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William George Armstrong

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Category: Military
Reference No: 8566
Status: Available
Price: £20.00
  William George Armstrong

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Great British industrialist and engineer who invented high-pressure hydraulic machinery and revolutionised the design and manufacture of guns.

Armstrong abandoned his Newcastle law practice in 1847 to devote full time to scientific experimentation. He founded an engineering works at Elswick-on-Tyne to build hydraulic cranes. Because his hydraulic machinery was dependent for power on water mains or reservoirs, he invented, in 1850, a hydraulic accumulator. It comprised a large water-filled cylinder with a piston that could raise water pressure within the cylinder and in supply pipes to 600 pounds per square inch (42 kg per square cm). This enabled machinery such as hoists, capstans, turntables, and dock gates to be worked in almost any situation.

With the start of the Crimean War, Armstrong turned his ingenuity to the improvement of artillery, developing an impressively accurate field gun, the Armstrong breech-loader. In 1859 he was knighted and, in effect, made gun-maker in chief to the British Army. He gave his patents to the nation, refusing to make any money from producing guns for his country. However, he and his associates built up a profitable export trade in armaments in the 1860s and 1870s to Russia, Austria, Italy, Spain, even Peru and Chile. They also built warships for rival navies all over the globe at a shipyard on the Tyne. 

Armstrong was worth £1,400,000, a colossal sum in today’s money, when he died aged ninety.

This is a fine ink signature, cut from the bottom of a letter on a piece measuring 5" x 2". In very good condition.