engine manufacture was paid not for the engine but by proportion to the engines efficiency. Watt described as follows:

“Our profits arise not from making the engine, but from a certain proportion of the savings in fuel which we make over any common engine, that raises the same quantity of water to the same height”.

   Murdoch's ingenuity and skill in getting the most out of his engines gave much improved profit earnings to the Boulton and Watt firm. So much so that Boulton wrote in 1782 that:

“We want more Murdock’s, for of all others he is the most active man and best engine erector I ever saw...When I look at the work done it astonishes me & is entirely owing to the spirit and activity of Murdoch who hath not gone to bed 3 of the nights”.

   Clearly Murdoch was kept busy travelling around the county attending to any problems which might occur on the engines. He concentrated his time repairing faults, and attempting to improve, the performance of the engines under his care. From around 1780 Murdoch lived in a fine town house in Cross Street, near the centre of Redruth (now called Murdoch House). He established a foundry and workshop there so that while he spent his days undertaking his employers' business, his spare time was spent developing other ideas through experimentation. In 1784, after experimenting for some time with the oscillating steam engine, he built the first one of its kind.

   For the automotive minded Murdoch's most significant invention was the sun and planet gear system. It was to:

"produce a continued rotative or circular motion round an Axis or Centre, and thereby to give motion to the wheels of Mills or other machines".

   Direct evidence exists to attribute the idea to Murdoch and as his father had been a ‘Mill Wright’ it is reasonable to presume this issue had been on his mind for many years. In simple terms a 'planet' cogwheel, fixed at the end of the rod descending from the beam of the engine, drives around a second rotating cog, the 'sun', fixed to an axel which now turned becoming a drive shaft. By coupling the axis of the planet to that of the sun Murdoch could ensure the teethed cogs always remained in contact. James Watt patented this system of achieving rotary motion under his own name in October 1781. However, Samuel Smiles (biographer of Boulton and Watt), attributes the idea to Murdoch, as there exists a drawing of the sun and planet system in Murdoch's hand dated August 1781. Furthermore, a letter from Boulton to a colleague concerning Watt's forthcoming October patents states:  

“He has another rotative scheme to add, which I could have told him of long ago when first invented by William Murdock, but I do not think it a matter of much consequence.”

   Before we complain about the poor treatment of Murdoch by Boulton and Watt we should remember that it is almost certain that Murdoch's contract of employment (in common with those of other employees), would have specified that anything he invented would be the intellectual property of his employers, i.e. Boulton and Watt. It was not unusual at that time for the employing company to file, and benefit from, patents on the inventions of their employees. Also for the most part there is evidence that Murdoch was discussing and collaborating with Watt on a number of inventions and improvements for Watt’s engines from 1782 onwards.

   Although the letters appear to be going from Watt to Murdoch, the contents suggest letters going the other way have been “lost”. John Griffiths argued that the inconsistencies in the Watt archive are due to an attempt by Watt's son, James Watt Junior, “to uphold his father's reputation by removing any evidence of the origin of some of the inventions he patented”.

   Perhaps it is fitting that we should conclude both men played their part in the success of the company’s engines. But one can’t help thinking that Murdoch may have been considerably better off, and better known, had the patents for his designs had his name on them.

Gas lighting.

   Despite his fantastic engineering skills Murdoch is best known for his work in the distillation of coal to form "coal gas". One story says he “sat smoking his pipe by the fireside in Murdoch House, he took a tiny piece of burning coal from the fire, placed it inside a bowl and, having closed the lid, set alight the fine jet of gas issuing from the stem. Given that there are references to his interest in this area years before he made the move to Birmingham, never mind Cornwall, it isn’t exactly clear what led to his curiosity with gases.

   However, despite long working hours, and making long journeys between mines, Murdoch found time to experiment with the combustible properties of coal, peat, wood and other flammable substances. Also, to use gas for any practical purpose one needs to develop a working method not only for the production of gas but also the capture, storage and movement of the gas. Murdoch found that coal gas produced a fine white flame when burned, ideal for lighting.

   Realising the potential of gas light, Murdock continued to experiment extensively in this area. There are several accounts recording that by 1794 Murdoch was able to producing coal gas from a small retort, containing heated coals, with a three or four foot iron tube attached, through which he piped the gas before sending it through an old gun barrel and igniting it to produce light. By 1795 (possibly as early as 1792) he succeeded in lighting his home with coal gas, the first domestic residence to be lit by gas, and soon after that he illuminated his offices too.

