Peat and Its Products: An Illustrated Treatise on Peat and Its Products as a National Source of Wealth

Author(s): Kerr, William Alexander


W. A. KERR, V.C.
"The Sombre Genius of the Moor," ------vii
What is Peat? ----------1
Peat as an Article of Fuel,-------16
Peat Charcoal or Peat Coal,-------49
Gas from Peat, ----------72
Electricity from Peat,--------106
How to use Peat Fuel,--------119
Peat Moss Litter,---------137
Peat as a Manure, ---------156
Peat Bricks and Earthenware, ------- 183
The Germ-Destroying Action of Peat-Moss Litter and Peat-Dust
treated with Acids, -------210
Health-Giving Properties of Peat, ---- 223
Reclamation of Bogs and Moors, ------ 231
How to Work a Peat Bog,- ------ 246
I. The Distillation of Peat, - -----272
II. Utilization of the Peat Bogs of Ireland for the Generation
and Distribution of Electrical Energy, ---- 289
III. State Aid to Industry (including "Gewerbe" Museums
and Cottage Industries), ------300
THE aim of this work is to direct general attention to the
economy of Peat as a substitute of coal and for the development
of its numerous bye-products. The subject, now that
the Irish land difficulties have been relieved by legislation,
and that we have lately had bitter experience of a coal famine,
is ripe for serious discussion and practical consideration.
In directing the attention of the community at large to
the various uses and products of this source of wealth lying
at our doors, together with the methods of preparation and
manufacture, care has been taken to quote every reliable
authority to whom we have had access. Hitherto, save in
the cot of the crofter or in the cabin of the "rug-headed
kern," Peat has been little known as a fuel in these Islands,
though its value on the Continent has long been appreciated
and its production fostered by various States. Abroad,
throughout the German Empire, in many parts of France, in
Austria, Russia, Holland, and throughout the length and
breadth of Scandinavia, it is regarded as one of the most
precious national assets, adding materially to the general
national resources in its application to manufactures generally
and to domestic uses.
In July, 1892, the Premier, the late Lord Salisbury,
addressed a circular to Her Majesty's Representatives at
the Hague, St. Petersburg, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Berlin,
and Paris requesting them to obtain information with
regard to the manufacture of fuel, moss-litter, and other
products of Peat. This information, in due course, was published
in a Blue Book, Commercial No. 2, of 1893. Since
then, so far as official action in the important subject
is concerned, the matter lay fallow till interest in its
possibilities was revived by exhibits at the Cork International
Exhibition, in 1902; and by a paper read by
a gentleman from Schleswig-Holstein — Mr. Tissington
Tatlow — before the Industrial Conference held in connection
with that admirable and instructive Exhibition.
Here Peat, it may be said, has hitherto been unaccountably
neglected, though from time to time spasmodic misdirected
efforts have been made to give it a commercial value. And
yet, Peat covers about 2,831,000 acres, one seventh of
Ireland's surface, calculated to contain 33,972,000,000 tons
of fuel valued at £850,000,000, an enormous national treasure
only requiring working, with an extended means of transit,
to prove a gold mine of fabulous capacity. Scotland too,
from the far North down to the Borders, possesses vast
treasures of Peat, the deposits of Western Isles, being
especially valuable for their bye-products; and in England
and Wales it is found in large quantities, making a grand
total approaching to 6,000,000 acres. The levels known as
Marshland (Yorkshire), the Isle of Axholme,,and the rich
land stretching away from the Thorne and Hatfield moors
down through Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire, were
originally peat bogs, and are unsurpassed for fertility. At
one time the Marshland properties changed hands at £200
an acre, and commanded a rental of four guineas. In Dumfriesshire,
on the extensive Lochar bog at Racks, the Scottish
Peat Industries, Limited, under the able superintendence of
Mr. A. B. Lennox, have established an extensive and rapidly
extending factory, which, with the vast amount and excellence
of raw material, and the facilities of getting the manufactured
fuel and other various bye-products, etc., on to the rail and to
a port, promises to prove a source of profit to its shareholders,
and a reliable and interesting object lesson of strenuous labour
and intelligent enterprise.
Dr. Johnson, Professor of Botany at the Royal College of
Science, Dublin, who has devoted much attention to Peat,
observes in a paper, published in 1899, "while the average
thickness of turf in Europe varies from 9 to 20 feet, Ireland
has bogs as much as 40 feet."Another authority, Lieutenant-General
Sir R. H. Sankey, K.C.B., Royal Engineers, late
Chairman of Public Works, Ireland, in an article in the
Nineteenth Century, entitled "A future for Irish Bogs,"
says — "We could thus count on having a heating power in
the bogs for steam raising, to give us a constant output of
300,000 horse power for 412 consecutive years." This
writer advocates the utilization of this vast amount of carbon
which nature has stored up in the Irish turbaries for the
generation, in situ, of electric energy, which, through the
application of modern scientific principles, can be transmitted
and made available at an extremely low price in all parts of
the country, and anticipates the feasibility of generating
a horse power per hour for one farthing, which would allow
of a unit being sold to customers at the surprising low price
of a penny or a little over. "Generating Stations," he adds,
"permanent or semi-permanent, may be set up at any place
where the conditions prove to be most convenient." It is
true that, to some extent, we have wrested the Moss-litter
industry from the Dutch and Germans, but this, to a
very limited extent, touches only the surface of the
deposits, viz., the light fibrous Peat, and does not utilize
the dense black material which it covers. On the Continent,
where all the Northern countries, and some of the
Southern — Austria-Hungary and Italy — are interested in the
development of their peat-moors and bogs, there are journals
devoted exclusively to this interest. Mr. Tatlow, who has
personally visited most of the moors and centres of manufacture,
and who is thoroughly versed in the present position of
the industry on the Continent, states that a band of scientific
and practical men works incessantly on the question of
the utilization of the bogs; that there are several experimental
stations, the results of the operations of which are duly
published for general information; and that country societies
are in existence whose duty it is to keep themselves en rapport
with kindred institutions, at home and abroad, so that,
through these widely circulating mediums, the proprietor of
a small turf factory in Bohemia is kept posted up in what
is going on in far-distant Sweden. Courses are held for
instruction, the Governments afford State aid, there are
public subscriptions devoted to the advancement of the
utilization of Peat, and the experiments and observations of
specialists become public property. A grant in aid of
£3500 a year is made by the Swedish Government, and
there are three thousand members of a Society, established
for the development of the various peat industries, who contribute
a small sum each per annum. What in this direction
do we? Nil !1 Beyond an occasional article in a magazine,
a short paragraph in some journal, or an advertisement
concerning Peat-moss litter, of Peat we hear and see nothing,
and most of our people are utterly ignorant of its value.
Well may it be said, that "one is amazed and dejected to
think what they (the Dutch) have done, and what Ireland
has left undone in the utilization of her bogs." And in
considering the question of this, one of the many melancholy
instances of Ireland's neglected opportunities, the neglect
becomes accentuated, for the climatic conditions are alike
and both countries lack a supply of soft coal. It is the
duty of the lately constituted Department of Agriculture
for Ireland, charged with the resuscitation and promotion
of industry and technical instruction, to second the efforts
of capitalists and others who, on business or philanthropic
lines, may venture to follow the Continental examples, and
thus help the people along this industrial road — a road
which we confidently believe leads to great wealth. At
present, so far as the peat industry as a National source
of wealth is concerned, it apparently is discouraging the
1 NOTE. — The Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction for
Ireland has lately commenced some limited experiments in the Co. Cavan
to test the adaptability of machinery to "turf" manufacture. The plant
is confined to cutting and lift ing the peat from the bog, and to masticating
and shaping machines. This is merely playing with the industry, and is
unworthy of a Government Department whose bounden duty is to foster
this industry by every means in its power.
introduction of capital. Ireland's economic life will do
more towards peace, contentment, and plenty, than all the
parliamentary sops the long-suffering "predominant partner"
may be coaxed or browbeaten into offering her. Political
considerations and the dignity of productive labour apart,
the capitalist, from a financial point of view, will in this
industry find a certain and handsome return on his vested
capital. It gives promise of success rarely offered or realised
in so early a stage of any legitimate enterprise. The Shares
of Richardson's Moss-Litter Company Limited are quoted at
300 per cent. premium. Another Anglo-Dutch Moss Litter
Company, weighed down by a huge capital, earns 10 per
cent. dividends, and its off-shoot, a mere distributory concern,
gives equally good returns.
Life in Northern latitudes implies the free use of fuel.
We, as a nation, are in abject dependence on coal-owners,
the miners, and the coal factors, for the right to live. As
we write we read of closed factories, dislocation of railway
traffic, and locomotives stand idle, owing to the great
Westphalian coal-strike. The old adage of the advantage
of having several strings to one's bow is surely applicable
to this all-important question of fuel. If still another
material, comparable in efficiency and in price to coal, can
be brought into commercial competition with it, the situation
must be decidedly improved. If, too, the winning and
preparation of such a practically illimitable natural product
would create an entirely new field of home industry of the
first magnitude, employing capital and labour on a very
extensive scale, utilizing resources now almost, in these
British Isles, entirely dormant, there would be every reason,
from the public and private point of view, for welcoming
the introduction of a new fuel such as we find in peat,
whether in the form of gas or as machined or briquetted
blocks of varied shape, size and weight.
Second only to its varied applications as a heat producer
is the use of Peat as a fertilizer. Apart from the well-established
value of its ashes and "mull," its antiseptic,
deodorant qualities and powers of absorption and retention,
suggest its employment in the manufacture of various artificial
manures, useful alike in agriculture and horticulture.
It overcomes the hitherto insurmountable difficulty of
disposing of night-soil, and of the malodorous wastes of
breweries, distilleries, tan-yards, dye and chemical works,
and slaughter-houses, giving their residuals a commercial
value, relieving the owners of these often poisonous effluents
of much anxiety, obviating the pollution of rivers and
streams, and placing at the disposal of the farmer, the
market gardener, and the horticulturist, a wide range of
powerful, cleanly, plant food, which can be manufactured
and placed on the market at a low yet remunerative rate.
That there have been failures in the past cannot be denied.
But these are easily explained away. The promoters of the
various schemes possessed no technical knowledge of the
peculiar nature of the material they proposed to handle,
and were consequently groping in the dark. Peat is a
curious substance, possessing peculiarities of structure and
ingredients differing widely from any other natural product.
Though allied to coal, lignite, petroleum, and wood, it differs
from all its relatives, having the characteristics of indiarubber
or gutta-percha, being, till disintegrated, remarkably
retentive of air and water, and refusing, till treated in a
peculiar manner, to be converted into a homogeneous solid.
The common aim of the numerous processes, machines, and
devices was compression, without any consideration for the
peculiarities and chemistry of the raw material. In some
cases, notably that of the Irish Peat Company established at
Athy, Co. Kildare, in 1854, over-capitalization coupled with
an enormous outlay for buildings and plant, and a bad
selection of locality and material, brought the fabric to
the ground. The inefficient machinery and buildings cost
£60,000, whereas to-day a well-equipped distillation factory,
capable of treating an equal amount of Peat and of obtaining
the best results, need not cost more than £6000.
If one or more of the multi-millionaires who so generously
lavish their vast piles of dollars on libraries, often
donating large sums where these institutions are neither
wanted nor acceptable, could be prevailed upon to divert the
golden stream towards the establishment of technical
instruction, they would for ever settle the Irish Land
question, relegate the venomous agitator to the limbo of
the past and forgotten, and a happy and prosperous Ireland
would for all time applaud their philanthropic wisdom and
statesmanship. Irish Land will then become a marketable
commodity, agrarian outrage will no longer sully the good
name of the peasantry, and the sister isle will be rescued
from financial chaos. What she wants are industrial
schools, workshops for the training of handicrafts, scientific
laboratories, technological collections, co-operation and capital.
To this end the State might, nay should, contribute a handsome
yearly dole. What, during the last two or three
decades, has been effected in Austria and Hungary, in
relation to small rural and urban industries and trades, can
surely be put into practice in Ireland. The country is
"waking up" is the assurance of every Celt, and will
cheerfully respond to any efforts to aid her in seizing the
present opportunity. Lord Iveagh, Mr. W. J. Pirrie, and
other patriots, are bent on developing her commerce by
means of much needed facilities for transport; and Mr. George
Wyndham is determined to fill her fields with lusty labourers.
The nation is starting on a path of material progress. An
industrial revival is on foot. One seventh of the whole
Island is under Peat, and Peat properly handled is gold.
The reader's particular attention is drawn to the valuable
paper on The Utilization of the Peat Bogs of Ireland for
the Generation and distribution of Electrical Energy, by
Lieutenant-General Sir R. H. Sankey, K.C.B., RE. (retired),
read before the Industrial Conference at the Cork International
Exhibition, 1902. Further, we desire to draw
attention as an object-lesson to the economic conditions now
rapidly growing up in Austria-Hungary, set forth in an
equally valuable paper read on the same occasion by Dr.
William Exner, K.K., Sections-chef, Technologisches Gewarbe
Museum, Vienna, on State Aid to Industries (including
"Gewerbe" Museums and Cottage Industries). Dr. Paul
Dvorkovitz's paper is a learned technical contribution to the
geology, botany, and chemistry of Peat, and also to the
possibilities of turning it to profitable account by a new,
continuous, and economical system of low distillation.
Coming from the President of the Petroleum Institute,
one who has had long and varied experience of fuel in whatever
shape, and who brings to the investigation a profound
practical chemical knowledge, these researches are of special
value. No apology is needed for the reproduction of this
trio of admirable contributions. A careful perusal of all
the papers read before the Industrial Conference at Cork,
and published by the Department of Agriculture and
Technical Instruction for Ireland, is recommended.
We are much indebted to Mr. T. H. Leavitt, of Boston,
U.S.A., for his interesting compilation Facts about Peat,
from which we have quoted freely. Our aim is to briefly
give such facts in regard to Peat as have come under our
observation, or which we have been able to collect from a
variety of sources, with a view to interesting the community
in the development and various resources of an invaluable
though homely substance, which stupid prejudice alone
prevents from coming into general use. Ordinary skill and
enterprise, backed by moderate capital, will suffice to
demonstrate the little dreamt of value of our Peat bogs.
Apart from Peat per se and its numerous applications,
the value of reclaimed Peat bog, and the successful results
attending judiciously conducted operations in that direction
by Urban Councils, has been fully demonstrated by the
enterprising Corporation of Manchester on Chat Moss, which
from an unproductive waste has been converted into a fruitful
agricultural, horticultural, and market garden area,
yielding a considerable revenue to the municipal coffers.
"One of the most important facts obtained is that by using
peat instead of coal there is a great saving, and this may
very likely assist in pushing a new Danish industry, i.e.
the working of peat moors for obtaining cheap fuel, and
consequently converting moorlands into good, sound, productive
land" (Consular Report, 1902).
If with no other object than to combat the evils of
smoke pollution, the adoption of peat fuel, or peat in
combination with anthracite coal, should be general in
our cities and towns.
It is declared by the Coal Smoke Abatement Society
that the Bell Harry Tower of Canterbury Cathedral is
suffering badly from surface decay owing to the action
in the atmosphere of the products of imperfect combustion
of coal. If this is the case at Canterbury, what is
the condition of Westminster Abbey, St. Paul's Cathedral,
and other historic buildings in the Metropolis? Very much
worse, according to experts. Tons of Epsom salts, Professor
Church says, might be taken off Westminster Abbey.
Describing the effects of the coal smoke, another authority
said: "Each atom of soot is a sponge absorbing and
holding the acid gases, and transferring them liquefied to
the surface of stone or brick. But sulphuric acid is the
active agent. This acting on the magnesian limestone
much used in the Houses of Parliament, for instance,
forms sulphate of lime and sulphate of magnesia, or in
other words Epsom salts. If there was no soot the acid
gases freed on the combustion of coal would be carried
away by the wind." The Hon. Rollo Russell estimates
the loss to the Metropolis by the coal smoke nuisance
at £5,000,000 a year. In this estimate he takes into
consideration the decay which is produced in buildings,
the extra cleaning involved by the soot deposits, the
depreciation of fabrics and treasures of arts, and the depreciation
of shopkeepers' stocks.
By those who are trying to get a cleaner London the
contention is made that the constant repairing which is
always going on at St. Paul's Cathedral, Westminster
Abbey, and other large buildings is due for the most part
to the action of the smoke.
The secretary of the Coal Smoke Abatement Society
states that while a great deal has been effected in the
matter of preventing the emission of smoke from factories,
little can be done effectually to purge the Metropolis
from smoke evils until the ordinary household grates and
kitchen chimneys are constructed with a view to fuel
economy and smoke abatement. The results of exhaustive
tests made by the society have proved that smoke pollution
from domestic fires can be reduced to a minimum
if proper grates and other appliances be adopted.
When the King, standing in St. Patrick's Hall, crowded
with the representatives of all the learned, scientific, philanthropic,
and other bodies of Ireland, in reply to numerous
loyal deputations uttered these words: "I rejoice to hear of
a newly-awakened spirit of hope and enterprise among my
Irish people which is full of promise for the future. It
will be a source of profound happiness to me if my reign
should be co-incident with a new era of social peace and of
industrial and commercial progress in every part of
Ireland," His Majesty voiced the fervent hope of every one
of his subjects. To her bounteous but now seriously
exhausted coal measures Great Britain owes much of her
wealth and position, and though Ireland can boast of no such
mineral wealth she, in her vast acres of excellent Peat,
possesses a fuel supply which it has been calculated will, if
worked on a sound business basis, meet all her wants as to
power, illumination, and heating for centuries.
The peat question has been fully and satisfactorily solved
in the Netherlands, and also to a large extent in Russia,
Germany, Scandinavia, and in Canada. Holland, always
the pioneer of this industry, has turned her bogs to good
account, deriving from them a cheap fuel for her own consumption,
and providing Great Britain and France, as well
as the United States, with a never-ceasing and always
increasing supply of moss-litter. "When these sources of
profit are exhausted she turns her cut-away bogs, owing to
the careful systems of cutting and draining observed, into
smiling corn-fields and vegetable gardens, or plants them
with trees" (Journal of the Department of Agriculture
and Technical Instruction, Ireland).
W. A. K.
PEAT is a spongy vegetable substance, composed generally
of mosses and aquatic plants in different stages of decomposition.
More than one genus is present, the varieties
differing with the zone in which it is found, that called
Sphagnum being most common in European bogs. The
vegetation in these bogs consists mainly, together with
various grasses and heather, of Eriophorum, Calluna vulgaris,
Erica tetralix, Andomeda, Ledum, Empetrum, Vaccinium,
and the moss Sphagnum cymbifolium. All these plants help
in forming peat, but in European bogs Sphagnum palustre
largely prevails. Fallen and decayed timber, ferns, bracken,
rushes, reeds, and other plants, of a bygone age, are also found
together, proving the antiquity, in some instances, of these
morasses. The decomposed remains of these plants, acted
upon by the atmosphere, form a dark, friable soil overlying
a layer of different depths, of a light vandyke warm-tinted
bright yellow, dirty white, but never black fibrous
material known as "red" peat, this again being succeeded
by a strata, also of varying thickness, of dark-coloured,
decomposed material overlying the bottom or hardly-compressed
"stone peat," which, when cut, shows few traces
of fibrous matter, is dense and fine in the grain, of a cheesy
substance, and of a dark sepia hue. In the "older peat"
no living animal exists. It is in the progressive stage from
a vegetable substance to a mineral coal. Whole forests of
oak, fir, ash, birch, yew, willow, etc., have been overwhelmed
by the steady, resistless growth of these aquatic plants, and
are found in all positions at the bottom, or in the middle of
the bogs. Much of the value of peat, as a fuel, depends
upon the amount of turpentine it contains, and wherever
remains of resinous trees, such as pine, abound the fuel is
"fatter," because the resin is converted into wood tar. We
find this in some parts of Scotland, where the fir-wood from
the bogs was used by the country folk for candles; also in
the case of the so-called "tallow-peat" in the neighbourhood
of Lough Neagh in the north of Ireland, where the Pinis
Sylvestris largely predominates. The peat on the famous
and broad moor of Rannoch, the great flat morass, "open,
silent, and solitary," occupying the table-land of Scotland,
twenty square miles in extent, resting on granite, is especially
bituminous. This great level, intersected by the
brawling perennial Gauer Water, holds sufficient "creashy"
peat, charged with resin and oils, to generate electric producer,
and illuminating and heating gas to meet the wants
of many industries for a long term of years. In this dreary
waste we find, submerged, the roots and stumps of giant firs
in a perfect state of preservation. It is not so very many
years since these roots were the favourite means of illumination
in the sheilings of this part of the Highlands.
In a record of the district we find it stated that these roots
were at one time the sole source of artificial light obtainable.
We know of an old shepherd and his wife who used
to live in a hut towards Kingshouse, on the western verge
of Rannoch Moor, who unwillingly abandoned the use of
this primitive lamp, in favour of paraffin, only about five
years ago. When he had gathered his flock into the fold,
the shepherd would return to his low thatch-covered
sheiling with an armful of the roots, to be dried before the
great peat fire for a night. In the morning he would break
them into small pieces, about the size of a finger, and in the
dark winter evenings it was the duty of the old man to keep
one of the little torches flaring while his aged wife sat
spinning at her wheel in the "ingle-neuk." The method of
burning the roots was curious. From the crook in the
chimney hung an iron instrument, like the "girdle" on
which oat-cakes are baked, but instead of presenting to the
fire a flat surface, the "girdle" was ribbed with bars like a
gridiron. One of the small pieces of resinous fir-root was
placed on these bars and blazed up in the heat of the fire,
illuminating the whole hut, and as soon as the flare began
to die out the old shepherd would put on another, the whirr
of the spinning-wheel never ceasing. Such a spectacle as
this was to be seen until quite recently in hundreds of
sheilings around the moor. The West Highland Railway
virtually floats over this moor, which is 1000 feet above sea
level. It is built upon fascines of brushwood, laid in thick
layers across trenches, and this elastic formation, preserved
by the bituminous peat, never decays. On the moor of
Caithness similar conditions obtained. In these peaty
the acidity is peculiarly strong, and much of the bottom
peat is akin to the solid, tenacious, and heavy "baken
peat," which is known in Ireland as "mud turf," is the
"mire-black" of Loch Neagh, the "Ince peat" of Lancashire,
the "greasy clods" of Aberdeenshire, "la houile de
Kilkenny" of Brochant, the "Bears' Grease" of the
Lincolnshire fens, and which is also found in great
quantities in the Western Isles, and is closely allied to
surturbrandt or Bovey coal, or what Waller terms "vegetabile
fossile bituminosum." Bearing upon the proposed
rehabilitation of Ireland with woods of commercial value, it is
worthy of note that in the bogs resinous or coniferous trees
are generally found with six or seven feet of compact peat
under their roots, whereas the stumps of oak are usually
resting on the clay sub-soil. Commonly these remains are
found standing as they grew in an erect position (see sketches
in Dvorkovitz's paper) furnished with all their roots. From
this it appears that the conifers grew in successive layers or
tiers upon ancient surface peat, which, as it died down and
decomposed, became submerged in the surrounding swamp
and that the hard woods grew on the original bottom of the
bogs. It should be noted also that fir trees preponderate
where sand sub-soil prevails, the oak taking the place of the
resinous timber where clay forms the pan. Professor Lyall
in his Principles of Geology says: "It is a curious and well
ascertained fact that many of the mosses (bogs) of the North
of Europe occupy the places of immense forests of pine and
oak, which have, many of them, disappeared within the
historical era. Such changes are brought about by the fall
of the trees, and the stagnation of the water caused by their
trunks and branches obstructing the free drainage of the
atmospheric waters, thus giving rise to a marsh. In a warm
climate such decayed timber could immediately be removed
by insects or by putrefaction, but in the cold temperature
now prevailing in our latitudes many examples are recorded
of marshes originating in this source. Thus, in Mar Forest
in Aberdeenshire, large trunks of Scotch fir, which had
fallen from age and decay, were soon immured in peat
partly formed out of the perishing leaves and branches and
in part from the growth of other plants." We learn also that
the overthrow of a forest by a storm about the middle of
the seventeenth century gave rise to a peat moss near Loch
Broom, in Ross-shire, N.B., whence, in less than half-a-century
from the fall of the trees, the inhabitants dug peat. Dr
Walker mentions a similar change when in the year 1756
the whole wood of Drumlanrig was overset by the wind.
Such events explain the occurrence, both in Britain and on
the Continent, of mosses, where trees are all broken within
two or three feet of the original surface, and where their
trunks all lie in the same direction. Nothing is more
common than the occurrence of buried trees at the bottom
of Irish peat-mosses, as also in most of those in England,
France, and Holland and Scandinavia; and they have
been so often observed with part of their trunks standing
erect, and with their roots fixed to the sub-soil,
that no doubt can be entertained of their having grown
on the spot. They consist for the most part of
the fir, the oak, and the birch. Where the subsoil
is clay their remains are most abundant; where
sand is the substratum fir prevails. In the marsh of
Curragh, Isle of Man, vast trees are discovered standing firm
on their roots at the depth of eighteen or twenty feet below
the surface. The leaves and fruit of each species are frequently
found immersed along with the parent trees, as, for
example, the leaves and acorns of the oak, the cones and
leaves of the fir, and the nuts of the hazel. The durability
of pine wood, which in the Scotch peat-mosses exceeds that of
the birch and oak, is due to the great quantity of turpentine
it contains, and which is so abundant that the fir wood from
the bogs was used by the country people, in parts of Scotland,
in place of candles. Such resinous plants, observes
Dr. MacCulloch, as fir would produce a fatter coal than oak,
because the resin itself is converted into bitumen. In
Hatfield moss, near Doncaster, stems of pine have been found
ninety feet long, and sold for masts and keels of ships; oaks
also have been discovered there above a hundred feet in
length. The dimensions of an oak from this moss are given
in the Philosophical Transactions, No. 275, which must
have been larger than any tree now existing in the British
dominions. In this same moss at Hatfield, as well as in
that of Kincardine and several others, Roman roads have
been found covered to a depth of eight feet by peat. All
the coins, axes, arms, and utensils found in the British and
French mosses are also Roman, so that a considerable portion
of the European peat-bogs are evidently more ancient than
the age of Julius Caesar; nor can any vestiges of the ancient
forests described by that General, belonging to the time of
the great Roman way in Britain, be discovered except in
the ruined trunks of trees in peat. De Luc ascertained that
the sites of the aboriginal forests of Hiricinia, Semona,
Ardennes, and several others, are now occupied by mosses
and fens; and that a great part of these changes have, with
much probability, been attributed to the strict orders given
by Severus and other Emperors to destroy all the woods in
the conquered provinces. Several of the British forests,
which are now mosses, were felled at different periods by
order of the English Parliament because they harboured
wolves or outlaws. Thus the Welsh woods were cut and
burned in the reign of Edward I., as were those of Ireland
by Henry II., to prevent the natives from harbouring in
them and harassing the English troops. It is curious to
reflect that considerable tracts have, by these accidents, been
permanently sterilised, and that during a period when civilisation
was making great progress, large areas of Europe
had, by human agency, been rendered less capable of
administering to the wants of man. Dr. Rennie observes
with truth that in those regions alone which the Roman
eagle never reached, in the remote circles of the German
Empire, in Poland and Prussia, and still more in Norway,
Sweden, and the vast empire of Russia, can we see what
Europe was before it yielded to the power of Rome. Desolation
now reigns where stately forests of pine and oak once
flourished, such as might now have supplied the demand of
the world with timber. At the bottom of the peat mosses
is sometimes found a cake or "pan," as it is termed, of oxide
of iron; and the value of bog ore is familiar to the mineralogist
and the gas manufacturer. The oak, which is so
often found dyed black in peat, owes its colour to this metal.
From what source the iron is derived is by no means obvious,
since we cannot in all cases suppose that it has been
precipitated from the waters of mineral springs. According
to Fourcroy there is iron in all compact wood, and it is the
cause of one-twelfth part of the weight of oak. The heaths
(Ericæ) which flourish on sandy ferruginous soil are said to
contain more iron than any other vegetable. It has been
suggested that iron, being soluble in acids, may be diffused
through the whole mass of vegetables when they decay in a
bog, and may by its superior gravity sink to the bottom,
and be there precipitated so as to form bog-iron-ore; or,
where there is a sub-soil of sand or gravel, it may cement
these into ironstone or ferruginous conglomerate."
Sir A. Geikie, in his well-known work, Text-Book of
Geology, mentions that in 1657 an ancient pine forest, its
trees being all dead and tottering to their fall, occupied a
level tract of land among the Ross-shire hills. About fifteen
years later every vestige of a tree had disappeared, the site
being occupied by a spongy green bog into which a man
could sink up to his arm-pits. By the end of the century it
had become firm enough to yield peat fuel.
Peat is not peculiar to any age or, indeed, though constantly
stated to be confined to the arctic and sub-arctic temperate
zones, is it restricted to any climate. Savants may term the
vegetable deposits of Brazil, California, and Australia; the
"sudd" or "sood" swamps of the Bahr-al-Ghazal where the
papyrus, the um-soof-reed, and the ambatch take the place
of our water plants, ferns, and sphagnum mosses; the black
mud found in the jheels or swamps of Pertabghur in Oude,
which the natives trace to enormous sacrifices by godly
generations of the gentle Hindoo in bygone times of ghee
and grain burnt to the gods in situ; or the dense black
vegetable fat-land bordering the rivers of the Malay Peninsula
"bastard peat"; but to all intents and purposes these beds
are Peat in every sense of the word. Call them Cespites,
Turba, Turbae, plain Turf, Tula, or what you will, the
compound still is Peat. No mosses, it is true, are found
bordering on or within the tropics, where vegetable matter
is more rapidly decomposed, but nature provides substitutes.
Tropical ferns and plants are found in the coal measures.
An ostrich egg was found buried in thirty feet of Peat in
Orange County, United States of America; also the bones
and teeth of the hippopotamus, mastodon, rhinoceros, elephant,
tiger, hyæna, and of other quadrupeds peculiar to the tropics,
have been discovered in various peat bogs, proving that part of
these "older petits" were formed when the temperate zone
possessed a tropical climate. That tropical peats do not
contain the same thermal properties as those of colder climes
may be admitted, but judging from the products of distillation
from peat obtained at Maranu, in Brazil, the components of
peat wherever grown or formed appear to be the same. The
"black swamp mud" of Pertabghur was tested by the
locomotive superintendent of the railway at Cawnpore, who
reported that " it would do very well for locomotives and
could be supplied at six annas the maund." In the extensive
peat bogs of America the sedges, grasses, and mosses are
identical with those found in European peat bogs, viz.,
seventy species of mosses, five or six species of lycopodiaceæ,
and as many ferns, eighteen or twenty species of palm trees,
reeds, and phanerogamous monocotyledonous plants. Only
one species is peculiar to America. The trees, however, differ.
In the "Dismal Swamp" of Virginia, a tract of about fifteen
thousand acres, are found juniper, cyprus, gum, poplar, lofty
white cedars, and other valuable woods. The magnolia grows
with a luxuriance unknown in these climes, some of the
buried trunks measuring more than one hundred feet without
any marked diminution of diameter. A French writer,
quoted by Leavitt in support of the theory that lignite is only
peat in an intermediary stage before becoming coal, instances
the case of a deposit of lignite near Leipzic formed of large
trunks heaped one on the other, about fourteen feet thick.
This matter is entirely soft, and all the trunks are flattened,
measuring in one direction scarcely half the diameter they
have cross-wise. It is also entirely black, and yields an
excellent fuel. It is extracted with shovels like peat, after
its surface has been bared of twenty feet of sand and gravel
overlying it. In Denmark, about twenty miles below
Copenhagen, near the sea-shore, there is an extensive plain
covered with the finest grass, and affording excellent pasture
to large herds of cattle. By digging there they find, under
one foot of humus, a bed of peat entirely composed of the
bark of birch trees. This bark is six feet deep, and closely
packed and flattened. It is cut out and dried in long rolls
entirely devoid of earthy matter. This woody substance,
nearly fluid, transformed into a very soft yellow mass formed
at the bottom of these beds, is taken out of the excavations
with buckets, spread on layers of straw through which the
water percolates, and when drained it is beaten hard, dried,
and burnt like coal.
Peat-moss is formed by a process of comparatively slow
growth, the time occupied in its formation depending greatly
on the climate and humidity. The living moss and plants
dying down on the surface are being constantly renewed
thus forming an ever-increasing bed of decaying and decayed
vegetable matter. Water, as stated above, collects, and
the sub-soil of the depression being retentive it stagnates,
and in colder climes, where there is little surface evaporation,
a lake or tarn is formed. In tropical and sub-tropical
countries, where the sun is more powerful, the aquatic plants
— as seen in the Nile, on the Ganges, on the St. John's in
Florida, and other rivers — being of a stronger, more rank, and
quicker and closer growth — prevent excessive evaporation.
Around the margins of these lakes or jheels various kinds of
sedges and reeds establish themselves; others, true water
plants, spring up in the beds of the stagnant reservoirs.
Soon a heavy growth of these plants is established all over
the surface, and year after year, according to the law of
nature, these plants, dying clown and reproducing themselves,
form a spongy material which, floating at first, by
degrees attains a specific gravity greater than water, sinks to
the bottom, and, as the superincumbent weight increases, is
pressed down and consolidated. The degree of decomposition
which the matter has undergone usually determines the
specific weight of the peat. It always contains some earthy
matter according to the position of the bog relative to the
soil in the surrounding region. As decomposition proceeds
a degree of solidity is acquired by the mass, enabling it to
support a dense growth of shrubs. Generally this formation
is found in moist climates and in low-lying countries where
no natural drainage exists. But, though the most extensive
morasses are found in level countries favourable to the
organic growth, it is by no means confined to such districts.
We find mountain-peat in various localities in Great Britain
and Ireland as well as in Europe. Along the western coasts
of Scotland, Ireland, and Scandinavia, bogs are found at
high elevations upon undulating uplands, and even on the
surface of granite rock, as is the case on Dartmoor
and Rannoch. They exist high up in the Alps, the
Jura, and the Vosges. The constant formation of clouds
upon these elevated regions, together with the imperviousness
of the rock, favours the growth of the mosses.
The process which converts the dead vegetable matter into
peat is a chemical one, and the chemistry of peat is a subject
over which many experts differ. We make no pretence to
chemical science. The best explanation, it appears to us, is
that given many years ago by Dr. W. V. V. Rosa, of Watertown,
New York. In answering the question of "What is
peat?" he says: — "Let us review for a moment all we know
about wood. It will assist in following the changes which
take place in one form of it — the vegetable fibre of mosses
and ferns, for instance — while it is passing into peat; most
peat being the product of partially decomposed and partially
preserved beds of mosses and ferns in swampy places.
Wood, then, is a compound substance, namely, carbon — that
is, coal — united variously with mineral substances, such as
potash, lime, silex, together with gases, oxygen and hydrogen,
and with water, etc., in the form of gums, resins, starch,
sugar, and the like, in great variety. These substances, in
burning, form new compounds, such as carbonic acid,
creosote, naphtha, wood-vinegar, alcohol, and the like, which
pass away in smoke and vapour; and the other parts remain
as ashes.
"If, however, we wish to convert the wood into charcoal
the process is controlled and modified somewhat. The
wood gathered in bulk is covered over thickly with earth
to prevent free access of air: a very little being admitted
below, sufficient and a little more, however, to consume that,
portion near the air holes. A tolerably high heat is thus
diffused through the pit, and the slight access of air thereby
quickened in its action, soon causes new combinations to
take place, and decomposes and carries off the more
destructible parts, and then the draft being closed, the fire
goes out, the pit cools down, and the earth being removed,
the coal is ready for use. By this means, excepting just
about the air holes, only parts, the more volatile and
destructible constituents of the wood, are burned, are
decomposed, or passed away, while the main part — the
carbon and mineral part — is left unconsumed.
"Now, what is understood by burning? When we say a
substance burns, it signifies usually that the substance —
coal or gas wood, weeds, grass, or moss, for instance — unites
very rapidly with oxygen, which is abundant in the air;
the substance burned being thus changed in its form, but
not destroyed nor annihilated, as that, of course, would be
impossible. All that existed in the wood before still
continue to exist, though in other shapes; mainly in gases,
partly in mineral as in ashes. During this process, or rather
by it, peat is created. If the process goes on very fast it is
very hot; or slow less hot; and though so very slow that no
heat can be perceived, the burning is in reality still going
on, though to a degree too slight to cause sensation of the
slightest warmth.
"Metals — iron, for instance — may burn, that is, unite the
same as wood or coal with oxygen. In this case but little
gas is formed; nearly the whole remaining as oxide of iron.
If the oxidation is rapid, as when it is burned, that is as
rust. Rust is ashes of iron. If the oxidation is rapid as
when it is burned in a jar of pure oxygen, great heat and
light are caused: if slow, as when iron rusts in damp air, or
under water, none is observed; but yet the rusting of iron
under water is as really a burning of the iron as when the
same occurs in oxygen or at the forge with intensest heat
and light.
"Water, indeed, being composed in part of oxygen, and
holding a little extra in solution, is a good substance
(strange as it may sound) to burn things with; in some
instances, better by far than air. And this is an essential
part to observe in studying the formation of peat, that
water is a good substance to burn things with; that is, if
you are in no hurry, if you have years to spend in burning
a very little — so very slowly that an insurance policy might
run out and be renewed, and out again a score of times
before the job is finished.
"Although water, by preventing the free contact between
actively burning bodies and the air, will 'put out' fire, that
is, will stop the rapid combustion which air favours and
supports, still the water does not put out that fire absolutely
as chemists would define the term, but rather, in many cases,
makes its continuance certain, though centuries might be
the measure of the slowness of the work. Though water
will burn many things better than air (even iron, for instance,
which, unless very highly heated from without, will not rust
at all, that is, not burn, in dry air) still it is slower, or will
not burn other substances which are easily consumed in air.
