7.4.1767 Torphichen/UK - 14.3.1830 Helensburgh/UK
Henry Bell was born into a family of mechanics. After gaining experience in various crafts and working in different parts of the UK, he began about 1800 to work on a method of steam-driven propulsion in boats. After failing to make a suitable demonstration before the British Admiralty, he communicated his ideas to several countries. In the USA, he was in touch with Fulton and by 1807 American steamboats were successfully plying their way on the major watercourses. In 1811, Bell produced his 30 tons steamboat Comet with an engine of 3 HP. The first trip was made in 1812 from Glasgow to Greenock, making five miles an hour against a headwind. In August of the same year, the Comet plied upon the Clyde River three times a week from Glasgow, "to sail by the power of air, wind and steam". In 1962 an exact full-size replica of the Comet was constructed, to honor the 150th anniversary of Bell's achievement. With her crew of seven, and thirteen invited passengers, all in 1812 attire, the replica paddled under her own steam from Port Glasgow to Helensburgh in the UK.
In September 1812 the voyage was extended to Oban and Fort William for a trip which took four days. Bell lived to see his invention universally adopted. The Clyde, which first enjoyed the advantages of steam navigation, became the principal seat of this description of shipbuilding. Bell, who in truth was a bit a hit-or-miss engineer, was just as unorganized at finance and in his old age became close to poverty. He was rescued by a subscription, followed by an annuity. Meanwhile, the Clyde was growing rich through the increase of steam traffic. An obelisk to his memory was erected on the rock of Dunglass, a promontory on the Clyde, about 4 km upstream Dumbarton.
Anonymous (1912). Henry Bell. The Marine Engineer and Naval Architect 35(1): 8-9. P
Glasgow Corporation (1912). Celebration of centenary of launch of steamer Comet, built by Henry Bell. City Chambers: Glasgow.
McCrorie, I. (1986). Clyde pleasure steamers. Orr, Pollock & Co: Greenock.
Morris, E. (1844). The life of Henry Bell, the practical introducer of the steam-boat into Great Britain and Ireland, with an historical sketch of steam navigation. Blackie: Glasgow.
Osborne, B.D. (2001). The ingenious Mr. Bell, pioneer of steam navigation. Argyll: Glendaruel. Spratt, H.P. (1967). Bicentenary of Henry Bell. The Engineer 223: 515-516. P http://www

Hydraulicians in Europe 1800-2000 . 2013.

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