   We should remember that Archibald Cochrane, 9th Earl of Dundonald, had already used gas for lighting his family estate "to amaze" his guests with the novelty in 1789. He had discovered the gas when manufacturing tar and pitch from coal, but didn’t recognise the commercial potential of the gas for illumination. He had described his process to Matthew Boulton and James Watt and Boulton did in fact visit Dundonald in Scotland in 1783 to discuss the matter of investments. While Boulton and Watt showed little interest in his discovery it is possible that they discussed the subject with Murdoch. Murdoch himself wrote:

"At the time I commenced my experiments I was certainly unacquainted with the circumstances of the gas from coal having been observed by others to be capable of combustion, ... but ... I believe I may, without presuming too much, claim both the first idea of applying, and the first actual application of this gas to economic purposes"

   Murdoch was later awarded the ‘Rumford Gold Medal’ (in 1808) by the Royal Society for the world`s first practical gas lighting.

   In 1798 Murdoch returned to the Soho foundry but he continued with his experiments with gas, partially lighting the interior of the main Soho building. As part of the public celebrations for the 1802 ‘Peace of Amiens’, Murdoch illuminated the exterior of the Soho Foundry.  Boulton & Watt began selling Murdoch gas-making equipment, which was fitted in cotton mills from 1805. Gas flames were safer and cheaper than candles, and had a great impact on workers, lengthening the working day for millions. One can imagine what those workers thought of the artificial extension of working hours!

   This technology might not have been welcome at work, but was a very important step in helping people to light their homes and streets at night. In 1813 Murdoch's ingenuity illuminated Westminster bridge in London.

   Murdoch never made any money from his gas inventions due  to his failure to obtain any patents in this area. The way was left open for people such as his former assistant Samuel Clegg and Friedrich Winzer make their fortunes. Whether Boulton and Watt were disinterested in this avenue of business, or simply to appreciate the size of the potential market, they didn’t to make sufficient effort to expand from the factory and mill lighting market, which they dominated by 1809, into the street and domestic lighting market.

   Of greater interest to the automotive enthusiast is the idea Murdoch used to make a portable gas lantern. This would have been around 1806 in the Manchester area when according to one William Fairbairn:

"It was a dark winter's night and how to reach the house over such bad roads was a question not easily solved. Mr Murdoch, however, fruitful in resource, went to the gasworks where he filled a bladder which he had with him, and, placing it under his arm like a bagpipe, he discharged, through the stem of an old tobacco pipe, a stream of gas which enabled us to walk in safety to Medlock Bank"

   Gas stored and expelled from a bladder was used by Lenoir in his internal combustion engine of 1860.

 Steam powered locomotion.

   Another of Murdoch’s interests was motive power, the earliest mention of Murdoch's thoughts in this area was in March 1784. A colleague of Murdoch’s in the Cornwall area, one Thomas Wilson, wrote to James Watt regarding the ideas. He stated:

“It is no less than drawing carriages upon the road with steam engines...he says that what he proposes, is different from anything you ever thought of, and that he is positively certain of its answering and that there is a great deal of money to be made by it”.

   James Watt was rather disturbed by, possibly even envious. He wrote:

“I did not like [the fact that] a scheme I had revolved round in my mind for years... should be wrested from me”.

   Later in 1784 Murdoch built a working model of a steam road carriage. The project was more than just a few promising experiments, one witness stated he:-

"saw the model steam carriage run around Murdoch's living room in Redruth in 1784".

   This is the earliest recorded example of a man-made machine moving completely under its own power in Great Britain. As Murdoch continued experimenting with the design it is known that by August 1786 had made at least one other model, apparently a larger one, which we know of. Murdoch ran his larger steam locomotive model on the roads of Cornwall.

   The first model was a three-wheeled vehicle, two larger wheels to the rear and a smaller front wheel steered by a tiller. It stood about one foot tall and it had a small boiler placed between the rear wheels heated by a spirit lamp set below it. The mechanics of the model include several innovations, like a boiler safety valve, having the cylinder partly immersed in the boiler and using a new valve system along the lines of the D-slide valve. The model was driven through it’s rear wheels by a crank from the engine beam. During one of the tests an unexpected encounter with a local man led to the engine being named the ‘Steam-Devil’. Buckle recalled:-

“One night... he wished to... test... his engine... He lighted the fire..., and off started the locomotive with the maker in full chase... Shortly after he heard distant shouting... he found that the cries... proceeded from the worthy pastor, who... was met in this lonely road by the fiery monster, whom he subsequently declared he took to be the Evil One".