And coal is just one of these. Coal will not oxidise, that is,
not burn or rust or decay in even hot water. It will keep
there for ever.
"And now it being clear that water prevents rapid oxidation
by excluding free access of air, and yet ensures its slow
continuance to a certain stage by furnishing a little, and
that it burns and converts most substances easily or surely,
and stops at others, among which is coal, it may be understood
but with little further thought how peat is formed
and where it is most likely to be found.
"We can see that where large quantities of woody substances,
such as mosses, ferns, etc., are for a long time
accumulated, and remain always thoroughly soaked with
water, as in many swampy localities, such places may be
considered much like very slow-burning coal-pits; that
they are places where mainly, by exceedingly lingering
oxidation, new compounds and recompositions take place,
and the more easily consumable portion of the vegetable
matters there gathered, being volatilised or burned, pass off
and leave the coaly portion especially unconsumed much in
the same way, in principle, that it is made and left in
ordinary pits, the water acting here in part as the earth
covering does there, to govern and moderate the change and
oxidation by preventing free access of air, yet allowing or
furnishing a little; and finally, when the coal stage is
reached, the bed being already coal, the oxidation, absorption,
and recompositions cease, and the carbon, ready for
use, is preserved for centuries.
"When wood or vegetable fibre dies, and remains in
places freely exposed to air and sun, it is soon almost
wholly decomposed, passing away in gases mainly, as has
been mentioned, and but very little of it remains. If, however,
in a cold climate, and other circumstances being
favourable, it falls in large amount into places always
thoroughly wet, then the decomposition is only partial, and
the most of the carbon remains."
Outside the United Kingdom in Greater Britain vast and
valuable deposits of peat are found. In Canada large areas,
often resting on shell-marl, nearly pure carbonate of lime,
present themselves in various districts. At forty feet, in
one instance, bottom has not been found. In the Island of
Anticosti there is one bed covering a surface of over one
hundred and sixty square miles. The supply of material
capable of being converted into a superior fuel is nowhere
more abundant than in the Dominion. "There is no social
question," says the Montreal News,"that causes more anxiety
to these friends of Canada who peer into the future than the
difficulties of securing a cheap fuel supply. Great suffering
and privations are now endured in old settlements in consequence
of the destruction of the forests. In the houses of
many a habitant who owns a good farm, roots are dug up,
and branches gathered for fuel, which in bygone years have
been rejected. Yet year by year the forest is falling back,
and the price of an indispensable article of consumption
rising in price." Experiments made on the Grand Trunk
Railway demonstrated the fact that in heating power a ton
of air-dried peat equalled five-sevenths of a ton of coal, or a
cord and a quarter of wood. In addition to the tests as to
its qualifications for steam-raising, it was applied to smelting
purposes, and the castings were reported to excel in toughness
and quality of chill any specimens previously produced.
In Canada, where winter reigns for six months in the year,
a cheap method of generating warmth is absolutely necessary
to existence. Peat graved from a bog drained by the Lacolle
River, south of the St. Lawrence, dark coloured, fine grained
and compact, with a specific gravity considerably over that
of water, yields only 3·53 per cent. of ash from the bottom
of the bog, and 4·6 per cent. from that on the surface.
It is remarkable for its freedom from earthly matter. In
Newfoundland and Nova Scotia it abounds. The fogs of the
banks of Newfoundland encourage the growth of the mosses.
At the bottom of these bogs the substance closely resembles
ordinary bituminous coal. On the North-West arm of the
River of Inhabitants (Nova Scotia) appears, under twenty
feet of boulder clay, a hard bed of peat resting on a bed of
grey clay. Pressure has rendered this peat nearly as hard
as coal, though it is somewhat tougher and more earthy
than good coal. It has a glossy appearance when rubbed
or scratched with a knife, burns with a considerable flame,
and approaches in its characteristics to the brown coal or
more imperfect varieties of bituminous coal. It contains
many small roots and branches, apparently of coniferous
trees allied to the spruce. The Falkland Isles, destitute of
wood and coal, abound in peat. We are strongly impressed
with the conviction that the important question of the
Egyptian fuel supply will be solved by the conversion of
the millions of acres of "sudd" into coal. Lord Cromer,
that able and impressive British Pro-Consul, may yet find a
friend in that obdurate obstruction of which he writes: —
"As to the 'sudd,' I am dying to grapple with it. I wish to
have it in pieces and draw it out in bits from its mosquito-ridden,
pestilential lair. I also want dredgers to dredge
away the mud which I believe underlies the sudd.'" How
can rapid progress be made when coal is at.£4 a ton, and at
Khartoum "black diamonds" fetch £6 a ton? The Suakim
Berber Railway lately sanctioned, the projected lines to
Kassala and along the Abyssinian frontier, that to Obied,
the Great Cairo and Cape Town Line, and others still in the
womb of time, may yet burn "sudd" coal. With it the
Soudan would immediately become self-supporting. Such a
discovery — and it is within the pale of possibility — would
be of far greater value than finding gold. We commend
this to the serious attention of Sir Reginald Wingate, whose
efforts are beyond all praise. Wherever the main source of
artificial motion may be hidden away, awaiting the ultimate
development, whether in the air or in the water, or in the
heat of the earth itself, matters less to the practical man
than to the philosopher. The main sources from which the
present generation may expect to derive practical benefit,
and to which we look forward in the economising of our fast
diminishing coal measures, are gas and electricity produced
from peat and petroleum. It cannot be supposed that
nature has created and is creating these enormous masses of
vegetable matter for no purpose. It becomes us to consider
how to produce a fuel which shall satisfactorily occupy the
position of coal in manufactures, steam-raising generally, in
the generation of electricity, as a producer-gas, and in the
household. The comparative absence of smoke in peat
and the total absence in certain varieties of all sulphurous
vapours ought to be a sufficient inducement, independently
of the economy effected.
"The Statesman who shall effect this work of utility (the
development of the peat industries of Ireland) will live with
honour in her social history when names and dates of many
monuments will be forgotten." — J. M'Carthy Meadows,
author of The Turf Industries of Ireland.
EXCEPT in the form of air-dried turves, peat as an article
of fuel is comparatively little known in the United
Kingdom. Though many bodies not contained in coal are
found in peat the elements of the two are the same. In
physical appearance coal, wood, and peat are closely allied,
all three being mainly composed of ligneous fibre, a compound
of the four elements — carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and
nitrogen. Coal and peat, though differing in some particulars,
are both produced by the decomposition of species of
organic growth. Professor Emmons, writing on the important
subject, remarks — "There is one consideration which
commends itself to the philanthropic of all our large cities,
viz., the introduction of peat as a fuel to supply the necessities
of the poor. It is believed that much suffering may
be prevented and much comfort promoted by the use of
peat in all places where fuel is expensive. We have in
this homely substance of peat an invaluable article of
which prejudice alone can prevent a general use."
We have not experienced the bitterness of a coal famine
such as lately existed in the Eastern and middle States of
America, when numbers died from lack of fuel, works were
closed, coal trains held up and looted, and every substitute
for coal improvised, leaves and stalks of plants, saw-dust,
wool, oil, and even corn being requisitioned. So desperate
was the situation, and so sore the famine, that at one time it
was seriously suggested that the residual products of the
entire grain crop, including corn, wheat, oats, barley, and
rye, should be chemically treated and compressed, by which
means it was calculated that about 200,000,000 tons of artificial
fuel could be yearly grown and manufactured. When
properly treated, scientists asserted that the calorific proportion
would be 20 tons of the artificial fuel to 14 tons of
bituminous coal. With us the price of coal at the pit
mouth doubled between the years 1888 and 1900. Between
the time the coal leaves the pit and it reaches the consumer
the cost increases by leaps and bounds. Taking the
best Wallsend as an example. This household fuel at the
pit mouth was lately 13s. 6d. a ton, on the Tyne (shipper's
price) it sold at 15s. 6d., rising to 19s 6d (factor's price in
the Thames), finally being sold to the consumer at 30s.
The freight by sea from the Tyne to London is 3s. 3d. a
ton, to which must be added local railway haulage, 2s.,
making 5s. 3d. in all.
Experts differ as to the date when the coal measures of
these islands must be exhausted. In 1900 we produced
225,181,000 tons, valued at £121,653,000. At this rate
of working the evil day cannot be far off. The days of
cheap coal have gone till some potent substitute forces the
middleman, the Miners' Federation of Great Britain, and
kindred labour combinations, to their knees. An ex-President
of the Society of Engineers has given as his
opinion that there are no fewer than 6,000,000 acres of peat
in the country having an average of 12 feet, and capable of
yielding 3500 tons per acre of dried peat, or 21 billions in
all. Though this estimate may be correct as to area, it
certainly very much under-estimates as to depths and
contents. The average depth of the bog of Allen in Ireland
is 25 feet, and in America peat has been found at a depth of
80 feet. As the density, and consequently the weight, of
peat varies with the positions in which it is found, the
organic substances from which in different localities it had
its origin, the character in different localities of the atmosphere
and climate, the proportions of earthy and mineral
matters which it contains, and the degree of decomposition
to which it has been subjected, all exercising an influence
on the specific gravity, this estimate of the tonnage per
acre is mere guess work. One deposit differs from another
in appearance, in quality, and in the uses to which it may
be best economically applied. This difference may be
detected by the naked eye, whether in the moss or in the
morass or on the mountain, in the form of wet or air-dried
turf, or when reduced to ashes. "Some," remarks Dr.
Rennie, "are of a bright yellow colour, others brown or jet
black; some are composed of congeries of vegetable in an
organized state, in others few or no traces of organization
can be seen. Clay, sand, and shells may be detected in
some, in others no mixture can be discovered. Some are
soft and greasy like butter, and form a hard, brittle,
tenaceous peat almost like coal; others are loose and friable
like mould. The water squeezed out of one moss is of the
colour amber, of another of claret or port wine, and of a
third as black as ink. In some cases the water effervesces
with chalk, in others not. Sometimes it leaves a copious
sediment by evaporation, which is highly inflammable;
in other cases the sediment is small and scarcely inflammable.
Some are covered with a rich luxuriance of aquatic
plants, others are utterly barren and destitute of vegetables
on their surface." As peats vary so much in their thermal
value it is of importance that, before any attempt be made
to convert a bog into fuel, several samples, taken from
varying depths and wide apart, should be carefully analyzed
by a competent chemist. Pure moss (Sphagnum) peats are
invariably good, those strongly impregnated with bituminous
matter being especially valuable for generating
steam, for the reproduction of gas, and for low destructive
distillation. The dense compact peat represents the first
step in the progressive stages from vegetable substance to
mineral coal1 "Peat is sometimes entirely converted into
coal" (Dama). "I have always looked upon the peat of
the old world as one of the principal sources of our coal"
(Sir James Hall). The colour varies with the age and the
1 This is known as Surturbrandt.
progress of decomposition. In the older thoroughly decayed
strata no living organism exists. This "older peat"
shows few traces of fibrous matters, such as roots, stems, or
leaves, but it presents, when cut, a pitchy shining hue, is
dense and firm in the grain, and will not float on water
Some of these "Stone Peats" are improved as fuel, where
there is little draught, by an admixture of the light golden-tan
fibrous surface, which serves to bind it firmly together,
at the same time producing a more cheery fire. So highly
inflammable are some of the denser kinds of bottom peat,
due no doubt to the large percentage of naphtha, paraffin,
and wood tar, that the term "tallow peat" is applied to
them. Such deposits have been found on the shores of
Lough Neagh, Antrim; near Ince, in Lancashire; on the
western isles of Scotland; and in other localities. This fat
peat is thought by some, with whom the wish is father to
the thought, to be saturated with petroleum from bituminous
springs. These too sanguine and somewhat too
previous elucidators argue that these surface indications
point to the presence of oil fields, and claim that at last the
Emerald Isle has "struck ile." This is a consummation
devoutly to be desired, and would have a marked effect on
the important fuel supply for the navy, the merchant
marine, and manufactures generally; but Dr. P. Dvorkovitz,
Principal of the Petroleum Institute, ascribes the presence
of petroleum in peat bogs to a chemical action which is
going on in the bogs themselves, and is not by any means
hopeful of finding oil in Ireland.
Of peat as an article of fuel comparatively little is understood
in England. In Ireland and Scotland, where, as turf,
it has been burnt for centuries in a crude unprepared state,
it, by the cottars and others, is highly esteemed for domestic
uses; but for manufacturing purposes, in the form of compressed
briquettes or in that of coke, charcoal, or gas, it is
practically unknown. Its value also may be said to be
unknown, and even those who have used it in its crude
state, simply cut and air-dried, do not realize the increased
value it possesses when properly prepared, condensed, and
solidified so as to bear carriage. Some of the turves, as
graven from the bogs, have been sold in the Metropolis, and
have been much appreciated by the Upper Ten Thousand,
but no serious or successful attempt has been made to place
this prepared fuel before the masses or the large employers
of power. The community stands in need of information as
to the value and economy of this compact, cleanly, smokeless,
and healthy heat giver.1
Peat can be advantageously employed in the manufacture
of various grades of fuel, viz.:—
(a) In its natural form, dried and pressed into briquettes,
and improved by the removal of elements of low
calorific value.
(b) Semi-carbonized peat, i.e. peat that has been subjected
to a higher temperature than that required for drying,
but which is briquetted while still retaining the tar
and combustible elements.
(c) Fully coked or carbonized peat known as charcoal, coal,
or coke.
(d) As "mull" or powder, in a fine state of division, mixed
with air injected into the combustion chamber by
natural or forced draught.
(e) In the form of gas for power, heat, or as an illuminant.
By regulating the degree of carbonization the fuel for
domestic purposes can be made to contain more or less
combustible elements giving more or less flame and heat.
Owing to its antiseptic properties it is specially suited for
hospitals and kindred establishments. Let us quote from
an important paper read by Dr. Dvorkovitz before the
Society of Chemical Industry. "The question," he said,
"presents itself, is peat advantageously convertible for
industrial purposes? If we turn our attention to the
development and use of peat in Europe we discover that it
is used in very great quantities in different industries.
Already in 1856, in Germany, the Aldenburg Iron Company
1 At the Falcon Inn, a few miles from Scarborough, Yorkshire, there is a
peat tire which has never been "out" in the memory of man.
was established, and has consumed no less than 20,000 tons
of peat per year, and notwithstanding coal existed in the
immediate neighbourhood, and very profitable results followed.
Not far from the works of the company, in 1873,
another company was established for steel manufacture by
means of charcoal. Further, we find that, in 1890, 27 glass
works in Germany used peat fuel, one ton of glass consuming
eight tons of peat. A Mr. Peach, at Berlin, said
that one ton of ready-made bottles (1600 ordinary wine
bottles) required only 2 tons of peat dried in the air; or if
we take 1000 sods of peat as equal to 3½ tons, we find that
one ton of bottles required 700 sods. A glass melting stove,
with eight pots having a charge of 400 kilos each, consumed
4½ tons of peat a day. In Bavaria about 60,000 tons of
peat are used annually as fuel for railway locomotives.
"In the report prepared by the Russian Government for
the Exhibition of 1893 at Chicago certain figures are given
about the utilization of peat for different manufacturing
purposes; and we found from it that in 1890 the following
industries have used peat as fuel, viz.:—The cotton manufacturers
have consumed 537,000 tons; sugar manufacturers,
alcohol manufacturers, confectioners, flour mills, and
macaroni manufacturers, 70,000 tons; chemical manufacturers,
5000 tons; candle, tallow, and leather manufacturers,
4000 tons; wood workers, 1000 tons; metal manufacturers,
60,000 tons; glass manufacturers, 80,000 tons; paper
manufacturers, 12,000 tons; miscellaneous manufacturers,
2000 tons—aggregating approximately 772,000 tons. In
addition the Oural Mines used 60,000 tons, and the
railway companies 15,000 tons, with prospectively an
increased demand, proving conclusively the value of peat
as fuel."
From another paper entitled Peat as an Article of Fuel,
published in Boston, U.S.A., we are furnished with particulars
"regarding six thousand million tons of peat purified
and dried in the crude state, or being reduced to charcoal
to two thousand six hundred and ten millions of tons, the
heating power of which equals that of wood charcoal."
"From the figures of the most skilful mining engineers in
the French Empire we find that:-
Degrees of Heat.
1 Kilogram of wood charcoal yields - 7·000
1 " purified peat charcoal yields 7·000
1 " coal coke yields - - 7·000
1 " raw coal yields - - 5·000
1 " raw wood yields - - 2·600
1 " raw purified peat yields - 4·300
while condensed peat (charcoal?) deprived of the excess of
oxygen possesses nearly double the heating power of coal.
"Again, it is proved that the general annual consumption
in France of all kinds of mineral and vegetable fuels was as
follows: —

If peat had been used in place of these different kinds of
fuel it would have required 15,656,687 tons, raw and
purified, to produce the same effect, and at that rate the
supply of peat in France would have sufficed the Empire
for nine hundred years without importing a pound of coal,
and leaving her free to export annually the seven million
five hundred thousand tons of coal she raised in 1863, and
free likewise from the necessity of importing eight million
tons of coal as she did from England and Belgium in the
same year.
"But can peat be used at less or even at the same
expense as other kinds of fuel for manufacturing purposes?
Take the article of pig-iron. By the French engineers it is
found that in the process of working pig-iron the cost was
as follows: —
1 ton of wood charcoal was £4 11 0
1 " raw coke was - - 2 16 0
1 " " coal was - - - 2 15 4
1 " purified charcoal was - - 2 4 11
1 " crude peat (condensed) was - 1 10 0
This is enough to prove the economy of peat for all
purposes. The general results if thus stated: 'For domestic
consumption the economy — all conditions of heat being
equal — would not be less than thirty per cent. of the cost of
fires with wood charcoal or wood, coke, and raw coal; and
for large manufactories, which on account of the quantity
they will consume annually, that calculation of economy
would in certain cases be raised to sixty per cent.'
"It has been proved and acknowledged that for equal
bulk raw purified peat contains more heat than coke and
less by one-fifth only for an equal bulk of coal of good
quality." Mr M. Bute, Superintendent of the Railway
Engineers for the Kingdom of Hanover, reported: — "We
can, by the help of a hopper placed on a tender, carry the
quantity of peat which would be necessary for a trip of one
hundred and twelve English miles. No difficulty will be
presented to the employment of compressed peat for ordinary
fixed engines and eventually for steamboats." When
this testimony was given the manufacture of peat briquettes
was in its infancy, but even at that remote date a process
employed by the General Association for Working the Peat
and Metalliferous Deposits of France produced from six
to fifteen hundredweight of condensed fuel to the cubic
Amongst the various branches of German industry which,
by reason of their economy and utilization of a raw
material this nation fosters and we neglect, may be
mentioned the manufacture of fuel briquettes composed of
brown coal, brown coal in combination with peat, peat
per se with or without a matrix or bind, and the dust or
waste of coal mines known as "slack." Briquettes are
employed principally as the domestic fuel of Berlin and
other cities and districts throughout Germany; they are
used also for locomotive and steam firing generally, and in
various other processes of manufacture. A writer in
Cassiers Magazine, evidently well informed on the subject,
says: — "For all these uses they have three tangible advantages
— they are clean and convenient to handle; they light
easily and quickly, and burn with a clear intense flame;
when made of lignite or peat they burn practically without
smoke, and are withal the cheapest fuel for most purposes.
It need hardly be said that the general use of briquettes for
domestic fuel in a large densely built city, as well as for
generating steam in a number of electric generating plants
and factories, must have a decided and beneficial influence
in reducing the smoke, which in many places has become
a persistent and oppressive nuisance. Berlin, although a
busy manufacturing city, ranks as one of the cleanest and
best kept in Europe." In 1900 there were eighty-nine
factories of fuel briquettes in Germany, each producing
over 100,000 tons annually. Briquettes of pure condensed
peat are much appreciated on account of their safety,
cleanliness, and easy transport. They, in burning, if
manufactured from selected bogs, give out no phosphorous
or sulphur.
The principal advantages of briquettes may be summed
up as follows: —
Diminished freight rates, especially for water carriage.
Exemption from shifting on a rolling vessel
Exemption from spontaneous combustion.
Exemption from pump-clogging on board ship.
Diminished insurance rates on the fuel.
Diminished insurance rates on vessels carrying the
Less deterioration from age and weather.
Convenience in checking the quantity delivered, by count
or by measurement.
Convenience in firing by varying the amount of each size
Freedom from smoke; of special advantage for the navy in
Ability to "blend" material from different bogs.
Ability to keep a reserve against strikes.
Opportunity for advertising thereon.
Guarantee of quality by trade mark impressed thereon.
Increased regularity of firing.
Ability to regulate the size of the output.
Utilization of waste product, as culm or breeze.
Preservation of size and shape in handling and shipping.
Cleaner decks, etc., on board ship.
Coaling less disagreeable to the crew.
Grade of fuel, especially with anthracite, may be raised
without a mixture of other fuel.
Less ground space for storage; they may be stacked up in
vertical walls.
No bunkers required, thus increasing cargo space.
"While the gases exhaled from burning coal are in a
closed room injurious to health, giving rise to feverishness,
parched throat, headache and lassitude, peat is admittedly
healthy (Diet and Hygiene)." "It is more heat giving than
coal; it reduces the coal bill of the householder 50 per cent."
"A fire well packed before turning in needs no attention
during the night, and one can sleep in peace and safety."
(Professor Huxley). The Lancet affirms it to be a valuable
palliative in cases of consumption, asthma, bronchitis, and
other chest complaints, and adds that its intense red mellow
fire is never the cause of that lassitude and drowsiness
experienced by sitters over a coal fire. To burn in an open
grate in a sitting-room it is both economical and agreeable,
the picture frames and other ornaments are not tarnished,
there being no injurious gas. For an open fire in the
sick chamber (where none but an open fire ought ever
to be allowed) it is invaluable as a purifier of the air,
can be replenished noiselessly, and produces a genial and
pleasant temperature. We are convinced that when the peat
briquette finds its way into the establishments of Mayfair
and Belgravia, "black diamonds" will no longer be admitted
into the households of the West End. Of clinkers there are
none, and the percentage of ash differs widely. All of it,
however, is valuable as manure. The better qualities of
peat yield from 7·8 to 8 per cent., whereas that of the
inferior sods reach as high as 33 per cent. At a depth of
four feet the deposit is generally very free from ash, and
is, therefore, well adapted for gas-making, metallurgical
purposes, etc. "In general," says Sir Humphrey Davy,
"one hundred parts of dry peat contain from eighty to
ninety-nine parts of matter destructible by fire, and the
residuum consists of earth together with oxides of iron."
The following analyses of twenty-four peats from various
parts of Ireland, France, Germany, and Holland indicate
the percentage of ash remaining after peat has been
From the above it will be seen that in several of the
German varieties no less than one-third of the entire
weight consists of incombustible matter. Such varieties
are, however, valuable as manure, as they contain a large
quantity of phosphates and other salts which serve to
enrich the soil.
Professors Sir Robert Kane and Sullivan have made
a careful analysis of several of the Irish peats, and have
furnished the following table illustrating the variety of
their composition. As a knowledge of the composition of
these ashes is of importance in determining their value
for agricultural purposes, this table is especially valuable
and interesting: —
The Dublin Journal of Industrial Progress also publishes
the results of analysis conducted by those well-known
experts, giving the contents of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen,
and nitrogen in seven varieties of Irish peat: —
Professor Muspratt also furnishes the following: —
Peat always contains some earthy matter, though, in
some localities, in such quantities that its presence can
only be accounted for as being brought in the form of
dust by the moving air. The quality depends on the
locality. On this account bogs in the vicinity of sand
hills contain large quantities of undecomposed sand and
silicates. The ash differs in colour from white to grey and
ochre red.
The economy of peat in the matter of burning out furnaces
and grates is well worth the attention of all producers
of power. Peat will destroy no more furnaces than wood;
the fuel having little or no smoke and much gas keeps
up a constant flame. Herr F. Schükle, of Hamburg, converts
peat into artificial coal, having a thermal value of
6250 calories, at a cost of 10s. a ton. The salient feature
of his process is, having cleaned the turf of roots and
stones, to liquefy it with water and pump it through a
pipe-line several miles to the works, where it is leached
and converted by heat into briquettes. This appears to be
a needlessly expensive operation.
For some time peat-fuel, for domestic purposes, mainly in
the form of air-dried turves, has been meeting with a ready
and appreciative sale in the Metropolis. One thousand of
these blocks, weighing about 2 lbs. each, are delivered at
38s., leaving at this price a very handsome profit to the
retailer. In this form the fuel is too open in texture to
burn economically, or to give its full thermal value, it carries
badly being too "crumbly," and as the weight is disproportionate
to the bulk, is costly to carry and transport. Much
better results are obtained from the compressed briquettes,
which burn more slowly, give forth a more intense heat, are
free from all dust or mull, and occupy less storage space.
But even at the price mentioned, air-dried turves have been
found very inexpensive, as one block, costing no more than
a halfpenny, keeps a fire going with a comforting, mellow,
heat for three or four hours without any risk of the crackling
and shooting of red embers. Nurses, now so much in
evidence, as might be expected, favour the peat fire, not only
on account of its pleasant fragrance and antiseptic qualities
("valuable palliatives in cases of consumption, asthma, bronchitis,
and other chest complaints" — (Lancet), but because it
saves trouble. Its value in the sick room is unquestionable.
Once ignited it burns steadily without any resort to the
poker until the whole be consumed. It is absolutely noiseless,
a matter of no small importance to the patient, where
the frequent replenishing of coals, and the still more frequent
dropping of cinders or fragments of unconsumed coal, constitute
a grievous disturbing nuisance. We know that peat
being free from noxious gases leaves a pure atmosphere, and
that by using it a room can be kept comfortably warm without
poisoning the air and producing that lassitude and drowsiness
experienced by sitters over a coal fire; we know also
that it does not injuriously affect picture frames or the most
delicate draperies; but, till our attention was directed to
"Beauty's Queens," we had not observed its superiority over
coal, as regards the complexion, the complexions of the
women of Ireland, where it may be said to be the national
coal, being of proverbial cleanness and delicacy. "One of the
great causes," says the writer, "of the ugly skins we see in
London is the all-pervading presence of smoke, and until
something can be done to remove this disagreeable factor
from our midst, we must continue to have very inferior complexions.
Having said so much, we feel that the occupation
of the numerous brood of Madame Rachel is gone, that the
days of emotional creams for the skin, lotions, and the
hundred and one complexion nostrums — mostly injurious —
are over, and that in the boudoir and throughout the mansions
of the 'Upper Ten' democratic peat will reign
In France, Germany, and Austria, as has already been
stated, a vast amount of briquette fuel, compounded of peat
with "breeze," either from soft or brown coal, is manufactured.
The coal dust is mixed and manufactured with peat
in such proportions and in such a manner that these briquettes,
though possessing strength and solidity, burn more
freely than coal, yield intense heat, and coke perfectly.
This fuel is particularly well adapted for steam service,
where great pressure is aimed at, for the smelting of ores,
and the manufacture of gas both for power and lighting.
In this direction we shall find a use for the vast heaps of
coal dust lying on the banks of our colleries. By this means
also will be found a market for the accumulations of anthracite
dust. It is estimated that there are 182,000,000
tons of anthracite waiting to be worked in Ireland, but
which, owing mainly to the lack of means of communication
and the greed of railway companies, are now lying idle.
Perhaps, as advocated by Sir Richard Sankey, this mixture
of mineral coal and vegetable peat may be advantageously
used by the process of the Central Cyclone Company's stoker,
the fuel being previously partially carbonised and made to
yield its valuable bye-products. This "slack" accumulates
in vast quantities at all our pit-mouths, and in no inconsiderable
quantities on the wharves and in coal yards of
dealers and large consumers. The amount on the banks of
the pits, varying of course with the nature of the seam, is
said to average full thirty per cent. of the marketable
mineral. The only objection to this "slack," from a thermal
point of view, is that it is difficult to handle, and costly and
wasteful to transport, that the "dumping" ground occupies
a large space, and that removal of the encumbrance entails
expense. All these drawbacks can be overcome.
So far back as 1866 this compound fuel, in briquette form,
was tested on the Western Railway, at Chester, Massachusetts,
U.S.A., and as the subject is of great importance we
reproduce the engineer's report in extenso:
"The fuel arrived in good order, and, by consent of
the managers of the road, we were allowed to use the
freight locomotive "Rhoda Island," built at Lowell in 1838,
twenty-eight years ago — weight, twenty-six tons; four feet
six inch driving-wheel, sixteen inch cylinder, twenty inch
stroke, two inch exhaust pipes; a wood burner, one of the
poorest on the road, and by no means adapted for burning
our fuel to advantage. The first trial was made in July last,
on a regular trip from Chester to Washington — the latter
point being the "summit" of the road; and the section
between here and there is well known to be the most
difficult portion of the whole line to traverse, having several
short and some double curves, with a grade of eighty-three
feet to the mile for a part of the distance, and requiring the
most severe steam service for locomotives. The distance is
twelve miles, and the total rise or elevation between the two
stations is 950 feet.
"We weighed and took on a thousand pounds of fuel, and
started from the station at 3.15 P.M. with sixty pounds steam;
engineer, Theo. Dandarend, who has been on the road for
ten years. Our train consisted of eleven freight cars, three
of them loaded, which is equal to fourteen empty cars, a
heavy train for this grade. Rail bad; the grade on leaving
the station rises for half a mile, and then descends for
perhaps the same distance; and then commences the heavy
"Nine minutes after starting the steam had risen up to
140, and we had to open the furnace door. Twice we pumped
cold water into the boiler — once with both pumps — when the
steam fell ten degrees, from 130 to 120, but in five minutes
was up again to 130. Had we been burning wood and used
both pumps in the same manner as in this case, the steam
would have run down sixty degrees to 70 — so said the
engineer (driver). The furnace door was open nearly four-fifths
of the time. We made seven miles in thirty minutes,
have passed the worst curves and the heaviest grade. Here
our fuel gave out — steam standing at 130 — and we were
obliged to commence using wood for the remaining five miles
of the trip. Steam soon fell to 120, and we were unable to
raise it above that point. We ran the first seven miles, by
far the hardest portion of the route, in thirty minutes with
our fuel; while the remaining five miles took forty-five
"The facts brought out are these. It will burn in any
wood burning engine, though if it is to come into common
use we shall doubtless have fire-boxes especially adapted for
it, which can easily be done, and a little experience will
teach economy in its use. The exhaust pipes should be
larger than for hard wood, perhaps three to three and a half
inches. Combustion appears to be almost perfect; there was
no caking of the fuel in the fire-box, and it made but very
little smoke. The heat is clear, steady, and extremely
"The engineer was astonished and delighted; said it was
the greatest fuel for making steam he had ever used. He
thinks the half-ton, if burned in one of the large locomotives,
with six-foot driving wheel, would have carried a passenger
train from Chester to Pittsfield, twenty-four miles. He
thinks a ton of the fuel would take a passenger train over a
common grade road one hundred miles, and says a tender will
carry four tons of it. If his estimates and opinions are correct
you will see at once that, at a cost of even ten dollars
per ton for the fuel, it would cost but ten cents per mile to
draw a passenger; but if the railroad people were to make
it themselves, at your figures of first cost to produce (the
cost of manufacturing the fuel, after the materials are
at the mill, was less than one dollar per ton), the expense
would be but little over three cents per mile to run a
"In order to a better understanding of the relative amount
and cost of this fuel as compared with wood, I should state
that I went over the same route with the same engine burning
wood. We took on 2½ cords by measurement; were
sixty-nine minutes running time between the stations; stood
at Becket fifty minutes waiting for trains to pass; and on
arriving at Washington found, by measurement, that we had
consumed two cords lacking ten feet. Cost of wood for the
trip, at 7·00 dol. per cord, was 13·27·dol."
The machinery by which this compound fuel was produced
was of a crude type, but nevertheless it turned out fifty tons
a day at a cost for labour of less than one dollar per ton.
Though these tests were applied on an old-time worn-out
locomotive, they must be accepted as eminently satisfactory.
As we have shown elsewhere, the French and German modern
briquette plants work on a most extensive and economical
scale, many of the systems being well adapted to this peculiar
class of fuel. No matrix or binding material is necessary.
By the application of heat the materials give forth their own
bind, and improved machinery does the rest. The ordinary
coal briquette is open to the objection that it is an exceedingly
sticky mass, disagreeable to handle, and liable to leave
dirty black marks not easily removed; moreover, it bubbles
up in burning, resolving itself into a sluggish, pasty compound.
The combustible character of the materials used is
dissimilar, causing unequal burning. The more inflammable
and costly ingredients — pitch, tar, rosin, etc. — are the first to
ignite and burn themselves out before the coal-dust is half
consumed, the consequence being that a mass of this fine
coal gradually falls through the grate bars, and becoming
embedded in the bottom of the fire-box, shuts off the draft
necessary to sustain combustion. Many of our mineral lines
pass through extensive deposits of peat, so that the cost of
freight on the raw material, always the heaviest item in manufacture,
can be reduced to a minimum. The peat mull can go to
the "breeze" dumping ground, or the "slack" can be carried
to the peat bog. Gas companies and users of gas engines
will do well to give the artificial fuel a trial. In gasworks
two or more qualities are generally in use — the poorer
for volume, the richer for body and strength. "Numerous
experiments," says Mr. Leavitt, "some on a large scale, have
clearly developed the fact that peat has a very considerable
value for the same purpose (the development of gas), the
volume being greater, while the strength or illuminating
power is believed to be above the average of coal." The
quick intense heat generated by this fuel gives it a decided
advantage over coal in the treatment of ores. It has been
suggested that the ores and flux being crushed, should be
mixed with ascertained proportions of coal and peat, and the
whole manufactured together in the form of fuel wherewith
to charge the furnace for smelting and desulphurising.
We here give some particulars of the manufacture of
peat-fuel in Schleswig-Holstein, for which we are indebted
to the Journal of the Department of Agriculture, Dublin.
As the bogs of this damp bleak portion of North Germany
bear a striking resemblance to those of Ireland, the description
of the methods employed, though somewhat crude, are
of interest. It appears that one thousand briquettes of peat
can be bought in the town of Schleswig for 3s. 2d., and that
peat is underselling coal in many towns of the province.
Much depends upon the cost of transit. When coal is dear,
Hamburg imports peat largely from Schleswig. Labour
is scarce, the working months few, and the climate damp.
"The manner of producing peat for use as an article of
commerce in Schleswig-Holstein includes two methods-1st,
the Back Torf; and 2nd, the Press Torf.
The first mode is chiefly adopted by the peasants for the
manufacture of peat for their own use, and may be described
as the hand-made system. It was introduced from Holland
some time prior to the year 1803 by Herr Goopmans, a
gentleman sent for the purpose. The peat is ploughed up
or dug with a species of harrow. It is then, with the mud,
dust, etc. — not a scrap being allowed to go to waste — thrown
into a large shallow wooden trough called a pritsche.
This pritsche is usually a little over one foot in depth, and
must be of sufficient size to allow a man with one or two
horses to run round in it. Water is thrown over the stuff
in the pritsche. A man then, standing in the centre, drives
the horse or horses round and round in a circle in the
pritsche. By means of this the peat is gradually kneaded
into a kind of paste or dough. The action of the atmosphere,
of course, assists. When the kneading has produced
a sufficiently stiff dough, which is filled into a wooden case,
divided into narrow compartments, worked up with the
hands, and smoothed off with a large knife, the peats are
left to dry in the open air, generally from ten to fourteen
days, according to the state of the weather. During the
drying stage they are turned over once or twice, and in the
last stage are put into little stacks. When finished they
are removed to the storehouses on the bogs. The briquettes
are about half the size of those made in Ireland. It is
surprising how many briquettes two men can turn out in
a short time.
In the case of the high dry banks of peat, the peasants
in some parts of the country, before resorting to the Back-Torf
system, cut sods of turf out of the upper parts of the
banks by means of spades and cutters, two men generally
working together. The spade, or stecher as it is called,
which is about a foot long, has a sharp edge, and is raised
or flanged on both sides. One man uses the steelier, with
which he shapes the sod, and the second man detaches the
sod from the bank with the cutter. These sods are identical
in size and appearance with those made in Ireland. They
are stacked in little groups of three each on the banks, and
when sufficiently dried are stored. This is not considered
an economical mode of making turf.
The second method may be divided as follows: — Process
A, manufacture of Peat for Fuel; Process B, manufacture of
Torf-streu, or Peat-moss litter for use in stables, and Torf
mull, or fine turf dust, made up in large packets for disinfecting
purposes, for the preserving of meat, fish, and fruit,
and for the filling up of walls and ceilings, stalls, and ice-houses;
also packing material.
The establishment from which the following description
is taken is that at Westermoor, near Owschlag, some distance
south of the town of Schleswig. It is the property of Herr
C. E. Maurice, from whom the writer received every courtesy
and attention. Westermoor factory, which is one of the
finest of its kind in the province, is a model manufactory,
and fully equipped with the most modern machinery. In
addition to its local and export trade, it supplies the fuel
for a large brick, tile, and drainage pipe factory alongside
the bog, which is also the property of Herr Maurice. The
bog is traversed by the Haupt Bahn, or main railway from
Hamburg into Denmark. It is also intersected by several
light tramways, the property of Herr Maurice. These
tramways can be rapidly taken up and laid down through
any part of the bog as necessity arises. The machinery
for the manufacture of process A (peat for fuel) is moved
about upon the tramway lines. That required for Process
B is immovable, being in the factory. The two processes
are quite distinct and separate, the machinery for each
being driven by separate steam-engines. The peat-fuel
machinery is driven by an ordinary engine, which, when
not at work in the bog, is hired out to drive threshing-machines.
