Industrial Heritage Online

Industrial Heritage Online

James Lumb and Sons Ltd - Perseverance Works

Brass and Iron founders, engineers and manufacturer of the famous Lumb engine governing system.
The works consisted of brass, iron and aluminium foundries, engineering shops, fitting out shop, stores and offices. Also on site was a Siemens-Martin regenerative furnace for making steel without a Bessemer Converter.
They made castings for boilermakers, engineers, machine makers and collieries, steam valves, water gauges, fusible plugs, steam fittings but they were known throughout the world for their stationary steam engine governing system.

The Lumb governing system provided an early form of integral feedback control of a stationary steam engines speed by altering the link between the engine governor and the steam cut-off gear. This system was so effective, controlling engine speed with an accuracy of around 3% that almost all medium/large textile mill engines were retro-fitted with their system, where the engine speed was critical in the manufacture of textiles. The Northern Mill Engine Society alone hold records of over 700 engines modified between about 1905-1940. (See the PDF file with a detailed description of a speed regulator's operation and its importance in controlling a stationary steam engine).

James Lumb and Sons also manufactured the Lumb Recorder that produced a paper record of variations in stationary steam engine speed on a drum. They took over the manufacture of the Moscrop Recorder at a later period which did almost the same job.
They were early adopters of aluminium use which had been very expensive (even used for jewellery) up to 1886, when the new electrical method of refining ore was introduced, slashing the price to industrial levels. The Lumb Recorder's cabinet, for example, was constructed using aluminium sheet.

The company was formed by James Lumb in 1876 who was joined by his two sons at a later date, Levi and Abraham, both eventually becoming company directors, Levi specialising in governing systems and Abraham with the foundry operations.
The supplementary governor, or the 'speed regulator' as it's more commonly known, was patented by Richard Wilby in 1886 and 1887. James Lumb obtained a licence to manufacture the speed regulator but began to constantly improve the operation of the mechanism, obtaining his own patents for the changes in 1900 and 1909, leading to the Lumb system becoming the most widely adopted speed regulator with Richard Wilby's name being almost forgotten.

Levi Lumb, born 1876 at Elland, near Halifax was educated at Huddersfield Technical College then apprenticed to James Lumb's for five years in the workshops. He became an expert in engine governing in which he specialised for most of his career. He was associated with the invention of a safety device attached to a governor of a stationary steam engine which enabled the engine to be stopped from any room in a mill or factory, in the event of an emergency, looking much like a fire call-point button, when pressed an electromagnet released a trip on the governor steam cut-off mechanism shutting off the steam to the engine inlet valves thereby stopping the engine.
He was also responsible for several types of recording meters for steam pressure and engine speed variation. He carried out experimental investigations into the theory of engine governing for many years.
He was a director of the company for over 30 years until his death on 1st August 1938 in Halifax.

The companies First (Statutory) Annual General Meeting was held in the Registered Office of the company on 26th April 1907. A company report was read by the chairman James Lumb to the shareholders present. Also present were directors Abraham and Levi Lumb, David Garsed (solicitor) and William Fisher (secretary).

The companies First Annual General Meeting was held at Elland Town Hall in the Directors Room on 30th November 1907 at 3.20pm. James, Levi and Abraham Lumb present, along with William Fisher and David Garsed. The company accounts were approved and share dividends set for the year ahead.

In 1922 it was reported in the 'Who's Who of Engineering' report that the company had £50,000 capital and 135 employees.
The company was Incorporated to a Limited Company on 27th July 1931.
In the 1970's the company still operated in the same Perseverance Works as engineers.

Many thanks to John Phillp from the Northern Mill Engine Society for his invaluable help.
Northern Mill Engine Society magazine 'The Flywheel' April 2005.
Levi Lumb Obituary 1938, Institute of Mechanical Engineers.
WYC1579 company records, West Yorkshire Archives - Halifax

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Key Words :- engine governors founders
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Address :- Dewsbury Road, Elland, Elland, West Yorkshire
Grid Ref :- SE 11195 20862
Co-ordinates :- Lat - 53.684097 , Long - -1.831975
Local Authority :- Calderdale Council
Pre 1974 County :- Yorkshire - West Riding
Site Condition :- Site in alternative industrial use
Site Status :- Site extant - Protected status unknown