Saturday, 19 August 2017

Hidden Henley

HUMPHREY GAINSBOROUGH invented the steam engine but modesty prevented him taking the credit.

HUMPHREY GAINSBOROUGH invented the steam engine but modesty prevented him taking the credit.

He was the brother of the well-known artist Thomas and minister at the church in Reading Road, Henley, which is now Christ Church and where this blue plaque can be found.

He was also an outstanding engineer and inventor. He developed the steam engine in 1760 but showed it to his friend James Watt, who went on to patent the design under his own name.

Gainsborough also produced new types of agricultural equipment, the first fire-proof safe, mechanisms for improving clock accuracy and a ventilated wagon to transport fresh fish.

He worked on upgrading the road up White Hill with an imaginative series of pulleys and ramps to redistribute the earth and reduce the slope of the hill.

He was also responsible for the construction of Conway’s Bridge on Wargrave Road, which to this day still supports the weight of traffic.

Gainsborough also converted the dangerous flash locks on the Thames between Maidenhead and Sonning into pound locks that are still in use today.

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