.10.1764 Leadhills/UK - 22.3.1831 London/UK
William Symington attended courses at Edinburgh University. In 1786 he started experiments to modify the Watt machine to avoid infringing the separate condenser patent. He sought a pattern for his alternative and constructed a model steam road carriage which was completed in the same year. It had a horizontal cylinder and was non-condensing. No full-sized engine was ever built but the model secured the interest of an Edinburgh banker who ordered the engine from Symington to drive an 8 m long experimental boat, which performed in 1788 satisfactorily on Dalswinton Loch. A bigger boat was tried in 1789 on the Forth and Clyde Canal; the engine worked perfectly but had the effect of breaking the paddle wheels. These were repaired and further trials were successful.
Symington devoted himself thereafter to building stationary engines for mine pumping at Sanquhar and Leadhills before going further afield. He built in total over thirty engines, about half of them being rotary. In 1800 he designed the engine for the boat Charlotte Dundas, and sailed on both the Forth and Clyde Rivers. A second boat with a horizontal cylinder was to follow and first sailed in 1803 for the Forth & Clyde Canal Company. Its speed was 3 km/h and much was made by its detractors of the damage said to be caused to the canal banks by its wash. Symington received little reward for his efforts. He died in the house of his son-in-law, amidst heated controversy about the true inventor of steam navigation.
Boyman, B., Symington, W. (1840). Steam navigation - its rise and progress - with authentic tables of the extent of the steam marine of all parts of the globe, contrasted with the steam power of the British Empire; imperfections of the present system of steam navigation and Symington's inventions. Baily: London.
Harvey, W.S., Downs-Rose, G. (1980). William Symington: Inventor and engine builder.
Northgate: London. P
McNeil, I. (1996). Symington, William. Biographical dictionary of the history of technology: 687, L. Day, I. McNeil, eds. Routledge: London.
Rankine, J., Rankine, W.H. (1862). Biography of William Symington, civil engineer; inventor of steam locomotion by sea and land. Johnston: Falkirk. P P

Hydraulicians in Europe 1800-2000 . 2013.