The Process B machinery is worked by a
stationary engine, which also drives a saw-mill.
The machine used stands on a wooden platform, which
runs on wheels. The tramway lines having been laid down
in the direction required, the machine is moved along the
lines until it arrives at a position parallel to the portion
of bog about to be operated upon. The lower end of an
elevator, by means of which the stuff is passed up into the
mouth of the machine, is depressed until it rests upon a
beam of wood placed upon the floor of the bog. The stuff
having been dug down with spades and thrown into heaps
on either side of where the elevator stands, and well mixed,
a number of men with large shovels then throw it in a
damp state into the elevator, which passes it rapidly
up and drops it into the mouth of the machine. The
machine, when working at full speed, requires seven men
to feed the elevator, The stuff passes from the mouth
of the machine into the mincer, which is exactly on the
same principle as a machine used by a cook in the kitchen
for turning out mincemeat. The minced stuff is forced out
of the machine lower down through a rectangular funnel on
to a board, where it is cut off into requisite lengths by a
cutter, which is driven by the engine. If there is no cutter,
a man must be employed for the purpose. The board when
covered with briquettes is rapidly removed, and another
put in its place. The boards are put on a cart standing
alongside, which, when full, is driven off to the drying
ground and unloaded. The cart then comes back with the
empties and awaits its turn; and, of course, to prevent
congestion, there must always be a cart at the machine
to take off the boards. The briquettes are generally turned
over twice upon the drying ground, then put up into little
stacks of about eighteen or twenty each, and finally, when
perfectly dry, are stacked in gigantic ricks. The briquettes
are of the same size as those made by the Back-Torf
The machine described as above is driven by an eight-horse-power
engine, and, with a staff of twenty-four hands
(inclusive of those at the drying ground), is capable of
turning out up to 80,000 briquettes per day of eleven hours.
This amount, however, is not always turned out, and the
average might be taken at 65,000 per day.
Elevator, 33 feet long - - - - - £52 10 0
Torf press machine - - - - - 52 10 0
Briquette cutter, which saves the labour of
one man - - - - - - 12 10 0
Moving apparatus, etc., about - - 40 0 0
Total - - - - - £157 10 0
To this, of course, must be added the cost of the steam
engine and tram lines.
Machines similar in principle to that just described, but
driven by one or two horses, are also in use, and are very
simple in construction. They are manufactured by Messrs.
R. Dolberg, hereafter referred to. One of these machines
driven by one horse can turn out from 8,000 to 14,000
briquettes per day. It is simply a large mincing machine,
and is fed by two men, who throw the peat into the
mouth of the machine. A long pole or shaft is attached
to the machine by means of a pivot. A horse is harnessed
to the pole, and driven round and round the machine. The
pole thus revolving works the machine. The stuff passing
down through the mincer is forced out of the rectangular
funnel on to the boards. One man cuts off the briquettes
as they come out of the funnel. The briquettes are then
brought to the drying ground as already described. The
price of one of these one-horse machines is £18.
This is yet another process; but which has gone out of
vogue in Schleswig-Holstein. The portion of the bog to be
worked is first cleared of heath, etc., and the turf is then
ploughed with a light plough. The turf thus turned up
is further turned over into long ridges by two men, who
follow the plough. It is then brought to the mill, where,
by means of the elevator, it is raised to the upper floor and
drops into the tearing machine, from which it falls on to
the sieve. The fine stuff passes through the sieve and
falls down into a kiln, where it is dried and passed into
a stamping press. The stamper turns it into briquettes,
weighing half-a-pound each, at the rate of sixty or seventy
briquettes per minute. The advantage claimed for this
process is that, owing to the briquettes being artificially
dried, they contain a smaller percentage of water than
those dried in the open air under the Press Torf system,
and that consequently the heating power is much greater.
This manufacture also can be carried on regardless of
American experts have lately been making a series of
comparative "consumption" tests between coal in bulk and
pulverized coal, the results showing that "slack" or
"smudge" fuel, in the matter of economy, has a 20 per
cent. advantage over hand-fed furnaces. As in the case of
oil fuel, the dust has to be blown into the furnace, and,
no doubt, any such automatic method of firing must result
not only in economy of fuel but also in the greater
regularity of steam generation — a matter of greater importance
to the attainment of economy than is generally
recognised. Here again read peat for coal, for an unlimited
supply of "mull" can be obtained at a comparatively
infinitesimal cost. Manufacturers of moss-litter will, in this
process of firing, find another use for their impalpable
powder. There is said to be nothing new under the sun,
and this mode of firing is certainly no novelty. Years ago
Dr. Whelpley, of Boston, U.S.A., by means of a mechanical
pulverizer — not comparable with our modern disintegrators
and grinders, making 5000 revolutions a minute — coupled
with a peculiar mode of combustion, claimed that with
refuse coal ground to dust he made this powder do six times
the duty of the best coal. Probably there was considerable
stretch of imagination in this claim, but, undoubtedly,
a great saving was effected. Our makers of machine-stokers
might advantageously turn their attention to the
production of a suitable process. Powdered peat has been
used with marked success for a number of years at Jonkoping,
in Sweden. At a demonstration of this fuel cold
fire-bars were put down in the heated furnace, and
melted in five minutes. A crucible full of glass material
was liquefied in four hours, twelve being the usual time
with other fuel. While intense heat can be thus produced,
it can be kept absolutely under control, and the temperature
of the furnace regulated as desired. The calorific
value of the flame temperature of peat, when burnt with
air, has been determined by Mr. P. Mahler in his bomb
calorimeter. A comparison of the figures given below
shows that the flame of peat has a higher calorific power
than all the other fuels tested except the smithy coal
from Roche la Molière and the anthracite from Commentry.
The advantages and possibilities of burning coal or other
fuel in a very fine state of division, mixed with the right
proportion of air for complete combustion, have been
known and appreciated for a very long time, and boilers
with this system have been worked in various places
from time to time, invariably with economy and success.
Many have in former years, however, been abandoned in
consequence of the difficulty of obtaining a constant and
uniform admixture of coal and air, regularity of feeding,
and a uniform finely ground coal at a reasonable cost.
These difficulties have now been overcome. By the use
of the Cyclone System and by continual experiments with
different forms of combustion chambers, and methods of
feeding, successful practical results have been obtained,
and the system can be seen at work daily in London,
giving results that no other system can claim, and being
in itself a most simple and practical process.
The system, briefly described, is to reduce any gaseous
coal (those containing about 25 per cent. or more of volatile
matter are most suitable) to a powder of about 100 mesh
(or 10,000 holes in the square inch); to mix this with
air, in the correct theoretical proportion, and pass this
mixture, either by natural, induced, or forced draught,
into the combustion chambers of the boiler or heating
apparatus. All fire boxes, dead plates, etc., are removed
from the boilers, and a combustion chamber of fire bricks
is built to receive the coal and air in a similar manner
to burning gas. The brick work attains white heat and
keeps up combustion. The flame is all that is necessary —
a little oily waste or wood fire and the coal catches
immediately — the charge being gradually increased to the
full or necessary consumption, all being regulated by
dampers in the stokehole.
In Paris one manufactory has employed this system
on five Belville boilers for five years, using cheap small
coals and obtaining full efficiency from them, while one
man looks to the five boilers. A convincing illustration
of the value of the efficiency and economy of this system
of firing is furnished by the Tramway Electric Co. of
Brussels, where at their depot at Ixelles they have three
Babcock & Wilcox's boilers, each of about 400 square
metres heating surface, driving three pairs of horizontal
engines. Each engine works a dynamo of 500 amperes
and 500 volts. One of these boilers has been fitted
with the powdered coal system, and the latest results are
so satisfactory that the company contemplate erecting a
central station on this system. One boiler using 13,860
B.T. units, hand fired, gives 9·22 lbs. water evaporated
per pound coal from and at 212° Fahr. (equal to 64·3
per cent. efficiency), the boiler fitted with the coal of
12,554 B.T. units gave 10·3 lbs. per pound coal from and
at 212° Fahr., or 79·3 per cent. efficiency, and, moreover,
was able to drive two engines against one from the hand-fired
boiler. This, however, was its maximum duty, and
it could hardly maintain this all day. The increased
efficiency was thus 15 per cent., and there is a still further
saving in the price of coal. The saving in coal by weight
alone amounts to 11½ per cent., although the cheaper
quality contained 18 per cent. of ash.
In a 30 feet by 8 feet Lancashire boiler now working
at the Central Cyclone Coy.'s works, 345 Cable Street
London, E., equally satisfactory results have been obtained.
These results are given in the annexed tables. This boiler
works with an economizer and a chimney only 33 feet
high, the draught being obtained by a gas engine and
fan at foot of the chimney in order to obtain full draught
with a cold boiler. The fire bars, etc., are completely
removed, and the flues lined with fire brick for about 10
feet. A bridge and baffle of special form are placed inside
each flue. A feeding or stoking apparatus is fixed in
front of each furnace, and occupies a space of three feet
from the front plate. The mixing and feed of coal powder
is worked entirely by the draught, and the hoppers
containing the coal over each feeder are fed by a worm
conveying the powder from the pulveriser plant. The
steam pressure falls very little during the night when
the works are shut, there often being more pressure in
the morning than when left at night, this being due to
the brickwork giving off its heat. The fire is started in
about three minutes in the morning and steam very quickly
raised, and so long as the coal is delivered regularly there
is little for the stoker to do. Sight holes are provided,
and from the colour of these it is easily seen if the furnace
is working regularly.
The actual saving in the London trial is shown by the
fact that on the old locomotive boiler Welsh coal at 27s.
per ton had to be burnt, whereas on the Lancashire boiler
coal at 12s. 6d. per ton was used. Slightly more of the
latter had to be burned owing to its inferior heating
The cost of grinding varies to the size of the installation
and the quantity dealt with. The larger the installation
the less the cost, but 1s. per ton to include depreciation,
interest, power, wear and tear, labour, etc., may be considered
an outside figure. On the other hand, there is a
considerable saving in labour from fewer stokers being
employed. Taking a battery of say five boilers working
day and night, burning six cwts. of coal per hour each,
or thirty cwt. per hour, the requirements would be two
stokers to clean out flues, start fires and watch boilers; two
men to mind the pulveriser if working day and night, or
one man if sufficient coal be ground and stowed in the
hoppers for night running. The Cyclone Pulveriser Class 1
will give 18 to 20 cwt. per hour of the required powdered
coal, taking 19 horse-power. The class 2 machine will
give 35 to 40 cwt. per hour with 24 horse-power, and the
class 3 over 60 cwt. per hour with 40 horse-power. The
wearing parts of the pulveriser are the steel beater arms,
and these are easily renewable. Practically the raw coal
is shot into the hopper from carts, or ordinary mode of
delivery, and it is never touched by hand or seen again.
Having removed the ordinary furnace and fire-grate, a
special front is fitted to each furnace, and, as already
stated, a fire-brick arched chamber is built in the furnace.
The apparatus for feeding the coal consists of a hopper for
each furnace, fed by an elevator and a worm; the hopper
delivers through a special feeding apparatus to the suction
of a fan, where the powdered coal is well mixed with the
air, and delivered into the furnace, where it burns practically
like gas flame. The coal feed is regulated by a
small worm conveyer driven by a pitch chain off the fan
shaft, and can be very easily regulated. The quantity of
air used is regulated by "hit and miss" slides into the
suction fan.
Messrs. Burstall & Monkhouse, 14 Old Queen Street,
Westminster, made careful tests of this method of firing,
and summarising generally the results of their test,
reported: "We consider that, taking into consideration
the good efficiency, absence of smoke, little attention
required, ease of regulation, and convenience of the
apparatus, the system is one which is most suitable for
use."In this peculiar case coal was used costing only
12s. per ton delivered, the cost of pulverising being 1s.
to 1s. 2d. per ton. The cost of best Welsh coal, which
would have been used in an ordinary boiler, to ensure
smokelessness, would be from 24s. to 25s. per ton. A
perfect combustion of coal was obtained, as was shown
by the large percentage of carbonic acid in the samples
of combustion collected for analyses: —
Carbonic acid, - - - - - 15·1
Carbonic oxide, - - - - - 0·0
Oxygen, - - - - - -3·5
Nitrogen, - - - - - - 81·4
Under more favourable circumstances, there being a
leakage of air in the brickwork of the boiler, a still
better efficiency would have been obtained. Despite this
consequent reduction of the temperature of the furnace
gases, the efficiency of the boiler alone (an ordinary Lancashire
boiler was used) was 65·4, and the boiler and economiser
As all uncarbonised dust fuels carry possibilities of
explosion, it may, in theory, be rightly argued that there
is danger in the coal dust. In practice, however, there
have been no explosions in the grinding, nor has it fired
after being pulverised. By this system the danger is
reduced almost to an impossibility, for the ground material
is deposited in a setting chamber of wood and canvas, and
a lighted candle may be put in this chamber, which is
full of floating powder, without causing any explosion. A
Berlin firm that has been engaged in grinding coal for the
last twenty years have never had any explosions, although
these works are lighted by gas. The risk, therefore, is not
worthy of consideration.
Peat giving out little or no smoke and abundance of gas,
a constant hot flame is kept up, combustion is almost perfeet,
there being no soot and, as has already been said, no
cinders or clinkers (peat mull can be manufactured into
briquettes, with or without an inflammable plastic binder).
Its own acid tar readily and cheaply procured by low distillation,
can, if needful, be so utilised; or by heating it to
180° the material gives out its own tar.
In Germany there is a briquette trust controlling
thirty-one firms or companies, or more than nine-tenths
of all the producers of the Empire, regulating
the output and prices for each year. Of the 1,566,385
tons sold during 1901 by this combine, 749,208 tons
were taken by the German railways, 124,380 tons
were sold to retailers, 497,136 tons were disposed of to
various factories and works, and 149,089 tons, or 9·8, were
used by the German navy and merchant marine, or exported.
The Thuringian Aktiengesellschaft, at Deuben, near Halle,
makes briquettes of brown coal in which no matrix or
binder is used. The manufacture of briquettes from brown
coal (lignite, a vegetable coal of recent formation, and
therefore, a less perfectly carbonised structure, and of lower
caloric value than anthracite or bituminous coal), has long
passed the experimental stage, and become a standard
commercial industry. The utilisation of various coals and
peat dusts in combination is a subject of importance.
Repeated experiments have demonstrated the fact that coal
dust mingled and manufactured with peat, in such proportions
and in such a manner as to produce a compound of
great strength and solidity, burns more freely than coal, and,
converted into briquettes, yields an intense heat. It cokes
perfectly, and is peculiarly well adapted for raising steam;
also is well adapted for the smelting of ores and the
manufacture of gas for power and for illuminating purposes.
In Germany peat mixed with wood or charcoal is very
extensively used in the production of iron, the greater proportion
of peat employed the better being the quality of
the product.
Peat fuel, like wood, is improved by age if properly
housed and sheltered from rain, snow and frost, and sun.
(Hard coal exposed to the weather loses in bulk 8 per cent.
per annum; soft coal fully 12 per cent.) It is in its best
condition for use at the end of six months, when it may
be said to be perfectly cured. The compressed artificial
briquettes may be used immediately after delivery from
the machine, but should not be exposed to the weather.
A good article of fuel deserves being taken care of. Bituminous
peat, air-dried, becomes covered with a skin or
envelope, which to a great extent protects it from the
wet, and this is common to most peats.
A new fuel has been introduced by the Randall Synthetic
Coal Company, of Boston, Mass., U.S.A. It is a mixture of
peat and petroleum. The peat is raised from the bog by a
clam — shell digger or dredger, and conveyed to a disintegrator,
which separates the fine from the coarse material.
It is then treated to expel the water, and again disintegrated.
Lime is then added, and the whole is dried.
Petroleum, with bituminous pitch as a bind, is intermixed
with the peat in a pug-mill, and the mass is then
pressed into briquettes. Following on this, a suggestion
to manufacture peat-petroleum has been brought forward.
Some extensive experiments have already been made with
coal briquettes in the French navy, and with such favourable
results that our neighbours are prepared to place large
orders for this fuel as soon as American petroleum owners
have perfected the manufacture of their briquettes. The
experiments made with oil fuel on H.M.S. "Hannibal" and
"Mars" have, so far, been satisfactory as regards the
generation of steam, but observers of the trials complained
of the latter belching forth a plume of greasy, dark-grey
smoke, which would have given her away to an enemy
ten miles off. The "Hannibal" returned to port with
leaky oil tanks. This betrayal by smoke given off can
surely be obviated. The historic trials with liquid fuel
instituted by Admiral Selwyn years ago have proved that
the smoke difficulty can be overcome. Messrs. Armstrong,
Mitchell & Co., the well-known engineers and shipbuilders,
claim to have vanquished this foul fiend. If the Admiralty
is at sea in regard to the way in which oil should be
burnt let it consult with Dr. P. Dvorkovitz, Principal of
the Petroleum Institute. Perhaps the Wilson smokeless
process may solve the difficulty. This simple remedy consists
of injecting a mixture of air and nitrate of soda
solution over the fire. The smoke, it is claimed, is not
only prevented, but there is an increase of more than 20
per cent. in the output of the boiler and its evaporative
efficiency. The theory advanced by the inventor is that
the solution of nitrate of soda creates nuclei of intense
heat, which fire the gases and enable the injected air to
combine with them. As for the leakage of tanks, that
suggests carelessness, and is a subordinate point easily overcome.
There is no more difficulty in carrying a mineral
oil-tank on a war vessel than on a trader or on a railroad.
The advantage of such a fuel as peat-petroleum briquettes
would be very great if it can be put on the market at such
a price as will render its use as economical as that of coal.
In Scotland there is a vast amount of peat in close proximity
to the shale-oil distilleries, and the briquettes could
be laid down at the new arsenal by the Forth Bridge in
any quantity and at a cheap rate. One of the earliest
experiments with oil fuel for naval service was made about
1867 on a small gunboat, the "Palos," belonging to the
United States navy. In forty-eight minutes she ran eleven
and a-half knots, whereas her best record with coal was
eight knots. The engine-room staff was cut down from
twenty firemen and passers to three hands. The petroleum
was supplied from two large iron tanks on deck, each with
a gauge at its side to indicate contents, and a vent-pipe on
top to permit escape of vapour. From these the oil was
conducted through half-inch pipes to the furnaces. Thence
it dropped into heated iron retorts and was instantly
vaporised. To this mixture of vaporised petroleum and
decomposed steam there was added a percentage of oxygen,
supplied by atmosperic air forced in by an ordinary air
pump. The heat was intense, and the combustion so perfect
that there was no smoke.
IN a paper read by Professor Brande in 1851, before the
Royal Institution, he said, "Peat may be rendered valuable
either from the charcoal which may be obtained from it
or by various products derivable from what is called destructive
distillation." Of this destructive distillation and
the distillates resulting therefrom, we shall have something
to say later on. When it was desired to convert peat into
charcoal, the plan adopted by the Irish Amelioration Society
was to carbonise blocks of peat, partially dried on wickerwork
trays, in movable pyramidal furnaces. The charcoal
so obtained varied in character with the peat from which
it was produced, and when the peat was compressed,
previous to its carbonisation, the resulting charcoal exceeded
common wood charcoal in density. Professor
Johnson, who is frequently quoted as an authority, states
that "when peat is charred it yields a coal or coke which,
being richer in carbon, is capable of giving an intenser
heat than peat itself, in the same way that charcoal emits
an intenser heat in its combustion than the wood from
which it is made." It is stated that one firm working at
Laincourt, seven leagues from Paris, in 1855 converted some
ten thousand tons or more into charcoal, obtaining from
forty to forty-two per cent., and sold wholesale for
one hundred francs the one thousand kilograms (two
thousand two hundred and four pounds), which was then
about the same price as wood charcoal, and about three
times the price of wood and mineral coal of the same
weight. Again quoting Professor Johnson, we find him
recording his opinion that "a peat which is dense as the
result of proper mechanical treatment and slow drying,
yields a very homogeneous and compact coal, superior to
any wood coal, the best qualities yielding nearly twice as
much per bushel." Mr. V. Lamy made a series of experiments
to determine the quantity of heat evolved by the
burning of peat compared with other combustibles. One
kilogram, or 2½ lbs., of the varieties mentioned below
evolved caloric as follows:
Wood charcoal - 75 Parts.
Coal coke - 66 "
Charred peat - 63 "
Bituminous coal - 60 "
Charred wood - - 39 "
Dry wood - - - - 36 "
Raw peat - - - - 25 to 30 "
Wood with ¼ moisture - - - 27 "
It must be observed that the "charred peat" here referred
to was charcoal from air-dried carbonised turf, not from
compressed briquettes. As in the case of wood, peat
charcoal produced by burning the turves differs somewhat
in various localities. The raw material should be of the
most suitable quality, and the carbonisation perfect, though
not overdone. Dense peat should be selected, that of a
fibrous nature being unsuitable, as in coking or charring it
yields a friable coal. Charcoal made by a low red heat, not
exceeding cherry red, and which has a dull surface, is the
most valuable. If the heat be carried beyond this point
it acquires a brilliant metallic surface, and deteriorates
in quality. That best suited for forging purposes is one
that burns slowly and deadens so soon as the blast ceases.
If imperfectly carbonised it may contain a sensible amount
of hydrogen. Charcoal burning is effected in the open air
in piles or stacks provided with a yielding cover; in pits, in
kilns or chambers of brick or stone; or in iron retorts heated
externally like common gas retorts. The method of pile
burning is that most extensively practised, and to this
process the rectangular blocks or turves are well adapted,
since the material in this form admits of closer packing in
the heap. Heaps six to eight feet in diameter, and four
feet high, are a good size. The object to be kept in view
is the greatest amount of compact fuel from a given weight
of raw material. The system of charcoal burning in the
pile may be adopted in treating peat, and is as follows: —
Pieces of lumber of equal length are piled concentrically
round a chimney or vent formed by driving three stakes
perpendicularly into the ground (in the case of peat this
vent can be built up of turves). The pieces of peat to be
charred are then built up against this chimney on end, and
with a slight but gradually increasing inclination or lean-to.
A second row, or, in the case of very large piles, even a
third is built round in a similar manner, one outside and
over the other. The pile or pyramid is then covered with
turf or soil to exclude the air and retain the heat, and is
kindled by filling the space between the three upright
stakes with easily inflammable wood, which is lighted.
The character of the smoke or reek issuing from small
vents made in the pile indicates exactly the degrees of
carbonisation in the different parts. When the charcoal is
drawn from the pile, it is extinguished by cold water,
dust, or dry soil. The Chinese, large users of charcoal,
practise the method of charring in pits.
In the United States the Pierce process is largely used
for the preparation of charcoal and the recovery of the by-products.
Some of the kilns are of large size, capable of
heating as much as 60 tons of wood at one time. The
wood is heated in brick kilns, 32 feet in diameter and
16 feet high in the centre, and hold 55 cords of wood. The
oven being charged with wood-gas, from a previous operation,
together with the requisite amount of air for its combustion,
is sent in by means of steam jets. As the wood
dries steam is given off, and is allowed to escape into the
air. After about eighteen hours the wood is quite dry, and
distillation begins. The top of the kiln is then closed, and
the exit tubes are connected with the condensers. These
condensers are a series of copper pipes set in wooden boxes
about 4 feet square and 14 feet long, through which the
water circulates. The products of distillation are drawn
away by means of fans and passed to the condensing
apparatus, and the uncondensed gases, mixed with the
proper proportion of air, are returned to the kiln. The
carbonising occupies six or eight days, after which the kiln
is allowed to cool and the charcoal is drawn. The whole
operation — charring, carbonising, cooling, and discharging —
occupies eight days. There is more gas than is required for
charring, and the excess is used for raising steam. The kilns
are set in batteries of sixteen, each set having its own fan and
condensers. The charcoal so produced weighs about 20 lb.
to the bushel, and is of excellent quality (Fuel, Sexton).
The uses to which charcoal can be applied are numerous
and varied. The high heating power of peat charcoal, and
its freedom from properties deleterious to metal, invest it
with peculiar interest to the smelter. It must find a great
future in the new process (Neuhausen) of manufacturing
aluminium. As a loose granulated substance in conjunction
with the porous earthenware slabs (see chapter on Peat
Earthenware) for filtering operations at waterworks and in
the household, the demand must be great. These slabs can
be freed from all organic matter by being replaced in the kiln
and reburnt. As iron manufactured by the aid of vegetable
charcoal does not splinter, our makers of armour plates
would find it to their advantage to experiment with charcoal
iron. For horse shoes it has no rival. The Swedish
iron, on this account, stands first in the market. The
Bowling Company's iron, which, excellent though it be, is
not comparable with bar iron produced by peat charcoal,
sells (these prices are those of ten years back) at £17 to
£19 a ton; whereas the brands known as "K.B.W. Crown
Best Best" was quoted at £7 7s. 6d. a ton, and " B.N.F.
Treble Best" at £9 5s. In France there is a large demand
at the Catalon Forges, French Pyrenees, where the price
not long ago of wood charcoal was 54 francs or 45s. a ton.
Monsieur M. Challeton de Burghet, a French gentleman of
great experience manufactures this fuel, it is said, at a profit
of three hundred per cent. Owing to the value of the other
bye-products evolved in the process, this charcoal costs
practically nothing to manufacture. The Paris chef pays
from £6 to £6 8s. per ton for his culinary peat-charcoal, and
greatly prefers it to that of wood. Of late it has been
largely used in the various cold dry air storage systems.
Fresh burnt peat charcoal bleaches all the vegetable dyes.
It can be moulded into hard and solid briquettes and
flat slabs, and can, in fact, be shaped to any form
Probably the best and most economical method of converting
or condensing peat into charcoal is the low distillation
process advocated by Paul Dvorkovitz, by which all
the valuable bye-products are obtained by a continuous
automatic system, at a low cost. The distillation of peat
for its bye-products is no new idea. Mineral oil and
paraffin was produced on a large scale at works established
at Marahu, in Brazil, in 1899. In the Journal of the
Society of Chemical Industry, there is an account of this
establishment, which was producing no less than 80 tons
per month of solid paraffin for candle-making. Discarding
all previous, methods, including carbonisation by superheated
steam and by burnt and consumed gases, this
chemical expert uses a comparatively low temperature, and
gasifying in the presence of an inert gas which has no
chemical or destructive influence on the substances received,
but possessing the mechanical effect of extracting all
the bye-products, including the charcoal.
The results obtained by Dr Dvorkovitz, who has had a
large experience in dealing with peat in Russia, and whose
investigations extend over the chief bogs of Ireland, were
embodied in a lecture delivered by him before the Society
of Chemical Industry in London. This lecture will be
found in the appendix. The cost and profits of the process
worked on a large scale are estimated as follows: —
Products —
35 tons of charcoal at 25s per ton - - £43 15 0
1 ton of 80 per cent. acetic acid - - 17 10 0
70 gallons of naphtha solvent at 1s per gallon 5 10 0
0 tons of paraffin oil at £2 lOs per ton - 15 10 0
1¾ tons of sulphate of ammonia at £12 per ton 21 0 0
£100 15 0
(Cost of Manufacture —
100 tons of peat at 5s - - - £25 0 0
10 tons of peat fuel at 3s 6d - 1 15 0
Labour and depreciation - 12 0 0
Sulphuric acid - - - 6 10 0
45 15 0
Net profit £55 0 0
The cost of erecting a continuous plant to distil 100 tons of
peat per day should not exceed £1500 to £2000.
There is always a ready sale for these bye-products:—
Acetic Acid is largely used in dyeing and calico printing,
in pickling and preserving animal substances. Proxylic
Spirit, Wood Spirit or Hydrated Oxide of Methyle, commonly
known as Methylated Spirit, is used chiefly in
vapour lamps, in dissolving resins and volatile oils, and
especially shellac for varnishes. Of late years the demand
for methylated spirit has increased considerably, and in the
near future promises to attain still greater proportions
The French in particular are turning much attention to this
distillate. At the late International Exhibition of Automobiles
at Paris there was a special section for "alcohol" or
methylated spirits and its application for driving motor
cars, lighting, and heating generally Among the various
exhibits were some excellent lamps for household use,
notably those of Landi, Denayrouse, and Dalamotte, fitted
with mantles like the Welsbach gas lamp. There was a
clever radiating household stove for heating purposes, the
invention of Mr. Barbier. This stove consists of a reservoir
from which the alcohol is drawn by wicks into a boiler,
where it is vapourised and the vapour, mixed with air,
passes into the upper chamber or furnace, where it blazes,
heating a metal cupola from which warmth radiates into
the room. Some of the heat is also applied to vaporise the
alcohol. Open fires resembling asbestos gas fires, were also
on view. There were a number of hand or portable heaters
for cooking, as well as other evidences, that this alcoholic
production industry is destined, at no distant date, to
become largely developed. Naphtha is used for making
varnishes and for dissolving caoutchouc. According to the
Annual Scientific Discovery, peat, "in addition to gas and
ammonia, yields a peculiar acid, and a bituminous adipose
compound, which is called paranapthadipose.'" One of
the products of this is a good solvent of guttapercha,
caoutchouc, etc.
The crude Sulphate of Ammonia is principally used for
manure, and in the preparation of Sal-ammoniac and sesquicarbonate
of ammonia. A mixture of 10 per cent. of this
sulphate with 20 per cent. of bone dust, some gypsum
(native sulphate of lime), and farm manure gives a manure
greatly superior to what is now commonly vended as
Paraffin is largely used for making candles, for which
purpose it is specially adapted, surpassing all other candle
materials, even spermacite, in illuminating power. it is
also added to starch to give a gloss and brilliancy to the
ironed surface of linen.
Carbon pencils for electric light are manufactured from
peat charcoal. At present this industry is conducted chiefly
at one factory, controlled by an American trust, and by
German firms. The field is a wide one, for these American
works cover eighteen acres of floor space, employ five hundred
men, and turn out four millions of carbon a week.
It is not generally known that the British army and
navy is, at present, almost entirely dependent upon Germany
for carbon used in the searchlights of coast defence
stations and on war vessels, and that British municipalities
have mainly to depend upon the same source for their
electric lighting. Our relations with Germany are none
too friendly, and at any moment we may find ourselves
at war and helpless, and the Metropolis and our great towns
and works in utter darkness. Here, then, is a grave
national danger.
There is only one factory in Britain where carbon is
manufactured, and there it is made at a loss owing to the
cutting of prices by German firms. Mr. Hirst, of the
General Electric Company, recently stated "that several
attempts have been made to run carbon factories in this
country during the last twenty years, but all have failed.
Factories have been started in London, and at Barnsley,
Brymbo, and other places, but in every case the owners
were unable at the outset to sell at the prices charged by
German firms. It is impossible to start the industry here
under present conditions, but if a tax could be imposed
on imported carbon while British labour is being taught
to produce it as cheaply as Germany can, it would greatly
help. The General Electric Company have laid out £70,000
on land, buildings, furnaces, machinery, ovens, and presses
for their carbon factory near Birmingham. The first year
was spent in training labour. The result was that we
dropped £15,000, and about one carbon in ten was fit for
use. When we succeeded we began to sell carbon at the
then current price of the German article — viz. 37s. to 40s.
per 1000 feet of a certain quality and diameter. The
Germans at once dropped the prices charged to English
customers, and to-day they charge 25s. here and from 37s.
to 40s. in Germany. The Free Traders say that we get our
carbon cheaper because of this competition, but if we were
to close our factory to-day, carbon would go up to its
original price to-morrow. We are compelled to charge the
same price as the Germans. Certain municipalities, however,
from patriotic motives, give us better prices, and we
get small contracts at more than the market price from the
Admiralty and War Office. But our Birmingham carbon
factory is really run at a loss. In the event of war with
Germany at any time, it is contended, this country would
be absolutely without carbon for the searchlights and the
coast defences, while the majority of our streets and cities
would be plunged into darkness."
By adopting a newly discovered and patented process
for the manufacture of peat charcoal, we are confident that
the German system of dumping can be met and overcome.
Peat charcoal promises to take a leading part in overcoming
the smoke nuisance, promoting at the same time
thermal economy. It has been found that when smoke
has been passed through a filtering medium of peat charcoal,
saturated with petroleum, this medium retains all the
particles of soot and carbon in the smoke, and the gases,
combustible and non-combustible, being enriched and
charged with petroleum, thus make a superior gaseous
fuel. Part of the heat goes to vapourize the petroleum,
and part for lighting, heating, and motive purposes. The
carbonized coke also makes a rich fuel, so that all the
smoke is utilized. The gas can be used without purification,
scrubbing, or brushing, in internal combustion engines.
It is cleanly and convenient, and is important as a producer
of power in gas engines.
The future demand on an extensive commercial scale for
peat charcoal is assured by the new discovery of its application,
in the form of briquettes, in conjunction with peat
tar, in the process of smelting iron ores. To this we desire
to direct special attention. Irrespective of our own low
grade ores, there are millions of tons of iron sand to be
found on the shores of the St. Lawrence, in Canada, and
the Tesanki, in New Zealand, all of which, by the processes
known as the Robert Strong and the Elmore oil, can be
smelted in the open hearth, and rendered of marketable
The recent discovery in connection with the application
of pyro tar, one of the bye-products of peat already referred
to as being obtained in the process of low distillation, and
as a bind in the manufacture of non-porous briquettes of
the low grade pulverized iron ores of Ireland, Cornwall,
and North Devon, is of the greatest importance in the
direction of developing these lodes. Further, it, in conjunction
with the Elmore oil separation process, appears
to solve the difficulty of utilizing the large magnetic sand
deposits on the Gulf of St. Lawrence and in New Zealand.
Vast quantities of iron ore, in the form of dust, are found
also in the United States, many of the American ores
having the appearance of soft earth or stones which had
been disintegrated. These broken up ores and the materials
for making briquettes suitable for the blast furnace exist
also in Sweden, Norway, and in Spain. The system is the
invention of Mr. Robert F. Strong, and, with a view of
ascertaining the adaptability of these briquettes compounded
of ore, peat-tar, lime and peat-charcoal, they have
been tested at the Leeds Steel Works, at the Normanby
Iron Works, Middlesborough, and at the Clyde Iron Works.
These briquettes were tested in various kinds of furnaces
for temperature, and they were also mechanically for carrying
the burthen, and, both as regards their behaviour at
the highest temperatures and their resistance to crushing,
they were found in all cases to stand equal to raw ore.
No alteration of the blast furnace was required.
Many interesting particulars of this Strong process will
be found in an instructive paper, read by Mr. Thomas B.
Grierson, M.Inst.C.E., at the Royal United Service Institution,
on "The Treatment of Low Grade Iron Ores for
the Smelting Furnace." After dismissing Mr. Edison's
secret system of binding iron ore briquettes as not having
realized the results claimed for it in inflated, sensational, paragraphs
of the daily papers, the author, who is an admitted
authority on peat, and who occupies a high position in the
engineering world, gave the following particulars of the
Strong process, which possesses the merit of being of
British origin, and which has been adopted at the Broken
Hill Mines in Australia, also at the Rio Tinto Works in
South Wales, where it is worked upon copper concentrates.
"Mr. Strong," he remarks, "has not devised machinery for
the mechanical reduction or for the concentration of the ore,
knowing that there is ample and efficient machinery for
the reduction or concentration of the ore, and that there is
ample and efficient machinery at hand by various makers
for this purpose. He confines himself to putting the ore
into a suitable condition for use in the blast furnace. To
this end he makes his briquettes of 85 per cent. concentrate,
which he incorporates with 5 per cent. of powdered quicklime
and 10 per cent. of pyroligneous tar — 100 parts. The
mass is formed into briquettes under pressure, the briquettes
being ready for use directly they leave the press, do not
require to be baked as Edison's do. The tar in the
briquettes is of assistance in economizing fuel in the blast
furnace, while the quicklime forms the best possible binding
material, and also assists as a flux. Assuming the
concentrate to contain 75 per cent. of iron ore, which it
does on an average, the briquettes would contain 63·75 per
cent. — equal to 47·81 per cent. of metallic iron. The
briquettes would be manufactured in situ, at the mines at
which the ore is produced, and delivered to iron works in
England at the market price of the ore. They would, however,
have an advantage over the raw ore, owing to the fact
that they would be more easily reduced, and with a saving
of fuel."
Such is the briquette which Mr. Strong has devised for
employment in the blast furnaces using ordinary coke fuel.
He has, however, devised another ore-briquette for use in
the charcoal furnace, in which the ingredients are varied.
In the ordinary furnace — except the very small ones — the
charcoal will not carry the burden. With small furnaces,
the production is necessarily restricted and costly. To meet
this, and to enable the briquettes to be used in blast
furnaces of full size in those countries where charcoal is
employed as fuel, Mr. Strong combines powdered charcoal
with the other ingredients, adding also granulated limestone
as a flux. By this means charcoal pig-iron could be produced
in the ordinary blast furnace at a less cost than
common foundry pig, and this charcoal pig would be available
for ordinary steel making, with the result of greatly
improved products. The pig-iron would thus be produced
in situ at the mines, and no carriage or freight would have
to be paid upon the ore. The cost of transport to the steel
works would be that of the metallic product alone., the
matrix being left behind in the form of slag.
Mr. Strong proposes to systemize the method of production
of briquettes at the mines so as to render the
operation continuous from first to last. By a purely
mechanical arrangement the rock ore will be mined
crushed, concentrated, made into briquettes, and delivered
direct to the blast furnaces, while the molten metal would
be run into pig-moulds, and delivered thence into railway
trucks (or into canal boats) for shipment. The manufacture
of pig-iron would thus be a continuous process, with
a great saving of cost, as against the present mode of
producing pig.