   One can only wonder at the emotions flowing through this clergyman as he was pursued by the carriage billowing smoke and with fire burning under the boiler. A small working model Murdoch made in 1784 is preserved and displayed at the ‘Thinktank’, Birmingham. A copy is of this model can also be found in the Science Museum, London.

   Murdoch does not appear to have worked much on his automotive ideas from 1784 to 1786, and from 1786 there is no further mention of Murdoch's work on Steam Carriages in Watt's or Boulton's correspondence. This may be due to Murdoch not wishing to displease his employers with his continued work in this area, there is a volume of evidence that he continued to work on the steam carriage ideas without his employers' support. It is also possible that the pressures of his work for Boulton and Watt impinged upon his time, but this was also the period of his marriage, in 1785, and the birth of his twin children.

   Evidence, put forward by one John Griffiths, suggests that Murdoch did build a full size steam carriage around 1794. It was constructed at the Tuckingmill Brass Foundry, owned by his friend John Budge, near Redruth. This vehicle was known as Murdoch’s “Flyer” and is now believed to be the first steam- powered road going vehicle in Britain. There are no drawings of the “Flyer” and the poor state of what roads there were at that time is likely to have hampered progress. No information describing the final design, or any performance figures, appear to have survived, however, a letter from Boulton includes more details of Murdoch's ideas:

“He proposes to catch most of the condensed Steam by making it strike against broad Copper plates and the condensed part trickling down may be caught and returned into its Boiler or other reservoir. This may do some good in rain or frosty weather & he proposes to have different sized revolvers to apply at every hill & every vale according to their angle with ye Horizon... I verely believe he would sooner give up all his Cornish business & interest than be deprived of carrying the thing into execution”.

   In the same letter Boulton also secretly urged Watt to include a scheme for a steam powered carriage in his patent application, which Watt did shortly thereafter. Watt took out a patent for a steam-driven carriage a few years earlier but his patent appears to have been around a description with no detailed design drawings being produced. Watt wrote:

“I have given such descriptions of engines for wheel carriages as I could do in the time and space I could allow myself; but it is very defective and can only serve to keep other people from similar patents”.

   At the end of August 1795 Murdoch took steps to patent his steam locomotive. Taking his model steam engine with him he set of for London. Murdoch was intercepted by Boulton in Exeter and persuaded to return to Cornwall without registering the patent.                                                               Boulton wrote to Watt regarding the matter on the 2nd of September 1795:

“He said He was going to London to get Men but I soon found he was going there with his Steam Carg to shew it & to take out a patent. He having been told by Mr W. Wilkn what Sadler had said & he had likewise read in the news paper Simmingtons puff which had rekindled all Wms fire & impations to make Steam Carriages. However, I prevailed upon him readily to return to Cornwall by the next days diligence & he accordingly arivd here this day at noon, since which he hath unpacked his Carg & made Travil a Mile or two in Rivers's great room in a Circle making it carry the fire Shovel, poker & tongs”.

   The demonstration in ‘Rivers Great Room’, at the King's Head hotel, Truro, was the first public demonstration of a working steam locomotive in Britain. As we can see neither Watt nor Boulton showed any proper support for Murdoch’s carriage, possibly worried this line of engineering would take him away from the main business of the steam engines for the mines. In fact Watt made it clear to Murdoch that he felt there was “no future in such an idea”.

   It mitigation we should remember Watt opposed Murdoch's work mostly due to the need to use high pressure steam which distrusted. Eventually Boulton and Watt dissuaded Murdoch from continuing the project. While some people feel it unlikely the vehicle ever underwent full trials, Murdoch is reputed to have ridden from “mine to mine in a steam chaise lit by gas".

Other inventions. 

   Sometime around 1784 Murdoch devised an oscillating engine, the first of it’s kind, and built a working model if it.

   Murdoch had an agile mind and was a prolific inventor and discoverer. His steam wheel 1799 was considerably simpler than any before and much more efficient. This innovation allowed the wheel to turn as a direct consequence of the pressure of the steam moving through it. Murdoch was able to benefit from this patent as his contract with Boulton and Watt had been renegotiated so he was able to patent his ideas under his own name.

