Repair or should I say in this case restoration of the Smith and Turners continues and as you can see, this is going to be rather a task to get these back to being fully functional. The front wall is broken and missing some pieces, the flange on both is broken, completely on the one on the left, there is major wear to all components, minor parts are missing and the springs are seized solid, possibly snapped.
While on the subject of Smith and Turner I have discovered Joseph Smith started out as a Silver Smith from 2 Bartholomew Close an address I have shown on a decor plate previously (https://www.midlandsfloorsprings.co.uk/blog/ben-turners-the-silent-patent-door-spring). I have also found mention of possibly the inspiration that lead him from Silver Smith to inventing his door spring, that being Thomas Gibbs a spring blind manufacturer. I have also set out below to show the Smith side of Smith and Turner along with, I suspect, the meeting place of the Smiths' and the Turners,' the forming of Smith and Turner, plus the earliest reference yet to 50 Bartholomew Close (John Bull and Co), which admittedly I do not know if they have any connection to Smith/Smith and Turner other than the address.
First reference above to 50 Bartholomew Close 1774 taken from A Handbook of London Bankers With Some Account of Their Predecessors The Early Goldsmiths Taken By F.G Hilton-Price F.R.S.A.
Joseph Smith 2 Bartholomew Close (1810 to 1816) Silver Smith (Old London Silver By Montague Howard Published 1903 - Page 340).
1814 Joseph Smith, Silver Smith, 2 Little Bartholomew Close (Post Office Annual Directory 1814 - Page 297).
1818 Johnstone's London Commercial Guide and Street Directory Published 1818 page 25/26). Thomas Gibbs trading from the 50 Bartholomew Close along with Joseph.
John Smith 1837 Accounts and Papers Fifteen Volumes, Volume 10 Railway Subscription Contracts, page 123.
(Post Office London Directory 1843 Page 375) John Smith Door Spring and Hinge Manufacturer.
1851 John Smith, 50 Bartholomew Close, Patent Spring Hinge & Patent Swing Spring Hinge. Great Exhibition Catalogue Page 42
From the same 1851 Catalogue T, Turner 33 East Street, Marylebone Door Spring and Centre
1860 Henry Smith Door Spring Maker (Blower's Architects, Surveyor's, Engineer's and Builder's Directory) Page 90.
1869 Henry Smith and Thomas Turner (Smith and Turner 50 Bartholomew Close) English Mechanic and Mirror of Science and Arts Volume 8 Page 180.
Laxtons Builders Price Book 1873 Mentioning 1872 Report of Ben Turners Door Spring and Top Centre Page 517.
1876 Ben Turners New Patent (Irish Builder and Engineer, Volume 18 Page 116.
Tantalizing glimpse of Smith and Turner 50 Bartholomew Close, August 1904, photographed by Walter L Spiers.
Front and side cut out ready to weld in pieces machined from cast iron bar stock.
As you can see things progress with the Joseph Smiths patent Smith and Turners.
Collectors of cork screws will no doubt have heard of G. F Hipkins as many cork screws are highly collectable.
Readers and cork screw collectors may however not know he also manufactured and patented door springs as can be seen in the advertisement below.
As usual comments are appreciated.
30 years or so after Rowland Hodges argued over his "Accumulator" Door Spring trade mark case, the firm of Hill and Hodges were manufacturing the extremely robust floor spring you see in the picture below. In this blog entry I will show readers the well engineered parts that make this a particularly fine example of late 19th century 'Brummie' technology.
After the amount of time this unit has been in use there is some inevitable wear to the piston, this will be re-manufactured and brought up to date with a custom valve, giving it control from 1 through to 105 degrees as this is a stand open model.
The Hill and Hodges is now complete and ready to be re-fitted, the customer has decided not to have the decor plate polished so it has only received a light clean and been straightened.
The two part piston that utilised a leather washer was modified when machining a new piston to incorporate our bespoke valve design, the leather washer that had perished is now redundant.