As regards the cost of mining and concentrating the ore
ready for the briquette factory, the author gave the following
figures, which are those of actual working in a mine in
Sweden. At the present time (May, 1901) the cost works
out at 4s 3d per metric ton of 75 per cent. concentrates.
This includes miners' wages, tools, explosives, crushing and
concentration, loading and transport to the briquette
factory, and management, which comes to ls. 8¼d. per
ton of raw ore. But it requires 2 tons of 30 per
cent. ore to give one ton of 75 per cent. concentrates
in Sweden — equivalent to 63·75 per cent. per ton of
Briquettes, to be of any use in the blast furnace, should
be hard, non-porous, impervious to moisture, and capable of
standing rough treatment in the same way as large ore.
These qualities will enable them to resist the great superincumbent
weight in the blast furnace, and the slow grinding
action which tends to disintegrate them. Above all, they
must be able to withstand the gradual increase of temperature
in advancing to the melting point, almost up to which
point they should retain their form. This, in the author's
opinion, is precisely what the British briquettes will do, and
what the American briquettes will not do.
Before pointing out the working advantages of Strong's
ore-briquettes, the author may perhaps be permitted to
explain, for the benefit of those not conversant with the
blast furnace practice, that the present method of charging
is to put in the proper proportions of ore, coke, and limestone
by hand labour, the materials being in their rough
state. The briquettes are put into the blast furnace and
smelted in the usual way, but instead of the quality of the
metal produced being largely dependent on the attendant
whose duty it is to feed the furnaces, the briquettes when
smelted, produce, almost automatically, the proper material
required, the proper proportions of the ingredients being
fixed and invariable in the briquette.
With the present arrangement, especially during the
night-shifts, any neglect on the part of the man in charge
of the furnace in not putting on the proper relative proportions
of the materials, would, and no doubt sometimes
does, result in the metal not being uniform in character,
or perhaps quite useless for the purpose intended.
With briquettes this could not happen, as they would be
composed of the exact quantities of the ingredients required
to produce the specific result. The weighing of the ore,
fuel, etc., in the method now in vogue, and the constant
attendance on the blast furnace while the smelting is going
on, involves considerable expense for labour, a large amount
of which would be saved by the adoption of the briquette
system. Mr. Grierson believes that the general adoption
of the method of making steel from briquettes would result
not only in large saving in cost of production, but also in a
much more uniform and better quality of the steel produced.
During the discussion following, it was elicited that the
whole question of the Strong process hinges on pyroligneous
tar, coal tar being useless for the purpose. In this
country it is impossible to extract the necessary supply of
this acid from wood or from saw-dust, but in most of the
peats we find it in large quantities, and, from experiments
made with Scotch and Irish peat, the tarry acid yielded by
low distillation was better than that produced from wood.
Thus, districts having peat and ore can, in the future, be
entirely independent of coal in the production of iron and
steel, and can produce these metals at even a much lower
cost than is possible under existing conditions. Practically
each grain of ore is covered by pyro-tar and lime which
greatly facilitates its reduction.
In conjunction with the Elmore oil process of concentration,
it is now possible to smelt magnetic and titaniferous
ores, also deposits of magnetite which are found associated
with sulphides, such as copper pyrites, iron pyrites, pyrrhotine,
and kindred ores. Advocating this system, which is
of vast importance to the mineral oil trade, Mr. H. L.
Sulman said — "As regards the Elmore oil method he had
lately been investigating its application to a large number
of mines. Two or three cases had been mines in which the
magnetite was associated with various metallic sulphides,
and largely with copper. Magnetic concentration had been
tried, and had failed either to withdraw sufficient copper to
make it successful as a copper concentration. process, or to
leave the magnetite sufficiently clean from sulphur and
copper to render it suitable for the production of steel.
As the result of many trials, he found the Elmore process
effect such a separation very perfectly, and to yield pure
magnetite suitable for briquetting. He had therefore
advised the adoption of the oil method in place of magnetic
separation. The Elmore process simply consisted in bringing
the crushed ore pulps (in water) into intimate and
continuous contact with heavy mineral oil. The oil had
the property of sticking to the sulphide minerals, whilst
it let the oxidised minerals and the gangue pass away. That
very remarkable property has not, so far, been satisfactorily
explained, but the results were complete and very perfect.
Ireland is not wanting in iron ores, and in many instances
the mines, worked and unworked, lie in close proximity to
vast areas of the best peat. A visit to the Irish Mineral
Note. — Of Antrim it is said that the whole county rests on a bed of
iron ore.
Section of the Imperial Institute will dispel all doubts on
this head. There will be found examples of the oxides of
Antrim, Longford, and Leitrim, with articles manufactured
from the ore. Lord Trevor contributes samples of ore
mined at Deehommed, Co. Down; Admiral Lord Charles
Beresford's agent sends clay-iron-stone from Cavan; and
from Leitrim come samples of the same mineral as mined,
and in the form of pig. Samples of the hæmatite shales
won in Co. Cavan are to be found in this exhibition of
Ireland's mineral wealth, not the least interesting being
those from the Earl of Darnley's estate, Athboy, and from
other contributors. At present the Antrim iron ore deposits
are being worked, and the material exported to Barrow-on-Furness.
Fireclay, suitable for the manufacture of bricks
for furnace lining, though the prospecting is far from complete,
has been found in Co. Limerick, Co. Dublin, Co.
Tyrone, Co. Kildare, and in all probability will, on examination,
be discovered in the form of ball clays from the granite
deposits, of which the Island possesses enormous quantities
of superlative quality.
As the treatment of low grade pulverized iron ores for
the smelting furnace just referred to must create an enormous
demand for wood charcoal, in the form of coke peat,
and as coke making and the recovery of bye-products must
go hand-in-hand, we desire to call attention to the Otto
coke-oven and recovery plant, which, however, so far, has
only been constructed to treat coal. Of its adaptability to
work equally well with peat we entertain no doubt. An
objection may be raised to these new ovens on the score
of the great expense of an installation, but the Otto-Hilgenstock
Coke Oven Company, Limited, comes to an
arrangement on the deferred payment system, by which
complete plant, coke-ovens, and the necessary apparatus
for the recovery of the bye-products, are erected at the
Company's own cost, it advancing all the required capital,
and taking the bye-products for a certain number of years
in payment. The number of years over which the period
of payment is extended depends on amount of bye-products
obtainable. The Company has a ten ovens test plant and
a staff of reliable chemists, and is prepared to analyze and
report on, free of cost, any coal submitted giving the value
regarding coke and available bye-products. A careful
analysis of various peaty has been undertaken by the
Company, at the suggestion of the writer.
The general advantage claimed for this system are
appreciated by such firms as Sir B. Samuelson & Company;
Messrs. Bolckow Vaughan & Co., the owners of the Priestman
Collieries; the Yorkshire Iron and Coal Company,
Limited; and many others here and in Germany. Over
16,769 retort coke ovens and bye-product coke ovens,
according to the various Otto patents, have now been built.
These advantages are briefly as follows:
1. Uniform heating of the whole oven; and this great
desideratum is attained to a marvellous extent.
Complete control.
2. Diminished length of the combustion flues.
3. Full utilization of the heating power of the gases.
4. Possibility of a most complete supervision of the
heating, and of inspecting every portion of the
5. Equality of pressure in flues and coking chambers,
rendering the walls practically gas-proof.
From which advantages result: —
First and foremost a very satisfactory yield and quality
of coke or charcoal both in the case of peat and coal. In
many plants, consisting of 60 ovens, 50 or more are drawn
per day, and it is by no means unusual to have a yearly
production per oven of 1700 to 1800 tons. The dimensions
of the ovens are: 33 feet long, 20¼ inches wide in the
middle, 5 feet 11 inches high, but by increasing these
internal dimensions this production can be considerably
increased. The coking or caking properties are in some
instances greatly improved by compression, by which the
separating air-spaces between the particles are done away
with, and the volatile constituents brought into so close
contact that the products of low distillation exert a binding
influence. By stamping or tamping the charge can be
increased from 15 to 18 per cent. Consequently, the coke
is firmer and of greater density. Experience has shown
that 8 to 12 per cent. of moisture in the coking material
gives the best results. The Kuhn coal stamping machine
is rapidly displacing hand labour, and by this appliance,
at a considerable saving in cost of labour, blocks 33 feet
long, 6 feet wide, and 15 inches high have been successfully
stamped. This machine can, if required, he constructed to
perform the service of a coke pusher, by means of which
the coke is pressed out of the oven to admit of rapid recharging.
The power necessary for driving this apparatus
is 1 to 1½ h.-p., and the stamp attains a speed of 70 strokes
a minute. The advantages are:-
1. Greater durability of the oven.
2. Increased output of bye-products and a richer tar.
3. Large productions of steam.
4. Superior quality of coke-oven gas, with a surplus for
other purposes, i.e. for driving gas engines, illuminating,
etc. The city of Boston, U.S.A., is illuminated
by means of gas produced by Otto ovens. The
candle-power is 18½ without any other enrichment.
"The Peat fuel Problem solved at last, Peat-coal by
Electricity. A National Industry" was the pretentious
heading of a circular issued a few months ago by a Canadian
gentleman, Mr. Joseph Byron Bessey. Unfortunately, however,
for those interested in peat, a demonstration of this
electric process lately given at the works of Messrs.
Johnson & Phillips, Electric Engineers, Charlton, Kent,
fell far short, in its results, of the advertised anticipations.
Mr. Bennett Hayes, C.E., in the British Government Report
on Peat, is quoted as saving: "It is obvious that to make
the working of peat a commercial success the production
must be continuous and uninterrupted throughout the year;
with air-drying alone neither of these conditions can be
complied with. The great desideratum remains to ascertain
some method of getting rapidly and economically
off the large amount of water which all peat in its crude
state contains." This is precisely what legions of inventors
have for years been striving after, and in pursuit of which
much treasure has been expended. By this "improved
process for the manufacture of peat fuel and fibrous peat"
all difficulties, we are told, are removed, and in the short
space of 2½ hours, from beginning to end, peat-fuel of
high calorific power — about 9000 British thermal units
of heat and upwards — perfectly smokeless, and free from
clinkers, is to be supplied at a cost far below that of
coal at the pit mouth. On looking over the provisional
and complete specifications of the patent we confess to
entertain very considerable doubts as to the future of this
somewhat elaborate and certainly costly method, and
when the awkward word "chemicals" presented itself our
scepticism increased. When we read that, in order to
assist the conductivity of the electric current in certain
peaty, it is proposed to add or use salts, carbonates, carbon,
hydrocarboniferous, and suitable rock and other mineral
ingredients, we concluded that the cost of these enrichments,
not to mention the cost of production of electric
current, must consume the bulk of the profits. Then
when we found mention of tilting troughs for the reception
of the green peat, electrodes, rollers, kneading apparatus,
disintegrators, heated drums and surfaces, mechanical
presses, moulds, etc., we reluctantly concluded that this
inventive genius is not destined to solve the difficult
problem. Shortly put, the process, as described by the
patentee, is as follows: The peat is cut in the bog by
the most improved method, and is then conveyed by
dumping trucks to the operating plant in the vicinity.
The first stage is to pass the peat through a revolving
cylinder or centrifugal provided with beating fans which
it is claimed press out most of the water. It is then
packed firmly into tilting troughs, or rather receptacles
made from wood, and electrodes are inserted at each end
— or sides — to which are attached the electric wires,
directly or otherwise connected with the dynamo. The
mass of peat becomes the medium of completion of the
circuit between the electrodes. The fibres and cells of
the peat not having been ruptured and broken the centrifugal
was ineffective, moreover, it travelled at far too
slow a speed and was of too small a diameter for effective
work. It is hopeless to expect any real result from a
2 ft. 6 in. cylinder making only some 300 revolutions.
Though admitting the capacity of the electric current to
separate the particles, it does not exert that tearing force
which is essential. Certainly the current of 220 ampères
at 200 volts used at this demonstration failed to produce "a
perfectly disintegrated and pulverised material." Electric
energy for this purpose had previously been applied in
Germany, the United States, and Canada, and had been
abandoned. But further than this, the visitors were informed
by a printed paper handed round that the electric
heat dried out the peat, but when we consider that one
unit of electricity cannot generate more than 3·410 heat
units when passed through wet or damp peat, this part
of the claim may be dismissed as purely imaginative.
Remarking on this item of the process The Electrical
Engineer says: "From the scanty figures we were able to
elicit as the result of our enquiries, we understand that
24 units of electricity are consumed in treating one ton of
virgin peat, and that the resultant yield of fuel is about
15 cwt. 10 lb. This means a loss in operation of just
under 25 per cent., and this in spite of the fact that virgin
peat contains from 76 to 80 per cent. of water, which,
we are told, is extracted in the process. We are unable
to get a satisfactory explanation of this curious contradiction."
The sample briquettes handed round were testimony
to the failure both of the centrifugal and of the electrical
treatment. As peat holding 60 per cent. of water looks and
feels merely damp, and at 30 per cent. is to all appearance
bone dry, these samples can have parted with only
au inconsiderable amount of this moisture. In a paragraph
on the Drying of Incombustibles The Electric Review
aptly remarks: "Electricity is out of the question as a
heating agent in affairs commercial except when the article
warmed has a value out of proportion to its mass. Substances
which are valued in shillings and pence per ton,
and have a high capacity for moisture, are not to be dried
economically even by direct furnace heat." Three of the
briquettes hung in tape before a fire for eight hours showed
only a loss of 20 to 25 per cent.
Reverting to the further treatment of the mass as it
leaves the electric baths, it is then passed through rollers
on to a kneading and teasing apparatus. We have had
some experience of passing wet peat through rollers.
Some varieties, no matter how fed to the rollers or how
the rollers are placed, stubbornly refuse to pass between
them. Smooth faced rollers are useless, and the grooves
of such as are fluted rapidly become filled up. There is
no patent in the mixing and kneading apparatus, and we
very much doubt that the existing type can be improved
upon. From this machine the putty-like plastic mass,
"which may be expedited by the use of hot or cold
pressure," reaches the moulder. The contraction, we are
informed, "is materially hastened by the use of heated
drums or surfaces and mechanical presses acting in
combination or alone," and, we may add, the cost
materially added to. Finally, we are told that by no
other heat than that from electricity can these results aimed
at be obtained, and that the effect of heat derived from
electricity is quite different and distinct from that which
is afforded by any other heat, that of fire for instance.
To this we demur, and we deny that the current ruptures
the cellular fibre. Disintegration and tearing up of the
fibres and air cells can best be effected by mechanical
means, and at a lower cost. It is stated that the first
installation of this plant is to be erected in Ireland,
where a 1000 acre bog has been secured.
The issue of this attractive circular was followed by
the formation of a concern, the Electric Peat Coal
Company, with a capital of £130,000, of which no less
than £65,000 went to the promoting syndicate. The
scheme was "sauced" with a large four-page sheet of press
opinions, but only one of any technical authority was
quoted, and that journal was very careful not to commit
itself. The adverse notices of the Electrical Review and
another technical journal were conspicuous by reason of
their absence. Save as regards the generation of heat in
the mass of peat, we deny the possibility of the electric
action of which so much is made in the prospectus and
in the patentee's claims. As a generality, the carbon
compounds are not subject to electrolysis. Peat, seeing
that it is an element, could. not under any circumstances
be electrolysed. That this expensive electrical treatment
dries out any appreciable percentage of the large amount
of water found in peat freshly graven from the bog was
disproved by the sodden condition of the small briquettes
handed round at the works of Messrs. Johnson and Phillips
at Charlton, which after being weighed and put aside for
some weeks in a drawer lost from 36 to 40 per cent. of
their moisture. The accuracy of the reports of the chemist
and engineer have been freely and very properly questioned.
A more unsatisfactory scheme has never been brought before
the public, and with the writer of the article in the Electric
Review we say: "We would not touch this electrical
process even if the peat were dumped down free at the
works on the Thames, and we join in his regret that the
issue of this prospectus will probably do an incalculable
amount of harm to the peat industry. As one of the
largest shareholders has, on account of the prospectus being
misleading on material points, declined to pay any further
calls; we shall probably hear more of this scheme in the
law courts. Those interested in the Electro-Peat Coal
Syndicate and the Directors of the Company have been
warned, and if this gentleman wins his case restitution
will have to be made.
The coking of peat by electricity is not new. A plant
for that purpose was installed some two or three years
ago at Stangfjord, in the neighbourhood of Bergen, Norway.
The heating wa·s effected by an electric current taken from
a waterfall in the vicinity. Each kiln was loaded with
400 to 500 kilograms (881·8 to 1·102 pounds) of dried
machine peat. The current was of 500 ampères, with a.
tension of 40 to 50, the temperature of the kiln being
about 570° F. The coking was complete in from three
to four hours. The resulting charcoal was fairly compact,
it was well adapted to domestic and commercial purposes
and commanded a fair price, and was in great demand.
Herr P. Jebsen, of Dale, Norway, has also invented an
electrical process for carbonising peat. By this method
the partially dried peat briquettes are carbonised in
hermetically closed retorts. Several retorts are treated at
the same time by one dynamo. The dynamos are driven
by water turbines. The process ensures the carbonisation
of the blocks in short time, producing a dense uniform
mass showing the structure of the peat. In broken
condition the specific gravity of this coked fuel is about
0·3, with a theoretical calorific value of 7000 to 7500
thermal units. It burns well, yielding a very small amount
of soot, gives a rapid and strong heat, and the ash does
not retard combustion as do the ashes of coals and lignite.
The following is the analysis of this fuel from the Royal
Norwegian High School at Christiania.
Per Cent.
Carbon - - - - - 76·91
Hydrogen - - - - 4·64
Oxygen - - - - 8·15
Nitrogen - - - - - - 1·78
Sulphur - - - - ·70
Ash - - - 3·
Moisture - - - - 4·82
Total 100·
The retorts consist of upright iron cylindrical vessels, about
6 feet 6 inches high and 3 feet 3 inches in diameter.
Each retort is provided with a removable cover, a discharge
hole below, gas exit pipes, and a pressure gauge.
The retorts have special resistance coils so constructed
that the briquettes can be built up in contact with them
until a pigeon-holed mass of peat entirely fills the retort,
in the centre of which the heating agent lies. The top
cover is then clamped down and the electric currents
switched on. During this process the peat yields three
products. Openings in the retort cover allow the exit of
the gaseous products, which are conducted to drying
chambers for heating the air.
THAT gas of an excellent quality for lighting and for
power can be economically produced from peat, either
in its carbonised or partially carbonised solid form, as air-dried,
or in the form of tar or its pure residual oil, has
been abundantly proved in Europe and in the United
States. The attention now being directed to peat and its
products must bring inventive genius and combined skill
to bear upon the great enterprise, and may be trusted to
devise some efficient process such as shall, under certain
conditions of locality, bring its gas-producing capabilities
into general use. For possibilities in this direction we have
only to look back some thirty years to first crude gas
engines of Brayton and the Hock, the latter patented in
Vienna in 1873, in which mixtures of petroleum spirit and
air were substituted for coal-gas and air. These were the
forerunners of such oil motors as the Priestrnan, Hornsby,
Akroyd, and the Trusty, and the prototypes of the petroleum
spirit explosion engine now seen in such perfection in the
up-to-date automotor.
In connection with peat as fuel, in the form of powder
or "mull" with automatic stoking, it may be mentioned
that in the Brayton engine, patented in the United States
in 1872, ordinary burning oil was sprayed, under high
pressure, into a carburettor placed at the top of the
combustion cylinder together with a fresh supply of air,
and was then led into the explosion chamber and ignited.
In anticipation of what the near future may bring
forth in the economy of peat, we take the following from
the American Gas Light Journal, written in the middle
of last century: —
"Take as a period the last fifty years, and see what
improvements have been made in the economy of the use
of fuel. While our forefathers were content to warm the
humble cottage by the aid of the 'fire-place' which occupied
one side of the dwelling, whose capacious jambs required
the immense 'back log' and 'fore stick' and the various
components to form the huge pile for a respectable fire,
their children employed the 'box and Franklin' stoves,
which used both coal and wood, and were, scientifically,
an improvement in the degree of radiation attained,
because they do not carry the most of the caloric up the
chimney in the tempest.
"From this we come to the more modern and scientific
appliances for heating, cooking, etc., embracing heaters and
registers, radiators, base burners, smoke and gas consumers,
patent cooking stoves, ranges, galleys, and numerous other
inventions. So also, in equal or greater degree, has there
been improvements in the various processes of smelting and
in steam engines, both land and marine, by the aid of improved
draft or blast, by return, horizontal, and inclined flues,
patent jackets, grates, condensers, etc., to more completely
consume the smoke and gases, to increase the radiating
surfaces, and various improvements, until, when we look
back to the old methods, we smile at their primitiveness
and inefficiency.
"Science is progressive; and the enquiring mind will
ever be on the alert to improve the various appliances now
in use, whether coal or other fuel is to he employed, to
more completely utilize and economize the caloric evolved
during combustion, to devise more economy and to discover
and apply substitutes for coal fuel. It is safe to say that
by modern improvements we have got from to two hundred
per cent. more caloric and work — which is but another
name for it — from a given amount of fuel consumed, than
we did fifty or even twenty-five years ago, and there is no
reason to believe the inventive genius of the age will not
improve upon the present methods of consuming fuel
economically, during the next hundred years in a similar
ratio at least."
Chemical analysis, as we have already pointed out, shows
that, weight for weight, peat contains only three-fifths of
the heating properties of coal, and from this theorists come
to the conclusion that for raising steam it is little more
than one-half as valuable. Practice and theory are, however,
often widely divergent, and the tests of the laboratory
are not always to be depended upon. Despite the efforts of
the inventor, coal, so far, has not been forced to yield anything
approaching its true theoretical caloric. Under the
title "A Study of Power Gas," in the Review of the
Engineering Press, there is a valuable contribution by M.
Lencaushez to the Societe des Injenieurs Civils de France
on "The Generation of Motive Power in Internal Combustion
Engines, and the Utilization of Waste Furnace Gases,"
in which is this striking paragraph: "So far as thermal
economy goes, it has been found that, with properly constructed
engines, the efficiency with very lean gas is as
high, if not higher than with the richer gas, but, naturally, a
larger engine is required to produce a given amount of
power." In this connection we may point out that a
certain engine gave 80 horse-power with coal-gas and 67
horse-power with blast-furnace gas, or a difference of only
16 per cent., while the thermal values of the two gases
were about 600 for the former gas and 120 for the latter.
It may be noted that, when only air is employed for the
partial combustion of the fuel in the producer, the combustible
portion of the gas consists of carbonic oxide gas with
only a small portion of hydrogen, and the gas has a thermal
value of about 100 B.T.U. per cubic foot. When water-vapour
or steam is added to the air-supply the gas contains
a higher proportion of hydrogen, and has a thermal value of
from 130 to 150 B.T.U. per cubic foot.
It has been well said that while the nineteenth century
has been the era of the steam-engine, the twentieth will be
that of the gas-engine. The conclusion is unavoidable that
the latter is doomed to be displaced by its more economical
rival. Its highest development has resulted in its capacity
to produce a horse-power per hour from about one and a-half
pounds of good steam-coal, which corresponds to an efficiency
of not more than twelve per cent. of the actual heat-energy
contained in fuel. One of the principal factors in favour of
the gas-engine is found in the more direct conversion of the
heat-energy contained in the fuel, the heat being directly
carried into the cylinder of the engine in the form of gas,
whereas with steam the heat has first to be transferred from
the coal to the water, and not until the heat appears in the
form of steam under pressure, is it in a position to deliver its
energy to the piston of the engine. Further, gas can, as has
already been stated, be carried long distances without material
loss or deterioration, while with steam loss by condensation
in mains is unavoidable and costly. Again, gas-producers
respond immediately to a sudden increase in demand, while
a steam-engine must be allowed time to increase its output;
and moreover, what is of greater importance, the working,
as between the gas-producers and gas-engines is automatically
controlled, so that the quantity of gas produced is
regulated in accordance with the demand. As regards
regularity and reliability in actual practice, it may be mentioned,
as an illustration, that an engine working with Mond
gas has run continuously day and night, at full load, for six
months without any stoppage whatever.
Among the advantages claimed for the use of gaseous fuel
are material economy, cleanliness, freedom from smoke, and
general convenience. Fuels altogether unsuited for steam-making
may be utilized in the gas producer. Although the
modern gas-producer shows no fundamental difference in
principle from that of the earlier types, many important
improvements have been carried out effecting both the more
convenient operation of the apparatus and the utilization of
the valuable bye-products.
Engines of varying sizes (up to 650 indicated horse-power)
are now working, and indicating a horse-power-hour on a
consumption of 60 cubic feet of Mond gas involving the
gasification of less than nine-tenths of a pound of common
"slack." A safe basis for the calculation of fuel consumption
is one pound of fuel per indicated horse-power-hour,
and this makes provision for intermittent working
with various loads.
The following are some of the advantages claimed for
power-gas applied by the Power Gas Corporation of 39
Victoria Street, London, S.W.
This gas is produced from the cheapest quality of coal,
namely "slack" or "dross," thus obviating all necessity for
expensive steam coal for the generation of power in the
The amount of labour required for its production is
extremely small.
The heating value is equal from 81 per cent. to 86 per
cent. of the total heat energy contained in the fuel used for
its production.
Its cost when produced on a large scale is less than ½d.
per thousand cubic feet.
One ton of rough slack produces about 150,000 cubic feet
of power gas of a calorific value of 140 B.T.U. per cubic foot.
The quantity of gas required to produce an indicated horse-power-hour
in a large gas engine is about 60 cubic feet.
When gasified and used in a large gas-engine, one ton of
slack gasified is sufficient to produce about 2500 indicated
horse-power-hours, or 2500 horse-power for one hour.
By using this gas in gas-engines a given quantity of fuel
will produce about four times the power obtainable with
ordinary steam-engines.
The fuel cost of an indicated horse-power-hour, obtained
from a gas-engine running with Mond gas generated from
"slack" at 6s. per ton, is 1/40th of a penny.
It is best for gas-engines because they require a clean gas
of a regular quality.
In every steam plant, working with a variable or intermittent
load, a considerable proportion of the fuel consumed is
wasted. Some loss under this head is unavoidable, but the
employment of gas remedies this.
Among the other advantages due to gas fuel are cleanliness,
freedom from smoke, absolute control, general convenience,
and material economy. At the present moment Power Gas,
as applied to internal combustion engines, is attracting much
and deserved attention in engineering circles. "The suggestion
of the more extended use of peat by the establishment
of a power placed close to the source of supply, with
power distribution thence by means of fuel-gas or electricity,
is practically interesting and in direct line with the best
modern practice in the economical utilization of natural
resources" (Editors, London Engineering Magazine, November,
A cheap power is essential to the manufacturer, and this
desideratum is found in Producer Gas. Until very lately
power users have had to rely mainly upon steam and the
steam-engine as a motive power. It is only within the last
year or two that the gas-engine assumed its present position
as a cheap and efficient power on a grand scale. The rivalry
of the electric light, by no means a decaying competitor, has
put gas engineers on their metal, and with truly professional
spirit strenuous efforts have been made to maintain the
development of the industry. The mechanism of combustion
is now an anxious study, exercising the active brains of
technical savants both at home and abroad. Though there
may be no fundamental difference between the more recent
producers and the earlier ones, the improvements which have
been made are very important, affecting both the more convenient
operation of the apparatus and the utilization of the
valuable by-products. Prior to the introduction by Dowson
of his producer gas plant, town gas alone was available, and
was, on small engines, though not economical, used chiefly on
account of its convenience. This practice has now, to a
large extent, been set aside by this system by which "poor"
or gas of low calorific value is manufactured from inferior
fuel. By this method fuels altogether unsuited for steam-making
may be utilized. Improvements on the Dowson
process, adapted chiefly to large powers of over 100 brake
horse power, were wrought by Wilson, Duff and Mond in
England, and by Körting in Germany, but these plants did
not affect the problem of the economical generation of power
by small installations. These pressure producer or "poor"
gas plants have been used for driving gas-engines where
economy of fuel has been of the first importance, but the
initial cost, the floor space occupied, and the amount of
attention required, together with the necessity of having a
steam boiler and a gas holder, have prevented their general
adoption, particularly for medium and small powers. We
are indebted to Mr. Hal Williams, the well-known gas
expert, for much information anent the Suction Gas Producer¹
which originated on the Continent, and is now largely
used for purposes where moderate power is required. It is
well known that when a gas-engine is working it produces a
suction effect on the gas, and the air it draws into the
cylinder vide the gas bag. In the suction plant this has
been made use of, and the principle of the process is that the
gas-engine, by drawing air or water-vapour through an anthracite,
coke, or peat coke fire, makes its own gas as it wants
it. There is practically no waste, for the volume of air and
water-vapour passing through the generator is regulated
entirely by the number of times the engine takes gas, and,
as this in its turn depends on the work the engine has to do,
the gas is produced directly in proportion to the load.
Owing to the whole of the gas being below the pressure
of the atmosphere there is no smell, and indeed, Mr.
Williams has seen a plant of this kind working in the
middle of a tobacco factory with bales of leaf tobacco stacked
all round it. As is generally known, this leaf is very sensitive,
readily absorbing odours.
A comparison of the relative advantages of steam and gas
for motive power is instructive, in that it establishes many
important points in favour of the latter, the chief of these
being the wonderful economy in fuel. "Setting aside for
¹ Peat coke is perfectly adapted to the production of gas by the Suction
moment the high speed electric-lighting engines working
with super-heat, and taking the average run of non-condensing
engines providing motive power for the bulk of the
factories and works throughout the country, it will be no
exaggeration to say that the steam consumption is nearer
40 lbs. per indicated horse-power-hour than 20 lbs. Indeed,
one of the principal drawbacks of the steam-engine, from an
economical point of view, is the virtue so often claimed for
it — that 'it is so reliable,' or, in other words, that unless it
has absolutely broken down, it will continue to work so long
as there is steam behind it. On the other hand, a gas-engine,
like an electric motor, must be either all right or all wrong,
and therefore the efficiency cannot fall very low without the
engine pulling up and the defects revealing themselves.
"About one ton of slack, which can be bought in the colliery
districts for 6s. a ton, will produce about 150,000 cubic feet
of power gas, having a calorific value of from 130 to 150
British thermal units. A gas-engine of, say, 40 brake horse-power
will require from 70 to 80 cubic feet of this gas per
brake horse-power-hour. Large engines only require from
60 to 70 cubic feet per brake horse-power hour. What does
this mean? It means that, neglecting the steam required for
boiler feed, pumps, etc., a factory steam-engine requires not
less than 4 to 5 lb. of coal per brake horse-power-hour, while
a gas-engine only requires 1 lb. of coal per brake horse-power-hour.
Further than this, to give anything like a good
evaporative efficiency, the coal burned in boilers must be of
a much better quality than that which can be used in a producer,
and is consequently more costly. Boilers also have to
be stoked, and in other ways require to have a larger quantity
of.labour expended upon them; while gas-producers
require little or no attention, and will work very well with
only casual supervision on the part of the man in charge.
Another great feature of economy where the load is intermittent
is the facility with which a gas-producer will respond
to increased or diminished demands upon it. It takes, or
should take, twelve hours to get up steam from cold in
a large Lancashire boiler of, say, 250 indicated horse-power.
It takes from ten to twenty minutes to generate gas for, say,
500 indicated horse-power from cold in a producer; while if
the plant has been standing by with the fire alight during
the week-end, this can be reduced to about five minutes"
(Producer Gas Power for Factories, Cold Stores, etc., by Hal
At some tests which the author made with one of
these suction plants during his investigations on the Continent,
burnable gas was being produced seven minutes
after the fire in the generator was lighted, and the engine
was working on its load three minutes later. Another
advantage this producer possesses is that the plant occupies
little room, a matter of moment in our great cities, can be
placed in any corner of the works, and that the engines can
be put close up to their work. In fact, a 50 brake horse-power
would stand with ease on an ordinary dining-room
Suction Gas Plants — the gas produced suitable for heating
as well as power — of from 5 to 250 H.P., simple in construction,
easily handled, and only requiring attendance at
intervals of three to four hours, are now obtainable. One of
these subjected to a continuous test of six days and nights
ran a gas-engine of 18 indicated H.P., developing a mean of
16·9 brake horse-power, and even with this moderate load
the cost of working was at the rate of 10 brake horse-power
for one penny per hour. The fuel was Welsh anthracite
peas costing 20s. per ton. With larger engines (40 B.H.P.
and upwards) the economy would have been greater. This
works out one-fifth the cost of town gas at 2s. per thousand
cubic feet. With Bituminous Gas Plants the cheapest
grade of coal may be used, provided it is of a non-coking
nature. Common bituminous slack, which can be obtained
in the coal districts and from many of the coal depots at one-fifth
the cost of anthracite, and for one-half to one-third the
cost of coke, shows equally good results. Till now this low
class of fuel for gas producing has been impeded by the great
difficulties experienced in using the gas made from it, owing
to the presence of tarry vapours in the gas, which condense
but for gas engines which require a very clean gas this is
very serious owing to the gumming up and choking of the
valves on the engines.
The advantages of the "Suction" type of Gas Producer,
as compared with the older form, are many. We enumerate
a few:
No steam boiler or gas holder is required, so there is
no liability to explosion, with consequent extra cost of
It does not need constant supervision as it can run for
several hours without being refilled with fuel.
It occupies only a small amount of floor space, requires
no chimney and no foundation.
The apparatus may be fixed indoors, so there is no more
danger from fire than from an ordinary stove.
There is no risk of gas escaping, as it is generated by
suction, and below atmospheric pressure.
Great economy of fuel.
The apparatus may be "banked" at night or meal time
with small loss. It can be restarted, after being shut down,
in a few minutes, and even in a cold condition, in from 15
to 20 minutes.
Gas is generated only as required.
No gas is blown or burnt to waste on light loads.
It is smokeless and free from smell.
A process in which the writer takes a deep interest, and
which is now long beyond the experimental stage, has
arrived at a point by which peat gas of low quality can be
manufactured suitable for blast purposes, with very high
efficiency, and by another process peat gas of very high
quality, suitable for heating and lighting, is produced.
The producer-gas possesses, for equal volumes, more than
twice the potential or calorific energy of the product of
Dowson, Dawson, Mond, or other similar systems, and,
being entirely automatic in its action, and efficient in small
units, is applicable to small as well as to large instalments.
The flame temperature of the gas by this system is about
25 per cent. higher than that of town gas. By the use
of the high potential producer-gas engines can develop
their continuous maximum power. This gas is free from
As the result of extensive investigations and experiments,
the well-known firm of Messrs Crossley Brothers have, by
means of a centrifugal tar extractor, succeeded in pefecting
an apparatus which thoroughly cleans this gas, rendering
it practically as clean as ordinary town gas so far as gas
engine requirements go. Using bituminous peat, that
bottom variety known as Ince peat, that from the
borders of Loch Neagh, Antrim, and the "creashy clods of
Scotland, a gas of high potential and a gas of high calorific
power, and of uniform quality, is obtained. From the
absence of sulphur in certain peats the purification of this
gas is much more easily accomplished than that from coal.
Some of the bituminous black peat produces gas of good
illuminating power which requires no purifying for ordinary
purposes. The chief difficulty is the amount of carbonic
acid found in the crude gas, but, as in the case of wood
gas, this can be eliminated if, in burning, mantles are
employed. Purification by means of lime is found to
remove a large proportion of this acid. This difficulty is
also to a great extent overcome by the partial charring
or baking of the raw peat before it is used. There are,
however, advantages in peat which more than counterbalance
the excess of carbonic acid. As this fuel does
not clinker, the process of gas-making can be performed
without interruption. The resulting coke being pure vegetable
charcoal is of much greater value than coal-coke,
and, as stated, can be employed in the manufacture of
gas by the suction process.
"Gas may be made from peat at a comparatively low
temperature, but its illuminating power is then trifling. At
a red heat alone can we produce a gas of good quality. The
chief impurity of peat gas is carbonic acid. This amounts
to 25 and 30 per cent. of the gas before purification, and if
the peat be insufficiently dried, it is considerably more.
The quantity of slaked lime is, therefore, much greater
than is needed for coal gas, and is an expensive item in the
making of peat-gas." (Professor Johnson.)
As to the yield of gas we have the following data: —
Cubic Feet.
100 lbs. of peat of medium quality from Munich
gave - - - - - - 303
" of air-dried peat from Biermoss, Salgburg
gave - - - - - - 305
" " very light fibrous peat gave - - 379 to 430
" " Exters machine-peat from Haspelmoor
gave - - - - - - - 367
Thenius states that to produce 1,000 English cubic feet of
purified gas in the works at Kempton, Bavaria, there were
required 292 lbs. of peat in the retorts; but, according to
Stammor, 4 cwt., of dry peat are necessary, showing that
some peats are better adapted than others to the manufacture
of gas. As in coal, much depends on the composition
of the raw material.
Experiments conducted at the Lansingburg Gasworks, New
York, with air-dried peat, not compressed, gave very satisfactory
results, the light being white, clearer, and much stronger
than that produced from coal in the same retorts. It stood
the chemical tests well.