   Experiments with compressed air led to his development of the first pneumatic message system. A system which used compressed air to propel a cylinder, containing a message, through a tube to its intended location. Harrods of London used such a system until at least the 1960s. Murdoch also later used compressed air to activate a bell at his home in BirminghamFurther to his experiments with steam cannon with which he tried to knock down a wall at the Soho works. At the same time, 1803, Murdoch created a steam gun which fired 3 cm lead bullets.  

   Steam was also used to power a machine that created such great pressure it could grind and compress peat into blocks with "the appearance of the finest Jet".

   Sometime around 1784 or 1785, Murdoch developed a machine for boring out wooden pipes, a process he extended in 1810 to include the drilling of stone pipes too. 

   An altogether different innovation of Murdoch’s was his British isinglass. Isinglass was imported from Russia, at great expense, in order to ‘clear’, or, remove the impurities from beer. In 1795 Murdoch's substance was made from dried Cod and far cheaper than the Russian equivalent. It was so much cheaper that a Committee of London Brewers paid £2000 for the rights.  

   Murdoch made other discoveries in the realm of chemistry. One of such was the discovery of “iron cement”, apparently in 1784 Murdoch noticed that ammonium chloride and iron filings had mixed together in his tool bag and formed a solid mass. These two components, when mixed together, could be used to create a durable seal, fixing and securing the joints of steam engines.

   Another patented first for Murdoch was the discovery of a new way to create dyes for paints and fabrics. This system was also used in the composition of a coating for preserving any wood required to be immersed in water, Very useful in the prevention of “weeds, worms, barnacles, and other foulness” which adheres itself thereto.

The paddle steamer ‘Caledonia’

   Once Murdoch had found a strong and reliable way to create rotary motion with from the steam engines piston stroke it was only a matter of time before other transportation methods would be tried out. In 1807 Robert Fulton approached Boulton and Watt for help in ways to apply steam power to boats. Murdoch worked very closely with Fulton throughout the designing and building of this engine. The ‘North River Steamboat’, later known as the ‘Clermont’ became the first steamboat to run on the Hudson river.

   Boulton and Watt went on to produce a number of engines for other marine vessels before James Watt Jr. purchased ‘The Caledonia’ in 1817. Despite suffering from fever and rheumatism Murdoch oversaw the refitting of ‘The Caledonia’ and the building and installing of new boilers and engines. He even went out on her trials to do work on engine efficiency and fuel consumption figures. When the vessel made it’s initial journey, from Surrey Docks to Gravesend in August 1817, it managed a speed of 8 miles per hour (mph). After more experiments with the depth of the paddles, the used of one or both engines and the effects these had upon fuel consumption and speed Murdoch was able to increase of speed to 12 mph.

   During these trials ‘The Caledonia’ vessel was challenged to a race by competitors, for the London to Gravesend route, the Sons of Commerce. Actually 2 races to Gravesend were run and ‘The Caledonia’ won them both; and by an increased margin on the second run. The owners of the ‘Sons of Commerce’ immediately ordered a new Boulton and Watt steamboat engine. Murdoch was now the head of this branch of the Boulton and Watt business and orders came in from the Royal Navy as well as commercial customers, between 40 and 60 vessels where fitted with Boulton and Watt marine engines. More importantly Murdoch was referred to, and deferred to, on all aspects of marine business. Finally Murdoch had full recognition and respect for his ability and Boulton and Watt became seriously involved in the marine engineering business

   Not long after the sea trials and ‘races’ James Watt Jr. took ‘The Caledonia’ across the English Channel to Rotterdam and on up the Rhine to Koblenz. This trip had far reaching effects on other engineers and engine builders.

Later years.

   Having returned to Birmingham in 1799 Murdoch worked on the above projects, and many others. He perfected his methods for making, storing, and purifying gas, coining the term "gasometer". In time coal gas would be used for public, and private, lighting throughout Europe, America, and elsewhere around the world. His 1808 paper to Royal Society entitled "Account of the Application of Gas from Coal to Economical Purposes” garnered the Rumford Gold Medal for "both the first idea of applying, and the first actual application of gas to economical the purposes".

   In 1810, recognising that Murdoch had become a valuable colleague of Matthew Boulton and James Watt, he was taken into full partnership within the company. This being around ten years after both the founders handed over the partnership to their respective sons.

