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Science & Invention

William Murdoch

William Murdoch

Over two hundred years ago William Murdoch, the father of the modern gas industry, pioneered the use of the first practical system of gas light anywhere. William Murdoch was born on 21 August 1754 at Bello Mill near Lugar, Ayrshire. He showed signs of his mechanical genius at an early age when he and his father invented a tricycle which anticipated the first bicycle by 40 years. He was employed by the great industrialists Matthew Boulton and James Watt. Boulton and Watt had built up a considerable reputation for their Soho engineering works in Birmingham where they manufactured steam engines which were used to drain Cornish tin and copper mines. Murdoch became their leading engineer in Cornwall and devised many improvements in mining technology, but his two most significant inventions were gas lighting and the first steam engine carriage in Britain.

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