Booth, Henry

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b. 4 April 1789 Liverpool, England
d. 28 March 1869 Liverpool, England
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English railway administrator and inventor.
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Booth followed his father as a Liverpool corn merchant but had great mechanical aptitude. In 1824 he joined the committee for the proposed Liverpool \& Manchester Railway (L \& MR) and after the company obtained its Act of Parliament in 1826 he was appointed Treasurer.
In 1829 the L \& MR announced a prize competition, the Rainhill Trials, for an improved steam locomotive: Booth, realizing that the power of a locomotive depended largely upon its capacity to raise steam, had the idea that this could be maximized by passing burning gases from the fire through the boiler in many small tubes to increase the heating surface, rather than in one large one, as was then the practice. He was apparently unaware of work on this type of boiler even then being done by Marc Seguin, and the 1791 American patent by John Stevens. Booth discussed his idea with George Stephenson, and a boiler of this type was incorporated into the locomotive Rocket, which was built by Robert Stephenson and entered in the Trials by Booth and the two Stephensons in partnership. The boiler enabled Rocket to do all that was required in the trials, and far more: it became the prototype for all subsequent conventional locomotive boilers.
After the L \& MR opened in 1830, Booth as Treasurer became in effect the general superintendent and was later General Manager. He invented screw couplings for use with sprung buffers. When the L \& MR was absorbed by the Grand Junction Railway in 1845 he became Secretary of the latter, and when, later the same year, that in turn amalgamated with the London \& Birmingham Railway (L \& BR) to form the London \& North Western Railway (L \& NWR), he became joint Secretary with Richard Creed from the L \& BR.
Earlier, completion in 1838 of the railway from London to Liverpool had brought problems with regard to local times. Towns then kept their own time according to their longitude: Birmingham time, for instance, was 7¼ minutes later than London time. This caused difficulties in railway operation, so Booth prepared a petition to Parliament on behalf of the L \& MR that London time should be used throughout the country, and in 1847 the L \& NWR, with other principal railways and the Post Office, adopted Greenwich time. It was only in 1880, however, that the arrangement was made law by Act of Parliament.
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Bibliography
1835. British patent no. 6,814 (grease lubricants for axleboxes). 1836. British patent no. 6,989 (screw couplings).
Booth also wrote several pamphlets on railways, uniformity of time, and political matters.
Further Reading
H.Booth, 1980, Henry Booth, Ilfracombe: Arthur H.Stockwell (a good full-length biography, the author being the great-great-nephew of his subject; with bibliography).
R.E.Carlson, 1969, The Liverpool \& Manchester Railway Project 1821–1831, Newton Abbot: David \& Charles.
PJGR

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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