With reference to the purity of peat-gas and alleged large
percentage of carbonic acid gas, the amount of this latter
gas depends greatly upon the district from whence the peat
is obtained. and can, in great measure, be overcome by the
partial coking of the substance before placing it in the
retorts. The absence of sulphur, moreover, renders its
purification more easy. In some peats traces of sulphur, have
been found, and by distillation we find ammonia. Where
carbonic acid is found in any quantity, an extra supply of
slaked lime is necessary, and this involves cost. But many
of our most extensive peat-bogs, notably the bog of Allen,
have a limestone base. In 1862 Mr. Paul stated, before the
Society of Arts, that for a long time he had been lighting
the works with gas produced from black bituminous Scotch
peat, that it was of good illuminating power, and, for
ordinary purposes, required no purification. Dr. Versemann
came to the conclusion that partially charred or baked peat
was a most valuable material for gas manufacture, and that
it would produce from 12,000 to 14,000 cubic feet of gas per
ton of an illuminating power exceeding that of ordinary
coal-gas, the amount of carbonic acid not exceeding ten per
cent; and although that was somewhat in excess of the
average of coal-gas, yet there were advantages in peat
which more than counterbalance the disadvantages arising
from an excess of carbonic acid. Points in favour of peat
are that the resulting coke is equal to charcoal, and that when
worked in conjunction with a poor gas-coal it produces a
really good gas. Abundant proof of its value, economy, and
easy production has accumulated, and once the attention,
energy, and inventive faculties of the gas engineer, aided by
the practical organic chemist, are brought to bear on the
subject, this gas must, for power, heat, and as an illuminant,
be extensively used at no distant date. Here then is one
other use to which we may apply the great capital which
has been accumulating for ages, and has been reserved in
store for this enlightened period.
Gas from peat, says the Engineering Magazine, is used
for heating purposes in several places in Europe, but most
extensively in Sweden. In that country it is used for the
melting of Martin steel, while in other places it is used in
glass houses and the like. The generators used are of very
simple construction. In a Swedish magazine, Jernkontorets
Annaler, Rich. Aakermann has given an exhaustive memoir
on the use of gas for Martin steel-melting.
The peat used in Sweden for generating gas has the
following composition:
Per cent.
Carbon - - 60
Hydrogen - - 6·4
Oxygen - - 31·7
Nitrogen - - 1·9
Or, if hygroscopic water and ashes be reckoned:
Carbon - - - - - - 38·2
Hydrogen - - 4·1
Oxygen - 20·2
Nitrogen - - 1·2
Sulphur - - 0
Ash - - - 8·6
Water (hygroscopic) - - - - - 27·7
The gases have the following composition:
Per cent. of volume.
CO2 - - 6·9
CO - - 26
C2H4 - ·5
CH4 - 4·4
H - - 8·5
N - - - - - - - - 53·7
The quantity of gas from 100 kilograms (220·4 pounds) of
peat is about 252 cubic metres (8,900 feet). The sorts of
peat here used have an excessive amount of ash and much
(hygroscopic) water. In fact, ordinary peat will not have
more than 5 per cent. ash, and when air-dried it will not
contain more than 20 per cent. of water. Under these
conditions the gas will be of much better composition.
It is not known that peat is used anywhere in Europe to
produce power-gas on any particularly large scale, but the
results obtained of late with the Mond gas generators, where
power-gas is generated from slack coal with 60 per cent. of
carbon, would tend to show that peat will give as good
In reality, there is no great difference between such slack
coal with 10 per cent. of carbon and good peat, the only
difference being the greater contents of water in the peat.
But as 2½ tons of water, as steam, are used in the Mond gas
generators to 1 ton of slack coal, to regulate the process, the
larger amount of water in the peat must not be considered
as a drawback, but rather as tending to make the generating
of steam superfluous, and thus to reduce costs.
In the figures given above, showing the composition of
Swedish peat gases, nitrogen is present in rather large
amount. This results from unmixed air being used for the
combustion in the generators; when it is properly mixed
with steam and carbonic oxide, the results obtained will
prove better.
It is now well known that gas may be led economically
to great distances for power-supply and for incandescent
lighting. Thus, Mond gas is piped in England from central
gas works to the surrounding factories, and in Pennsylvania
natural gas is piped for distances exceeding 90 miles. There
is no reason why gas from peat should not be used in the
same manner.
It is our opinion that where the peat cannot be used in
factories on the spot, it should not be transported, as costs
will be nearly double those for carriage of coal; but power
should be transmitted either in the form of electricity or as
peat-gas, the former for long distances, the latter for shorter
So far back as 1863 peat gas was produced in Holland,
and since then, for making and refining iron, in the manufacture
of glass, and in various other directions it has
been extensively used on the Continent of Europe. For
years past it has been utilized at Salzburg. In 1855 a
M. Foucalt was charged by the City of Paris with the
scientific examination of this gas, and, his report proving
highly favourably, it is difficult to see why his recommendations
were not adopted. Probably, as moulded peat was then
selling at 20 francs per ton, and its charcoal at 100 francs
per ton, the cost of the raw material, brought from a large
bog near Liancourt, seventeen leagues from the Capital,
militated against the general introduction of this gas.
The result of this expert's examination was to give peat a
high value as a gas producer. He found its illuminating
power to be 340, while that of coal gas was only 100. The
manufacture of peat gas was found to be more simple than
when coal was used. If placed in an iron retort, heated to a
low red heat, it immediately afforded a mixture of permanent
gases and vapours, which condensed into an oleaginous liquid,
the two products separating on cooling. The oil was collected
in a special vessel, and the gas passed into a gasometer.
This carburetted hydrogen is wholly unfit for illumination,
as it gives a very small flame, nearly like that from brandy.
The oil from the peat is a viscous, blackish liquid of strong
odour. If it be subjected to a new distillation, it is resolved
wholly into a permanent gas and hydrogen very richly
carburetted. This mixture is strongly illuminating, giving
a flame six or eight times brighter than the first, and of a
more lively brilliancy. The two are mixed, and a gas of
intermediate character obtained, which is delivered over for
consumption. A mean of five tests gave for a burner of
peat gas a light equivalent to twenty-three and one-fourth
candles, the same burner with coal-gas six and three-tenths
candles only. The illuminating power of pure oil from
peat, according to M. Foucault, is par excellence the illuminating
material at equal pressures; he found the power of
peat oil to be 705, the intensity of coal-gas being 100;
and with equal volumes the numbers were 756 to 100.
Some time ago, Mr. Keats, Chemist to the Metropolitan
Board of Works, and subsequently to the London County
Council, advised that there was a great future for the
employment of peat as a fuel, also in the manufacture of
gas. In the making of gas for general consumption he
proposed to employ peat gas along with the ordinary town
coal gas for the facilities it afforded in purification.
Professor Johnson, of Yale College, writing on the subject
of peat gas, remarks: — "It is essential that well-dried peat
be employed. The retorts must be of good conducting
material, therfore cast-iron is better than clay. They are
made of the usual form, and must be relatively larger than
those used for coal. A retort of two feet width, one foot
depth, and eight to nine feet in length, must receive about
100 lbs. of peat at a charge.
"The quantity of gas yielded in a given time is much
greater than from bituminous coal. From retorts of the
dimensions just named, 8,000 to 9,000 cubic feet of gas are
delivered in 24 hours. The exit pipes must, therefore, be
not less than 5 to 6 inches, and the coolers must be much
more effective than are needful for coal-gas, in order to
separate from it the tarry matter.
"The number of retorts requisite to furnish a given
volume of gas is much less than the manufacture from coal.
On the other hand, the dimensions of the furnace are considerably
greater, because the consumption of the fuel must
be more rapid in order to supply the heat which is carried
off by the copious formation of gas."
As those of our readers who are uninformed as to the
capabilities of peat may question its value as a raw material
for the production of gas, we here give the results of some
experiments carried out in Canada, and reported by the
Bureau of Mines, Ontario.
In 1901 the perfected Merrifield peat-gas generator was
designed and constructed by Mr. L. L. Merrifield, engineer to
the Economical Gas Apparatus Construction Company,
Limited, of Toronto. The new plant was erected for demonstration
purposes at Toronto Junction, and during the
autumn of 1901 a number of experiments were made, several
of them under the supervision of the Bureau of Mines.
Considering the intermittent nature of the tests and the imperfect
installation of the plant, a satisfactory showing was
obtained. A gas rich in heating value was produced at a
fairly steady rate, and at small cost for maintenance and
attendance. Without going into detail, it may be stated that
the experiments warranted the following conclusions, namely:
That, with connections of suitable size, the generator could
produce a much larger quantity of gas per hour or minute
than was actually obtained; that the production of gas will
depend almost wholly on the quantity of fuel consumed;
and that this in turn depends on the volume of the air blast.
The cost of maintenance or attendance may be reduced to a
minimum by handling the bulky peat and removing the
ashes by mechanical means, and this would also effect a
saving in time.
The Merrifield gas generator resembles the extensively
employed Loomis-Pettibone plants, and particularly that one
at Nacozari, Mexico, where the usual Loomis system is somewhat
modified with a view of making a uniform and fixed
gas out of the mixture of water and producer-gases, which
will be higher in calorific power than producer-gas and lower
than water-gas, the fuel employed being wood instead of
coal. This result is effected by introducing very little steam
with the air blast. The ordinary Loomis generator produces
alternately producer-gas and water-gas for short
periods of five minutes or so each way, each gas being conducted
to its own holder. The Merrifield furnaces are also
set up in connected pairs, with charging doors at the top.
The grates are near the bottom, and below them is a tapering
bottomless ash chamber, terminating several inches
below the surface of the water in the ashpit. The water
seals the bottom of the generators, preventing the ingress of
air, and yet does not interfere with the discharge of the ashes.
Crude air-dried peat in lumps forms the fuel. By the
time it reaches the generators from one-third to one-half will
have crumbled into fragments and dust, making a compact
and suitable charge for uniform consumption in the furnace.
The air blast is generated by a small blower operated
by gas engine, taking gas from the holder. It passes first
through the pipes of the condenser, where, in condensing
the moisture out of the hot gases from the generators, it
is itself heated up previous to entering the furnaces by
way of the chamber below the grate in the bottom. The
pipes for injection of steam also enter here. However, on
account of the high percentage of moisture contained in
the peat fuel, an internal supply of steam for the mixture
of water- and producer-gas is usually assured.
After making a good fire, say of wood, in the grate, the
peat is charred into the furnaces by the port holes at the
top until they are full, when the caps are again clamped
down. By forcing the blast for a while and heating the
peat into a glowing mass the process becomes properly
started, after which the volume of air is adjusted to the
production of the maximum capacity of the generators.
From now on the operation is continuous except during
the loading or recharging periods, covering a quarter of
an hour or so once or twice a day.
Although set up in pairs the generators, like the Nacozari
machines, will most of the time work as one, producing
the uniform mixed gas; but should a partial production
of water-gas alone be desired, the air blast is shut off and
steam injected into one generator, up through the glowing
mass of peat, across into and down through the hot coals
in the other machine, and out thence to the condenser and
scrubber. This continues for a few minutes, until the fire
has cooled off, so that the air blast is again required to
bring it up to the proper temperature, when the same
course is again followed, except that this time the direction
of the steam in the generator is reversed, entering the
bottom of the second and leaving by the first.
Peat, like wood, particularly green wood, is naturally
suited, on account of its large percentage of moisture, to
steady production of the mixed gas, rather than to the
alternate generation of first water-gas and then producer-gas,
as with dry fuels such as coal.
In these experimental runs of the Merrifield gas generator
the calorific determinations and analyses of the gas
were made by Dr. W. Hodgson Ellis, professor of applied
chemistry at the School of Practical Science, Toronto. The
gas produced on 28th October, 1901, gave the following
calorific values at the different stages of the operations:
Time. B.T.U. per cubic foot.
3.00 p.m. - 96·4
3.10 " - 118
3.20 " 149
3.25 " 154·6
3.55 " 159
4.15 " 125
Average - 1337
The quantity of gas made and peat consumed was not
The plant had been kept warm during the previous part
of the day without generating much gas until this test
began, and soon after gas of good quality began to appear
a mishap caused a sudden termination of the test. This
accounts for the gradual rise and subsequent abrupt fall
in the quality of the gas.
Shortly afterwards another test gave the following
quality of gas.
Time. B.T.U. per cubic foot.
2.10 p.m. - - - 156
2.40 " - - 156
3.10 " 157
3.40 " 156
4.15 " 153
4.30 " 155
Average - - 156
For some hours previous the generators had run steadily
and continued so to the end.
In November another run was made, giving gas of the
following quality :
Time. Calories per litre. B.T.U. per cubic foot.
10.45 a.m.- 889·6 - 100·5
10.55 " - 906·8 - 102·5
11.15 " -951 - 107·5
11.25 " -889·6 - 100·5
11.35 " -966·4 - 109·2
11.45 " -944·1 - 106·7
11.55 " -1019 115·2
12.5 " - -1041 117·6
3.20 p.m. - - 1059 119·9
3.30 " - -1074 121·4
3.45 " - 1092 123·4
4.0 " - 1113 125·7
4.15 " -1097 124·0
4.30 " - -1147 129·6
Average -1013 114·0
From these determinations it will be seen that the fuel
value of the gas on the day of the test rose from 100 to 130
B.T.U. per cubit foot. The analysis of a sample of the gas
taken from the pipe at the conclusion of the calorimeter
test, which also marked the end of the whole experiment,
gave as follows:
per cent.
Carbon dioxide, CO2 - 20·5
Carbon monoxide, CO 10·2
Methane, CH4 - - 1·9
Hydrogen, H - 22·8
Nitrogen, N - 44·6
The quantity of carbon dioxide in this sample is larger
than was obtained in samples taken in previous tests. In
one there was but 12·4 per cent. CO2, and in another but 7·4
per cent. An increase of CO2, accompanied by a decrease
of CO, such as the above analysis shows, would be caused
by the lowering of the temperature of the retort at the end
of the operation when the sample was taken.
The analysis of the peat used in the experiment is as
per cent
Moisture - - - - 25·94
Volatile organic matter - 48·41
Fixed carbon - - 18·69
Ash - - - - - - 6·96
Another run of the generator was made, and the gas this
time tested by Mr. J. Walter Wells. The analytical work
was conducted at the gas works, but for the calorimeter
determinations samples of the gas were taken in a large
aspirator-can from the gas-holder and tested at the School
of Practical Science laboratory in the same Junker's calorimeter
as was used at the works by Dr. Ellis in the
experiments previously described.
In forcing the gas out of the can by in-running water
some of the tarry vapours were lost by condensation, as was
apparent on examination of the water from the aspirator.
In all other respects, however, the method and apparatus
worked admirably.
In the accompanying table of analyses on page 95,
samples Nos. 1 to 11 are of the water-gas type, made by
injecting a large excess of steam with a moderate air blast
over the hot peat in the generator. Samples Nos. 12 to 16
are of producer-gas made in reheating the furnace charges,
which were cooled by the flow of steam for the water-gas,
by reversing the direction of the air blast through the
generators and shutting off all steam. On leaving the
holders this gas smelt very strongly of tar, and contained
considerable vapours.
Another similar Merrifield peat-gas generator was installed
at the Trent Valley Peat Fuel Company's works,
Kirkfield, to produce fuel gas for the dryer, but no tests
were made with it, which is to be regretted, since it is
said to have worked satisfactorily.
The original Merrifield generator, first set up at Toronto
Junction, on which the above experiments were conducted,
has since been removed and reinstalled at the Welland
peat works, where, if desired, test runs may be made
with it. Later, the intention is to incorporate it as part
of the peat works, to furnish fuel gas for boilers and
From the prospectus of Peat Industries, Limited, concerning
this method and all necessary apparatus for the production
by it of peat gas, the following is quoted:
"From one ton of compressed peat, analysing approximately:
moisture, 15 per cent.; ash, 7 per cent.; fixed
carbon, 21 per cent.; volatiles 57 per cent.; valued at
$1.50 per ton delivered at gas retort, figuring wages at
20 cents per hour, and yearly depreciation at 6 per cent.
upon value of machinery, and in a plant capable of producing
40,000 cubic feet of gas hourly, a yield will be
had of not less than 100,000 feet of fixed gas, carrying
not less than 150 B.T.U. per cubic foot, at a cost not
exceeding 2½ cents per 1000 cubic feet. We will supply
all apparatus and material for a plant producing not less
than 20,000 cubic feet of gas per hour for $5000, exclusive
of freights, cartage to site, and erection; larger plants proportionately.
Peat carrying up to 30 per cent. moisture
may be used, but the yield of gas will be reduced about
1000 cubic feet for every additional 1 per cent. moisture."
This estimate was made for gas plants situated at a
distance from the bogs, to which the peat would have
to be shipped, and which therefore must first be manufactured
into compressed fuel. If the use of cut-peat be
made possible by locating the gas works at the bog, or
only at such distances that the peat could be economically
transported thereto as cut peat, the cost of the fuel should
not exceed 50 to 75 cents per ton.
The above experimental runs with the Merrifield generator
were made on cut peat, and the analytical tests show
that it gives high results. With compressed peat briquettes
the advantages over cut peat would be smaller bulk and
therefore less frequent handling, lower moisture content
and consequently a higher calorific value.
There are many advantages to be gained in the use of
peat by converting it into gaseous fuel, many of them
appertaining equally to other gaseous fuels. While the
consumption of the solid fuel involves a loss of heat of
25 to 30 per cent. or more, this loss, if the fuel be converted
into gas, will be reduced to from 15 to 20 per cent.
When the fire-box is sufficiently large the combustion is
complete, and without smoke or soot, leaving always a
clean boiler surface. A properly regulated draught insures
complete and even combustion. Its comparative freedom
from sulphur makes possible a long life for the boiler. A
better insulation may be had against loss of heat by radiation,
and the hot gases from the generator may be utilised
for drying the peat which is to be converted into gas.
The most important reason, however, why peat gas
can be more profitably and extensively employed than
peat in large industrial works lies in the fact that by
locating a large central power station at a suitable bog
the cheapest kind of peat, namely cut peat, satisfies all
requirements; and the gas may then be piped for distribution,
or if the place of consumption be at too great a
distance, it may be converted at the bog into electrical
At the Provincial Assay Office 36 samples of peat from
different bogs in Ontario were analysed for their sulphur
contents. The results serve to show the general character
of peat in this respect.
Each sample was analysed in duplicate by three different
methods. The sulphur content was found to range from
0·112 to 1·00 per cent., with an average of about 0·5 per
cent. Pennsylvania anthracite contains over ·6 per cent.,
and bituminous coal over 1·4 per cent. sulphur.
Bogs are however to be had, as the analyses show, which
carry little more than traces of sulphur, should freedom
from this ingredient be particularly desired.
As a rival to electric light, gas is at present in an experimental
stage, but possesses all the elements of practical
success. At a late meeting of the Institution of Gas
Engineers, Professor H.B. Dixon, Director of the Chemical
Laboratories at Owen's College, showed by beautiful experiments
that the burning of a highly-explosive gas
mixture was one of the best means of developing light
from gas. Coal-gas and air, he said, would not deteriorate,
but coal-gas and oxygen would. Industrial (50 per cent.)
oxygen could now be made by the fractional distillation
of liquid air at a cost of 5s. per 1000 feet., but he could
see no reason why it should not be manufactured for half
that price. Coal-gas fed with such oxygen could be made
to burn on a zirconia mantel and give a light, roughly,
of two hundred candles for a consumption of two cubic feet
of coal-gas per hour, which statement he demonstrated by
an experiment which earned him loud applause. Pointing
to the electric light above them, which actually paled
before the brilliant light he had produced, the lecturer
concluded by saying that this was only one of the developments
which must flow from a study of the mechanism
of the combustion of gases.
"Messrs. Ruston, Proctor & Co., of Lincoln, who are
intending to build a new works, have recently been making
inquiries as to the relative economy of gas-fired and coal-fired
furnaces. Their representatives have visited Scotland
and procured figures in regard to the weight of plates that
could be heated in a certain number of hours, the quantity
of coal used, and the price of coal, with a view to getting
the cost of heating each ton of plates. They saw a furnace
which was gas-fired, of about the same dimensions as the
one they were firing with coal at Lincoln, and on the
ordinary coal-fired furnace they were heating 17 tons of
plates in a week of 53 hours. The coal consumed was
6 tons 14 cwts., and the price of coal was 11s. 6d. per
ton. Consequently the cost of heating those plates ran
up to 4s. 5d. per ton. The gas-fired furnace heated 45 tons
in the week of 53 hours, and the coal consumption being
11 tons 10 cwts., and the price of coal was 8s. 6d. per
ton, so that the cost of heating the plates in the gas-fired
furnace was 2s. 2d. as against 4s. 5d. per ton" (Iron and
Coal Trades Review).
At the works of Messrs. A. Macmillan & Son, Ltd., of
Dumbarton, a test was lately made with regard to the
time required for heating certain angle bars in a gas-fired
furnace recently erected, and it was found that the angle
bars could be perfectly heated in from 15 to 16 minutes,
whereas previously the time for the same class of work
was 35 minutes. That was distinctly in favour of the
gas-fired furnace. Very similar information has been
obtained from Messrs. Workman & Co., Ltd., of Belfast.
They were heating channel bars 9 in. by 3½ in. by 3½ in.
in 20 minutes, the length of the bars being about 60 ft.
This information emphasises the fact that re-heating by
peat-gas can be done more thoroughly, and in much
less time, and also that a cheaper class of fuel could be
used than was usually the case with gas-fired furnaces.
In connection with the manufacture of gas from peat,
may be mentioned the possibilities of producing artificial
colours from the tar resulting from distillation. Already,
in the United States, though the experiments have been
confined to the laboratory, comes proof that beautiful dyes
can be manufactured from this residuum quite equal to
those produced from coal-tar in Germany, the raw material
being mainly supplied from this country. It certainly is a
curious though not very pleasant fact, that we, owing to
the lack of knowledge of the highest scientific kind, should
be distanced by a foreign nation, and that we should export
our gas-tar products as refuse to Germany to be employed
in a highly profitable manufacture simply because we
have not the "push," the brains, or the skill, to conduct
the manufacture at home. It is one of the most singular
phenomena in the domain of industrial chemistry that the
chief industrial nation and most practical people in the
world should be beaten in the endeavour to turn to account
the coal-tar which it possesses. But the fault lies with
our Chancellors of the Exchequer. Every manufacturer
knows that the chemical and allied industries of this
country are crippled, and in some instances crushed out,
by the tax on alcohol which is essential to many processes.
While every reasonable means should be adopted to prevent
loss to the revenue, the present restriction should be modified
to meet the requirements of those chemical industries
in which alcohol is a requisite. Professor Green of the
Yorkshire College has demonstrated that the cost of producing
aniline dye in Germany is 4d. per lb. as against
2s. 4d. here. In Germany spirit for engine fuel is delivered
duty free. These spirit engines, referred to elsewhere
occupy much less floor space than ordinary engines, are
economical in working, and can be started from absolute
rest to full working power in very much shorter time than
the best steam engine. Concessions in this direction would
be a valuable boon to many industries, and employers
would, in their own interests, be careful to prevent any
abuse which might lead to their withdrawal.
For centuries the dark-coloured Irish friezes have been
dyed with dhuv, the deep brown, almost black, resinous
tar found in certain peat holes. Why could not the War
Office, in order to stimulate home industries, stipulate that
the Khaki dye used in military clothing should be the.
product of our own peat bogs? The writer has been in
communication, with reference to peat dyes, with the Yorkshire
College, an institution combining the high standard
of a University with the practical training of a technical
school. The department of dying and tinctorial chemistry,
which has issued a prospectus directing attention to the
special faculties existing there for research in work of this
kind, from its close proximity to the great textile industries
of Yorkshire and Lancashire, is par excellence the establishment
best equipped for investigating the peat-tar products.
Probably its researches and experiments will give them
a value little, if any, inferior to the aniline dyes which,
originally, were discovered and developed in London. At
present we actually pay over £3,000,000 a year for chemical
dye-stuffs which we should ourselves produce.
Dry compressed bottom peat yields at red heat 11·000
cubic feet of gas per ton. The coke retains the form of the
peat, and amounts to about 9 cwts. per ton carbonized,
while 15 gallons of a peculiar acid tar are obtained, as well
as a quantity of ammoniacal liquor. Experiments made
with compressed and dried Austrian peat, on dry distillation,
produced 30 to 40 per cent. of good dense charcoal, 25
per cent. of ammoniacal liquor, 6 per cent. of tar, and 29 to
30 per cent. of gas. The tar, on distillation, yields burning
"solar" and lubricating oils, paraffin, and 15 per cent. of
pitch. But this peat pitch differs from the ordinary
coal tar in that it possesses a distinguishing acid quality
which is uniformly found in every description of peat, and
which possesses properties not present in ordinary bitumen,
and the pungent acid odour emitted by peat when burning
testifies to the presence of this peculiar acidity. By some
chemists this is pronounced to be a vegetable acid allied to
the pyroligneous, by others to be of a distinct nature; and
Dr. Walker observes that it resembles the sorreline, the
gallic, and the suberic, and is of opinion that it is a combination
of all three. Gallic acid undoubtedly prevails.
At present the recovery of benzol from the numerous
coke ovens on the Continent has so increased the output
of that material that tar, which used to be the only practical
source from which it could be obtained, has fallen in
price. When, as we anticipate, the production of the by-products
of peat develops into an important industry, the
output of acid tar must reach an extensive tonnage. We
have already shown that it is likely to meet a special
demand for briquetting low-grade iron ores in combination
with peat charcoal and pulverized lime, in which process
coal tar is useless. In casting about for other uses for this
product, and for partially carbonized condensed peat, we
have had our attention directed to a process for producing
Methane Hydrogen Gas. The bulk of coal gas is hydrogen
and methane. Although, so far, this method has not been
applied to peat, there can be no difficulty in substituting
this material. The process of producing this gas is similar
to that employed in the manufacture of water gas — viz.,
by the action of steam on pure carbon, carefully screened
coke, etc., the difference being that TAR, coke, coal tar,
water-gas tar, creosote, or any liquid hydro-carbon is used.
20 lbs. of coke and 3 gallons of tar produce 1000 cubic
feet 10 to 72 candle-power gas. The advantages of
methane hydrogen as a diluting gas are well known, and
where tar is procurable in large quantities its manufacture
is of the greatest importance as an adjunct to gas works.
Mixed with coal gas, the cost of production, into the gasholders,
is brought down 25 to 50 per cent.
As the subject appears to us of such moment to the peat
industry and to gas companies generally, we give the following
extract, reprinted from the Journal of the Society of
Arts, and also reported in the Journal of Gas Lighting, of
a lecture on "The Future of Coal Gas and Allied Illuminants,"
by Professor Vivian B. Lewes, Royal Naval College,
Greenwich, one of the highest authorities on the subject
of gas:
"In large works blue water gas will in the future be an
absolute necessity, but in the hundreds of small works that
supply our country towns the benefits to be derived from its
use are minimised to an almost vanishing point by the
extra cost of production of a comparatively small quantity
of gas. I have, during the last ten years, given a large
amount of time to the question of how best to supply small
works with an ally which shall prove of as much value to
them as the Dellwik plant will to their larger brethren.
"Acting upon the suggestions which I have made from
time to time, there is perfected an apparatus which should
be of the greatest possible value where the gas supply is
only of moderate dimensions.
"At the present time the recovery of benzol from the
coke ovens on the Continent has so increased the output of
that material that tar, which used to be the only practical
source from which it could be obtained, has fallen in price
until many works would be glad to dispose of all they produce
at a penny per gallon. Indeed, in many cases it is
being used as a fuel in the works, and the only way in
which the price of small quantities of tar can be kept up
for special purposes is by reducing as far as possible the
amount fur sale. The lines on which the experiments have
been working have been to take my idea of decomposing
hydro-carbons, such as heavy oils, in the fierce heat of the
fuel of the water-gas generator itself instead of in cracking
chambers, as is usually done in making carburetted water
gas, a process which demands not too heavy a grade of oil,
and adapt it to the decomposition of tar, so regulating the
temperature and the volume of tar that the latter is completely
decomposed to carbon, methane, and hydrogen,
together with small traces of more valuable illuminating
hydro-carbons, and then to filter off the finely divided
carbon produced by passage through the coke which is
afterwards to feed the generator.
"The apparatus which has been designed for this purpose
consists of an iron shell lined with fire brick, and provided
at the bottom with clinkering doors. The fuel used in it is
under ordinary circumstances coke, although, of course,
anthracite, or even a certain proportion of bituminous coal
mixed with coke, may occasionally be employed. The fuel
after ignition is raised to incandescence by air blasts from
jets arranged close to the bottom of the generator. These
air injectors carry in their interior the steam pipes, so that
when the necessary degree of incandescence has been
reached, steam can be directed on the hottest part of the
fuel. In the generator lining about midway is a flue provided
with openings into the generator; the flue passes
entirely round the generator, and has its exit into a stack
pipe closed at the top by a snift valve. The top of the
generator has another exit leading into the upper part of
the stack pipe. In this way during the blow the products
of combustion are led away through the openings into the
flue, ensuring a bed of incandescent fuel of constant height,
and at the same time, when steam is turned on, the resulting
gases can be drawn off through either of the exits.
Between the flue and the floor of the generator is a constriction,
in the space below which are arranged the
injectors, by means of which the tar is driven in by steam
"In actual working the fuel is first raised to incandescence
by the air blasts in the lower part of the generator, and
the products, consisting of little else but carbon dioxide
and nitrogen, escape into the air through the flue, the snift
valve being left open. When the desired temperature has
been attained the snift valve is closed, and tar or other
heavy hydrocarbons are injected by steam into the annular
space below the constriction. Rising through the incandescent
fuel both the hydrocarbon and the steam are decomposed,
the former into soot and gaseous products, whilst
the latter yields water gas. During this time some steam
is injected through the pipes in the interior of the air jets,
by which means the clinker is broken up and more water
gas formed. The mixed gases then pass upwards with the
finely divided carbon from the decomposition, and this
latter is removed by passing through the fuel in the upper
part of the generator, and being brought down as the red
hot fuel sinks, it reaches the zone of action where it at once
is utilised for decomposing the steam before the larger
masses of fuel are acted on, on account of its finely divided
condition. The gases, consisting of a mixture of hydrogen,
methane and carbon monoxide, pass away through the stack
pipe by a cross pipe, which is fitted with a valve, by which
it is closed during the blow.
"The results obtained are that for a consumption of
28 lbs. of tar and 20 lbs. of coke, 1000 cubic feet of a 10 to
12 candle gas can be obtained, having the composition:
Hydrogen - - - - - 64·4 per cent.
Methane - - - - - 12·0 "
Unsaturated hydrocarbons - - 3·0 "
Carbon monoxide - - - 15·0 "
Nitrogen and carbon dioxide - 5·6 "
Calorific value 400 - - - B.T.U's.
"The small coke consumption due to the bulk of the
water gas being made from the carbon of the tar, reduces
the price of the gas, and the estimated cost is 6d. per 1000
cubic feet. It is quite clear that such an apparatus using
up the surplus tar and coke in a small works would be
a valuable adjunct.
"From this rapid review of the processes which are available
for increasing the volume of gas obtainable from coal,
so as most economically to obtain a large volume of a good
quality heating gas, and, at the same time, to utilise to the
full the illuminating value of such hydrocarbons as can be
obtained from coal, it is clear that considerable economies
can be effected. In a large works where the blue water gas
could be made at 4d. or 5d. a thousand cubic feet, it would
be possible to put a 14 candle-power gas with a calorific
value of 500 B.T.U.'s, or a little over, into the holder at a
cost of not much more than 9d. per thousand, as against
1s. per thousand, which we may take it now costs in large
works to make a 16 candle-power gas in the holder, so that
an economy of about 2½d. per thousand would be arrived
at in this way."
The apparatus referred to in the above lecture is simple,
efficient, and economical, and is in every way adapted to
the production of a cheap and suitable diluting gas. It is
so arranged that explosions in the blast pipes or other parts
of the plant cannot occur, and, after a few hours' instruction,
any ordinary labourer can work it. It is impossible to
make any mistake in working valves as there are none to
manipulate. The hydrocarbons being completely decomposed
into permanent gas, there is no necessity for tar
separators or tar wells, and there is no offensive residual
whatever. The small coke consumption, due to the gas
being made from the CARBON OF TAR, reduces the cost to
about 8d. per thousand cubic feet of gas. The advantages
of this Methane Hydrogen Diluting Gas Producer may be
summarised as:
1. The production of a large quantity of gas to meet
emergencies without the necessity of lighting up retorts and
injuring settings. Starting from a cold plant gas making
can be commenced within two hours.
2. Economy on Capital Account.
3. Saving of ground space. Four times the quantity of
gas can be manufactured in the same space as required for
coal gas. Thus a plant capable of making 150,000 cubic
feet per day requires floor space of 20 feet by 29 feet.
4. Saving in maintenance and repairs.
5. Absolute safety in the manipulation of the plant,
together with economy of steam and power required for
6. Its high percentage of.Hydrogen, 64·4 per cent., and
low percentage of Carbon Monoxide, 15.0 per cent., the
latter being well under any requirements of the Board of
7. Uniform height and temperature of the bed of incandescent
8. Reduction (in the case of coal) of clinker, and more
efficient blast results.
9. The possibility of working without fire-bars.
10. Control of the tar markets.
We have mentioned the Brayton engine for burning oil
sprayed into a carburettor at high pressure which was
patented in 1872 in the United States. Since then
numerous appliances for gas-making and power, mainly
from petroleum or earth oils, have been brought forward.
Of these are the Pintsch and Keith systems for the production
of gas, under compression, for the lighting of
railway carriages, lightships, floating buoys, etc., for which
purposes they answer admirably. Though the oil at
present burnt is either Russian Solar distillette or Scotch
gas-oil, we submit that when the manufacture of peat tar
on a commercial scale has been established, the burning
"solar" lubricating paraffin oil procured by distillation
might well be substituted for these mineral products. The
Pintsch system is used exclusively on the passenger trains
of the Great Eastern Railway. We would remind our
readers of M. Foucault's statement that "the illuminating
power of pure oil from peat, the illuminating material par
excellence, has been found at equal pressures, 705, the intensity
of coal gas being 100; and that, with equal volumes,
their numbers are 756 to 100."
Where petroleum cannot be procured at a cheap rate, and
where peat bogs, as in Ireland and the West of Scotland,
cover large areas, the system of lighting and raising steam
of the Lucas Light and Heating Company may be expected
to do effective work and might be usefully adapted for
lamps, rivet-heating furnaces, brass furnaces and heaters for
shipbuilders, boilermakers, and bridge builders. Burning
crude blast-furnace, i.e. coal oil, the Lucas and Giant lamps
give a light of from 10,000 to 15,000 candle power, but, in
fact, any oil may be used save animal oil, which is far too
PROFESSOR GEORGE FORBES, F.R.L., the distinguished consulting
electrician, Cataract Construction Company of
Niagara, and, perhaps, the highest living authority on the
transmission of power by electricity, asserts that he would
undertake, by means of waste water power now finding its
way to the sea, to run all the railways in Scotland. In
Ireland also there is a vast store of water to harness which,
till the Shannon Water and Electric Power Company put
forward its prospectus, no serious attempt has been made.
This undertaking, brought forward at an inopportune juncture
when the Land Bill was being eagerly discussed and was
before Parliament, met with a cold reception from capitalists
and the public generally. It is recognised that electricity is
destined to supersede steam as a cheaper form of motive
power, and is rapidly becoming an important factor in competition
with steam power. But the harnessing of waterpower
is a costly task, and, at certain seasons in many
localities, not always constant or efficient. The contract
price for forming weirs and channels, installing turbines, and
erecting the necessary plant on the Shannon was £576,500,
and the Company is authorized, by Act of Parliament, to
afford financial assistance towards the development of new
manufactories, mills, workshops, and industries. Limerick,
said the prospectus, is already the centre of many industries,
and boasts a population of 46,000 inhabitants, amongst the
majority of whom, it may be remarked, loyalty to the paramount
Power is an unknown quantity. Seeing that Government
has already expended nearly £700,000 on sluices to
regulate the unfailing water supply of the Shannon, it is to
be regretted that this admirable and comprehensive scheme
has not been favourably received, but the blame lies with the
League and the sedition-mongers of the South West of
Ireland. The river is by far the largest and most important
water-way in the Island, and may be considered the largest
river, above tidal influences, in the United Kingdom, the
main stream being 160 miles long above the tideway near
Limerick, which is itself 60 miles from the estuary at Loop
Head. When the population of Limerick, as has been the
case at Belfast and the North of Ireland, is leavened by the
influx of the hard, industrious, dogged blood of Scotland,
then will come its opportunity. There is at present a
remarkable and steady increase in the number of Scotchmen
migrating to the North of Ireland, and, possibly, at no
distant date, the South West may absorb some of this
migrating stream, and Limerick, with sufficient water in its
docks to float 3,000 ton vessels, may become a flourishing
port and a large centre of industrious energy. This Shannon
water scheme was thoroughly sound, but was born out of due
time. Some day it will have an existence, and a vigorous
A project advocated by Mr. H. B. Thwaite, C.E., has lately
been put into shape by the Yorkshire Electric Power Company
with a capital of £2,000,000. Here the prime motive
power is coal. Briefly described, this gentleman's project is
to supply electric power, generated in central stations
installed in the centres of our coalfields, to our great industrial
centres and to the Metropolis itself. The power station
for serving the Metropolis would be erected on the Derbyshire
coalfield; an auxiliary station to serve the Midland
Counties being situated in the Staffordshire coalfield. The
electrical trunk lines would serve the larger towns en route,
including Derby, Nottingham, Birmingham, Leicester, Northampton
and Bedford. Distributing, transforming, and storage
stations could be erected near the Metropolis. The
different Metropolitan and suburban electric light stations
could be supplied with energy for distribution. Electric
railways and other power stations could also be supplied.
Larger power consumers could be supplied with power direct.
