Search History Industrial Revolution 11-14 Key Stage 3

Henry Cort's First Patent

We will endeavour as briefly as possible to point out the important character of Mr. Cort's improvements, as embodied in his two patents of 1783 and 1784. In the first he states that, after "great study, labour, and expense, in trying a variety of experiments, and making many discoveries, he had invented and brought to perfection a peculiar method and process of preparing, welding, and working various sorts of iron, and of reducing the same into uses by machinery: a furnace, and other apparatus, adapted and applied to the said process." He first describes his method of making iron for "large uses," such as shanks, arms, rings, and palms of anchors, by the method of piling and faggoting, since become generally practised, by laying bars of iron of suitable lengths, forged on purpose, and tapering so as to be thinner at one end than the other, laid over one another in the manner of bricks in buildings, so that the ends should everywhere overlay each other. The faggots so prepared, to the amount of half a ton more or less, were then to be put into a common air or balling furnace, and brought to a welding heat, which was accomplished by his method in a much shorter time than in any hollow fire; and when the heat was perfect, the faggots were then brought under a forge-hammer of great size and weight, and welded into a solid mass. Mr. Cort alleges in the specification that iron for "larger uses" thus finished, is in all respect's possessed of the highest degree of perfection; and that the fire in the balling furnace is better suited, from its regularity and penetrating quality, to give the iron a perfect welding heat throughout its whole mass, without fusing in any part, than any fire blown by a blast.

Henry Cort's First Patent

Another process employed by Mr. Cort for the purpose of cleansing the iron and producing a metal of purer grain, was that of working the faggots by passing them through rollers. "By this simple process," said he, "all the earthy particles are pressed out and the iron becomes at once free from dross, and what is usually called cinder, and is compressed into a fibrous and tough state." The objection has indeed been taken to the process of passing the iron through rollers, that the cinder is not so effectually got rid of as by passing it under a tilt hammer, and that much of it is squeezed into the bar and remains there, interrupting its fibre and impairing its strength.


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