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Technology Triva Question

Forum to discuss all areas of lighthouse technology such as optics, fuels, fog signals, radiobeacons, daymarks, construction, etc.

Postby Optics » Tue May 03, 2005 5:30 am


The photo below shows the lantern room and lens at the Start Point lighthouse in England in 1836. The question - what is the name of the company who made this lens? Clue: Romance novels are involved.


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Postby Grover1 » Tue May 03, 2005 5:50 am


Tom,

Still looking for the company, but found this ...

The optic used was the first of its kind in the Trinity House Service, being an approved form of Dioptric apparatus designed by Alan Stevenson, whose major work was the optic at the Skerryvore Lighthouse of 1844.


Just another mention of those Stevenson's that Dave's knowledge and my ignorance brought forth a few posts and a few weeks back ...

Still looking for the exact information your question posed ...

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Postby Grover1 » Tue May 03, 2005 6:05 am


... and, simple as I can be, I was confused ... #-o

Seems that there is also a Start Point Lighthouse in Scotland ...
http://www.lhdigest.com/database/unique ... value=1380

... and this one was actually designed by a Stevenson and a Smith, not the Walker person who did the English tower Tom queried about ...
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Postby mikev » Tue May 03, 2005 7:19 am


Tower, yes, but the Start Point Lighthouse in Devon also has a Stevenson-designed lens, didn't it? And Robert Louis did write novels. But Tom's asking about the company that built the lens. Hmmm.
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Postby island » Tue May 03, 2005 12:36 pm


I have no idea so I will guess either Cookson or Soliel. For some reason I am leaning towards Cookson for this being the source of the first dozen dipotric lenses in the UK. I think Soliel came along later.
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Postby Optics » Tue May 03, 2005 12:43 pm


It is true that there are at least two Start Point lighthouses. One in Devon on the south coast of England (the one we are concerned about) and one in the north of Scotland.

Alan Stevenson was involved with the optics for both. But, who made the lens for the first dioptric lighthouse in England in 1836?

I'll give you a little help. Chance brothers first lens was made in 1851 and shipped in 1855. Sautter started business in 1852. Henry-Lepaute started making lenses in 1838. Barbier started business in 1860.

Not many makers left to pick from!
Last edited by Optics on Thu May 05, 2005 7:25 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Optics » Tue May 03, 2005 12:53 pm


Ah, Island solved it while I was writing the above he was entering the answer.

Yes it was Cookson. Cookson built a Fresnel lens panel in 1831 and complete Fresnel lenses starting in 1834 with the assistance of Leonor Fresnel. In all about 15 Fresnel lenses were made by Cookson and installed in England, Ireland and Scotland. The connection to romance novels is the author, Catherine Cookson, who was the great great granddaughter of Isaac Cookson who ran Cookson Glass in the 1830s.
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Postby Grover1 » Tue May 03, 2005 1:17 pm


Tom,

Stilll haven't found it, but found this while looking 8O ...

... at first sperm whale oil fueled the multi-hollow wicks. However, when the price of this fuel skyrocketed in the 1850’s European countries turned to Colza Oil (wild cabbage) .The United States changed over to lard...


The bold face is my emphasis ... you go looking for information, don't find it ... but you go off in another direction. :|

Now you got to wonder ... how many heads did it take to light a lamp? .. did they have to be "wild"? ... would a good domestic strain of cabbage work? Who was the first to extract oil from a cabbage (no doubt Mr Colza) ... Why would someone even think to start looking there? :wink:

Though Tom I repeat .. I still havent found the answer to your original question ... :roll:

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Postby Grover1 » Tue May 03, 2005 1:18 pm


Whoops,

Was busy with an IM when the answer was posted ...

Never mind about those cabbages :-#

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Postby Optics » Tue May 03, 2005 3:59 pm


Barry,

They actually used the seeds of the Rape cabbage to make colza oil. Today we call colza oil - canola oil.
Last edited by Optics on Wed May 04, 2005 6:36 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby island » Tue May 03, 2005 4:12 pm


Looks like we had some congestion here earlier with three responding at the same time.

Frankly, I did not know the connection between Cookson the lens makers and the author Cookson. After Tom posted the information I found more about Catherine Cookson.

Catherine Cookson was connected to the Cookson family by marriage in 1943 to Tom Cookson, a school teacher. She wrote over 100 stories and novels from 1950 until her death at age 91 in 1998. She was born in povety and it is written that she became one of the weathliest women in England from sales of her work, over 100 million copies sold.

A Catherine Cookson brief biography appears here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catherine_Cookson
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Postby Optics » Wed May 04, 2005 6:33 am


Island,

I stand corrected. I read somewhere that Catherine Cookson was the great great granddaughter of Isaac Cookson, but based on your finding of the bio - if what I read was true it was through marriage. I haven't been able to find the specific reference I used for that tid-bit of knowledge.
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Postby Terry_Pepper » Wed May 04, 2005 6:18 pm


Tom - great trivia question.

I must admit I sat this one out, having just read your article in the Keepers Log, which arrived in my mailbox yesterday, and gave the answer.

Congratulations on a super article, I can't wait for the next installment.
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Postby Grover1 » Wed May 04, 2005 8:13 pm


Tom,

Let me echo Terry ... I thought it a great question.

So many of the "Tech" questions I find fascinating but they tend to go over my head. I read them, marvel at the answers, and say silent thanks the likes of you, and Terry, and Dave, and Mike, and Brent, and Peter,and, (well you get the idea) ... that you are all here contributing aspects to lighthousing I never considered.

For me, with time on my hands yesterday, even though I did not find the answer to your question, I did wander onto tangents that brought answers (to me) for questions never asked ...

Cabbage oil indeed.

Thanks for being here.

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Postby Terry_Pepper » Wed May 04, 2005 9:48 pm


Barry

That is one of the joys (and potential perils) of research - if I had a dollar for every time i got waylaid by interesting side issues while researching a specific subject, I would be a rich man - and might even get some more written!

A perfect example - while researching the Pilot Island light station, I came across a reference to the fact that the fog signal installed at the station in 1864 was powered by a caloric engine.

I now have three books on John Ericsson and a number of copies of old caloric engine catalogs in my collection. If you ever have a few extra hours to waste some day, look into this man. The scope of his works and the depth of his interests are absolutely astounding.

In the meanwhile, here’s a pile of rapeseed for you to “chew” on :D

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