This handsome floor spring is possibly a 120 years old and it is apt that the unit has been repaired and not thrown away, considering it will go back to grace the doors of the Quaker House in Bourneville, built by George Cadbury, as he himself was a Quaker, with one of their core beliefs being to live in a sustainable world. By repairing and up-grading rather than renewing, regardless of its heritage value, the Quakers and George Cadbury's ethos has been upheld because it is quite reasonable to assume the Hill & Hodges will continue on for another 120 years, maybe even longer as it has no perishable parts in it whatsoever now.
Here is a link to the Quakers. - https://www.quaker.org.uk/about-quakers/our-values
Here is a link to further reading about George Cadbury and the village of Bourneville, Birmigham. - https://www.cadbury.co.uk/about-bournville
Please feel free to comment if readers so choose.
These are some early Smiths (Smith and Turner) showing I believe symbols of the United Kingdom (Lion & Unicorn) etched into the decor plate along with Ben Turners BT emblem, more to follow as work on them continues...
Here are a couple of Smiths that we repaired for Matrod Frampton Ltd coming from a 1930's property I was informed. These particular ones had a really nice coppery hue to their brass decor plates and shoes.
Anyone measuring a good few feet distance will be aware of Chestermans tapes for which James Chesterman is famous, less famous are his single and double action door springs.
Today I would like to introduce readers to another of Hill and Hodges floor springs that being Hill and Hodges Patent Check Action.
This one comes from the Quaker House in the village of Bournville, the village set up by George Cadbury. A car had hit the doors these were fitted to...more to come.
Link to George Cadbury - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Cadbury
I have mentioned The Wallace previously, manufactured by Edwin Showell & Sons (another Birmingham based door spring manufacturer) so this will just be a quick post. The owner of The Wallace had a problem with it, when the door it was connected to was opened 90 degrees, no problem but when the door was only opened 15 to 20 degrees and let go, it slammed (although it didnt if the door was held for 30 seconds or so). This was obviously a concern to our customer so he brought it to us for investigation after having taken it to a couple of other places and had a go at modifying the piston himself.
After some investigation it was noted the piston and oil intake were in our opinion manufactured in such away it was never designed to have control if the door was only opened a little way.
We therefore changed the configuration, designing a bespoke one way valve, manufacturing it and used it in conjunction with the original system. You can see the valve was incorporated into the head of a "manufactured" bolt in the picture, this was not the first design, we were going to place a new valve into the piston itself but this was decided against for a number of reasons.
The Wallace now has control from 1 degree, through and up to 90 degrees instantly.
Investigating alternatives before coming up with the solution.
As always comment if you care to.
In this blog entry I would like to introduce readers to George Beattie, who on July 6th 1848 was granted a patent for his Improved Air Spring, that relied on a vacuum one side of the piston and atmospheric pressure on the other side to control the action of a door, having no springs whatsoever in its innovative design.
Reproduced below is George Beatties description of his wonderful door spring found on page 295 t0 296 of The Civil engineer & architects journal, Volume 13.
In this blog entry I would like to push the date for the earliest door spring back even further to 1748, which I am sure readers will agree this is quite along way from the Henry Downer patent that I have mentioned many times previously and our Mr Smith. The actual date is even earlier than this because it can be reasonably presumed it was manufactured before the date of the letter between the two brothers.
I discovered reference to this door spring in a correspondence between Sir Edward Filmer (3rd Bart) and his brother Beversham Filmer on the 13th of October 1748 via the National Archives online.
"Filmer Manuscripts. CORRESPONDENCE. Sir Edward Filmer (3rd Bart.). Letters from his brother, Beversham Filmer. From his brother, Beversham Filmer. About sending a door spring having a watch repaired and music he had left at East Sutton
Held by: Kent History and Library Centre Date: 13 October 1748 Reference: U120/C28/43"
Obviously I have no pictures of this door spring but please feel free to leave a comment if you found it interesting.
I have recently discovered, many emails from various places that for some reason I seem not to have received. This was an inquiry I discovered about the humble Briton B which of all places is on a door in Antartica in Sir Edmund Hillary;s TAE/IGY Hut which eventually grew into now what is called the Scott Base and represents the beginnings of New Zealands involvement in Antartica.
