Ransome’s artificial stone works

Ransome’s artificial stone works – this is one of the more obscure industries on the Greenwich Peninsula. However Ransome eventually went to America and became famous – the following are some of the notes gathered about the works, and there will be more to come.

The following is an extract from a directory of stone works – it is copied from a photocopy of a single page and I do not know the name of the book or the author
If you are the author – please let me know and I will either remove it, if you request that, or better please give me details of who you are, what the book is and I will happily credit you.

Ransome’s Patent Stone Works

These works I were established at lpswich in 1844 and removed to Greenwich in January 1866. Frederick  Ransome, the inventor of a process for produc- ing an artificial stoneware capable of being moulded – a member of the well-known Ipswich family – was in early life connected with the Orwell Works firm of Ransomes & Sims. It was while there, and noticing a workman engaged in dressing a millstone, that he conceived the idea  of producing artificial stone capable of being moulded to any form, and to be a perfect imitation, both in appearance and substance, of the blocks taken from our best quarries. For ten years, the difficulties he had to encounter were very great; but he at length succeeded in making not only perfectly equable and homogeneous grindstones, with keen cutting powers and that needed no dressing, but also the decorative stonework which, among other places, was introduced in the Brighton Aquarium, London Docks, Albert Bridge, Whitehall and St. Thomas’s Hospital. The demand for this artificial stone becoming much extended, the inventions were taken up by a company in 1871 and extensive works were erected at East Greenwich, to which the business was transferred. They were carried on by A. H. Bate- man & Co. Ltd. The material was, to all intents and purposes, a pure sandstone whose silicious particles were bound together by a cement of silicate of lime-a mineral substance well-known to be of the most indestructible nature. It could be moulded to any form while in a plastic state.

Some more local details about Ransome:

Ernest Lewis Ransome, a stone mason, was living at 13 Royal Place, Royal Hill in 1870

Ransome’s Patent Stone Co. Ltd. Arthur Pye Smith, Manager. grind and architectural stone manufacturers East Greenwich 1878.

Frederick Ransome – some of James Ransome of Ipswich. agricultural implement makers. Born Rushmore near Ipswich 1818.  He invented an artificial sandstone the silicious particiles of which were bound together by a cement of silicate of lime in 1848 and used in buildings in Great Britain and the colonies and for emery wheels and grindstones, made cement for blast furnaces slag and lime equal to Portland Cement at half the cost.  Died at 42 Melbourne Grove, Dulwicj  19th April 1893. (Proceedings of Institute of Civil Engineers)

Ransome’s artificial stone is prepared by mixing sodium silicate with sand, moulding the mixture to shape and then immersing the product in a solution of calcium chloride.  A cement of calcium silicate is thus produced and the sodium, chloride is removed (though not completely) by prolonged washing with water.  Samples of this stone have attained a crushing strength of 2 tons per square inch. This process owning to the expense of the skilled labour required has been discontinued.  (Martin. Industrial and Manufacturing Chemistry)

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