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Avery at Wadebridge , succeeding to the whole practice in , and providing him with sufficient income to marry Elizabeth Symons, a farmer's daughter from Launcells , in The couple settled in Wadebridge where their daughter Anna Jane was born in January He practised as a surgeon, but he also became interested in chemistry and mechanical science; he was also an accomplished pianist, and constructed his own piano, described as a 'large instrument'.
He moved with his family to London in , apparently discontented with rural life and wishing to seek his fortune.
The family settled at 7 Argyle Street, near Hanover Square , where Gurney continued his practice as a surgeon. There he expanded his scientific knowledge and started giving a series of lectures on the elements of chemical science to the Surrey Institution , where he was appointed lecturer in A son, Goldsworthy John, was also born to the couple in that year, at Launcells later to die relatively young in .
A skill attributed to Gurney was an ability to express scientific thought on paper and through lectures. His lectures in the period included one on the application of steam power to road vehicles.
He was also of a practical bent, and in was awarded an Isis gold medal of the Royal Society of Arts for devising an oxy-hydrogen blowpipe.
By , he had started practical work on a steam carriage, taking space for a small workshop in Oxford Street and filing a first patent for "An apparatus for propelling carriages on common roads or railways — without the aid of horses, with sufficient speed for the carriage of passengers and goods".
His work encompassed the development of the blastpipe , which used steam to increase the flow of air through a steam engine's chimney, so increasing the draw of air over the fire and, in short, much increasing the power-to-weight ratio of the steam engine.
In he purchased  a manufacturing works at, and moved his family to living space in, Albany Street , near Regent's Park , and proceeded to improve the designs of his carriages, described below.
Whilst the carriages certainly had technical merit and much promise, he was unsuccessful in commercialising them; by the spring of he had run out of funding and was forced to auction his remaining business assets, eventually losing a great deal of his own and investors' money.
The circumstances of the failure engendered controversy expressed in contemporary scientific publications, as well as in committees of the House of Commons.
In , Gurney leased a plot of land overlooking Summerleaze Beach in Bude , from his friend Sir Thomas Acland , and set about the construction of a new house to be built amongst the sand hills.
The construction rested on an innovative concrete raft foundation, representing an early worked example of this technique. The original house called "The Castle" still stands but has been extended over the past century.
The Bude and Stratton Heritage Trust has been formed and plans are well advanced, under the Limelight Project , to raise funds to interpret the fascinating history and heritage of Bude and the surrounding area, within Bude Castle.
In this period he became godfather to William Carew Hazlitt , who notes that Gurney was involved in property development in Fulham. At The Castle, Gurney regrouped from his carriage failure, applying his mind to the principle of illumination by the forcing of oxygen into a flame to increase the brilliance of the flame, giving rise to the Bude Light.
He also applied the principles of the blastpipe or steam jet to the ventilation of mines, as well as to the extinguishing of underground fires.
His wife Elizabeth died in , and is buried in St. Martin in the Fields. With his daughter — described as his constant companion — he moved to 'Reeds', a small house on the outskirts of Poughill , near Bude.
In he gave up the lease on The Castle. In this period, he became a consultant, applying his innovative techniques to a range of problems, notably, after , to the ventilation of the new Houses of Parliament where in he was appointed 'Inspector of Ventilation'.
He had previously successfully lit parliament and Trafalgar Square. Perhaps arising out of the Boyton farming connection he took a second wife, being married at St.
The marriage appears to have been unsuccessful; there was perhaps some contention between Anna Jane 39 and her much younger stepmother.
Jane Betty was removed from Gurney's will, although they were never divorced. Gurney continued to divide his time between London and Cornwall, variously engaged in work with clients; experimenting and innovating in diverse fields such as heating the Gurney Stove or electrical conduction; and in improving his Hornacott estate.
He was appointed president of the Launceston Agricultural Society. In , Gurney was knighted by Queen Victoria , but later that year suffered a paralytic stroke; he sold Hornacott and retired back to Reeds in Cornwall, where he lived with his devoted Anna Jane, ultimately passing away on 28 February He is buried at Launcells parish church.