Each vestry, not already supplied with an electric generating
plant, would be invited to put down a distributing system
and a receiving station. The electric energy could be sold to
the different distributing companies at such a price as to
enable the power to be supplied to the light and power consumer
at an economic and attractive figure, or at a little over
one penny per kilowatt hour. The industrial centres of
Lancashire, Yorkshire, and Cheshire would be supplied with
electric energy generated in two coalfield stations respectively
near Wigan and Barnsley. The cost of power to the small
factory owner need not exceed £5 per 3,000 working hours
of one actual horse-power of energy. In the Metropolis this
energy system will cost between £9 and £12. This electrical
power agency permits the starting or stopping of the plant
by the mere turning of a switch or the pressure of a button.
Whilst the power plant is not actually doing work, there is
neither serious loss nor anxiety involved. The power user
is not troubled with boiler insurance or the smoke nuisance
inspector; he may simply hire the electric motors, and when
he decides to remove his manufacturing appliances, he has
merely to return the hired motors; whereas a steam-power
plant with its chimney cannot, except with a great sacrifice,
be removed. If the system is carried out entirely, each
machine can be driven independently by its own motor;
consequently, the expensive items of belting, shafting and
pulleys are almost entirely eliminated. The loss of transmission
by cable is about 15 per cent.
For Coal read Peat. Here lies a primary material source of
peat, one of the productions of nature, in sight, and at hand,
claiming the attention of the masses as well as of the classes,
spread over regions of far wider area than our coalfields, and
offering promise of success to a degree rarely apparent at so
early a stage of any enterprise. Most of the power distribution
undertakings and electric lighting companies employ
steam as the sole means for generating electric energy, and
despite the heavy cost of fuel, prove remunerative. In many
sparsely populated districts of the United Kingdom where,
for lack of railways and other means of communication, and
owing to the great distance from the coalfields, industry is
latent, there is ample room for numerous industries, all of
which may be served by electricity generated by peat. It
is hardly possible to over-estimate the value and importance
of the introduction of electricity, on a large scale, as a means
for the economical application of power to the many varied
factories and cottage industries these large areas are capable
of running, or to hazard even a guess at the varied character
of the industries we might reasonably expect to see established.
Belfast stands prominently forward as an example
of what the introduction of outside interest and capital can
effect, and there is no reason why what has been done, and
is doing, in this great centre of the linen manufacture and
shipbuilding should not be effected elsewhere. Industries
being essential to commercial prosperity, any enterprise
which will enable manufactures to be established where none
at present exist must be a matter of great and lasting
importance. The introduction of electric energy upon a
reliable and cheap basis must tend to bring to whole districts
an industrial and commercial prosperity hitherto lacking.
In the Highlands of Scotland industry is practically at a
standstill, and, with the exception of Ulster, the same lamentable
condition of stagnation is general throughout Ireland.
Thanks, however, to such leaders of men as Mr. W. J. Pirrie,
the great Belfast shipbuilder, who employs twelve thousand
men and pays away £20,000 weekly in wages, Lord Iveagh,
and others, who are credited with fostering a great transit
scheme for "the distressfull country," commercial and industrial
developments of great moment may be reasonably
anticipated. The co-operation of Mr M'Cann, the wealthiest
member of the Nationalist party, in this welcome but wholly
unexpected new departure, may be taken as an earnest
that such philanthropy shall not be wrecked by League
interference or factious opposition. At an early date we may
find the canals freed, the creation of a special service of boats,
the construction of a network of light railways, and a service
of motor-car transport all accomplished facts. In France and
Belgium the canals are nearly all free and act as a deterrent
on inflated railway freights, whereas in Ireland these waterways
have been acquired by the Railway Companies in order
to prevent legitimate competition.
The reader is counselled to peruse Transit Problems,
a paper of considerable merit, the work of Mr. William
Field, M.P,, published by the Department of Agriculture
and Technical Instruction for Ireland during the current
year. In it will be found some trenchant remarks on the
paralising régime of railway management in the Sister Isle.
"The Irish railways by impeding industry and penalising
production have been a hidden agency in promoting emigration
to a much greater extent than is admitted by their
apologists, who do not analyse economic cause and effect.
As a country develops it demands better transit faculties,
and, as means of transport are improved and cheapened,
almost in precise ratio do the agricultural produce and
industrial progress of the country increase, for trade and
transit travel together, and the limits of markets are
frequently determined by the cost of transport. Produce
or manufactures are useless unless they can be conveyed
to the consumers and users." Recently a compressed Peat
Company was started in Co. Sligo, the rate for carriage to
Dublin was 11s. per ton, while the sale price to the consumer
was 21s., i.e. the carrying company got more than
half the cost to the consumer. We confidently look forward
to an early cure for this plundering and blundering
in which the English lines and Shipping Federation cooperate.
The influential gentlemen who have taken the
transit question in hand will brook no denial. There must
be an official Transit Department armed with sufficient
powers to control the railway ring. At present high railway
dividends in Ireland are extorted at the expense of
national prosperity and commercial progress. If the reader
will provide himself or herself with the blue book referred
to, much valuable information will be found in its pages
bearing on the past, present, possible, and probable future
of Ireland. The Industrial Conference cannot fail to achieve
much good. The country, in the words of the president,
the Right Honourable Sir Horace Plunkett, P.C., F.R.S.,
"sorely needs assistance," and the predominant partner
must, if only in its own self-interests, do all that in it lies to
promote, by every means in its power, technical education
and education generally; to improve agriculture; to restore
the wool industry, once such a source of wealth; to establish
and foster the diversified industries subsidiary to
agriculture; and generally to do its utmost to stem the
restless tide of emigration ever setting towards the West,
which saps the life blood of the Emerald Isle and carries
with it her most progressive sons, the very pith arid
marrow of the population. Those who are interested in
the regeneration and advancement of our countrymen and
countrywomen on the other side of St. George's Channel
should also consult Mr. W. P. Coyne's Handbook of Art
and Cottage Industries of Ireland. The late exhibition
of Irish industries at Londonderry House bore striking
testimony to the capabilities of the Irish peasant in the
direction of manufacturing homespuns and other woollen
goods. The flocks of Down, Roscommon, Westmeath, and
Cork, already produce a "clip" suitable to a wide range
of fabrics. By judicious admixture of fresh blood these
flocks can be graded up to wool of the finest quality.
The skilful breeder overcomes all difficulties. In the hand
or power looms working up native material, grown in the
centres of manufacture, there are immense arid immediate
possiblities. With improved staple of wool there must be
the newest of processes and the latest and best type of
machinery. The running of machinery only fit for the scrapheap,
inferior in productiveness to that employed elsewhere,
must end in ruin. The important new edition of Ireland,
Industrial and Agricultural is an admirable review of the
island's principal economical resources and a good book
of reference. Parliamentary Grants founded the "Royal
Linen Manufacture of Ireland," which now runs 31,484
looms — much of the flax, to our shame be it said, being
imported, though Ireland and many parts of the United
Kingdom possess all the conditions of soil and climate
suited to the growth of the plant. Thanks to the action
of the Congested Districts Board, the lace industry has
increased its sales, within seven years, from £4230 to
£23,149. The Irish Industries Association is doing splendid
work, as is the Royal School of Art Needlework. What
more beautiful than the Belleek pottery ware with its
peculiar tint and nacreous lustre, and yet this is now the
only pottery deserving the name in Ireland. A visit to
the collection of Irish Building Materials and Minerals at
the IMPERIAL INSTITUTE should convince the most sceptical
that all over the county, from Belfast to Cork and from
Dublin to the Atlantic shores, there is abundance of
excellent pottery clays. What more promising than the
samples of manufactured Terra Cotta, Della Robbia — turquoise,
yellow and green, Faince, and the Scraffits wall
tiles? There is, with fuel and power, a great future for this
manufacture. The répoussé metal work of Fivemiletown is
Ireland's one sample of iron or steel industry, but it has
everywhere earned most favourable notice. We find at
the IMPERIAL INSTITUTE convincing proof of the mineral
wealth of Ireland. There are exhibited numerous specimens
of metals, building stones, flags and flagstones,
marbles, granites of all colours and the finest quality, clays,
sands adapted to glass manufacture, slate, and numerous
other materials. There is a great future for Ireland in
the working of her really splendid and practically inexhaustible
granites. It is found in every colour, takes
a beautiful polish, and wears well. The green variety
(Dolerite) from Rostrevor deserves special attention. It
is said that the patriotic Irish Americans who have
departed this life take their rest more comfortably when
some headstone, "sculptured urn," slab, pillar, or Celtic
cross from the old country bears record to their numerous
virtues and the high esteem in which the exile from Erin
was so justly held. This estimable hankering after a
monument from the land of one's birth is likely to open
out a lively trade in tombstones, which, with capital,
modern machinery, and power to drive it, can be developed
to any extent. Galway and Donegal can supply New
York not only with magnificent specimens of red, grey,
and green granites to beautify "God's Acre," but with
a variety of marbles such as Connemara green, Cork red,
and Middleton pink and dove, Erne fossil, Kilkenny black
and white, Galway white, and Donegal green.
There are many who believe that if diligent scientific
search were prosecuted valuable minerals would be found
in the Sister Isle. All will wish well to the endeavour
lately set on foot to prospect in the Berehaven, Schull,
Crookhaven, Kilcrohane or Sheeps Head districts, and in
Galway, where some very fine copper pyrites have been
discovered, malachite, azurite, and bornite are known to
occur. Tin, lead, zinc, and other metals are known to
exist here and there, but there never has been any persistent,
well-sustained attempt to "go to the deep" for
higher-grade ores. When the country is sufficiently opened
up by railways, and has an efficient power supply, these
minerals will be prospected and developed by modern
appliances. In the past the Irish miner has not been an
unqualified success, for many years ago anthracite coal
milling was started in some localities, but, just when
successful results appeared within reach, the miners brought
out their tools and struck. The strike in one instance
was not due to the Trade Union or to the work of the
agitator, but was the outcome of a superstitious belief in
malevolent gnomes who disputed their right to burrow into
the bowels of the earth and to rob them of their treasures.
It is not improbable, however, that some wholly mundane
influence utilised this superstition to trade on the fears
of the ignorant, easily influenced, local peasantry.
In support of the advantages to be derived from electricity,
provided it can be generated at a low cost, we may instance
a concern established on the Tyne. Whilst the principle of
generating electric energy in central stations has already
been successful, power companies, with rights over considerable
areas, have not been long enough in existence in
England to allow of their actual financial results being
quoted. But the Newcastle-on-Tyne Electric Supply Co. has
grown by various increments in area from an electric lighting
business to a power undertaking of considerable magnitude,
and although the supply of power in bulk is a new
development, the results of the short period of working are
so emphatic that they may be accepted as conclusive proof
of economy in production. It may be mentioned, in support
of the soundness of this new departure, that this Newcastle
Company has recently obtained a contract for supply to the
North Eastern Railway Company of the electricity for that
portion of their system which they are now electrifying.
Important advantages of far-reaching effect must result
from the extended development of electric energy, and it will
have an important bearing on rural and cottage industries.
The general adoption of this power will be hastened by the
fact that it will, especially in conjunction with peat fuel for
manufactures and household purposes, banish that intolerable
nuisance the Smoke Fiend, securing a pure atmosphere
and other beneficial results. Industries will spring up and
develop outside the large manufacturing towns, those murky,
smoke-laden centres of a fast deteriorating population.
In these pages we have endeavoured to place before and
to convince the reader of the capabilities of peat both as a
raw and a manufactured material. Probably, in due process
of time, further uses will be found for this vegetable
matter. In it we find at once a fuel and a product
capable of wide and remunerative application. We shall
do well to follow in this particular the example afforded by
Germany, Austria, Holland, Russia, Sweden and Norway,
where the most is being made of the peat deposits and
where State aid is not lacking. The mammoth Yorkshire
Power Company, whose prospectus has lately been before
the public, proposes to use coal as the creator of its electric
energy, but where peat exists in sufficiently large quantities,
and of a suitable quality, why not avail ourselves of
it and cause it to serve the threefold purposes of fuel,
raw material, and land reclamation? The operations for
winning it require no skilled, highly-paid labour. Much
of the digging or graving can now be performed by the
steam or electric-driven dredger, the steam sapper, or by the
grab. No deep shafts have to be sunk, no costly galleries
to be driven, and there is no expensive haulage. Fire and
after-damp are unknown, frequent and dangerous fall of
roofs cannot occur, pit props are not required, cage
accidents are impossible, and an elaborate or any system of
ventilation is uncalled for. Miners' strikes, with their attendant
coal famines, dislocation of trade and industries, intense
suffering amongst the poor, with heavy losses all round,
would be troubles of the past. Peat-fuel, with its outcome of
electric energy, will free us from the grasping clutches of the
coal monopolists and speculators; moreover, it will tend to
curb the undue influence of Trade Unionism, and keep wages
within reasonable bounds. The collier will not find so much
time to "play," he will be less disposed to listen to the voice
of that curse of the working-man — the agitator, and such
senseless strikes as that at the Denaby and Cadeby Main
Colleries could not be repeated. This absolutely ludicrous,
though not less vicious piece of work, accompanied by assault
and intimidation, cost the malcontents more than £70,000 in
wages, besides depleting the funds of the Yorkshire Miners'
Union of some £30,000, causing a total wastage of £200,000.
For months previous to the strike these colliers had been
earning a daily wage of 9s. 1.55d for less than seven hours'
work (inclusive of meal times), and were therefore paid
1s. 3½d. per hour. Expenses are largely dependent on the
cost of fuel; and the price of coal, at the pitmouth, doubled
between the years 1888 and 1900. Providence has placed
this valuable substance Peat freely at the command of man,
and it certainly ought to enter very largely into general
consumption. It is surely of sufficient importance to command
earnest attention not only from owner of the barren
unproductive moor or bog, and the manufacturer, but from
the general public, not only from its commercial potentialities
and its varied application, but on the score of its
adaptability to the necessaries of domestic life. The development
of such a source of wealth and of general relief, lying
all round on lands that are now practically worthless, calls
for the serious attention of the Statesman, and invites the attention
of the capitalist, the business man, the philanthropist,
and the community at large. There is more in peat than is
dreamed of in most men's philosophy. Lord Rosebery
recently remarked that the Empire never needed loyal
service so much as now, and, with the serious question of
our food supply in case of war prominently before us, we
consider that in advocating the claims of the neglected asset
we are discharging a duty.
We have called attention to the results obtained on the
Continent, and, to a limited extent, in our own country,
from "moorkultur" or the cultivation of cut-away bog, and
have instanced cases where, with rational treatment, vast
and desolate morasses have been converted into rich pasture,
smiling cornfields, arable land famed for its root crops, and
luxuriant woods, and that too under conditions of position
and climate none too favourable.
The amount of peat graved annually in Holland, says Mr.
J. T. Tatlow, amounts to over 1,000,000 tons, and the
amount of land stripped in the process is estimated at
close upon 1000 acres, English, yearly. There are now,
in a high state of cultivation, in Holland, over 210,000
acres, English, of this cut-away bog. "When one thinks,"
adds this gentleman, "of the enormous amount of capital
and energy involved in this undertaking, and rendered
necessary in grappling with natural difficulties which exist
in Holland and do not exist in Ireland, one is amazed and
dejected to think what they have done and what Ireland
has left undone in the utilisation of her bogs."¹ Years ago,
when the peat question was first mooted in the United
¹ This applies with little less force to the vast peat deposits in the
Scottish Highlands and Lowlands, to the Western Isles, and to many
parts of England and Wales.
States, a writer in the New York Reformer, in endeavouring
to educate his countrymen on the uses of peat as
opposed to, or in conjunction with, coal and petroleum,
delivered himself in the following racy fashion: "What
is Peat, where shall we look for it, and how shall we know
it? in what is it better than wood or coal, and in what
respects inferior? Is a peat bed of much value in money,
and what is the history of peat? All these being questions
of keeping warm and cooking, and gas and motive power,
and making money, are almost asked daily; for peat is
becoming a subject of active interest everywhere at present
from the high prices we have to pay for wood and coal.
All over the State just now, solitary individuals in high
boots, and trousers tucked in, with a long pole over the
shoulder, and speculation in their eyes, may be seen following
a sloppy, crane-like course of life, mysteriously wading
about where mostly bull-frogs do congregate, who, if they
are asked what in the world they are doing out there, return
a swampy kind of answer, while they hurry on and leave
you as clear as mud upon the mystery of their queer
accoutrements and unaccustomed advent, and their marshy
ways. Yet if you become familiar with the matter but
just a little, the fog will rise from the subject and you'll
understand it easily, that it is peat-bogs they are looking
after; and that if one should happen to exist upon your
farm, it may be an excellent thing for yourself to know,
as an acre of peat may be worth a thousand dollars, or
two thousand even, instead of being a worthless bog and a
nuisance, so given up to croakings and paludal dirges, that
even abundant liquidation cannot still the voices of the
night.' A large bed, tolerably dry, or favourably situated
for draining, located near a place of great consumption, and
of pure, dense quality, may be worth anywhere from a
thousand to some hundreds of thousands of dollars. If,
however, badly located, very wet, quite poor, etc., it would
be worth something to you if it was not on your farm.
There is one great advantage in looking for peat, over
boring for oil, for instance; for peat you put down your
well with a pole, and it costs you only a couple of wet
feet; and if you don't strike peat, peat has not struck you
— you are not floored — your financial eye is not closed;
you can go on looking; and if at last you see it, you can
start business on a fair scale with only a spade or two; and
thus this is a branch of industry eminently open to universal
competitive enterprise, with small means and no indorser.
How much capital, by the way, do you suppose is now,
after only so few years' operations, engaged in petroleum?
Peat and petroleum (as their names indicate) are of the
same family (Old King Coal being the head): and it would
be strange if the younger brother, with the shorter name,
should do the longer and the larger business after all, and
become the greater favourite of the two. There is more
democracy in peat, more disposition to be generally useful,
not distant at all, but at home on everybody's hearth;
ready to lend a hand in the kitchen, or work in the
shop, or start an engine, or run a factory or an iron-mill,
or if you call on him for a big job, anything
a'most and without much fuss or fixing; a good-natured,
industrious, valid and capable, a rather unwashed,' rough
sort of fellow, but a fellow substantial withal, plenty of
means and ready to do a good thing for you, and a big
thing too, if you want it. You had better make his acquaintance
immediately if he happens in your neighbourhood."

Worked-out coal fields, exhausted oil wells, and shale
deposits, are worse than useless. Not so with peat bogs.
When the decayed dense bottom peat has been cut away to
within three feet of the pan, if a layer of the surface
sphagnum be placed upon this moist bed the bog will grow
again. This renovation of peat bogs is feasible, and the
deposit renews itself in a comparatively short space of time.
Thus the exhaustion of our peat bogs becomes an impossibility.
The reader is referred to Dr. P. Dvorkovitz's
remarks on this very important possibility. The owner
has at his disposal two distinct methods of utilising his
cut-away peat bog.
THAT peat is a good and thoroughly wholesome fuel is
now on the Continent, if not at home, generally conceded,
but very few people have any idea how to use it. The
masses and classes alike are ignorant of the method of using
any fuel advantageously and economically. With plenty of
kindling, an effective fire-lighter,¹ an unlimited quantity of
fuel, a clear grate, and a strong draft, it is an easy matter to
send a roaring blaze up the chimney regardless of expense.
In burning peat we have as many characteristics and
qualities to consider as in the case of coal. Some peats are
richer in calorific ingredients than others. The foreigner,
always ready to appreciate the benefits of an economical
household fuel, and to whom our cheery, bright but costly
open grate is unknown, has invented many cunningly
devised continuous burning stoves, some of which are admirably
adapted to the small peat briquettes, which can be
supplied in any form or of any size. In this respect the peat
manufacturer has an advantage over the colliery proprietor,
for his output is to pattern ; he is not troubled with
"cobbles," "nuts" and "duff," or a variety of prices and
grades. What is supplied for the furnace, the kitchen range,
the greenhouse and general domestic uses is one and the
same, only differing in quality according to the compound
¹Automatic machinery for the manufacture of peat fire-lighters, turning
out 12,000 in a working clay of ten hours, has lately been perfected. These
kindlers are in the form of perforated briquettes, ignite instantly though
safe, burn with great fierceness and durability (burning for nearly twenty
minutes), are clean and handy, require no "dipping," which evaporates,
and can be sold at a profit at 2s. per gross.
parts of the bog from which it has been won. Coal factors
and others condemn peat as rubbish. They know nothing
of its merits or demerits, and it is at present their interest to
decry any substitute for what brings them in their fat living.
Owing to the enormous vested interests in ordinary coal,
peat has been grossly libelled. Peat, either in its crude or
condensed form, can be burnt in any of the present forms of
grates, but, where the best and most economical results are
aimed at, we give a decided preference to one especially
constructed for this particular fuel, and we commend this
pattern to the careful attention of our readers. It has been
found that peat which is easily ignited — there is the safe,
cheap and speedy kindler manufactured from peat — burns
freely, leaving neither cinders or other impurities behind.
One great advantage is that it can be used in smaller quantities
than coal, that it leaves a small amount of white-ash,
requires to be renewed less frequently when the draft is suitably
arranged, and the intense heat given out can be
graduated to suit the weather. As regards open grates,
ranges and furnaces, it will be found that the fire-pot or
well — the receptacle of the fuel — should be of greater area,
and less depth than is considered necessary in the case of
coal. The bars must be closer together. When peat
briquettes come on the market, enterprizing stove-makers
will not be slow to give their attention to peat stoves; in
the meantime this, as an open grate, answers its purpose
admirably. It is simple and economical, burning for ten
hours and upwards without any attention or added fuel. The
air supply is under complete control, without which no grate
can be perfect, consequently the combustion is perfect. Being
absolutely noiseless, it is invaluable in the sick room, where
an even temperature may be maintained day and night.
There is no iron lining within the well, no dusty ash-box to
be drawn out to soil or burn the rug or carpet. A specially
constructed shovel cleans out the well, which is of fire-clay
on a fire-clay foundation. It is claimed, and justly so, that
this is the only grate with a solid fire-clay hot air chamber,
through which the super-heated air passes to the fire at will,
securing perfect combustion. With good peat briquettes, or
with peat and anthracite blocks, this grate can be used in
London at a cost of about 3¼d. per day of twelve hours. All
the heat radiates into the room, whereas in most grates the
heat produced is wasted by being drawn up the chimney or
flue. The grate can be purchased at from £1 10s. and
upwards, and is equally well adapted to the cottage and
mansion as to the school, the hospital, the asylum, and the
largest institution.
Mr. T. Pridgin Teale, M.A., writing on the economy of
house fires, gives the following hints, embodying the results
of observations and experience as a manufacturer and user
of improved fire-places. By following these simple rules
the possessor of an old time grate, who may be unwilling
to incur the expense of a new patent stove, may carry
out alterations such as will convert the old wasteful "blast
furnace" into a satisfactory slow combustion fireplace:
RULE 1. As much fire-brick and as little iron as possible.
Fire-brick retains, stores and accumulates heat. Iron runs
away with heat, and chiefly in the directions in which the
heat is least wanted.
RULE 2. The back and sides of the fire-place should be
RULE 3. The back of the fire-place should lean or arch
over the fire, so as to become heated by the rising flame.
The heated back raises the temperature of the gases and
helps them to burn, thereby lessening the smoke, and sends
abundant radiant heat, the most valuable product of the fire,
into a room.
RULE 4. The bottom of the fire or grating should be deep
from before backwards, probably not less than 9 inches for a
small room, nor more than 11 inches for a large room. In
the front hob, i.e. raised, fire-places 12 inches is found as a
rule the best "depth." Two points are gained by this
unusual depth, one that space is allowed for the slanting or
arching forward of the fire-place back, the other that there
is plenty of room for the fire to "lie down" away from the
draught of the chimney. The fire is thereby made horizontal
and slow-burning instead of vertical and quick-burning,
and this shallow fire in the case of peat is important.
RULE 5. The slits in the grating should be narrow — perhaps
¼ inch wide for a sitting-room grate, and 3/8 for a kitchen
grate. When burning peat, as no cinders are formed, the
slits should only be large enough to permit of the exit of
fine ash.
RULE 6. The bars in front should be narrow — less than
½ inch in thickness, so as not to abstract much heat, and close
together, 1¼ inch apart, so as to prevent the fuel from falling
forward, and not more than four in number for an ordinary
RULE 7. The chamber beneath the fire should be closed in
front by a shield or "economizer," the object of which is to
stop all current of air that would pass under the grate and
through the fire, and so to keep the chamber, its floor and
its walls at a high temperature. The "economizer" is
simply a shield of cast-iron which rests on the hearth and
rises as high as the lowest bar of the grate, against the front
of which it should fit accurately.
A good household fire should burn well but not rapidly.
Dr. Pridgin Teale, a well-known authority, who claims to be
the inventor of the "well" fire-pot system, says: "Two things
in combination are essential to the combustion of fuel — a
supply of oxygen and a high temperature. If fuel be burned
with a hot jacket around it, a very moderate amount of
oxygen will sustain combustion; and if the supply of oxygen
be moderate, combustion is slow. Burn coal (or peat) with
a chilling jacket around it, a rapid conductor like iron, and
it needs a fierce draught of oxygen to sustain combustion,
and this means rapid escape of actual heat, and also of
potential heat in unburnt gases and smoke (peat gives out
very little smoke) up the chimney. This is the key to the
whole position; this is the touchstone by which to test
principles of fire-place construction.
For hospitals, barracks, halls, public buildings, and large
rooms generally the Teale stove is to be recommended for
burning peat briquettes. It is a back-to-back fire-place,
designed to secure the maximum of heat without waste.
The flues, which are separate for the two stoves, are carried
either up through the ceiling or down through the floor,
the latter having this advantage, that it allows a full and
unbroken view of the chamber, while the top of the stove
admits of artistic tiling and can be used more or less as a
table. There is a ventilator under these top tiles, which,
not being apparent to a person standing upright, is no
disfigurement. It is designed to ensure the warming of
the air passing through it, and it is claimed that the
temperature of a chamber thus heated is sufficiently warm
throughout every part, as well as near the stove.
After considerable search we have lit on what may be
accepted, for the present, as a perfect and easily managed
cooking range for burning either peat briquettes, peat
charcoal, or a blend of both. A perfect and easily regulated
range is a desideratum in every household, be it the
humble artizan's cottage or the palace. It delights the
cook and preserves the nourishing properties of food during
the process of cooking. Most of the kitcheners, those
especially found in houses run up by the jerry builder
and in general use, are dangerously defective. For half
a century, despite what advertisers say, there has been
no fundamental change in the construction of ranges. The
kitchener generally pawned off on the public is the same
as it was two generations ago: the same old sooty flues,
all alike defective, inconvenient, dirty, malodorous, fuel
consuming, unscientific, a "cheap and nasty contrivance."
There is the same fire-box, the same low-down baking oven
without the slightest ventilation, the same old sooty flues,
boilers that burst during the frost, and an over-heated
kitchen. Dr. W. Whitla, a teacher of eminence and an
authority in the medical schools, in his Dictionary of
Treatment, writes: "Many cases of severe acid dyspepsia
are caused by great excess of butyric acid, and the cause of
this is owing to the practice of stewing fat meats for a long
time at high temperature in a close oven." This deleterious
resultant is of pungent and rancid odour and sour taste.
Most of us hanker after the toothsome and succulent
joint roasted before the fire, and the dullest palate can
detect the fine flavour of the surloin roasted before the
clean bright fire from the dry, shrunken, unpalatable meat
that has been baked in the ordinary closed oven. If not
roasted in an atmosphere of pure air, the chemical action
set up immediately heat comes into contact with the article
being roasted, causes an animal and metallic odour to
exude that should be instantly carried off; and its place
supplied by fresh air. Hence the superiority of the open
range to the close oven kitchener. But the open fire range
requires skill to operate, and, moreover, necessitates constant
supervision and continuous basting, because the
radiated heat, impinging only on one side of the joint at
a time, is required to be so intense that, were it not for
the revolving jack or spit, the joint would instantly
become burnt, as indeed is nearly always the case with
large joints before they become "done" to the middle.
Practical tests have demonstrated that the heat thrown
out from the open range, indicated by a thermometer
placed beside the joint, raises the mercury to 600 degrees
Fahr., and this temperature cannot be lowered because the
roasting is done from one side only. The meat is thus
placed between two extremes of 600 degrees on one side
and the temperature of the kitchen on the other, an
obviously serious defect. Meat of all kinds should not be
roasted in a temperature of over 350 degrees, and the heat
should be equal on all sides. This new range is a close
fire range answering all the conditions, theoretical and
practical, desired in a thoroughly efficient cooking equipment.
It is a perfect roaster, cooker, and oven, under the
best hygienic conditions, requires no brick or other fitting,
and is therefore a tenant's fixture, and with it the most
careless servant cannot waste the fuel. When the fire is
lighted it heats the hot plate, the oven, and boiler for
supply of hot water, all at once. The heat is made inside
the stove, and remains in it, whereas in the ordinary
patterns it is driven up the chimney. There is but one
damper. It burns any fuel, but is specially adapted to
peat. The patentee claims that a saving equivalent to
75 per cent. in fuel is saved as compared with the
ordinary open fire range, while the results are confessedly
superior. In connection with this now very important
question of economy in fuel the following figures are
Open fire Kitchener.
Improved Range.
For a family of six persons, per week - 8 cwt. 2 cwt.
For a restaurant cooking for 250 persons,
per week, - - - - 28 cwt. 6 cwt.
For a public institution cooking for 250
persons, per week - - - - 40 cwt. 6 cwt.
No dust or dirt is found in the kitchen and its temperature
is kept much reduced. The prices range from £15 to £175.
Our War Office and Admiralty authorities will do well to
establish these ranges in every barrack.
We should like to see less iron and more fire-clay in the
construction of this kitchener.
Another use for peat fuel is in Commercial Horticulture
and in the private conservatory and greenhouse. There
are indications that fruit, flower and vegetable culture
under glass is becoming a large and constantly increasing
industry. Fifteen or twenty years ago the systematic
raising of large crops under glass was practically unknown.
The venture, first started at Worthing, where hundreds of
acres under glass are to be seen, spread to the island of
Guernsey where climatic advantages were in its favour,
and it now has "caught on" far and wide all over England
and Wales and has established itself on a small scale in
Ireland. We do not venture to assert that the industry
has been uniformly successful, nothing attempted by mortal
man ever has or ever will be, but where failure has crept
in it can invariably be traced to a lack of technical knowledge,
mismanagement, bad selection of locality, high-priced
land, and dear fuel. When land is worth £1000 to £1200
an acre a "crop of bricks and mortar" pays better than
anything, and on the south coast, far distant from the coal
fields, firing adds enormously to the cost of growing.
Those whose operations are carried on within an easy
distance of the large centres of consumption — say within
a radius of fifteen to twenty miles — have much in their
favour, for they are enabled to deliver their produce
absolutely fresh and without the need of packing and
railway delays. We have it in our power to beat down
foreign competition, for the great superiority of the home-grown
article must always secure for it a preferential
market, and this is especially the case with soft fruits.
Foreign fruit has to be packed when only partially ripe,
and consequently cannot arrive in prime condition. It
has been argued that the spread of the home industry must
cause the values of the various commodities grown to be
lowered to an unremunerative point. But the increase
in the demand for the out-of-season fruit has developed
even more rapidly than the supply, the increase being
especially noticeable among the industrial classes. Market
reports continue to show a steady rise in prices. Southern
growers fondly hoped that their favourable climate conditions
would retain the industry in their own hands,
but their forecast has proved unfounded, and the area
of the cult has been shifted far beyond its original
home. The general tendency is towards further decentralisation.
We find in the Horticultural Trade
Journal of September, 1902, that "The produce of the
Midland and northern growers is in no way inferior
to the best crops grown in the south, while the actual
cost of production is lower owing to the cheaper coal
and the saving in freights, so that there is but little doubt
that the grower of the future will cultivate his houses
within easy distance of the markets he has to supply,
and with the cheapening and development of the motorcar
he will be independent of the railway companies
for the distribution of his produce."
Why do not provincial traders organise a strike against
the tyranny of London? The idea is full of promise.
The London markets are bloated monopolists, which keep
the provinces in leading-strings and hamper their trade.
Practically every ton of vegetables and fruit brought to
this country is packed off to Covent Garden. Most of
the home-grown stuff is also sent to the Metropolis. The
result is that such a "glut" occurs that growers not only
lose their produce, but have to pay railway expenses into
the bargain.¹ If a country shopkeeper wants a supply of
flowers the chances are that he will have to come to
London for them. Obviously the trade is too much centralised,
and London's monopoly ought to be broken up.
Commercial horticulture is one remedy.
Many will be found who assert there is no profit in
commercial horticulture. To such carpers we oppose the
logic of stubborn facts. During the last decade nearly
all the growers have largely extended their operations
and many new concerns have been started. The output
would not grow unless its advance be coupled
with increased profit. During the last five years, despite
a long journey from the metropolis, no railway opposition,
and the abnormally high price of land, no less than
four miles of glass houses have sprung up between West
Worthing and Lancing.
To illustrate the activity in the Midland and Northern
counties, we may mention that during the period under
consideration the following gentlemen have either added
to their existing greenhouses or have had new installations
erected: Mr. Chattock, of Solihull, near Birmingham,
tomato and cucumber houses; Mr. Mee, at Daybrook, near
Nottingham, palm and plant houses; Mr. Knight, of Kenilworth,
tomato houses; Mr. Matthews, of Shrewsbury, tomato
houses; Mr. John Davies, of Hoylake, who has
hitherto be mostly known for his "Chrysanthemum Maximum
Daviesii," has added to his glasshouses, which are
within easy reach of Birkenhead and Liverpool; the
¹ A glut, such as was experienced last season, can be met by a development
of the cold air storage system. In steady, low temperatures even
soft fruits keep well for several days.
"Times Horticultural Co." has built a complete installation
on modern lines near Preston in Lancashire, chiefly
for the supply of Southport and the northern manufacturing
towns, and we understand that the results achieved
have fully come up to anticipations. Another new
installation of about 1000 feet has been erected in Buckinghamshire
within easy reach of Northampton, and the
manager is considering the question of direct motor
service to that town. Mr. H. Whateley, of Kenilworth,
now the largest grower in the Midlands, has at present
added 2000 feet of glasshouses to his nursery, which
further increases his output of tomatoes, cucumbers, and
orchids. In the west of England the activity of the
trade is also well marked, and amongst the firms which
have extended their operations we may mention Mr.
Restall, of Cheltenham; Messrs. Lloyd, of Paignton,
Devon; and Mr. Bennett, of Saltash, Cornwall; while a
new installation for the supply of Bath on modern commercial
lines has been commenced at Glastonbury in
Somerset. The rapid growth of the port of Southampton
is causing the corresponding increase of glass within a
50-mile radius of that town. Mr. Fay, of Totton, and
the growers near Winchester and Medstead have increased
their places, while Messrs. S. Fay & Sons, of
Southsea, have also added to their houses.
In a work entitled Culture Under Glass, written by an
admitted authority, some actual balance sheets of typical
nurseries are given and are worthy of examination by any
one contemplating starting on the industry, which is not
only a paying but an interesting one, well suited to ladies.
Balance sheet A. This nursery comprises 800 feet run
of glass houses, of a capital value, including outfit, of
£1400. Nett profit £290 13s. 2d., or over 20 per cent.
on capital invested.
Balance sheet B. The nursery comprises 1000 feet run of
glass houses of a capital value, including outfit, of £1550.
The nett profit was £337 7s. 4d., or at a rate of over
21 per cent. on the capital invested.
Balance sheet C. This installation comprises 1200 feet
run of glass houses of the capital value, including outfit,
of £1850. The nett profit was £461 11s. 5d., or at a rate
of 25 per cent. on capital invested.
Balance sheet D. In this nursery there are 1450 feet run of
glass houses of a capital value of £2500. The nett profit
was at the rate of over 21 per cent. on the capital invested.
In every instance fuel has been by far the most expensive
item, and tubular boilers are constantly having
their tubes burnt out by the sulphur in the coal. Anthracite
is recommended, but as it is only won in South Wales
carriage makes it expensive. It is the fuel question that
has proved the stumbling block to most growers, and in
those districts in the vicinity of peat deposits this artificial
fuel will bring salvation. In Ireland, where delicate
plants, such as can only be grown in England or Scotland
under glass, flourish in the open, this industry awaits
development. Not very long ago so apathetic were the
dwellers in the Dublin district that the vegetables for
the supply of the capital were imported from the Clyde,
and at present large quantities of fruit are being sent by
growers in the Channel Isles as well as by the salesmen
in the Manchester and Liverpool markets. With
more sunshine than any town in the United Kingdom,
cheap land and labour, and reasonable rates to all the
western ports, the Dublin grower should be supplying
Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester, and all the great and
wealthy industrial towns in the north-west of England.
The facilities are greater than those possessed by the
Channel Islands, and, with millions of tons of excellent
peat fuel close at hand, a very remunerative industry invites
the adventurer. Swansea, Cardiff, Bristol, and from
Bristol, Cheltenham, Gloucester and Bath, Plymouth, and
other large towns on the coast might be supplied from
Wexford, Waterford, and Cork. The "tallow peat" of
Lough Neagh would furnish fuel for miles of glass houses
to supply Belfast and to ship across the Channel to Liverpool.
