|Midlands Floor Springs Limited||
I have discussed Wing and Webb of Wolverhampton previously so would just like to show readers some "Invincibles" I have come across supplied by them in the early 1930's. I was informed these were original to the rebuilding of the school/frontage of the nearly 400 year old Richard Hale School (Science and Engineering Academy) in Hertford, here is a link to the history of the school and London merchant Richard Hale -
Although this door was not controlled by floor springs it was great to see it had been incorporated into the wall where either side of it four of the the six Wing and Webb Invincibles can be found. The door I was informed is the original entrance door to the first Richard Hale School as can be read about in the links provided.
This entry on my blog is a little different to others as it is about Andrew Smith and his family rather than directly about floor springs, door closers or the work I do, I still hope readers enjoy it however.
Recently I have had a run on inquiries for Smiths Floor Springs, which has lead me to turn my thoughts again to Andrew Smith, his family, his and his families influences on our industrial heritage and more, considering his connection with Sir Andrew Hallidie Royal Physician and Andrew Smith Hallidie, probably better known in America than here in the UK due to his involvement with the trams of San Francisco (something I will visit in the future).
If using Google to search for Andrew Smith, Hood and Co, it will take you to Graces Guide and an entry for Andrew Smith Flood and Co, where it does mention that the reference they have used is maybe a printing error, I hold it is and the true name of the firm was Andrew Smith, Hood and Co.
The Hood being John Lionel Hood, a gentleman from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne who it appears was jointly granted a patent with Andrew Smith for improving the manner in which belts, bands or straps were manufactured in the place of ropes or chains as you can see below of the two references I have found.
Link to Graces Guide and the entry discussed above - https://www.gracesguide.co.uk/Andrew_Smith,_Flood_and_Co
Link to the place I believe they got their reference from - https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=nyp.33433066344452;view=1up;seq=319
1 Link to the place I got my 1st reference from - https://books.google.co.id/books?id=jB0AAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA215&dq=john+lionel+hood,+newcastle+upon+tyne+gent+and+andrew+smith..&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi_wJKD8onhAhUF7oMKHQkiDikQuwUILDAA#v=onepage&q=john%20lionel%20hood%2C%20newcastle%20upon%20tyne%20gent%20and%20andrew%20smith..&f=false
2 Link to the place I got my 2nd reference from - https://books.google.co.id/books?id=yN2FAgeFpxIC&pg=PP281&dq=john+lionel+hood,+newcastle+upon+tyne+gent+and+andrew+smith..&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi_wJKD8onhAhUF7oMKHQkiDikQuwUIMjAB#v=onepage&q=john%20lionel%20hood%2C%20newcastle%20upon%20tyne%20gent%20and%20andrew%20smith..&f=false
Further reference to Smith and Hood - https://books.google.co.id/books?id=U77Rz84RjlIC&pg=RA8-PA1&lpg=RA8-PA1&dq=john+lionel+hood,+gentleman+newcastle+upon+tyne&source=bl&ots=YOtMvNtQRU&sig=ACfU3U2DS6MYd5ApdOY9pL8CBvsBNc0XIw&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjV0qG8-YnhAhWjxYMKHczeDBEQ6AEwAXoECAgQAQ#v=onepage&q=john%20lionel%20hood%2C%20gentleman%20newcastle%20upon%20tyne&f=false
To those interested, if you Google John Lionel Hood, gentleman, Newcastle Upon Tyne much more information can be found.
I have shown you these floor springs previously and from that job I am using some of the spares I managed to collect to repair these. At first I thought the parts were the same (all be it hand finished) as I have discussed previously so I did know it would not be as easy as just swapping the parts. I have come across a few changes in the design however that means I was unable to use the parts even if I had to modify them slightly, mainly centred around the piston and to some degree the action. These changes I believe were to overcome some problems I had encountered with the original design.
The Gibbons are from the Grade 1 Listed Liverpool Town Hall and are holding open about 15 degrees from centre, having no checking action whatsoever. Here is a link to this handsome building if readers would like to know more about the history of the building. https://www.liverpooltownhall.co.uk/
The Gibbons are off the main entrance hall in the east part of the building, I was shown another set of the original Gibbons and was upset to see that previously some of the original floor springs had been replaced with modern units. I had believed these to be called "Zeniths" I now know this to be not correct.
Because of the difference in design and the problems I discovered once I began to dismantle them it was decided that it would be best to remove the parts and take them back to the workshop to be repaired.
Anyone care to hazard a guess to why the design changes, the bottom one is from the Liverpool Town Hall, the above from the Star & Garter?
As I have stated on many occasions any input from readers would be great and I always try to reply whenever someone makes a comment and I spot it, I hope you enjoy the post.
It is great to be able to put a face to the name of Ben Turner found in the book titled 'The Corporation of the City of London and the First Twelve of the Great City Guilds in the Diamond Jubilee Year of Her Majesty Queen Victoria, R & I and Edited by Alfred Arthur Sylvester.' 1898.
