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Friday, 7 August 2009

Winsor and gas lighting

Winsor claimed to have been interested in the possibilities of gas light and to have experimented from around 1784, but had been prevented by pressure of work from continuing with this interest. In this he probably no different to many young men with an enthusiasm. It must be presumed that his experiments were carried out in wherever it was that he came from. There were a number of experimenters in gas lighting throughout Europe before 1784 and it is assumed that the young Winsor had heard of one of these – and, as is speculated above, he may even have been related to them.

It was around this time that Winsor became aware of Lebon’s work in France and he went to Paris to persuade Lebon to sell him some gas lighting equipment. He was unable to meet Lebon himself and had to negotiate via a M.Charles Pougens of the Institut Nationale. Lebon refused to sell without a bulk order and so Winsor went back to England to experiment for himself. He decided to make the necessary equipment himself and, having done so, took his ideas to the Duke of Brunswick - who, as father in law to the British Prince of Wales, would have seemed a useful contact. The fact that he did this implies that he did not as yet have access to political circles in England - but that he did have contact at that level in Brunswick itself. His reputation in Europe must have been considerable since he claimed that in 1803 he had been approached while in Hamburg by Russian agents with an offer.

At the same time he also published a translation of Lebon’s publicity material
‘Description of the Thermolampe invented by Lebon of Paris’, published, with remarks in French, English and German, by F.A.W. of London. Braunschweig.

It is perhaps worth noting that in the same year Zachaus Andreas Winzler had published a booklet in Brno with almost the same title - it would be interesting to be able to compare them. What was Winsor's relationship with Zach Winzler – who demonstrated gas here? Znaim is part of an area of an area of great industrial and scientific innovation – it was here, for instance, that Gregor Mendel, the pioneer geneticist, undertook his research in the 1850s. In 1809 Napoleon fought an important battle, and signed an Armistice document, here.

Frederick Albert Winsor then appears to have returned to London and set up an experimental plant in one of the most affluent London suburbs - at the ‘Rhedarium’, just off Park Lane.

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