In the period —9, Gurney designed and built a number of steam-powered road vehicles which were intended to commercialise a steam road transport business—the Gurney Steam Carriage Company.
Gurney is by no means the only pioneering inventor in the history of steam road vehicles — Luke Herbert , in his Practical Treatise on Rail-Roads and Locomotive Engines , rebuts in scathing fashion claims made for Gurney in preference to Trevithick as inventor of the steam carriage:.
One of his vehicles was sufficiently robust to make a journey in July , two months before the Rainhill Trials , from London to Bath and back, at an average speed for the return journey of 14 miles per hour—including time spend in refuelling and taking on water.
His daughter Anna, in a letter to The Times newspaper in December , notes that "I never heard of any accident or injury to anyone with it, except in the fray at Melksham , on the noted journey to Bath, when the fair people set upon it, burnt their fingers, threw stones, and wounded poor Martyn the stoker".
The vehicle had to be escorted under guard to Bath to prevent further luddism. The steam carriage was not a commercial success.
There was an understandable apprehension on the part of the public to a conveyance atop a dangerous steam boiler; seeking to overcome this objection, Gurney designed an articulated vehicle, termed the Gurney steam drag , in which a passenger carriage was tethered to and pulled by an engine.
At least two of these were built and shipped to Glasgow around According to the Steam Club of Great Britain:. The first was sent by sea to Leith, but it was damaged in transit.
It appears that this carriage was left in Scotland while Gurney returned to London for spares. He gave instructions for it not to be used, but it was transferred to the military barracks where it was steamed and a boiler explosion ensued, severely injuring two people.
The second carriage may have run a service for a short time but it remains unclear whether any passengers were carried for money. The local press carried the story of the explosion.
The remains of one of this pair rests in Glasgow Museum of Transport , to which it was presented, having been found in a barn near the Paisley Road.
Again, according to the Steam Club of Great Britain, it comprises:. The wheels, boiler and bodywork are missing. The whole is painted red and this has made photography difficult but appears to have preserved this item, as it is untouched since arriving at the Museum in !
A regular service was established between Cheltenham and Gloucester by Sir Charles Dance , running four times daily, for a number of months and based on a fleet of three of Gurney's carriages; but the aspirations of Dance and Gurney were effectively dashed, according to Francis Maceroni in his book A Few Facts Concerning Elementary Locomotion .
The many wealthy horse-coach proprietors, together with the narrow minded country gentlemen and magistrates of the district, who erroneously conceived their interests threatened by the substitution of steam power for horse, formed one of the most disgraceful and mean conspiracies against a national undertaking that can be well remembered.
By means of parliamentary intrigue, and false representations, these despicable persons obtained certain local turnpike bills to pass 'the Honourable House' establishing tolls on steam carriages, which amounted to a virtual prohibition on their use.
In addition to this flagrant outrage against justice and utility, the worthy squires and magistrates of the Cheltenham district, suddenly, without any necessity, covered a long tract of the road with a layer of loose gravel, a foot deep, which, adding to the above-mentioned difficulties and impediments, put an entire stop to the undertaking.
At the same time, press coverage of an accident befalling a Glasgow steam drag adversely affected the reputation of the vehicles.
Sufficient was the concern about Gurney's bankruptcy, and sufficient were his contacts, that a House of Commons select committee was convened from to on Mr.
Its final report stated:. Mr Goldsworthy Gurney was the first person to successfully operate steam carriages on common roads, and he took out patents for his invention in and — In Mr Gurney entered into contracts with various individuals for the commercial exploitation of his invention, carrying passengers at a lower fare than horse carriages.
In more than 50 private bills were passed by Parliament imposing prohibitive tolls on steam carriages two pounds or more, while horse carriages might pay six shillings or less , and the contractors suspended their operations, pending a petition to Parliament.
A select Committee was appointed, and concluded that steam carriages were safe, quick, cheap, and less damaging to roads than horse carriages, that they would be a benefit to the public and the prohibitive tolls should be removed.
A bill to this effect was passed by the Commons but rejected by the Lords. In need of language advice?
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