In WAKEFIELD's MERCHANT & TRADESMAN's GENERAL DIRECTORY, LONDON, WEST MINSTER, BOROUGH of SOUTHWARK and TWENTY TWO MILES CIRCULAR FROM ST PAUL's FOR THE YEAR 1794 you will find the earliest reference I have yet found to the 50 Bartholomew address. I believe H. Savage (Smith and Bell Hanger) is the employer mentioned in the above article.
Below is the patent for Joseph Smiths Spring Hinge for Doors and Gates A.D 1814.
With the Joseph Smith patent (Which I know to be similar to Ben Turners later design), the information regarding 50 Bartholomew Close (H. Savage), the information regarding Benjamin Turner above and the information below with regard to Joseph Smith (50 Bartholomew Close) from Johnstone's London Commercial Guide, and Street Directory 1817, I believe this is the beginnings of Smith and Turner.
Readers of this blog will know I am still trying to understand the exact relationship between the Smiths and Ben Turner. I have been sent these shots of some decor plates that may go some way to me knowing the various lineages once and for all. As you can see these plates mention both 50 Bartholomew Close (associated with Smith and Turner/Ben Turner) and Smith Patentee, along with I believe the crest of the Royal Letters Patent granted to Ben Turner by Queen Victoria in 1872. I feel however that these are related to Joseph Smith and his 1814 patent as previously mentioned. More to follow on these in the future, if I have the privilege to investigate further.
I was called to visit Kedleston Hall, a fine National Trust property local to MFS to price for fitting and manufacture of a full set of Smiths springs. The ones in this Archibald Smith & Co floor spring are by far the largest I have yet come across, I hope to bring you shots of it repaired in the near future.
Due to various constraints unfortunately we were not able to save this Ben Turner designed floor spring, manufactured by Smith and Turner of 50 Bartholomew Close, London. We did however manage to find a floor spring of similar age, action and reliability which we managed to fit beneath the original decor plate, mating the pin to the original shoe and utilizing the original top centre, certainly not an easy one.
Interestingly when first coming across this floor spring the top centres were in up-side down, meaning the pin retracted into the door rather than the header. The owner had saved the doors and floor spring from what was the front of the property when converting it from a shop into a beautiful home, parts of which we were informed were nearly 500 years old, the King and Queen beams believed to have themselves been recycled from ships were a sight to behold.
The doors themselves had been rebated at one time to make them single action which we removed as they were now back to double action. The owner has informed us he will be taking them to a joinery shop to have the bull nosing where the two doors meet replaced as they were far from square as often found in these beautiful old properties.
If you live in and around Derby you may very well be aware of Bennetts the ironmongers starting in 1764 and servicing the Midlands. Today I came across a 400 they supplied to Mickleover Golf Course I believe in the 1970's, safe to say it is now working again.
We took a few 400s and a Monarch to ensure we had the correct one.
Here are some links to Bennetts and the Golf course for those interested.
Is there any one out there who is able to identify this floor spring and willing to share this information?
Below are shots taken from beneath the brass decor plate.
I do know the floor spring was sold by Comyn Ching in or around the 1940's which ties on with the buildings age, built in or around 1935/6.
I suspect these were supplied by John Nicholson furnishing ironmonger and manufactured by Smith and Turner but do accept I may be well wide of the mark on this occasion.
On many occasions I have discussed both Robert Adams and Andrew Smiths floor springs in great detail, however until today I have not combined the two.
Today I would like to introduce to you the Robert Adams Pattern no 177 Spring Hinge which I am sure you will agree is almost identical to Smith's design, hinting at possible collusion between Adams and by the time this model was introduced the company of Smith, Major, Stevens.
The picture below was taken from the Engineers Compendium of 1915, 6 years after Smith, Major, Stevens became a private limited company. The Robert Adams 177 is on the bottom right of the page.
Here is another quick post regarding a single/central spring model floor spring. The Howell was also manufactured by William Newman & Son in or around 1916 and can again be found in their 1916 catalogue.
Please feel free to comment.
Here is another William Newman & Son product that you may find controlling your doors, that being the "Albion." This door spring has no checking action but is similar to the previous blog post in so much it has one large central spring that returns the door to its centre position. William Newman & Son were manufacturing this door spring as early as 1916 and it can be found in their catalogue of the same year.
I hope you have enjoyed this quick post and as always feel free to comment.
Tonight I would like to a quick trip to the other side of the world and introduce readers to the "Bedford" Oil Check Door Spring, manufactured by William Bedford Limited based in Melbourne, Australia at 476 - 490 Little Lonsdale Street.
Regular readers will note the similarities between the "Bedford" and Joseph Bardsley's Checking Spring Hinge which can be found in an earlier blog post. Link below to Ramsay's Architectural Catalogue.
As always please feel free to comment.
Today I would like to introduce readers to John Whimes of Pimlico and his Double Action Box Spring Hinge For Swing Doors.
According to Newton's London Journal of Arts and Sciences Volume 15 Mr Whimes was acknowledged for improvements to double action box springs for swing doors on the 8th of June 1861. Above is the print of his door spring taken from the same book and which can be found in the link below for those interested.