I was contacted on the phone by Martin Wenzel who was there with the Antarctica Heritage Trust and always wondered why I had never heard from him again. Here are the shots he sent me of the well traveled Briton B.
Martin if you ever read this I can only apologise.
In 1872 Robert Lawson designed the Knox Church in Dunedin in the 13th Century Gothic Style, the second Church on that site as a more permanent place of worship for those seeking fortune in New Zealands biggest gold rush for the sum of £17,757.
In or around the 1970's James Gibbons supplied the floor springs used in the buildings Halls.
In 2019, I have been contacted by Dr Chris Bloore to help with the source and supply of a strap insert for the broken one as can be seen in the picture below.
Links for readers wanting to know more about this impressive Church
As always please feel free to comment
A link to the above information - http://idighardware.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/2004_LCN_HISTORY_BOOK.pdf
I know many believe that it was an American, Lewis. C. Norton who invented the first door check and many places on the internet will uphold this by telling the story of how Mr Norton was employed by the Bishop at Boston Trinity Church to invent a device to stop the slamming of swing doors in the vestibule (17 June 1881). However this is not the truth it was in fact an English Father and Son team by the name of William Ovenden Snr and William Ovenden Jnr in April 1864.
If you turn to page 111 in the Patents for Inventions of Specifications relating to Hinges, Hinge Joints, and Door Springs at the bottom of the page you will find an entry entitled 'A.D. 1864, April 15 - No 948 Ovenden, William, the elder, and Ovenden, William, the younger - Certain mechanical arrangements to be applied to doors and casement windows to prevent slamming or "clapping."' It goes on to describe the very first hydraulic and pneumatic door check (as can be read below), beating Mr Norton by 17 years. Below is the entry -
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and feel free to comment.
As I have recently discussed the Great Exhibition of 1851 held in the Crystal Palace at Hyde Park, I thought I may share a little about the other door spring manufacturers that exhibited in front of Queen Victoria and 6 million others. Along with Thomas Turner another of the famous manufacturers displaying their door springs was William Newman of Newman/Tonks fame.
In addition to his door closers he also displayed a unique machine that tested door springs known as the The Pediatricas.
As you can read it ended up at the bottom of the Grand Union canal but was fortunately retrieved in 1968 according to the Coventry Evening Telegraph of Wednesday 28th of February (1968). How it got there nearly one hundred and twenty years after being first displayed at the Great exhibition is a mystery that I have yet to find the answer to. Here is a link for readers wanting to know a little more about the 1851 Exhibition - https://www.historic-uk.com/HistoryUK/HistoryofEngland/Great-Exhibition-of-1851/
As always feel free to comment on this or any other blog posts you care to.
Many I am sure, of a certain age, will remember seeing the heavy cast iron scales outside of chemists where for a small fee you could weigh yourself, or possibly you have heard of the name Salter because you have a traditional grocers scale in your kitchen with the name Salter across the dial? Less people, I expect however will know that they were also manufacturers of door springs and pneumatic door checks as can be seen in the advert above.
As you can see the Turner and Co door spring previously spoken about from a certain castle in Windsor is in a sorry state of repair, possibly to be expected as I believe these particular in floor door closers are from around the 1850's meaning they are nearly 170 years old.
Above is the divider mark.
Above you can see J. Barrow (John Barrow)
The remains of the leather bump stops.
Setting up to braze the broken bronze parts.
As you can see they are coming along, although there are a number of issues to contend with.
Readers should be able to see the signs of the bespoke manufacture of the various parts that make up this fantastic in floor door closer.
As discussed previously this particular floor spring has both the markings of Barrow and Turner (John Barrow) and Turner & Co (Thomas Turner), meaning it must have been manufactured in the transitional period between the ending of one partnership/business and the beginning of another.
Below is information taken from the Official Catologue of the Great Exhibition of the works of Industry of All Nations (1851), as you can see T. Turner exhibited at the now famous Crystal Palace. I wonder if it was this model door spring and centre he exhibited?
