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  • Related to Thomas Bramah Diplock

    Thomas Diplock was born in Hastings in 1830, the youngest son of William Diplock and Esther Frances Bramah. Orphaned when an infant, he and his brother Samuel Robey Diplock became wards of their uncle and aunt, John Joseph and Martha Bramah. They lived in Staffordshire, but JJ Bramah also owned an ironworks in Pimlico. There a couple of references to his having been the nephew of Joseph Bramah, the engineer and locksmith, who invented the hydraulic press and the Bramah lock. Before he took up medicine, Thomas Diplock studied civil engineering (as I believe his brother Samuel also did).

    One of Thomas Diplock's sons, Bramah Joseph Diplock, was an engineer and inventor, too. In one census return that Robert Linford obtained for one of our articles, his given occupation was 'granite merchant'. He invented the Pedrail, which I believe he patented in 1893. In 1902, he wrote a A New System of Heavy Goods Transport on Common Roads, which is now available on the internet at and google books.

    This is really off topic of Jack the Ripper, but I had never seen a photograph of Diplock's invention before so I thought I'd put up a couple of images from his book. I've always been struck by the influence of the Bramahs upon the Diplocks.
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    Last edited by Dave O; 04-27-2010, 06:19 AM.

  • #2
    In 1903, H.G. Wells predicted the application of the Pedrail in warfare as part of the tank. In "The Land Ironclads", he wrote:

    ‘Bang! Bang! Bang! Whir-r-r-r-r!’ [It] was a sort of nervous jump, and all the rifles were going off by themselves. The war correspondent found himself and the artist, two idle men crouching behind a line of preoccupied backs, of industrious men discharging magazines. The monster had moved. It continued to move regardless of the hail that splashed its skin with bright new specks of lead. It was singing a mechanical little ditty to itself, ‘Tuf-tuf, tuf-tuf, tuf-tuf,’ and squirting out little jets of steam behind. It had humped itself up, as a limpet does before it crawls; it had lifted its skirt and displayed along the length of it – feet! They were thick, stumpy feet, between knobs and buttons in shape – flat, broad things, reminding one of the feet of elephants or the legs of caterpillars; and then, as the skirt rose higher, the war correspondent, scrutinizing the thing through his glasses again, saw that these feet hung, as it were, on the rims of wheels. His thoughts whirled back to Victoria Street, Westminster, and he saw himself in the piping times of peace, seeking matter for an interview.

    ‘Mr – Mr Diplock,’ he said; ‘and he called them Pedrails . . . . Fancy meeting them here!’


    • #3
      Hi Dave,

      Joseph Bramah also took his invention of the hydraulic press a step further. He devised a system whereby a pumping station conveyed water under pressure of about 600-700 psi through underground pipes, so that companies who wish too could "plug in" to the system and use the hydraulic pressure for their owm machinery. Much the same as today we plug into gas or electricity supplies.

      The first such system was the Hull Hydraulic Power Company which opened in 1876 (near to the Stephensons Union Mill I believe). Other such systems later opened in London Liverpool and Melbourne.

      The downside of this system was that pressure could only be maintained over a distance of about 3-4miles.



      • #4
        Lol John, I know another of Joseph Bramah's inventions that's impacted Hull--the beer engine or handpump. I had no idea it was late 18th century or that Bramah had invented it. I remember when they put one of those in my favorite pub in Chicago back in the nineties, the bartenders there were tickled to death with it.

        Last edited by Dave O; 04-27-2010, 09:07 PM.