John Taylor (civil engineer)
In 1796 Taylor improvised a mechanised copper ore crusher at Wheal Friendship, a mine just outside Tavistock, Devon. This machine was improved over time and became widely adopted; it was known as the "Cornish rolls". Two years later, in 1798, when he was only 19 years old, he became the manager of this mine.
In 1812 Taylor set up as a chemical manufacturer at Stratford, Essex. This enterprise, backed by the Martineau family, set out to produce vitriol, but as Taylor & Martineau became widely diversified. One of Taylor's interests was sugar refining, for which he took out a patent in 1815 for a pressure method for separation of sugar from molasses. The use of heated animal oils in sugar processes disclosed the production of naphtha. Taylor took out another patent in 1815, for decomposing animal oils into gas. This discovery led Taylor & Martineau into 1823 to what Philip Taylor's son later wrote of as "the battle of the gases": the commercial contest between gas lighting derived from coal and from oils. John Taylor's direction in the 1820s, however, was back into mining.
In 1819 Taylor raised the £65,000 needed to re-open the Consolidated Mines in Gwennap, Cornwall. This mine employed over 3,000 people and became the most productive in Cornwall, yielding almost 450,000 tons of copper ore. He was also mineral agent to the Duke of Devonshire and to the commissioners of Greenwich Hospital.
In 1807 Taylor was elected a Fellow of the Geological Society, and acted as treasurer from 1816 to 1844. In 1825 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, and was one of the founders of the British Association on 26 June 1832, holding the office of treasurer till September 1861. He was one of the founders of University College, London, to which he acted as treasurer for many years.
Taylor was the author of Statements concerning the Profits of Mining in England (London, 1825), edited Records of Mining in 1829, and contributed articles to scientific journals. A list of his publications may be found in the appendix of R. Burt, John Taylor, mining entrepreneur and engineer, 1779–1863, Moorland Publishing Company, 1977. He contributed articles on mining to Rees's Cyclopædia.
In 1829, Taylor and his family played host to composer Felix Mendelssohn at their country home in Wales. While there, Mendelssohn composed several works, including his operetta Son and Stranger for his parents' silver wedding anniversary, an organ work for his sister's wedding, and three piano fantasias written as gifts for Taylor's daughters.
- "Taylor, Philip". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.
- Earl, Bryan (1994). Cornish Mining: The Techniques of Metal Mining in the West of England, Past and Present (2nd ed.). St Austell: Cornish Hillside Publications. p. 80. ISBN 0-9519419-3-3.
- "BBC Inside Out – Tavistock Canal". BBC. Retrieved 10 August 2009.
- "Towpath Treks: The Tavistock Canal and Morwellham Quay". towpathtreks.co.uk. Retrieved 10 August 2009.
- "The Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape Description of Property, 3b" (PDF). Cornwall Council. Retrieved 10 August 2009.
- Newell, Edmund. "Taylor, John". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/27059. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
- June Z. Fullmer, Technology, Chemistry, and the Law in Early 19th-Century England, Technology and Culture Vol. 21, No. 1 (Jan. 1980), pp. 1–28, at p. 8 and p. 16. Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press on behalf of the Society for the History of Technology. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3103985
- William Matthews (1832). An historical sketch of the origin and progress of gas-lighting. Simpkin & Marshall. p. 95. Retrieved 12 April 2013.
- Philip Meadows Taylor, A Memoir of the family of Taylor of Norwich (1886), p. 52;archive.org.
- Barton, D. B. (1978). A History of Copper Mining in Cornwall and Devon (3rd ed.). Truro: D. Bradford Barton Ltd. pp. 51, 95.
- W. H. Brock; A. J. Meadows (1 April 1998). The Lamp of Learning: Taylor & Francis And Two Centuries Of Publishing. Taylor & Francis. p. 33. ISBN 978-0-203-21167-0. Retrieved 12 April 2013.
- Philip Meadows Taylor, A Memoir of the family of Taylor of Norwich (1886), p. 16;archive.org.
- Davies, Rhian, "Mendelssohn in Mold", BBC Northeast Wales site, accessed November 23, 2009