Beale – notes on exhausters, Choreutoscope, census info etc.

(note from Engineering)

THE Bryan Donkin Company’s principal business today is with the Gas Industry and reference has already been made to the supply of gas valves from 1847 onwards. Early rotary exhausters, such as the one patented by Joshua Beale of Greenwich in 1848. Only an improvement on Ramella’s design it suffered from the disadvantage that there was great friction between slides of The speed of the guiding segments on a 38 exhauster running at 60 r.p.m being as high as 600 ft: per minute. The segments had to run in circular grooves machined in, the end plates of the machines. In 1866 John Beale patented (N0 1402) an improved type of exhauster of which the Bryan Donkin Company obtained sole manufacturing rights in l870. They made about 100 of these in which the friction was reduced by about 20 by using rings instead of segments and letting only an auxiliary blade slide to take up idler. In 1877 the same John Beale patented No. 2419 a greatly improved type, in which the friction was only 30-40 of that in the original. Shortly afterwards Mr.Beale retired and the Bryan Donkin Company purchased his business outright. The rings, and segments for guiding were entirely abolished in this design and a simple block brought to the centre, was substituted. In the example quoted above, the velocity of the slide of the guide block became under 60 instead of 600 ft. per minute. The block also had a much greater wearing surface than the segments. There is still sufficient interest in this long-lived type for the 1877 patent to remain in current use within the company. The cylinders of these exhausters are bored with the horizontal axis a little longer than the vertical. This is an improvement over the true circle as it gives an Incurve swept, by a slide of constant; length: and was employed originally by Franchot about 1860. An amusing result of this eccentric boring is that on more than one occasion maintenance fitters have rectified this ovality under the impression that it was due to wear. They then found, the circular bore useless and a new shell had to be supplied.
The great advantage of these exhausters over other types was the small number of working parts. More than 600 exhausters of the various Beale types-were at work by 1897, many of them driven by steam engines supplied by the Bryan Donkin Company. Nearly, 100 had been exported. With examples in each of the continents. The company also made some 3- and 4-bladed exhausters, the 3-blade type at the Old Kent Road Works of the South Metropolitan Gas Company, dating back to as early as 1873. Other early achievement was the installation of boosters at Beckton Gas Works in 1880 which pumped the gas through 4 ft. mains a distance of 8-10 miles to London. This pioneer installation was one of the very first examples of gas boosting in this country prior to the present century. There 8 exhausters of the Beale 1866 pattern each of 225,000 cu. ft.-per hour at a pressure of 48 w.g. They were driven by four steam engines connected to a common condensing plant.


The following note attributes ‘wheel of life’ to Beale of Greenwich. It is though now that this is actually a different Mr. Beale (Lionel)


The most effective early device for this purpose was the Ross Wheel of Life designed for use in the Optical ‘Lantern, and patented in 1871. The disc bearing the figures is caused to revolve slowly; the opaque disc has one sector removed and travels at such a speed as to make one revolution while the transparent disc moves one stage. Thus in two figures are seen through the opening in the opaque disc. Its revolution promptly cuts them out of sight, and by the time the opening comes back to the same place the next pair of figures (in slightly different attitudes) are found to occupy the same vertical line.
This arrangement is practically a substitution of a one-slot disc for a four-slot one as used by Plateau in the instrument last described. The result of this arrangement is that the lantern screen is full of figures all in motion and in various phases of the same action; but this multiplicity of images is confusing, and attempts were made to show only one figure on the screen at a time.
Beale, of Greenwich, devised a method whereby a face could be shown in motion by means of a series of sixteen pictures illuminated by intermittent flashes. A painting of a human bust was made on a. screen, the face being replaced by a hole, behind which could be brought sixteen views of a face in the various stages of a grimace or smile by means of the revolution of a disc on the circumference of which they were painted. A sixteen-holed shutter worked by gearing admitted a flash of light, to illuminate the painting for a moment as each face arrived in its proper position, the light being cut off during a quick change to the next expression. By means of an ingenious contrivance which allowed only every alternate opening in the shutter to act, and was adjustable to show first one ‘ series of eight and then another, the resultant grimace was varied in a most amusing way. This arrangement the motion of the handle repeats these actions with sufficient rapidity to throw an apparently permanent and moving figure on the screen.
A somewhat-similar arrangement to Beale’s Rotary Choreutoscope was patented in the United States by A B. Brown in the year 1869 (No. 93,594). This specification is mainly of interest by reason of the construction employed in the intermittent mechanism. It forms a very close approach indeed to the modern cinematograph with Maltese Cross motion; a star-wheel and pin being used to drive the design wheel periodically, while a two- sector shutter is shown geared to eclipse the light during the change of picture. From this point it would be comparatively easy, by describing no more than two machines, to bridge the gap of twenty years which still remains to be traversed ere the first machine of distinctly modern type appears. Mr. Heyl, in the year after Brown’s United States patent, exhibited a somewhat similar apparatus, employing photographic images; but consideration of his machine must be deferred until the next chapter, for many elementary forms of apparatus remain to be described before the subject of chrono-photography is discussed. Of the simpler diagram apparatus, however, the plienakistoscopic, or disc-and-slot machines, are practically exhausted, except so far as their principles may recur in some form of photographic device, and it is necessary now to consider the cylindrical apparatus (directly derived from the Phenakistoscope), popularly introduced about 1860, and subsequently called the Zoolrope, or Wheel of Life, the latter term being a name also applied to a previously described lantern slide. Desvignes patented the Zoetrope, though not naming it, in 1860.
The year 1860, however, saw a patent (No. 64,117) issued in the United States to William E. Lincoln, of Providence, however, needed a full-sized painting for every effect, and was not of the ordinary magic-lantern nature; the separate pictures not being projected, but only illuminated intermittently. A single and therefore larger figure than that given by the Wheel of Life was subsequently projected on the screen by the same inventor, whose ” Dancing Skeleton ” was a great success. A disc was used, rotating in front of a lantern condenser; but this disc, instead of being formed of glass, was of thin sheet metal, the figures of a skeleton in various attitudes being cut out, stencil fashion, round the margin. These necessarily brilliant white figures were projected on the screen in the usual way by an objective, the light being cut off by an interrupter (geared from the axle of the disc) during the period of change.
Mr. Beale also constructed this instrument with the stencil figures on a long slip. Performing the necessary eclipses by a rising and falling shutter, the whole arrangement being called by him the Choreutoscope. An improved form of this device was patented by Hughes (1884), and is applicable to any ordinary optical lantern. Turning the handle revolves a disc, a pin on which raises the shutter and so interrupts the light ‘ Teeth on the disc then come into play, shifting the long slide one stage, and so soon as it comes to rest the shutter drops and exposes the picture.

Beale’s Bicycle
The Mark Hall Cycle Museum , Harlow – have details of the machine

Census Info
Josh Taylor Beale 1794-1866
Children: John, Mary, Hannah

1871 Census
John Beale at Conduit House, East Greenwich
(Conduit House was on the site of the old Granada Cinema, now The Plaza)

John Beale married to Amelia Cunningham in 1866
1845 John Beaele, Leaches Alley – Kew Walk and Kings Arms
Joseph Taylor Beale in Woolwich Road

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