Humphrey Gainsborough

Inventor, Deceased Person

1718 – 1776

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Who was Humphrey Gainsborough?

Humphrey Gainsborough was a non-conformist minister, engineer and inventor.

Humphrey Gainsborough was pastor to the Independent Church in Henley-on-Thames, England. He was the brother of the artist Thomas Gainsborough. He invented the drill plough, winning a prize of £60 from the Royal Society for his efforts. He also invented the tide mill, which allowed a mill wheel to rotate in either direction, winning a £50 prize from the Society for the Encouragement of Arts in London. In addition, he designed a self-ventilating fish wagon.

Gainsborough designed Conway's Bridge, built in 1763 at Park Place close to Henley, an interesting rustic arched stone structure that still carries traffic on the road between Wargrave and Henley today. In 1768, he improved the slope on the road up the steep White Hill to the east of Henley, straightening it in the process.

In the 1760s, Gainsborough showed a model of a condensing steam engine to James Watt. Watt had been working independently on improvements to the Newcomen "atmospheric engine" and subsequently patented these in 1769. He perhaps included some of — and at least built on — Gainsborough's ideas. Gainsborough is thus probably less well-known than he might have been.

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Born
1718
Sudbury
Siblings
Profession
Lived in
  • Henley-on-Thames
Died
Aug 23, 1776

Submitted
on July 23, 2013

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