Drummond, Thomas

SUBJECT AREA: Chemical technology
b. 10 October 1797 Edinburgh, Scotland
d. 15 April 1840 Dublin, Ireland
Scottish inventor of limelight.
Drummond entered Woolwich Arsenal as a cadet in 1813 and the Royal Engineers two years later. In 1820 he joined Colonel Colby at work on the ordnance survey, meanwhile continuing his studies in mathematics and chemistry under Brand and Faraday at the Royal Institution. His two chief inventions, limelight, or Drummond light, and the heliostatia, were aimed to facilitate the work of the survey by day and night. The light had a sensational effect on the scientific world; Sir John Herschel has left a vivid account of demonstrations of various lights far surpassed in brilliance by limelight. Limelight was brought into use in the autumn of 1825 during the survey of Ireland. In 1829 Drummond began adapting it for use in lighthouses. It was effective, but expensive to operate, and Drummond was seeking ways of making it cheaper when, after a meeting with Brougham in 1831, he gave up the work and turned to politics and administration. From 1835, he was in all but name governor of Ireland, spending himself in the service of his adopted country until overwork brought about his early death in 1840.

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

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