Engineering Drawing - Original Steam Boat for Patrick Miller Esq

William Symington Snr, C.E.1828/1829

Museums Victoria

Museums Victoria

Ink and water-colour technical drawing showing a longitudinal cross-sectional elevation of the first paddlesteamer built by the Scottish engineer and inventor, William Symington, C.E., with assistance from James Taylor and others, in 1787-88. The vessel depicted is an experimental steam-powered paddleboat built for Patrick Miller Esq., a prominent Edinburgh merchant and banker.

Late in 1787, Miller commissioned Symington to build a steam engine for the experimental vessel, based on his improved atmospheric condensing engine design, patented in June 1787. The drawing shows the vertical twin-cylinder single-acting engine that was fitted into one side of the double-hulled catamaran-style vessel. The steam boiler shown behind the engine was mounted in the opposite hull, while the two paddle-wheels were mounted in tandem in the gap between the hulls. The design incorporates a system of chains and ratchets proposed in Symington’s patent, to transfer the reciprocating motion of the piston rods to a forward rotary motion of the paddle-wheels.

On 14th October 1788, a public demonstration of the vessel operating under steam was made at the country estate of Patrick Miller on Dalswinton Loch, Dumfrieshire, witnessed by Mr Miller and a party of invited guests. It is believed to have been the first demonstration of a practical steam-powered vessel in Britain, and was sufficiently promising to encourage Miller to fund the construction of a second paddleboat and further trials on the Forth and Clyde Canal the following year.

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  • Title: Engineering Drawing - Original Steam Boat for Patrick Miller Esq
  • Creator: William Symington Snr, C.E.
  • Date: 1787
  • Date Created: 1828/1829
  • Physical Dimensions: w535 x h420 mm
  • Provenance: Copyright expired. Source: Museum Victoria / Creator: William Symington
  • Type: Object, Drawing
  • External Link: https://collections.museumvictoria.com.au/items/405355
  • Medium: Unscaled Hand-Coloured Pen and Water Colour Engineering Drawing (Cross-Section Elevation) on Paper