Francis Pettit Smith
Sir Francis Pettit Smith (
1808- 12 February 1874) was a British inventor and, along with Frédéric Sauvageand John Ericsson, one of at least three people disputably viewed as inventor of the screw propeller.
He was born at
Hythe, Kentwhere his father was the postmaster. He was educated at a private school in Ashford run by the Rev. Alexander Power, before working as a grazing Farmer on Romney Marsh, later moving to Hendonin Middlesex where he continued to farm.
As a boy he had acquired great skill in the construction of model boats and took special interest in their means of propulsion. This fascination with boats remained with him and in 1834 on a reservoir near his farm, he perfected the propulsion of a model boat by means of a wooden screw driven by a spring. He became utterly convinced that this form of propulsion was greatly superior to the
paddle wheelwhich was in use at the time. The following year he built a superior model with which he performed a number of experiments at Hendon and in 1836 took out a patentfor propelling vessels by means of a screw revolving beneath the water at the stern.He was instrumental in persuading Isambard Kingdom Brunelin changing the design of the SS "Great Britain" from paddle to screw propulsion, Brunel having Smith's boat "Archimedes" on loan for trials. His chief engineer was Thomas Pilgrim b 1800. He also had a long and troubled history persuading the Admiraltyto adopt steam propulsion.
In 1860 the government appointed him to the post of curator of the Patent Museum at South Kensington. In 1871 a knighthood was conferred upon him.
Smith died at 15 Thurlow Place, South Kensington in February 1874, and is buried in
Brompton Cemetery, London. [ [http://www.brompton.org/Residents.htm brompton football equipment training folding at brompton.org ] ]
Smith married twice and had children by each marriage.
Smith negotiated with the Governors of
Dulwich Collegefor the lease of a plot of land on Sydenham Hillwhere he built his house named Centra House in 1864. The house still stands today. In the grounds Smith had planted a considerable shrubbery and had use of woodlands down to College Road. A later resident added the terracotta fountain and renamed the house Dilkoosh. It was later renamed to its present title - Fountain Lodge.
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.