Captain Joseph Huddart. FRS

27th February 2010, 00:29
The wife was sorting old papers out and came across a story of a sea captain from her village on the Solway coast a place called Allonby in Cumbria.
It tells of a Captain J Huddart born in1740 in Allonby who spent his time fishing when the herring was plentiful. H e took the cured fish to Ireland usually to Cork in his fathers boat, this fish was used to supplement the diet of the crews of ships crossing the Atlantic or on the Far East runs.
Eventually Joseph Huddart went into service with the East India Company and made several voyages to India and China,however these were the years in which he did a great deal of surveying and chart making, charts that were so accurate that they continued to be used and relied upon for many years. In the Library of the National Maritime Museum there is a large collection of his charts covering the waters around the BritishIsles,S Africa,India,Sumatra and China.

After retiring from the sea he studied astronomy and to improve on his observations he designed an Equatorial Instrument which was built for him by
Luke Howard and company,Sir James South was so envious of this instrument that he bought it after Huddarts death and guarded it from prying eyes so as not to have it copied by anyone else.

In 1791 Huddart was elected to be both a Fellow of the Royal Society and an Elder Brother of Trinity House, undertaking many surveys on behalf of that institution especially for the building of lighthouses.

At he time of the Napoleonic wars Captain Huddart was called to survey and suggest improvement to harbour facilities at Maryport,Whitehaven,Swansea,Dublin,Leith,Hull,Bost on etc,etc.
Harbour facilities at London were chaotic, all shipping then had to anchor in the Thames at Legal Quay. When it was decided to build the London Docks it was Joseph Huddart which undertook the task of completing it. When the East India Dock was built he had the satisfaction being asked to lay the foundation stone instead of the Prime Minister, Huddarts name was carved into the stone along with his four friends,the engineers.
In the Act of Parliament"Port of London 1920 you read "The Highwater of the spring tides at one mile below London Bridge shall be taken as the level with the mark fixed by the late Captain Huddart in the year 1800 upon the Hermitage entrance to the London Docks commonly known as "Trinity Standard!"
He died in 1816 after a long and wasting illness and was buried in a vault in St.Martins,Westminster.

bert thompson
27th February 2010, 08:24
Thanks for posting that wonderful story. So very interesting
Best wishes

28th February 2010, 11:06
This man among all his other interests set up a factory at a place called Limehouse and began making ships ropes and cables. He had long since discovered that ropes and cables in current use were weak and unrelible.
A study had shown him where the faults lay so he designed and patented new machines for rope making and went into a parnership business.
Half a century after, engineers were still talking about his wonderful"beautiful"machines which were only surpassed by Watts steam engines.
The Admirality stepped in and bought all his machines and smashed them up, presumably the "professionals" had no intentions of being shown-up by a
civilian----what a waste.
Captain Joseph Huddart F.R.S was a brilliant man in his time, coming from a small village on the Solway Firth coast, he achieved a great lot in his life time and left his mark in many places.

28th February 2010, 14:34
Thank you for drawing our attention to Captain Joseph Huddart FRS who I had not heard of before. He importance is confirmed by the length of his entry in "A Biographical Dictionary of Civil Engineers 1500-1830" published by the Institution of Civil Engineers.

There is no reference there of his machines being purchased and smashed up - which if true is astonishing as the Admiralty would surely have an interest in good quality cables rather than destroying the means of making them.

Other achievments of this remarkable man include conducting investigations of colour blindness and horizontal refractions (the basis of mirages). He also did work on the resistance of ships.

28th February 2010, 15:30
Navy rope making was or is still being done at Chatham navy yard and was said to be the safest and finest in the world probably from the knowledge obtained through this fine man,Captain Huddart, as you say Brian,he achieved a lot more than I have put here and mostly to do with shipping and astrology and probably more than we have heard about, maybe other members can add more to his achievements during his life time.