Regular readers of this blog will know by now I have continually tried to discover who was the first to, in modern times, invent the various kinds of door closers and floor springs (predominately those that utilise some sort of spring, but not entirely).
Whilst off work due to my gear box failing on my van I have further scoured the internet and have found the article below from the English Mechanic and Mirror of Science and Arts, Volume 9 (June 18th 1869) pages 382 and 291.
The two companies (name - Smith/family lineage) that are mainly in the frame are Andrew Smith of 69 Princes Street, Leicester Square and Smith (John possible son of Joseph 1884 patent) of Smith and Turner 50 Bartholomew Close. Whether there is a family connection between these two is still unclear to me, if anyone reading this already knows the answer I would dearly like to hear from them.
"PATENT DOOR-SPRINGS. (ILLUSTRATED on PAGE 291.)
SMITH’S patent door-spring, although the first ever introduced for working the door both ways, still continues to keep up its name; there are many places, we are informed, where these springs have been in use for over forty years—for instance, St. Paul’s Cathedral.
The spring has, of course, been improved since the patent was first granted, and differs from all others in the following respects:—The same spring can be so regulated to work a door from l ft. 6in. square to one 9ft. high by 3ft. 6in. wide. The bearing parts are so well arranged that there is little or no friction, thereby preventing wear. It is strongest when the door is closed, and gradually loses strength as the door is opened. It will not stop open unless fastened, thereby preventing injury through being thrown out of gear. It can be made to describe three-fourths of a circle in opening without injury to the spring. The inside spring when in use is never more than a quarter wound up, which allows for a free - and - easy action, and renders it almost impossible to break.
We have so often received applications for information relating to door spring construction that we think the annexed diagrams will be examined with interest by many of our practical readers.
Our engravings show a sectional elevation of a spring with the shoe fitted to a door; the inside of a spring with levers exposed; the sectional plan for showing the inside of the spring worked for retaining the position of the levers; and the revolving pin and socket, as fitted to the door-top."
As always I look forward to any and all comments.
Before Turner & Co (see previous post), there was the partnership between John Barrow and Thomas Turner, unsurprisingly called Barrow &Turner.
John Barrow was the inventor of Barrow and Turner's first door spring which he patented in 1815, receiving 10 Guineas for his inventiveness and awarded the Silver Isis Medal from the committee for the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufacturers and Commerce based in London.
Unfortunately I have only the above picture to show for now taken from the Transactions of the Society of Arts, Volume 33 (Google Books). The engraving shows both a double action and a single action door spring.
For those interested further reading with regard to John Barrow's door spring can be found in the link below:
As always please feel free to Comment.
I have recently had an inquiry about this Turner & Co door spring which as you can see is not at its best.
John Barrow (a member of the Zoological Society) and Thomas Turner ceased their partnership in 1845 and continued on as Turner and Son according to the London Gazette (part 1) as can be read in the link https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=fRhKAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA1028&dq=barrow+and+turner+east+street+manchester+square+london&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjmhfnctszcAhWnIsAKHRcaDFIQ6AEIKTAA#v=onepage&q=barrow%20and%20turner%20east%20street%20manchester%20square%20london&f=false
After further scouring of the internet I came across reference to "TURNER, T. 38 East St. Marylebone, Manu-Sliding metal sash of improved construction. Door-spring and centre for a door to swing both ways" in the Official Catalogue of The Great Exhibition of the Works of all Nations, 1851 (page 198).
The above design of door spring could in fact be the very same as was shown at the famous "Crystal Palace" Exhibition and I believe may well also have been the starting point for the firm of Smith & Turner as I have previously mentioned in earlier blog posts.
Thank you for your interest and as usual feel free to comment.
I have written a great deal about the Smiths floor spring on this blog and today I will write a little more.
In the English Mechanic and World of Science - Volume 3 - Page 556 from 1866 you will find the advertisement below.
By 1869 we can see in Atchleys Price Book. page 27 none are warranted unless having Smiths name stamped into the decor plate along with the caution against purchasing spurious and inferior "copies."
Seven years later in Spon's Engineers and Contractor's Illustrated Book of Prices of Machines, Tools, Ironwork and Contractors Material for 1876 you will find the this advertisement where as you can see upwards of 40'000 floor springs were in use and you are able to see an accurate rendering of the Trade Mark and address.
Considering the Smiths door spring was still being manufactured in the 1950's and possibly later (you may well have one controlling the door or doors, in your home, your place of worship, your place of study or your place of work) like the one on the right in the first picture below. However if you have one with Smiths name and address stamped in the brass cover plate as on the left, you have a bona fide, guaranteed door spring of some considerable age and character.
In my humble opinion you have a piece of history beneath your feet, something more than a mechanism to control a door, the longevity of which it does so is astounding (as highlighted in previous posts), is of historical importance, should be a source of National pride (along with others) and we should therefore be doing the utmost to restore, protect and ensure its continued use not only as a method of door control but for future generations to wonder over.
If you agree, disagree, like this post or simply want to acknowledge you have a Smiths or any other floor spring for that matter please feel free to comment.
As there is so little information out there with regard to door closers, especially vintage and antique model floor springs, I thought I would start this blog.