Readers should see there has been a lot of effort put into getting these back to good health (well worth it considering their age, their historical importance and their home of course) including the manufacture of a number of bushes, sleeves, transfer arms, cog and rollers. It should also be noted the four names/businesses surrounding these two spring floor hinges, J. Barrow, Turner and Co, Turner and Son and Barrow & Turner.
A new cog was cut for the Turners.
As always I look forward to any positive comments made on this or any of my previous blog posts.
Prior to Andrew Smith patenting his floor spring door closer, long before his trip to California with his son Andrew Smith Jnr (Later Andrew Smith Hallidie) and before his setting up at the 69 Princes Street, Leicester Square address he lived at York Terrace, in the Parish of Saint Margaret, City of Westminster. From here he patented various inventions and had varying business partners to market and sell the devices he either invented or improved upon.
The first I would like to show readers is below -
"To William Henry Kitchen, of High Street, in the Parish of St. Giles, Bloomsbury, in the county of Middlesex, Ironmonger, and Andrew Smith, late of York Terrace, in the Parish of St. Margaret, in the City of Westminster ; but now of Princes Street, Leicester Square, in the same City, Merchant, for their Discovery or Invention of certain Improvements in the construction of Window-frames, Sashes, or Casements, Shutters, and Doors, designed to afford security against burglars, as well as to exclude the weather.--[Sealed 7th Feb. 1829.]" English Patents of Inventions, Specifications, Volumes 5755-5800 AD 1929 No 5770
These improvements were initially shared with Thomas Don his business partner in 1827.
Second is his floor cramp for laying floor boards and his link to yet a further address, that being No 2 Palace Street Pimlico -
I also while researching the information above I found between an advert for a wet nurse and an advert for artificial teeth the link to the previous owner of 69 Princes Street Leicester Square (John Wright), reference to spring hinges for swing doors from around 1827, the bankruptcy sale of 69 Princes Street and a dissolved partnership between John Wright and Joseph Tanner from the previous year (1826) -
"PORTABLE IMPROVED WARM BATH The fire for raising the water to its proper temperature is put into the Bath on the principle of consuming its own smoke, and will warm the room at the same time, and will heat the Bath, in 15 minutes, inhaling the vapour arising from the warm water. — Price 91, 9-. One can be seen always in action, at the inventor's, J. WRIGHT, Smith and Engineer, 69, Princes - street, Leicester-square. Also his improved Garden Engine and Shower Bath, Vapour Baths, & Spring Hinges for swing doors."(Morning Post - Friday 20th April 1827).
As always I hope readers have found this entry of interest along with my others, please feel free to make positive comment.
Among other things I am currently working on a pair of Smiths I have been sent that have no pivots, need springs and have odd mismatched shoes that have different sized squares which I will be matching up to the pivots I am going to be manufacturing, rather a difficult job considering the many various pins sizes I come across as can be seen in the picture below. The one on the left is from the Andrew Smith which I will be replicating, the centre is from a Cartlands and the one on the right from a Smiths Patent.
The other three pivots you can see are from the Wing and Webb "Invincibles" that I have discussed recently and need machining also as they are badly worn. As I am working on Smiths in my next blog post I am going to discuss some of Andrew Smiths other patents besides his fantastic floor spring door closers.
I was contacted by Tom and Paula, who had a lovely old Smiths in a Victorian House they are renovating. Their problem was the springs had snapped and there was wear in other areas of the components that meant the Smithy was not working as it should.
They are also having new flooring material laid that meant the shoe would have been catching the new height of the floor and needed the shoe raising without use of washers for the reasons I have discussed previously. I was happy to help Tom with advise on how to remove the door spring from the floor, the door from the floor spring/shoe and replace it after we had repaired it. Here are some of the shots as we went along and shots provided by Tom of it back in the ground.
Much as I love to see the old decor plates on display along with the Victorian tiles I understand that this may not always be feasible especially as Tom was telling me about the gap beneath the skirting and the various drafts in the Victorian property, meaning previous owners would sit with their coats on indoors from November till March before they got central heating in or around the 1960's.
My personal preferences aside the renovating of the Smiths, along side the fitting of modern carpet is therefore in this case a happy mixture of old and new.
As always feel free to comment about this post or any other you may care to.
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.
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.