In the summer there is a keen demand at the
Lancashire and Welsh pleasure resorts. Ireland offers
exceptional advantages, but with the exception of a few
unimportant nurseries in the vicinity of Dublin, and at
Rush, culture under glass is not. An intimate technical
knowledge on the part of the grower is not absolutely
necessary to success, though an aptitude for the interesting
occupation is a sine qua non. Many of our leading
growers can testify to this. The beginner, however, should
procure the services of a trustworthy efficient foreman, one,
not necessarily a gardener, who thoroughly understands
the business of growing fruit, vegetables, and flowers under
glass. The wages of such men are high but well earned,
After a time, if an apt pupil, the employer will become
his own foreman. This industry need not be confined to
men. In it ladies will find ample and suitable employment
for their time, energies, and capital. The Countess
of Warwick, always practical and a born leader of her sex,
has proved how that ladies can be trained to be excellent
horticulturalists, and, surely, many of our daughters and
sisters would find the greenhouse a more interesting and
paying means of earning a living than the heartbreaking
school-room, the office desk, serving behind the counter,
typewriting, nursing, or many of the not very palatable
indoor tasks now set them whereby to earn bread and
cheese. Much valuable information bearing on the possibilities
of successful fruit and vegetable culture in Ireland
may be gleaned from a paper, A Note on Fruit Growing
in Ireland in the Journal of the Department of Agriculture
in Ireland, Vol. 2, No. 4, June, 1902. Arthur
Young, who in 1775 visited Dromoland, and who, as an
agriculturalist and writer on the subject, is constantly
quoted, wrote: "Sir Lucius O'Brien took me to see his
orchards. I never beheld such crops. The trees were
covered with the most splendid fruits, and he assured me
that some trees gave him a hogshead of cider. I am
sending you some scions of Coccagee." Another writer,
speaking of the Blackwater cider from orchards in Kerry,
on the banks of that river from Mallow to its outflow,
says, "In the last century (the eighteenth) it was constantly
exported, and so prized in England that it commanded
the highest price, and that at the Cider Congress
in Dublin the judges refused the premier award to Mr.
Drew until it was proved that no fine wines were used
in the making, the quality was considered so superior."
Ireland possessed almost an ideal climate for growing
apples, pears, plums, damsons, strawberries, raspberries,
black currants, and gooseberries. The soil in many districts
lends itself to high-class fruit growing. The winter
climate in Dublin averages four degrees warmer than Paris,
yet not a single head of lettuce is forced though hundreds
of dozens are imported weekly, besides all kinds of forced
vegetables, especially asparagus, at the enormous freight
rate of £8 a ton. Although the "forcing" of tomatoes
is rapidly becoming an important British industry, the
imports this season have been immense. They now amount
to 1,250,000 cwt. a year, representing a value of £1,200,000.
During the last ten years many of our leading growers
have adopted the travelling or movable form of glass-house,
as brought out and manufactued by the Horticultural
Travelling Structure Company, Limited, and now eight
miles of these specialities are in use. Before their introduction
it was assumed that a glass-house was a fixture,
and the cost of erection and heating apparatus (often
inefficient and wasteful) deterred market men from adopting
it, but it is obvious, when one house is made to
do duty for many, that this initial difficulty of outlay is
to some considerable extent removed. The advantages
claimed for this system are manifold. The travelling
green-house saves shifting of plants and soil; sowing of
the land; capital outlay; cost of pots and labour of
potting; loss of seasons; labour of wheeling in and out of
soil, plants and manure; labour of watering; and the
deterioration of soil which results in a fixed green-house
from continuous growing one crop year after year on
the same ground. Undoubtedly these recent improvements
place the grower at a great advantage as regards
productive power. The ground is periodically exposed
to the beneficial action of sun, air, frost, snow and rain.
The more rapid succession of crops is assured. Important
items these after our experiences of last summer.
These travelling hot-houses are run over level ground
on small wheels and light rails, so that, directly one crop
has been matured and marketed, the houses, with their
heating apparatus, are removed over fresh crops as they
are grown in the open ground. In this way the grower
gets a crop of such variety as he deems best suited to
the demand of the locality and the available markets.
For instance, during the early part of the year either
strawberries, bulbs or roses are forced. Directly those
are marketed the houses are pushed on to the new plot
of ground where tomatoes are growing, and, finally, in
the autumn the houses are shifted over chrysanthemums
and mushrooms. Some growers force asparagus, beans,
rhubarb, lettuce, cucumbers, radishes, narcissus, etc. Large
or small the houses are easily moved, the hot-water pipes
and boilers travelling with the houses.
Coal, or a mixture of coal and coke, as generally used,
requires frequent attention during the night. With peat
the gardener need have no anxiety, it requires no
replenishing for hours once the fire is properly made up.
It will keep up an equable temperature through all the
houses for twelve or more hours, be the weather ever so
severe. Sphagnum is largely used in horticulture. As
has already been stated ship loads of peat ashes are
imported from Holland every year for sale to our market
gardeners. Peat and its Uses as Fertiliser and Fuel,
published by Orange Judd & Co., New York, is a useful
little book. In it the author treats of the characteristics
that adapt it for agricultural and horticultural purposes,
as, for instance, its remarkable sponge-like power of
absorbing and retaining ammonia; its effect in promoting
the disintegration and solution of the mineral ingredients
of the soil, and its influence on the temperature of the
soil. He also treats of the various ingredients and
P. — Plant grown in specially prepared Granulated Peat.Loam. S. — Plant grown in Soil.
qualities that make peat a direct fertilizer; which are the
organic matters, inclusive of nitrogen; the inorganic or
mineral ingredients, also some peculiarities relating to the
decay of peat. Peat is a highly concentrated vegetable
food. The fertilizing properties of peat-charcoal are of
hardly less an importance to the agriculturist, the
market gardener, and the horticulturist than is its calorific
value to the smelter. Florists and nurserymen retail
charcoal at the rate of £20 a ton, and peat at 3s. a sack.
We here give an illustration of two pot-grown tomato
plants of the same age, and from the same seed, the one
raised on pure peat soil (marked P), the other on loam
(marked S). The abundance of fruit, closer to the
ground, on the former, is very marked, as is the comparative
compactness of the plant.
We know of several who, starting with little or
no experience, by their own sound sense, a certain
amount of predilection for the industry but no practical
experience, steady personal supervision and a "dogget
does it" determination, have from small beginnings risen
to the first rank of successful growers. In this volume
we have referred to the charming and effective method
of growing bulbs in peat-moss fibre and ground shells in
pots and vases, with which Mr. Robert Sydenham, of
Tenby Street, Birmingham, has achieved such marked
success. As an object-lesson, proving the truth of the
old adage, that "great results from little causes spring,"
we venture to give that gentleman's commercial history
as a horticulturist and as striking example of how a
hobby has grown into one of the largest establishments of
its kind in the United Kingdom, boasting 12,000 separate
customers. As one of the leading horticultural papers
stated a short time back of this wholesale jeweller:
"This at the outset only an enthusiastic amateur, has
in fifteen years built up a wonderful trade, and has made
hundreds of thousands of persons ardent lovers and
growers of flowers who, but for him, would never have
been fascinated with the pursuit, and has in one way
or another enlisted an army of recruits in the service
of floriculture." We take the following paragraphs from
a local journal, merely premising this, that Mr. Sydenham
commenced operations with eight shillings worth of
hyacinths, and that during the past season he filed
20,000 orders:
"When, in 1884, Mr. Robert Sydenham disposed of a
few surplus bulbs amongst his friends, the culture of
which had been taken up by him purely as a hobby or
pastime — a relaxation from the cares of the wholesale
jewellery business of Sydenham Brothers, in which he
was and is engaged as partner — he little thought that he
was then and there creating the nucleus of a business
which was destined to grow and grow till it became one of
the largest and most reputable of its kind in the kingdom.
"Yet so it was to be, and such was the development
of what was at first a pleasurable hobby, until, a couple
of years ago, its requirements had so outgrown every
available inch of space from cellar to roof in the extensive
premises belonging to the firm in Tenby Street, as to
necessitate the erection on adjoining land of a spacious
block of warehouses and offices, specially planned and
adapted to cope with the ever-increasing demands of Mr.
Robert Sydenham's great bulb and seed trade.
"Some idea of the rapidity of the growth of this business
may be gleaned from the following figures: Mr. Robert
Sydenham began with a few bulbs in 1884, as before
stated; his success in their culture led his friends to ask
him to obtain their supplies with his own, and what was
taken up as a pleasurable hobby of his spare time soon
grew into a business. In 1886 his sales had jumped up
to nearly eight tons in weight; 1887 saw this quantity
nearly doubled, an increase that was maintained in 1888,
and so it has gone on by leaps and bounds till in 1896
Mr. Robert Sydenham sent out no less than 5000 packages
containing upwards of a million and a half bulbs. Since
that date there has been no relaxation of the demand;
on the contrary, its continued expansion has led to the
necessity of the erection of the special building referred to
above, which was opened about five years ago, and from it
during the past bulb and seed season nearly 20,000 orders
were despatched to about 12,000 separate customers
throughout the length and breadth of the United
Kingdom and abroad."
One of the most charming methods of growing bulbs
for house and table decoration is that adopted with so
much success by this now experienced florist. An exhibitor
at the Royal Horticultural and other kindred societies, he
has been awarded medals, certificates, and cultural commendations
for this really attractive and simple system,
which must strongly recommend itself to the notice of
those who cannot boast of a large garden, or even the
conveniences of a conservatory, greenhouse, or cold frames.
The "soil" used is a compost of a bushel of dried peat,
weighing about 12 lbs., to 6 lbs. of ground shell. The
bulbs are grown in vases without drainage. Great success
has been achieved in growing Roman Hyacinths, Freesias,
Narcissi, Tulips, Dutch Hyacinths, Spanish Iris, and other
bulbs. Jars — a common creamery jar will do — or vases of
various sizes contain, some a single bulb, others three and
The advantage of this system is that the vases can be
placed anywhere about the house, in the drawing or dining
room, without any fear from water or soil coming
through the base of the pots. The Moss Fibre is perfectly
odourless and clean to handle, and is quite as effectual as
any of the fancy compositions sold at a much higher cost;
it can be mixed by any lady in a large bowl on a table
and leaves no dirt or stain.
In growing bulbs in these vases without drainage, it is
necessary to have the fibre and the ground shell well
mixed and thoroughly moistened before beginning; the
fibre will absorb water at the rate of about four quarts
to ever half bushel, and when moistened increases in bulk
about half. First put a few pieces of peat charcoal at the
bottom of the vase to absorb any impurities and keep the
mixture sweet, then put from one to two inches of the
compost at the bottom according to the size of the vase;
place the Narcissi, Roman Hyacinths, Tulips, Freesias, or
whatever is being potted, gently on the fibre, after which
fill up the vases nearly to the rim. In potting, although
desirable to see that the compost is well round the bulbs, it
is not necessary or desirable to press it at all tightly, otherwise
the roots do not work freely among the fibre, but
the bulbs have a tendency to push themselves upwards as
is often the case with those potted too firmly in soil.
When once potted they will require little or no attention
for the first two or three weeks, but after that great care
should be taken to keep the compost fairly moist, but
on no account must it be sodden or too wet. On the other
hand, if once allowed to get dry, if only for half an hour,
the pores of the roots, so to speak, close up and the bulbs
in many cases go blind, and are ruined. They should be
examined at least once a week, and a little water given
when necessary; this will quickly be found out, for as
soon as all surplus moisture is absorbed the fibre gets
dry at the top; on the other hand, if it is thought there is
too much moisture in the vase, turn it on one side and
allow the surplus water to drain out. One bushel of the
dry fibre to which 6 lbs. of ground shell is added, weighs
about 18 lbs., but when moistened as mentioned it will
weigh about 36 lbs. and will be increased in bulk about
one half; this is enough for about four sets of No. 1 or
two sets of No. 2 vases.
When the bulbs are potted the vases or jars should be
kept in an airy cellar or room — nothing is worse than a
confined cupboard, or small, airless dark room. When
the bulbs have grown about one inch out of the composition,
they should be brought into more light, and given
as much air as possible, for if air is not given the foliage
becomes unnaturally long, weakening and sometimes killing
the flower. Where a cool house or frame cannot be
used, put them on the window sill or garden path during
the day, taking care, of course, to keep them from frost.
THE steady decrease of the area under wheat in this
country, consequent on low prices and fierce foreign competition
aided by low freights and preferential railway rates,
together with the increased appreciation of straw as food
for live stock, has necessitated the finding of some suitable
material as a bedding in lieu of wheat straw. So some years
back the late Dr. George Fleming, C.B., Principal Veterinary
Surgeon to the Army, and Past President of the
Royal College of Surgeons, with Professor Versmann, introduced
German and Dutch Moss Litter. At first it met
with considerable opposition not only at home but on the
Continent, and alarmist articles and letters appeared in the
agricultural press which, if correct in their allegations,
should have given this substitute its quietus. Probably
much of this opposition was fostered by those of our
farmers who had surplus straw to sell, those especially in
the vicinity of large towns ; many forage contractors and
corn chandlers chimed in, and not a few importers of
straw found it to their interest to decry the innovation.
Some asserted that it caused pneumonia, broken-wind,
roaring, tuberculosis, and various diseases of the respiratory
organs ; others contended that it gave rise to thrush,
canker, brittle, and other foot troubles. But as the respiratory
attacks were ascribed to the inhalation of dust and
those of the feet to constant maceration of the sole arid
frog through standing in wet, their logic was somewhat
at fault. Le Fermier, a French Journal strongly opposed
to Peat Moss Litter, published a letter from a Veterinary
Surgeon — Raillet by name. This practitioner, in drawing
attention to the danger of the use of this bedding, condemned
it as propogating intestinal worms in horses,
stating that, having experienced an epidemic of these
parasites in a cavalry regiment, 250 out of 500 horses having
their intestines literally swarming with ascarides, he, after
microscopic examination of the litter, concluded that the
epidemic was due to this bedding "In this substance,"
writes this gentleman, "which readily absorbs the moisture,
the eggs keep their evolutive faculty, and, as a large number
of horses eat this litter, the condition of being infected
is found to be easily realised; besides, it suffices that in
stables a few animals which are infested will cause the
epedemic to develop; but this condition is not absolutely
necessary, for turf is often sold which has been simply
dried after being used, and which will perhaps contain
eggs which have been deposited in it during its former use."
Such balderdash does not speak well for the stable management
of this French regiment. As to horses eating
their bedding we know that those suffering from a depraved
appetite consequent on dyspepsia, greedy ponies, and
animals affected in their wind, persistently eat their straw
bedding even when soiled with dung and urine. The
famous thoroughbred horse, "Doncaster," was, and the still
more famous mare, "Sceptre," is addicted to finishing up
their beds after the manger and hay-rack had been cleaned
out, the latter, we are told, being so greedy that she has
to be bedded on wood chips; but very few, save gluttons,
are given to this voracious habit. A well-known English
veterinary surgeon has in such cases prescribed moss
litter as a change from straw, with excellent results. It
may not be well known that peat enters into the composition
of that excellent food — molassine,¹ and that this
food, appetizer, and digestive has a marvellous effect in
preventing colic, diarrhœa, and cough, and getting rid at
the same time of small intestinal worms. It is a curious
¹Thirty per cent. of peat dust is said to enter into the composition of
this German horse and cattle food.
fact that in a sty where molassine is given, the well-known
malodorous smell caused by butyric acid, usually
characteristic of pigs, is absent, and the absence of this
unpleasantness may properly be ascribed to the butyric
acid fermentation either being prevented or to its absorption
by the peat in the animals' intestines.
The following is an extract of a report on the use of
moss litter in the stables of the Prussian Regiment of
Uhlans (Lancers) No. 14, which seems entirely favourable:
"The regiment has used moss litter as a substitute for
straw with the object of obtaining better and drier beds
for the horses, and reserving the fresh straw for food.
This object was attained with complete success. For
experimental reasons the horses were not all placed on
moss litter at once.
"In October, one-third were placed on moss litter.
"In November, two-thirds were placed on moss litter.
"In December, nearly all were placed on moss litter.
"The following advantages were observed: — Dry beds and
dry fresh air free from ammonia; the ceilings, walls, and
leather trappings remained free from moisture and mould.
Moss litter absorbs eight times its own weight of urine,
whereas straw absorbs only three times its own weight.
The short and broken nature of the moss fibre allows of
the easy removal of wet portions. Care must be taken
not to neglect to turn and shake up the litter every
day, and to fork it from one part of the stall to another.
"If these precautions are observed the animals find a dry
bed, the horses remain clean, and their skin in activity. If
properly treated, moss litter is far more elastic than straw,
and affords a more comfortable bedding. The harness and
saddles, as well as the boots of our soldiers, are better
"From a veterinary point of view, further advantages are
observed. Catarrhs of the nose and eyes, generally the
result of bad air in the stables, are less frequent; wounds on
the legs heal quicker, inflammation of the glands very
seldom occurs, and rotting of the frog is almost entirely
prevented. In cases of contagious disease moss litter is of
great value, and surpasses all other disinfectants.
"Cases of colic occurred as follows:
"The consumption of moss litter per month, and per
squadron of 135 horses, amounted to 180 cwt., against 280
cwt. of straw formerly required.
"Up to this date, in all a period of eighteen months, the
regiment has used moss litter to its perfect satisfaction."
Not less important is the following testimony to the
efficacy of moss litter and peat-mull in warding off foot-and-mouth
"Herr Vibrans, of Wendhausen, has published in several
papers his experience of moss litter as a preventative of foot-and-mouth
disease. For this purpose he uses moss litter
and 'mull' mixed with superphosphate, and has obtained
the most satisfactory results. He reports that the disease
did not appear at all among his cattle, while on the neighbouring
farms it spread to an alarming extent. He, therefore,
recommends its use in railway trucks." (Commercial
Blue Book, No. 2 of 1893.)
No doubt some legitimate objections have, from time to
time, been raised against imported litter, due to the inferior,
dirty, and earthy quality of much that is sent over. Imperfectly
dried samples were also put upon the market, damaging
the reputation of the article. A considerable quantity of
the moss litter now sold in this country is of home manufacture,
and the industry is a profitable one. Now that our
farmers and graziers will have to give increased attention to
ripening cattle for slaughter, this sound manufacture seems
certain to develop in the near future. We want all our straw
for feeding purposes.
Our experience is that horses do not eat moss litter, and
the statement that it injures the feet has no foundation on
fact. Some object to it on the score of injury to the eyes,
and this may possibly be the case where the material is not
of the fibrous and clean-sieved sort, and has become unfit
for bedding owing to the presence of a quantity of muddy
make-weight substance resembling dried bog soil. So far
from eating it — and most idle horses are generally nibbling
at something — we have not found that gross feeders, some
of which will clear out their boxes or stalls if bedded with
straw in a night, ever touch it. The fact that horses standing
on it are better in wind dispels this erroneous idea.
Legs are never cooler or finer, and the feet of those constantly
hammered about on the pavements and roads are
certainly benefited, as are those that are fevered, bruised, or
brittle. We at times come across complaints of the injurious
chemical effects of peat, but as peat dust is largely used
in the preservation of packed fruit and fish, and the material
free from earthy matter is a disinfectant, fixing ammonia
and subduing noxious odours, it is difficult to entertain
such groundless objections. The vegetable growths of which
fibrous surface peat is composed have dried down like air-pickled
hay, but have not decomposed. So far from feet
being injuriously affected, the legs of draught horses, continually
filling when standing on straw, have fined down
when peat has been substituted, and we are all conversant
with the close affinity of feet and limb and their mutual
sympathies. The "Monday morning leg" is almost certain
to be accompanied by some heat of the sensitive structures
within the hoof. Shoeing smiths speak favourably of the
action of peat moss litter on the hoof, stipulating, however,
that the foot between the sole and the web of the shoe and
the clefts of the frog be picked out at each grooming.
Horses certainly rest better and are "down," at nights
especially, longer on it than on any other bed. It is said to
be cold in the winter, but of this there is no proof; fabrics
manufactured from peat fibre are certainly warm. Animals
that have not lain down for months or years on straw, avail
themselves of this resilient bedding, and the season of the
year appears to make no difference. For sick stables it is
invaluable. It covers the tile, brick, or cobbe flooring better
and more evenly than straw, and does not work up into
lumps; in fact the bed, when properly laid and attended to,
is as soft and springy as a pile carpet. The absorptive
power of peat is marvellous, being far before anything at
the horse-owner's disposal. While straw, sawdust, wood
chips, and similar materials only take up 3½ to 4 times their
weight of urine or water, and are not deodorizers, moss litter
absorbs nine times. To put it more exactly, and from actual
experiment, while one hundred parts of the latter will absorb
895 parts of water, one hundred parts of wheat straw,cut into
lengths such as are found in a well-worn bed, and therefore
well adapted to the process of absorption, will only absorb
389 parts of water, while 100 parts of soft wood sawdust will
only take up 368 parts of water. It further has the property
of preventing the decomposition of urine, thus keeping the
atmosphere of the stable comparatively pure and odourless,
and this power of absorbing and sealing up ammonia and its
carbonate is a very strong recommendation, in that it not
only minimises the liability to diseases of the eyes, lungs,
and hoof, but adds to its manurial value. Bulking less than
manure made from straw, manure resulting from this litter
exceeds in richness not only the ordinary stable and farmyard
kinds, but, for some crops, compares favourably with
the various high-priced artificials. Baron Von Liebeg held
it in high estimation, and that profound chemist's opinion
was endorsed by the late Sir J. B. Lawes, to whose researches
all agriculturists are so deeply indebted. Writing in the
Agricultural Gazette, the latter expert said: — "I have tried
peat moss dung against London dung on a large scale, and
I consider that the peat is superior. The amount of clover
it brings up in the pasture is very striking. The superiority
of the peat manure is due to its power to absorb a. large
amount of urine. There is one other point we might mention,
which is, that peat manure should be used at once; if
kept in large heaps it heats violently, and much of the
ammonia will be lost."
In 1879 and 1880 Dr. Arnold made experiments at the
Hanover Royal Veterinary School, which show the extraordinary
power it has of absorbing ammonia and ammonia
carbonate. A two-stalled stable, floored with asphalte, 11
feet wide 13 feet long and 14 feet high, was laid with moss
litter to the depth of a inches. The stalls were kept constantly
occupied by horses, and it was not until after the
sixth day that any trace of ammonia could be detected in
the air of the stable, though the finest tests were applied.
When compared with a similar stable in which straw was
used, the amount of ammonia in this in six days was as high
as the moss-littered stable after fifteen days. The moss continued
in use for thirty clays (the straw had to be changed
at the end of a week), and the stable, besides being free
from bad odours, was always clean and the floor dry." A
Veterinary Surgeon in charge of a large London establishment
owing 2000 horses, stated that whereas previously his
clothes and hair were so impregnated with the offensive
smell of the stable that he had to bathe and change his
clothes immediately after visiting the stables, on the introduction
of peat moss litter he no longer found this cleansing
process necessary, the air being completely purified. The
immediate action of peat moss on grass land is astonishing;
it can be daily carted away and applied fresh. The following
is an analysis of a sample of manure taken from a heap,
and this would have been still more satisfactory if the moss
had not been allowed to heat :
Per cent.
Phosphoric acid- - - - - - ·48
Equal to tribastic phosphate of lime - - 1·05
Sulphate of potash - - - ·42
Nitrogen - - - - - - - ·90
Equal to ammonia - - - 1·10
Equal to sulphate of ammonia - 4·24
This manure is much sought after by market gardeners,
horticulturists and florists. It can be with great advantage
made up into a heap, thin layers of mould alternating with
the peat. It is well worth 10s. a ton. Thus, by the sale of
moss litter manure for agricultural and horticultural purposes,
those not requiring it on their own land, after it has
served its bedding purpose, can partially recoup themselves
for its original cost; also, it is a valuable base on which to
compound various other manures.
Now as to cost. It is economical because more lasting.
The Chairman of the General Omnibus Company, in one of
his official reports, stated that by using peat moss litter
a saving of £2,000 per annum had been effected. Some idea
of its durability may be gathered from the following communication
from the agent of the Myton Hall Estate,
Helperby, Yorkshire: "Being a good absorbent of ammonia,
it causes the boxes to be always fresh, sweet and clean, with
an occasional sprinkling of fresh litter; and I may add that
we have a large box, originally intended for storing artificial
manure, without drains, in which we usually keep three or
four cart colts. It was bedded two years ago with peat moss
litter, and has kept perfectly sweet and clean with the
addition of a very slight sprinkling of fresh moss." The
following instructions should be carried out: In stables
where a system of drainage exists the traps should be carefully
closed, otherwise much solid matter will get into and
choke the drain. The bed evenly spread all over the standing
to a depth of 4 inches will require one-third of a bale for
each stall, and one-half for each box. Each morning before
dressing the horse the droppings should be lightly but carefully
raked away, and any portions of the bed which may
have become saturated removed. If economy has to be
studied, these soiled portions, if spread out lightly on a wire,
bamboo or lath grating in the air — peat dries thoroughly and
speedily in a shed where there is a good draught — will soon
be fit for further use. The rest of the bed is shaken up and
brushed to the other side of the stall, none being allowed
under the manger. When the horse is out at exercise the
litter is spread over the full extent of the stall or box, any
damp portions being removed. In bedding-down for the
the night the litter should again be gone over and shaken
up, a small quantity of fresh moss being sprinkled over the
surface. With a careful man an addition of 28 pounds
a week for each horse should suffice to make good the
waste and retain a comfortable and healthy bed. At each
dressing the feet should be thoroughly picked out. With
such an absorbent material it is important that no water be
spilt on it. The droppings should be picked up frequently
during the day, and the oftener the bed is forked up or raked
over, and so aerated, the better.
Unlike straw, moss litter does not soil or stain the horse's
coat, and is so far incombustible that, though it will smoulder
when freshly laid down, it does not burst into a flame, and
will not, after a day or two, even burn, and this is a feature
which should not be lost sight of. Straw, on the contrary,
is eminently combustible. The danger of fire in the stable
need not be enlarged upon.
The Board of Trade returns of 1884 showed an import of
over 110,000 tons. The selling price in London varied from
18s. per ton to 45s. In 1893 the average wholesale price was
about 25s., and in 1890 the imports had in the first ten
months reached 180,171 tons.¹ The marked success of the
Moss Litter Charcoal and Manure Company, which was
credited with having earned 58% on its paid capital, directed
attention to this remunerative industry, so several concerns
were started and a war of extermination commenced against
foreign competitors, these operations necessitating a considerable
cutting of prices. Till then the manufacture of
turf litter had not become the systematically conducted
industry it now is. Even in Germany and Holland the
people employed in peat litter and fuel manufacture work at
it only in the intervals snatched from farm labour. Some
idea of the importance the industry has assumed may be
formed from the statement that in the Netherlands, where,
with a population of 4,391,000 (that of Ireland in 1881 was
5,174,800), no less than 40,000 tons of peat are annually
consumed, and that during the summer the native labour in
this field is supplemented by 100,000 Prussians and Hanovarians.
Keen competition beat down prices, but, despite
¹ The present price as from 28s. to 30s.
heavy importations, our manufactures increased in number,
and slowly but surely, aided by improved machinery and an
abundant supply of raw material of uniform grade, to some
extent elbowed out the foreigner. The machinery now used
in pressing, drying, and baling the litter is a vast improvement
on the crude plant of twenty years ago. Factories
capable of turning out 40,000 to 50,000 tons annually have
been established.
As an example of the profits that may be made in an
enterprise of this nature, attention may be called to the fact
that the British Moss Litter Company, which is capitalized
as follows: viz., £250,000 in ordinary and preference shares,
and a debenture issue of £95,000, earned on its first year's
working a net profit of £63,139. This allowed a distribution
of 10 per cent. on the ordinary shares, and 6½ on the preference
shares, after providing for debenture interest, laying
aside £20,000 for redemption of debentures and depreciation,
and carrying forward the substantial sum of £9083. An
interim dividend of 6½ per cent. per annum for the six
months ending August 31st, 1894, has also recently been
declared. See Financial News, September 11th, 1894.
The total earnings of the Company, in its first year, were
therefore equal to 18 per cent. on its ordinary share capital.
During the current year the British Moss Litter Company
made a trading profit of £32,566, an increase of £9,483 on the
profit of the previous year. The dividend on the ordinary
shares was 10 per cent., with £5,338 carried forward. Many
of these companies being over capitalized, the profits are
much less than those earned where the moors and bogs have
been acquired at a reasonable price on co-operation terms,
lease or royalty. The shares of Richardson's Moss Litter
Company, Ltd., are, as stated in the preface, quoted at 300
per cent. premium.
Though averse to the immigration of aliens, we must
admit that much saving has been effected by the introduction
of the Dutch peat-cutter, who has acquired proficiency
in the drainage and graving of peat bogs. Peat-cutting is
something more than a casual industry. The Thorne district,
South East Yorkshire, and parts of Lancashire, now number
their Dutch population by hundreds. These people, who
give a good day's work for a good wage, have a high reputation
for skill in this moist and not particularly pleasant
occupation. Some of the Irish are equally handy with the
slane, where, but for the iniquitous railway rates and the
closing of the internal water-ways, this business would have
developed more rapidly. Perhaps at no distant date we may,
like Germany, Holland and Sweden, be exporting moss litter
to the United States.
The method of cutting the moss for litter is precisely
the same as described for peat fuel, but only the surface
peat, that lying immediately under the heather or ling, is
adapted to this manufacture, and it is seldom found at
greater depth than four feet. The high level moors furnish
the best, and these should by degrees be drained as
thoroughly as circumstances will admit. The best peat
is that which is known as "red," and in Ireland as
"horse-flesh." It should be, when dry, of a bright golden
tan colour, fibrous, springy, and free from earthy matter.
Imperfectly dried moss litter means loss. A great difficulty
is encountered in wet summers, by no means infrequent,
and in damp days this loose fibrous moss takes up a great
deal of moisture. There must be no evidence of decomposition,
the substance cannot be too elastic. In the process
of drying, such material contracts very little. When cut
arid torn the vegetable fibres are readily freed from the
retained water by gravity or evaporation, and can further
be forced, by compression between suitable rollers or
presses, to yield up a large proportion of their liquid contents.
In the manufacture of fuel it has been found that
nine cubic feet of raw peat, condensed by the machine into
six cubic feet of prepared peat, still contains 40 per
cent. of water, and this is further dried and compressed
into one cubic foot of black, dry, fossil, vegetable stone,
of about 1·5 specific gravity, which can be sawn, planed,
and even polished like cannel coal or jet. But such
extreme pressure is not desirable in the case of litter,
all here necessary being to squeeze out as much of the
water as possible, to air dry it, and to pack the manufactured
article into convenient sized bales of uniform
weight and measurement. In this moist climate moss
litter exposed to the air will always retain about 20 to
25 per cent. of hygroscopic moisture.
When artificial drying, either of moss litter or peat fuel,
must be had recourse to, the Stauber system, on account of
efficiency, despatch, and economy, claims to be the best.
It possesses one very important qualification — it does not
change the chemical composition of the peat. By this
method peat containing 80 per cent. of water can be
quickly reduced to 18 to 20 per cent. at a cost per ton
depending on the amount of waste steam or heat available,
but by the previous use of rollers such an initial amount of
moisture need not be introduced to the drying chambers.
When tested at the Imperial Testing Station at Charlottenburg,
peat briquettes, the result of this system, contained
45·12 per cent. of fixed carbon, 4·54 per cent. of hydrogen,
29·34 per cent. of oxygen, and 9·09 per cent. of ash, and a
thermal value of 3806 calories. The process is that of
rapidly drying the moist peat by means of heated and
compressed air within a closed chamber or channel communicating
with pipes in such a manner that heat is forced
through the drying chamber, or chambers, and cold air
through the outlet pipe. The cold air quickly absorbs the
hot saturated air out of the drying chamber, condenses it,
thus greatly stimulating the process of evaporation by
which the material is dried. The drying chambers are
of boiler form (cylindrical), and in a large plant these
chambers can be simply multiplied as any number of
machines can be worked with air currents generated by
the same engine. The raw material is run in trucks into
these receptacles, and run out when the desired dryness
has been obtained. A convenient size of these chambers
is one that can produce 5 tons of dried fuel or moss litter
per diem. The entire cost, including that of raw material,
as well as of depreciation of machinery and administration
expenses is about 7s. 6d. a ton for either briquettes or litter.
The thorough elimination of all dust or earth must be insisted
on; the presence of either seriously depreciates the
market value of the litter. A horizontal shaker or sieve
rapidly gets rid of these particles. An up-to-date peat
litter factory turning out 288 bales daily has a working
staff of fifteen hands, and of these many are women and
We are convinced, except in cases where a large amount
of waste heat is available, that, from an economical point
of view, sun and wind must remain the sole means of
drying. Sun we cannot command, but, by the aid of the
latest type of wind engine, an almost continuous penetrating
stream of air may be, during the greater part of the year,
depended on, and air is more effective as a dryer for peat
than even the sun's rays. Moss litter when properly torn
up by the "devil," is such an open material that the wind,
especially when driven by fans, penetrates the entire mass,
driving out the moisture.¹
The machinery used in the North of Germany in the
preparation of moss litter and powder is simple, requiring
no skilled labour. It is altogether under cover, so that it
can be worked in all weathers. The refuse of the bogs,
inferior light peat, moss litter, etc., which is not suitable
for fuel, is either carried or brought up by means of the
tramway into long drying sheds. Here it is gone over
by women and children, who pick out roots, etc., and
spread it out to dry. When sufficiently dried two
women shovel the stuff through an aperture in the wall
of the shed, through which it falls down into an elevator.
The elevator raises it to the upper floor of the mill and
throws it into a machine which tears it up. From this
machine it falls into a sieve. The fine stuff or torf-mull
falls through the sieve on one portion of the floor, while
the rough material, suitable for peat-moss litter, is shaken
¹ A wind engine, lately patented, gives results far in advance of any
windmills, European or American, as yet produced. By the application
of volute sails or slats to the wheel the power is largely increased.
out of the sieve into another portion of the floor, the two
being divided by means of a wooden partition. Two
women, one in each compartment, then shovel the stuff
through two trap-doors in the floor. One of these trapdoors
is for the peat-moss litter, the other is for the fine
mull. The two classes of stuff fall down through wooden
funnels into separate boxes, oblong in shape, beneath the
floor of the mill. When the oblong boxes are quite full,
the bottom of each box is pushed up from underneath by
means of an elevator, so that the stuff rises until it is
about three feet above the floor of the mill, and passes
into the presser. Here it is compressed by machinery into
a compact mass, sewn up in an ingeniously simple and
rapid manner by a man and a boy, with a wire passed
thrice round it at equal distances, by means of an iron
needle. The bale is shoved out of the presser into a
truck, and one sees a bale of peat-moss litter ready for
transport to Ireland or elsewhere. These machines turn
out over 200 bales per day.
The following is a report published by the Agricultural
Department of Ireland detailing a visit to a peat farm
and factory in Holland. We quote from it as it
appears to supply an object lesson which we in the
United Kingdom may profit by. It may be mentioned
that the estate is owned by a company which
for the last few years has paid a dividend of from ten to
twelve per cent., and that the rate of wage paid to the
hands in the factory and for cutting sods is about four
shillings a day:
"The process of reclamation has gone on for sixteen years,
with the result that about one thousand acres of the bog
have been reclaimed and are now practically a garden for
the production of peas, beans, mangels, and cereal crops.
The farm is situated within easy reach of several cities
and large towns; and, as owing to the canal systems, there
are great facilities for export, considerable quantities of
peas and beans are exported to the United Kingdom. The
production and the marketing are done on co-operative
principles. The land is divided and let in small holdings,
for which the rent averages from three pounds to four
pounds per acre; the Company provides manure and does
draining whenever it is wanted, and gives other assistance
to the workers. The land is tilled like a market-garden,
and seems to produce very large crops, and the cultivation
is done in a thorough fashion. We were much struck with
the freedom from weeds in all the crops. The farm was
divided by the main canal, and there were branches from
this to various parts of it. The reclaimed soil was firm and
easy to cultivate, being dry and friable.
"The dwelling-houses of the labourers were provided by
the Company, and are let at a rental of about two shillings
per week each. These houses are about forty-eight feet
long, by twenty-four feet wide. One-half is utilised as
a small granary and as a house for a cow, calf, and pigs;
the other half is used as a dwelling-house. They are
substantially built and slated, and a door from the scullery,
which was off the kitchen, opens into the cow-house.
There are, besides the kitchen, a living-room, two bedrooms,
and a small store. The house is a very advantageous one
for a labourer, it being so easy to attend to the stock,
especially in the winter time. There was also a school
on the property; the number of workers engaged was about
four hundred, most of them at farm and garden work.
Other buildings in the group consisted of two or three
cottages for labourers, an overseer's house, a large cattle-house
with granary overhead and sheds for carts, machines,
and the various implements used on the farm. In the cow-house
were a good many well-fed bullocks, which were used
for draught purposes; the bedding was moss-litter made on
the farm, and the place was very clean; no liquid was lying
in the gutters, as all had been absorbed.
"Having inspected the farm and farm-houses we went to
the factory, and saw the peat-moss litter prepared and
baled; some of this was being shipped to America and some
to the United Kingdom. The former, in addition to being
bound with hoops, was wrapped in rough canvas. Mynheer
Van der Blocquery stated that he was receiving about
sixteen shillings per ton for the litter at the factory; in
addition to moss-litter he manufactured moss-fibre, and also
peat-dust, which is used for many purposes. He said the
fibre paid him better than anything else. The machinery
which is used for tearing the peat-moss and baling it was
of a rather antiquated pattern, driven by a steam engine,
the boiler-fire of which was fed with machine-made peat
fuel. The quality of the peat-moss litter we saw at the
factory did not strike us as being particularly good.
"The factory where the moss litter was made stood in the
bog about a quarter of a mile from the farmstead, and as it
is a good example of an inexpensive building, suitable for
such a purpose, a few details may be interesting. It is
sixty feet long and twenty feet wide, roofed with shingles,
the sides being open wood-work, made of slats or laths
placed three inches apart. Over this is a loft which
extends the full length of the building, and leading to
the loft was a straight gangway, up which barrow-loads
of sods could be wheeled and piled, then passed through a
trap in the floor to the litter-making machine beneath, and
as this took up little space there was plenty of room to
store the manufactured article on the ground-floor, until
it was required on the farm. The machine in use was
driven by horse-gearing, at one side of the building. The
doorways at both ends were so large that a horse and dray
could pass in and be loaded under cover."