   1815 saw the first gravity fed piped hot water system installed in Leamington Spa Baths since Roman times.

   Murdoch also put a number of highly innovative ideas into his new house, which he called ‘Sycamore House’, built in 1817. As well as ideas already mentioned above Murdoch installed an air conditioning system described by Joshua Field as "He has a good stove for heating the rooms with hot air which enters the rooms and staircases at convenient places", clearly making use of thermodynamics.

   In declining health at age 76, and the increasing unprofitability of Boulton and Watt making his salary of £1,000 per year untenable, Murdoch's partnership with Boulton & Watt came to an end. It was September 1830 and Murdoch entered his retirement. That year the engineer James Nasmyth (the inventor of the steam hammer) recorded his thoughts regarding William Murdoch as follows:

the “incomparable mechanic, William Murdoch, a man of indomitable energy, and Watt’s right-hand man in the highest practical sense. Murdoch…always kept himself in the background, for he was excessively modest… indeed he was a man whose memory ought to be held in the highest regard by all true engineers and mechanics”.

   Murdoch Died on the 15th of November 1839(1839-11-15) at ‘Sycamore House’, Handsworth, Birmingham, England he was aged 85 years. He was buried in St Mary’s Church, Handsworth, beside Matthew Boulton and James Watt, his friends and employers. Also within St. Mary's Church is a bust of Murdoch by Sir Francis Legatt Chantrey, who also did busts of Watt and Boulton.

   In 1892 Lord Kelvin unveiled a bust of Murdoch, in the Wallace Monument, Stirling, as part of the celebrations for the centenary of gas lighting.

   A statue of the three great men (Boulton, Watt and Murdoch) together stands on Broad Street, outside the House of Sport which was formerly the Registry Office in Birmingham. Designed in 1938 by William Bloye, it was unveiled in 1956.  


 Murdoch did important work in producing gas, which others could then use for the internal combustion engine. His invention of the slide valve allowed double acting piston engines to be built and it was also applied, in modified form, as valves for the internal combustion engine. Most importantly he turned the back and forth motion of the piston into rotary motion opening up a whole range of possibilities. While the ‘Sun and Planet’ system works well the much simpler crank system which he employed on his first ‘flyer’ model became the standard form of turning multiple cylinders into and increased power output. Where would our motor car engines be without a crank shaft!

   Murdoch’s work in the Marine field also influenced many others and small engine manufacturers across Europe applied their ideas to marine craft more than to the idea of automotive land transport. One of the reasons the motor car did eventually come about was due to the work of Richard Trevithick, and Trevithick learned much from his neighbour, William Murdoch.

   From 1797 to 1798 Richard Trevithick moved to live next door to the House and Foundry of William Murdoch's in Redruth. He must have been influenced by Murdoch's experiments, in fact Murdoch’s son John tells us of one such example:  

“The model of the wheel carriage engine was made in the summer of 1792 and was then shown to many of the inhabitants of Redruth - about two years after Richard Trevithick and Andrew Vivian called at my father's horse in Redruth... My father mentions that... on that day they asked him to show his model of the wheel carriage engine which worked with strong steam and no vacuum. This was immediately shown to them in a working state” 

   The visit of Trevithick and Vivian proves their awareness of the concept from 1794 and it is reasonable to assume that Trevithick saw much more use in the idea than did either Boulton or Watt. While Murdoch was unable to fully develop, or gain major publicity, for his invention, Trevithick made a (meagre) living out it.

    Murdoch’s influence upon the Industrial revolution is immense and his influence upon the development of the locomotion brought about the most significant advance in land transportation in Britain since the time of the Romans. Much of his personal reputation as an inventor has been obscured by Boulton and Watt who inadvertently gained kudos for many of Murdoch’s ideas. Slowly Murdoch is being rediscovered and his place as one of the World’s greatest engineers and inventors is now being secure.

Murdoch Flyer Project.

   Despite the debate as to whether a full size ‘Flyer’ ever actually ran, a group of enthusiasts in Redruth put together a community project which enabled the building of a working replica of ‘Murdoch’s Flyer’. The first steam powered 'horseless carriage' in Britain.

   It is of course conjectural, the design based upon the models and a display version previously built. Importantly it demonstrates that a full sized version would have worked, the replica having been run successfully several times since 2007.