Though peat moss litter, as well as the various other
products of peat, are in their infancy, our engineers —
those of them who have thought the industry worthy of
their attention — have designed automatic machinery for the
thorough and economical preparation of a marketable
commodity, which, with the right material and due
facilities for transport, assures a paying business. Even
with the inefficient plant with which many of the Dutch
mills are equipped, a satisfactory profit is realized, though
the article produced is of inferior quality. Though the
improved machinery is simple, it, by its continuous automatic
arrangement, materially decreases the cost of preparation
whilst producing a superior article. The saving
in cost is said to be 30 per cent. and the output doubled.
The necessary machinery consists of a tearer or "devil"
and shaker-seive combined, an elevator of the scraper
type in which screens are inserted, automatic weigh box
or boxes with scale beam and steel leverage, bifurcated
breeches-piece or shoot from weigh box to press-heads,
wrought-steel press to take 2 cwt. of the lightest peat upon
delivery from the weigh box and compress it into a 17-inch
bale, with arrangements for the retention of the battens in
their places, and for the fixing and fastening of three, four,
or five wire lashings. The raw but dried peat, free from
dust, save as to fixing and lashing of the pressed bale,
should not require to be touched by hand from the time
it is fed to the hopper of the breaker until it is delivered
from the press in the form of a bale. The question of
strength in the wrought-steel press must be amply provided
for, and all the parts should be interchangeable, so that
the press or presses can be removed to any position on the
moor. Such a press is capable of turning out 300 bales per
day. When four presses are run in conjunction with each
other it is possible to increase the output to about 380 bales
per day per press. All parts of the breaker should be easy
of access. The actual cost of pressing should not exceed
one shilling a ton but it can be done for eightpence. The
bales, when delivered from the press, fall upon a conveyor,
level with the floor, and are so carried and delivered into
trucks or stacked as desired. Immediately the press is
empty and ready for restarting the operation is immediately
and automatically repeated. No skilled labour is required.
The motive power may be steam, oil, gas, or electricity
generated in situ at the bog.
Most of the low-lying mosses of Great Britain and Ireland,
France, Germany, the Netherlands, North Austria,
Scandinavia, and Russia are covered with varying depths
of a fibrous peat, mainly on the surface and rarely exceeding
four feet, though in some few localities it is found in
"pockets." In its natural state, before being cut and dried,
it is invariably a soft., porous, spongy, and elastic substance,
composed of various mosses and aquatic plants in their
original form and organized state. Poiret detected the
roots, stems, branches, and leaves of the following plants
in this mossy and aquatic peat: roseaux, stripes, carex,
souchets, joncs, mousses, hypnum, et sphagnum, the last two
being most prevalent. The characters are sufficiently
marked, and may be easily distinguished. Some varieties
are so tough and elastic that they turn the edge of the
keenest and hardest tool, and can only be cut with difficulty;
others give a sharp edge to the stone or spade. The water
squeezed out generally effervesces with chalk, and when
evaporated, if the surface be free from a covering of mould,
leaves little sediment.
When dug and dried, good peat-moss, if it is to command
a good price in the market as litter or as fibre, should be
of a bright golden tan or warm sepia tint, specifically
lighter than water, easily torn asunder, and resilient. When
burnt it should give out little smoke, and that of a light
grey colour, with little flame and little heat, the ash being
of a whitish grey, light, and free from salts. This fibrous
formation or genus is termed "gramineous peat" by Dr.
Walker; in France it is known as tourbiere. It is the
groos or hey turf of the Netherlands; and in Ireland, where
it is found in vast quantities on the so-called red bogs, it
is flippantly termed "old woman's tow." On many bogs,
notably on the Pennines moors, in the peat district of
Derbyshire—Holme Moss, Buckstones Moss, Harden Moss,
Featherbed Moss, Close Moss, Shelf Moss, and Field of
Mosses—these plants are dominated by one or other of the
two cotton grasses (Eriphorum vaginatum and E. angustifolium).
There is a hairy, wiry variety of surface turf
which for bedding purposes, textile fabrics, or the manufacture
of paper is utterly useless.
We have, in the preface, mentioned that to some extent
the home manufacture of peat-moss litter is now in competition
with the import trade. The two largest firms, who
aim at a monopoly and the control of the market, do not
confine their operations to British and Irish material, but
import largely from Holland. Moss litter is now being
largely shipped from Rotterdam to Ireland, as well as to
the Thames and to our east coast ports — Goole, Hull, Newcastle-on-Tyne,
Leith, etc. The freights from Rotterdam
to Dublin are 12s. 6d. a ton, and to Belfast from 15s. to
17s. 6d. This trade is surely an illustration of carrying
coals to Newcastle. What is to prevent the bogs of the
Western Isles, of the West of Scotland, of Wales, Exmoor,
Dartmoor, Cornwall, and of Ireland from joining issue?
PEAT ashes have, on analysis, been found to contain all
the inorganic principles of plants which are insoluble,
together with traces of soluble alkaline sulphates and of
free alkali. They are fully appreciated by the market
gardeners and florists of the metropolis and the suburbs, and
are largely imported from Holland for manurial purposes.
It has been ascertained that air-dried peat, bulk for bulk,
does not, from a manurial standpoint, differ greatly from
grass-fed cow-dung. Professor Dana, an American writer
and expert, in his useful handbook The Muck Manual,
gives the following comparative weights and composition
of a cord of cow-dung and a cord of two separate
descriptions of peat:

Peat ashes abound in carbonate, sulphate, and especially
phosphate of lime. "It is certainly," says the Professor,
"a very curious coincidence of results, that Nature herself
should have produced a substance whose agricultural value
approaches so near to cow-dung — the type of manures.
The power of producing alkaline action in the insoluble
geine is alone wanted to make peat good cow-dung, and
the question arises, how is it to be given to peat (a
substance which, in all its operators, is so nearly allied
to cow-dung) that lacking element — ammonia? How is
it to be supplied? Without it, cow-dung itself would be
no better than peat, not so good even; for in peat nearly
one half of the geine is already in a soluble state. By
the addition of alkali to peat it is put into the state
which ammonia gives to dung, and it is found that, for
all agricultural purposes, the desired result is obtained
by adding to every cord of fresh dug peat 90 to 100 lbs.
pot or pearl ashes, or 60 to 65 lbs. of soda, or 16 to
20 bushels of common wood ashes. Abundant testimony
is afforded that a cord of clear stable manure, composited
with two cords of peat, forms a manure of equal
value to three cords of green farmyard dung. Of peat it
has been aptly said "it is among manures, consisting
chiefly of geine, what bone dust is to manures consisting
mainly of animal matters."
Mr. Henry Turing, our Consul at Rotterdam, in an
official report to the British Minister at the Hague,
stated that "the'fine' litter is used for mixing with
sewage, and a mixture of equal quantities produces a
dry, dark, earthy substance, which can be turned over
with a spade, and is entirely in odorous. As a manure,
this product is quite as valuable as the stable moss
litter; but whilst the latter in its original state is extensively
used in all European countries, and also in
America, the mixing of 'fine' peat with sewage is but
little known, although in some cities such as Bremen,
Brunswick, and Oldenburg, the product is largely used by
the authorities. In Gothenburg in Sweden, the 'fine' peat
has been utilised for a number of years, whilst in Belgium
a company has been formed for the purpose of collecting
the sewage of the several towns and mixing it with
moss litter, and thus producing a mercantile article."
The fine grained granular product can also be used in the
so-called dry-earth closet, a convenience which, as at
present constructed, is misnamed, for in this household
apparatus the solids and liquids are not separated as
they should be, and can be, by a very simple arrangement.
The system known as the Gongleton, i.e. peat
moss litter, or mull, in pails, treated with sulphuric
acid, has worked well. In conjunction with this pail
system is the manufacture of POUDRETTE. This is a
valuable manure, a preparation of sewage, or rather night-soil,
with sulphuric acid, and in the manufacture of this
powerful fertiliser peat-charcoal might readily take the
place of soot as now employed. The process is simple,
but, on account of the offensive vapours evolved, must
be conducted within a closed building. The acid is
generally added to the excrement in the pails used to
transport it to the works, and the whole is then tipped
into a Milburns desiccator, from thence it is removed to
a drying floor heated by flues from beneath. It is subsequently
passed through a disintegrator, preparatory to
being packed for sale. Sometimes a more complicated
system is pursued. (Spon's Encyclopedia, p. 1271.) "The
pails are emptied upon a strainer constructed to allow the
liquid and fine suspended matter to flow through, while
retaining the solid faeces, etc. The filtrate is pumped into
an elevated tank, for the supply of a boiler capable of
dealing with 550 gals. of liquid matter at a charge, and
provided with a stirrer to prevent incrustation, the boiler
being charged with 80 lb. of dolomite, containing brown
sulphuric acid. The foetid vapours evolved in the saturator
are carried through a worm-pipe in the supply tank, partly
for condensation and partly to warm the contents of the
tank before running them into the boiler. The condensed
vapour is run off into the drains. The sulphate of ammonia
thus made is evaporated in a shallow open leaden vessel,
on the top of the saturator, and as it chrystalises is drawn
out and set to drain. Only 5/8 of the ammonia is boiled off
The residue in the boiler, when this proportion has been
collected, is run off by a valve at the bottom, and is stirred
up with superphosphate in large wooden vats. The product
is then dried either by ordinary means or by means of
pressure. The solid matters originally separated by the
straining are mixed in a mortar-mill with the superphosphate
and soot or waste charcoal.
"To prevent nuisance arising from this manufacture, the
whole process must be conducted within a closed building.
The interior of the desiccator should communicate with a
blower, creating an in-draught, sufficient to prevent the
escape of effluvia, through the crevices of the cover, or
while charging the machine. Flues must be provided, so
that the blower shall drive the vapour through the fires
used for heating the drying-floor, before they escape into
the chimney of the works."
One of the most ingenious machines for making poudrette
is the "Concentrator " of Herr Levander. This machine
is to be seen at work near the Municipal works of Gothenburg.
The solid or dry drainage, mixed with peat, is burned
in great rotating cylinders, the gas issuing during combustion
being simultaneously burnt by a small fire. This poudrette
meets with a rapid sale, and no offensive vapours are
perceived in the vicinity of the works. The prevention of
the vapours evolved in the process, described by Spon, from
becoming a nuisance under the Noxious Vapours Act is
easily accomplished by draining off all the vapours set free
into an enclosed den by means of a fan and then passing
them through a condenser and furnace. As compared with
other manufactures, when the manufacturer does not make
his own sulphuric acid, the capital required is very small,
and the work can be conducted on a small scale suited
to villages, hamlets, as well as large institutions.
Unfortunately the prejudices of our countrymen lead them
to poison the air of their cities and towns, and the waters of
their rivers, with substances which, if rightly applied, would
crown their fields with golden harvests, would drive pauperism
from the land, and render the United Kingdom independent
of foreign food supplies. An acre of peat moss will
absorb something like fifty tons of night-soil annually for.
years. In time, of course, the power of absorption decreases,
but when this stage is reached the power of full agricultural
production begins. The importance of artificial manure in
modern agriculture cannot be over-rated, by far the largest
proportion of the vegetable products of all civilized countries
at least being grown up by their aid. The fact that peat
though it does not actually destroy pathogenic germs
possesses the property of retarding the multiplication of
lower organisms, has led to the extensive use in many
German towns of "mull" for earth closets, public latrines,
slaughter-houses, etc. The application of peat refuse for
disinfecting purposes was strongly recommended by Dr.
Scharlau of Stettin, over half a century back, and a similar
practice was known in Norway more than 40 years ago, being
compulsory in the town of Christiania. In the beetroot-sugar
factories this waste product has been largely employed
in absorbing the lye resulting from the treatment of molasses
with strontium. It is forbidden to drain this liquid into
the rivers, and, consequently, manufacturers had to encounter
great difficulties in the disposal of this lye till the value of
peat mull was ascertained. Twenty-five parts of mull absorb
one hundred parts of this product, yielding a valuable and
easily transported manure. Mull has also been used as an
admixture with salts in powder as chemical manure to prevent
concretion or hardening into lumps. The mechanical
condition of the materials is of the utmost importance in
promoting beneficial effect from fertilizers, inasmuch as
proper distribution is possible only when the manures are in
a fine state of division. If the material be put on the land
in a lumpy form it will not only be found that parts of the
soil have failed to receive their due share, but, what is
equally objectionable, the spots on which the lumps fell will
have been poisoned and injured. An addition of 2½ per cent.
of the peat mull to the mineral salts is found sufficient
to ensure of fine pulverized condition and to prevent concretion.
In the salt works at Stassfurth 4 lbs. of mull are
mixed with each sack. The manure from used moss litter
contains a larger proportion of readily soluble nitrates as
compared with that produced from wheat straw, and, on
light sandy soils in particular, the former establishes its
superiority in the proportion of 10 to 7; the phosphates in
either coming out about the same.
The open court, unless beasts are undergoing the process
of fattening or ripening for the butcher, is considered the
manure factory of the farm. We regard these cold, unsheltered
muck yards as relics of barbarism, costly to the
farmer and grazier, and injurious to stock. How can a beast
be expected to thrive or throw up flesh in such surroundings
and standing month after month up to its knees in
liquid manures exposed to all weathers? That animals feel
this treatment is certain as evidenced by unthrifty coats, and
by the fact that the poor brutes crowd together wherever
there is a bit of dry standing. We advocate airy, light
covered courts with moss litter to stand on as substitute for
the present careless and extravagant system. Keep an
animal healthy, comfortable, and warm, and it will pay for
doing so. Though the feet of our pedigree Shires, Clydes,
Suffolks, and agricultural horses have, thanks to the
exigencies of the show yards, much improved of late years,
those of the rank-and-file are faulty, and the fault arises
from the pernicious system of wintering the foals, colts and
fillies in these saturated manure yards, by which the horn of
the hoof becomes macerated and weak, and the frogs rot.
Provided it be kept dry, peat moss-litter and mull are
to be recommended for the floors of covered-in poultry runs
and for nests. The fowls delight to scratch the material
about in search of grain, thus keeping themselves clean
and healthy. Parasites are warded off. The droppings
are soon worked up into impalpable powder, and,
mixing with the vegetable matter, the resultant manure
becomes most valuable for the garden. There is no better
bedding for the kennel than this moss, which, if attended
to, remains sweet and clean, keeping the dogs' coats in
bright, healthy condition. The manure from the pig-sty,
especially if the pigs be partly fed on molassine, is also
very valuable. On account of its getting into the fleece,
it is not adapted to sheep.
Ammonia, converted into sulphate of ammonia as already
stated, being one of the most valuable by-products of peat
recovered from the gas by washing with a weak solution
of sulphuric acid is one of the most potent manures
known, and the best purely nitrogenous material for all
crops save clover, beans, peas, and legumes, drawing their
nitrogen from the air. It has proved itself to be of immense
value, in fact the only other manure practically comparable
with it is nitrate of soda. At its present price it is much
the cheapest source of ammonia in the market, costing about
7s. per unit of ammonia, while each unit in the best Peruvian
guano costs from two to three times that amount.
Even when selling at 20s. per ton, the price it commanded
some years back, it compared favourably. Mr. Chris
Middleton, a practical farmer of repute, and what most
farmers would be if they desire success — a "soil scientist,'
found an ample return from this seemingly expensive
fertilizer. Though the intrinsic manurial value of sulphate
is 20 per cent. greater than nitrate of soda — the former
contains nitrogen equal to about 24 to 25 per cent. of
ammonia, while nitrate contains only 19 per cent. — we
manufacture only about 213,000 tons of sulphate, two-thirds
of which are exported, whereas from 1,300,000 to
1,400,000 tons of nitrate are yearly produced and used.
In coal-coke manufacture the sulphate of ammonia is the
by-product par excellence sought for, and with the output
possible under the Mond, the Otto Hilgenstock, and Dvorkovitz
processes, it has been thought that the supply must
at no distant date exceed the demand. This apprehension,
however, may be dismissed. It is probable that the
nitrate fields will be completely exhausted in twenty-three
years, provided that the yearly production be maintained
at the same level as in recent years. If, owing to
the failure of the supply, the need of nitrogen as a fertiliser
can no longer be sufficiently met as at present by the
application of nitrates, it is clear that it would then become
imperative to very largely increase the production of nitrogen
— that is to say ammonia. More than ourselves, the
German farmer is alive to the uses of artificial manures, and
yearly uses 160,000 tons of sulphate against our 68,000 tons.
The joint efforts of the Sulphate of Ammonia Committee
(4 Fenchurch Avenue, London, E.C.) and of the Ammonia
Syndicate of Germany are by degrees, slowly but surely,
impressing farmers with the high value of ammonia as a
fertiliser, and ere long the price of nitrates may be governed
by that of sulphate. Of late there has been an increasing
demand for this fertilizer from the sugar-beet growers of
the Continent, and at the Azores and elsewhere the producers
of cane sugar are more and more convinced of its
It costs no more to manure rationally than to treat the
soil and crop irrationally, so it lies with the farmers to
practically study the "The New Soil Science," or "Soil
Life," to choose between right and wrong, to convert a bare,
precarious living into a good percentage on invested capital.
Our soil, cropped now for many generations, is exhausted, and
requires generous treatment. We have to contend against
the produce of rich virgin soils brought to these shores at
low freights. When the value of sulphate of ammonia, and
its effects on soils and crops, becomes to be more widely
known and appreciated, the production will keep pace with
the largely-increasing demand. At present it is mainly
derived from gas works, coke ovens, the blast furnaces, shale-oil
works, and to a slight extent in the manufacture of
animal charcoal. In France a certain amount is derived
from the ammoniacal liquids of cesspools. Proposals have
been put forward to add to the output by the destructive
distillation of wool refuse, horn, feathers, blood and soot;
but peat, as has been proved, is almost as prolific a source
for the production of this salt as coal, and when we consider
the low cost at which it can be graven, must, with suitable
plant, prove the cheapest source. Out of thirty-one different
analyses of various coals from different fields, the highest
percentage of ammonia was 0·344. The coal averages were
from the Otto By-product Oven, and that gave them an
undoubted advantage. From the rich West of Scotland
bituminous peats and the "candle peats" of Lough Neagh
better results than these would have been obtained.
But irrespective of the large growing demand for
sulphate of ammonia as a fertilizer, another use has lately
been found for this by-product in a compound of
ammonia and petroleum, soluble in water, a disinfectant
dust-layer now much used in Berlin, Dresden, and Frankfort,
for laying the dust-fiend, and which from experiments
made on the Old Windsor road is likely to be used in
this country. It is said to improve the roads generally,
and will enable motor cars to travel without raising the
clouds of septic dust now so much complained of. This
compound can be applied to a thirty-foot road at the
cost of £10 a mile.
It is possible that the coming into operation of the
Sugar Convention, and the consequent removal of bounty
on foreign-grown sugar, may give a stimulus to the
cultivation of sugar beet in the British Isles. A century
ago there were 100 sugar refineries in London alone;
to-day there are but two. Our climate and soil are said
by experts to be well suited for this root crop. The
weight, no great advantage however, is greater than that of
the German crop, and the saccharine in the juice not less.
With suitable manure there is no reason why the Silesian
beet-sugar crop should not prove remunerative to the
British and Irish farmer. On yellow turnips, swedes,
mangels, potatoes, and other roots, sulphate of ammonia
gives better results than can possibly be obtained from
the alkaline nitrates, the produce being heavier, sounder,
of better keeping and feeding qualities. The keeping
quality is an important item. Wherever tried it has been
found that by using this slow but sure fertilizer the best
results have been obtained, not only as regards the
quantity of sugar yielded by the plants, but also in the
percentage of chrystallisable and more marketable sugar.
Much might be done by following some of the methods
in vogue in Hungary. On the great sugar estate of
Szerencs, where 1750 tons of sugar beet are worked up
daily during the season, with an output of 220 tons of
sugar, employing 1500 hands, every root selected for seed
is tested for its sugar-yielding quality by cutting out a
small section for analysis; if not up to 14-15 per cent.
standard the plant is removed from the field. By this
selection a considerable increase in the sugar is brought
about, and 19 per cent. is common, while some varieties
of beet show a percentage as high as 20 to 23. When
the works are idle the hands are employed cultivating
the crop. The beet has a double use, being crushed for
sugar, while the refuse pulp is siloed and used during winter
and spring for cattle food.
Professor C. M. Aikman, M.A., D.Sc., in his work
Manures and Principles of Manuring, in writing on the
position of nitrogen in agriculture, says:—
"Of manurial ingredients, nitrogen is by far the most
important, and on the presence and character the nitrogen
contains, the fertility of a soil may be said to be most
largely dependent. Most soils, as a rule, are better
supplied with available ash ingredients than with available
nitrogen compounds. The expensive nature of most
artificial nitrogeneous manures also gives to nitrogen the
first position from an economic point of view. A thorough
study, therefore, of the different forms in which it exists
in nature, of the numerous and complicated changes it
undergoes in the soil, by which it is prepared for the plants'
needs, of the relation of its different forms to plant-life,
and of the natural sources of its loss and gain, is of the
highest importance if we are to hope to understand the
difficult question of soil-fertility." He adds:— "Of all
soils, peat-soils are richest in nitrogen." Professor S. W.
Johnson found the nitrogen in fifty separate samples of
peat to range from per cent, to 2.9 per cent., the average
being 1.6 per cent. On the other hand marls and sandy
soils are the poorest, the analyses of a number of these soils
showing only from ·004 to ·83 per cent. for the former, and
·025 to ·074 for the latter. As a general rule most arable
soils contain over one-tenth per cent. of nitrogen. Manures
are rich in proportion to their quantity of nitrogen. The
application of caustic potash to peat will convince the most
sceptical of the presence of ammonia, but though it is there
in the proportions quoted, it has lost the power of generating
Peat, in the form of Moss-Earth or Oxygenated-Peat, as
it was aptly termed by that exact chemist, Lord Dundonald,
is vegetable matter that under the influence of sun and air,
heat and cold, moisture and drought, has been subjected
to putrid fermentation and been converted into a form of
vegetable mould. The superabundant hydrogen has been
expelled in the form of gas. The acids it contained have
been washed away in solution, and the bituminous oils
have been almost entirely carried off by this means,
and have found a resting-place in the "creeshy clods,"
the "bears' grease" found in pockets at the bottom of
some bogs, and go to form the highly bituminated variety,
which, when newly dug, feels fat and greasy, and in
which neither plant nor shrub will vegetate. This peat-mould
differs from earth-mould in appearance and in
qualities. In its natural state it differs from bituminous
peat in that: —
Moss Earth is: —
Friable like mould, fine in
Pervious to water.
Found often covered with
succumbent Herbs.
Worms, insects and animals
can exist in it.

Bituminous Peat is: —
None found.

When dug and dried it is: —
Rotten and friable.
Burns with difficulty, yields
little flame, little smoke,
and a considerable quantity
of ashes.

Burns easily with much
flame and smoke and
fewer ashes.
When distilled it: —
Yields a small proportion
of oil and throws off
only a trace of hydrogen
and carburetted hydrogen.

Compact and "Stone Peat"
always yield a considerable
quantity, the bottom
or highly bituminated
varieties double, and
sometimes treble of that
known as compact, i.e.
that underlying the fibrous
It is of a dark, often black colour, and is found in the
declivities between hills, and especially such as are under
the influence of the sun. As a basis on which to compound
various fertilizers this substance cannot be excelled. There
are several waste products from various factories at present
utterly valueless, malodorous, and difficult to get rid of.
These possess considerable manurial value, and, in combination
with Oxygenated Peat, are completely deodorized and
converted into a powerful plant food.
A well-known horticulturist, Mr. James Kennedy, of the
Nursery, Greenbrae, Dumfries, writing to The Scottish Peat
Industries, last year, adds his practical testimony to the
value of granulated peat loam manufactured by that company.
"In reply to your enquiry regarding my experiments
with your Peat in the growing of tomatoes, I am pleased
to say that it proved most thoroughly satisfactory, proving
much superior to our ordinary soil inasmuch that the plants
grown in peat were much sturdier and short-jointed, giving
trusses of bloom often less than four inches apart with a
good set of fruit, while those grown in our ordinary soil
were tall and lanky and long jointed, which at the same
weight had not half the fruit, thus proving the superiority
of peat, as the great object of tomato growers is to secure
sturdy plants with a superabundance of fruit.
"I much regret the season was so far advanced before you
suggested the experiment, especially as the season has been
a most unsatisfactory one, or the results would have been
better and more conclusive.
"Considering the fact that it was on July 17th that the
plants were potted, the photo taken on October 19th
proves the success of the experiment, also that a good
crop of tomatoes can be grown on peat in little over
three months. We are still gathering very fine fruit
(Nov. 14th, 1903), and will for some weeks from these
"There are other reasons that induce me to recommend
peat beyond the facts already mentioned; these are, from
the fact of the drying, compressing, and grinding there is
no fungus or disease, wire worm, or weeds; also, it requires
less watering than other soils. The above facts are of great
consideration to the grower. I have also further experimented
with the fine peat-dust sent me, and most successfully
in packing and ripening green tomato fruit. Green
fruit packed in boxes three weeks and three days were
turned out in fine condition, thus proving that many tons of
green fruit usually wasted in the late autumn, can, by being
packed in peat, be preserved and turned into money.
"I am so satisfied with the results already obtained that I
intend to test peat as a good material for growing other
plants as well as tomatoes and have every confidence of
recommending it to other growers."
Equally satisfactory results are vouched for by another
capable nurseryman, Mr. W. Byers, of the Jessiefield Nursery,
Dumfries, N.B., who adds the following, which must
prove of interest to florists: —
"I have been growing a large quantity of tulips, daffodils
and narcissus in your specially prepared granulated peat-loam
and find that those grown in above were much superior
in quality and colouring to those grown in soil. The foliage
was stronger and the plants more erect. I have every
confidence in recommending it for the culture of bulbs, and
I am so pleased with it that I am going to grow a quantity
of tomatoes in it." The peat-loam is equally valuable in
growing melons, cucumbers, ferns, chrysanthemums, bulbs,
etc. These are by no means isolated cases, and when all
interested in the products of the soil come to give these
cheap and very effective manures a trial they will be rewarded
with bumper and good keeping and feeding crops of high
quality. Aided by the intelligent, exact and competent agricultural
chemist, the large range of compounds now available
can be manufactured to suit every soil and every crop, and the
fact that plants grown in peat-loam as a basis require little
watering is a factor of some value. Care, however, must be
exercised in the selection of moss earth. Some varieties
contain in themselves the best material and the best manures
for their improvement. These stand in need of no adventitious
aid. Others are absolutely sterile. The reliable chemist
and experimental station, carefully conducted on practical
and scientific lines, will guide the enquirer as to the essentials.
For the development of the peat manure industry we want
an experimental station organized and conducted on the
principle so successfully carried out by Lord Rosebery on
his home farm at Dalmeny. No one soil can differ more
from another in consistency and chemical qualities than
fibrous from pyritous, or bituminous peat from peat earth.
What may be food for one may prove poison to the others.
There is no panacea in the manurial art. It is from want of
attention to this, the misapplication of manure and the labour,
that in the past so many costly failures in moor reclamation
and the cultivation of the mosses have been experienced.
There is another genus of moss, apart from that previously
referred to, and which in the hands of the chemist may be
converted into a valuable and commercial asset. We refer
to Salt or Marine Peat, or the braack torf or darry of
the Dutch which, despite the intolerable stench it emits
when burning and the dangerous effect it produces on human
beings, contains a rich treasure of manure. Whether wet,
dry, burning, or reduced to ashes, it possesses features distinct
from every other kind of moss. It often contains marine
plants. Dr Rennie, who has studied those vast deposits,
points out that they cover an enormous area and have been
discovered on the south-east and west coasts of Britain, in
south Ireland, and in the Western Isles. This peat is found in
Cornwall, and in Kent at Romney, where in digging ditches,
rudders, large nails and nautical instruments have been found
imbedded. The whole of Marshland, a vast tract of now
most fertile country, is said to have been won from the sea.
Large deposits have been discovered in Cumberland, along
the shores of Solway Firth, along the coast of Wales, and
in Somersetshire round about Weston, Shapwick, and Collington,
now nearly cut down to the water level. The whole
of Sedgemore, or more properly Sedgemere, between Bristol
and Gloucester is of this formation. In Sussex we find it at
Rye and Eastbourne, in Kent near Sandwich, along the
banks of the Thames, on the Sussex marshes — famed for their
fattening properties, and along the sea-board of Norfolk,
Lincoln, and York.1 The shores of Holland, Denmark and
the Baltic abound with it, and the whole of the valley of
Somme in France is a vast reclaimed moss built of marine
plants. The salt peat mosses found by Professor Lineck
along the coast of Spain are composed chiefly of the
stolochaenus, juncus acutus, and juncus maritinus, mixed
with roots of the helodes freely blended with sea shells.
When fresh dug this marine peat has a bitter, fœtid smell.
It burns with difficulty, with a blue flame and a disgusting
malodorous stench. It is not only a repulsive but dangerous
fuel, due no doubt to the sulphur it contains. It always
communicates a livid cadaverous hue to the countenance,
accompanied with a sickly nausea, sometimes faintness and
syncope, when burnt in a close room. The higher percentage
of sea salt found in it the more fœtid and dangerous is the
smoke. A whitish yellow afflorescence, indicative of sulphur,
clings to any iron pot or vessel placed over it when burning.
A considerable quantity of magnesia, soda, or their salts, is
found in the ashes. At one period the inhabitants of
Aberdeenshire used the ashes of peat in place of salt, and to
this day the braack torf of Holland is burnt to recover sea
Mr. Douglas Archibald utters the warning that in the
wheat yield Great Britain is bound to encounter during
1 We have lately discovered this marine peat at Dunwich on the Suffolk
the next seventeen years a total loss of £19,000,000 from
what we might expect on the average yields of 1886-1902.

Apart from any question of preferential tariffs there is
one means by which our wheat production could be increased
by 50 per cent., and by which the country could be enriched
without a shilling being spent abroad. As Sir William
Crookes said in his presidential address before the British
Association in 1898, we are content to hurry down our
drains and watercourses into the sea fixed nitrogen to the
value of no less than £16,000,000 per annum. Practically
the recuperation of this nitrogen and other valuable fertilizing
properties of sewage has in most cases failed owing to
the unintelligent way in which attempts have been made in
the past to solve the problem by sewage farms and the
pressed sludge of precipitation. These have both been
abortive, and for very obvious reasons.
A solution of the problem has, however, been effected, by
which the solids of sewage are converted into a dry powder
at the rate of 1 cwt. per head per annum. From twenty
years' experience it is found that 5 cwt. of this species of
manure per acre raises the average yield of wheat thirteen
bushels per acre above the normal for the United Kingdom,
which for that period was thirty-one bushels. On 1,500,000
acres this would mean an increase of 19,500,000 bushels and
the utilisation of the sewage of 7,500,000 persons, or only a
little more than the population of Greater London. Moreover,
this extra amount of wheat would meet the requirements
of over 3,000,000 persons.
THE value of properly prepared peat ashes as a cheap and
effective, though not very lasting, fertilizer have long been
acknowledged. Our moor farmers who, previous to the
building of railways and the working of our coal measures,
used to burn turf, had a proverb "the better the fire the
richer the farmer." So sensible were these thrifty people
of the efficiency of this manure that they procured all the
ashes from the hearths of the householders and cottagers and
spread them on the land. Many owners of large tracts of
peat reaped a good income by burning quantities of turf,
which was sold at seven, eight, and ten shilings a load.
Peat ashes are extensively employed in the Netherlands as
a manure, from whence, as already remarked, they used to be
shipped in large quantities to the Thames for the London
and Kentish market gardens. They are carefully preserved
by the householders who burn turf and are sold to the
farmers by the bushel. We have given the analyses of
various peat ashes. Davy, who gave much attention to the
subject, came to the conclusion that they owe most of their
fertilizing properties to the presence of gypsum (or sulphite
of lime) the effect of which is so apparent in crops of clover,
sainfoin, and on grass lands. In 1728 the celebrated Earl of
Stair sent from London several hogsheads of peat ashes to
his steward, Robert Ainslie, with directions for their application,
recommending them as an admirable top-dressing for
grass, and even arable land. Accordingly this simple
manure was used with great success on the pastures and
tillage on his lordship's estate of Culhorn in Wigtonshire.
So convinced became his intelligent lowland reeve of the
value of these ashes to grass and barley crops that he
immediately followed the precept of Virgil, "Nor hesitate
to scatter the dirty ashes over the exhausted lands,"
and as Mr. Cuthbert W. Johnson, F.R.S., the well-known
agricultural authority, informs us, immediately began to
burn turf, moss, and peat in considerable quantities for use
on the Wigtonshire estate. This writer in his important
work Manures mentions that in the valley of the Kennet,
Newbury, Berkshire, where peat ashes are made in considerable
quantities and are used by the farmers as a manure for
grass and turnips, they are sold at the rate of threepence a
bushel, and are applied at the rate of forty or fifty bushels
an acre broadcast. "On most grass lands" he states "there
is no dressing equal to them; and on some soils near
Hungerford they produce the most luxuriant crops of grass,
when the effects of common farm-yard manure are hardly
perceptible. As a manure for turnips they answer best in
wet seasons." This Newbury peat ash Davy found to
contain one-fourth to one-fifth of gypsum, and the Wiltshire
peat showed the same proportions, that of Stockbridge in
Hants containing a still larger percentage of this valuable
sulphite of lime. Leibeg contends that the nature of gypsum
consists in its giving a fixed constitution to the nitrogen,
or ammonia, which is brought into the soil, and is indispensable
for the nutrition of plants. He says that 100 lbs.
of gypsum give as much ammonia as 6·250 lbs. of horse's
urine would yield of it. 4 lbs. of gypsum he affirms,
increases the produce of the meadow 100 lbs. or twenty-five
fold, (Organic Chemistry, p. 57). "These peat ashes" writes
Davy "are used as a top-dressing for cultivated grasses,
particularly sainfoin, clover, and rye grass. I found that
they afforded considerable quantities of gypsum, and probably
this substance is intimately combined as a necessary part of
their woody fibre: if this be allowed, it is easy to explain the
reason why it operates in such small quantities; for the
whole of a clover or sainfoin crop, on an acre, according to
my estimation, would afford by incineration only three or
four bushels of gypsum. In examining the soil in a field
near Newbury, which was taken from a footpath near a
gate, where gypsum could not have been artificially furnished,
I could not detect any of this substance in it, and at the
very time I collected the soil, the peat ashes were applied to
the clover in the field. I have mentioned certain peats the
ashes of which afford gypsum; but it must not be inferred
from this that all peats agree with them. I have examined
various peat ashes from Scotland, Ireland and Wales, and
the northern and western parts of England which contained
no quantity that could be useful; and these ashes abounded
in silicious albuminous earths, and in oxide of iron. Lord
Charleville found in some Irish peat ashes sulphate of
potash. Vitriolic matter is usually found in peats; and
when the soil of the substratum is calcareous, the ultimate
result is the production of gypsum. In general, when the
recent potash emits a strong smell resembling that of rotten
eggs (sulphuretted hydrogen) when acted upon by vinegar
it will furnish gypsum" (Agricultural Chemistry, p.:336).
Some care is necessary in the preparation, storage, and
application of these peat ashes. In the first instance it is
necessary to ascertain by careful analysis if the chemical
qualities of the raw material be suitable or not. The cost
of this test if carefully and exactly conducted — not a
mere finger and thumb investigation — will be amply
Instances of the misapplication of large sums of money
and labour are not wanting, which have provoked the
sarcasms and sneers of the dubious. But, given due attention
to the chemical composition of peaty, which differ
one from the other in quality as one soil differs from another,
we assert that moss of every kind has its use in the form
of manure or fuel, or can be converted into some economical
article of importance.
A Lancashire agriculturist, writing on this subject, impresses
on his readers the necessity of careful burning and
subsequent treatment. Peat ashes, in his experience, purposely
and properly burnt for a manure, are noble improvers
both of corn and grass land; but the substance from which
they should be obtained is the under stratum of the peat,
where the vegetable fibres are well decayed. Indeed, the
very best is procured from the lowest stratum of all. This
will yield a quantity of very strong ashes, in colour (when
first burnt) like vermilion, and the taste very salt and
pungent. Great care and caution should be exercised in
burning these ashes, and also in preparing them afterwards.
In the first place, the peat should be consumed as slowly
as possible, the fire being just kept smouldering and never
suffered to flame out. If in the morning it should be
found too low anti in danger of being extinguished, either
in consequence of rain or by too close covering up and
consequent exclusion of the air, the heap should be stirred
up with a stake and enlivened by thrusting in some dry
turf or brushwood. One man suffices to keep a dozen fires
going, and these, properly attended to, will, during the
summer months, produce a large quantity of these valuable
ashes. About the middle of September (before the autumn
rains come on) the fires should be smothered out by laying
on every heap a large covering of soil or of heath parings,.
so as to effectually exclude air and in order that the heap
may cool gradually. As soon as the ashes are cool enough
to he carried, they must be stored in a heap, under cover,
protected from wind and sun. Being in a very fine state
of division and light, they are best transported in bags.
Thus burned and preserved, they will be found an excellent
dressing in the following spring, either for corn or grass
land. Being so fine, they naturally insinuate themselves
in the soil. Their effect is not lasting, but as every year
brings an unlimited supply at very little cost, the farmer
need not concern himself about this lack of permanency.
The first rain washes them in, and the next summer never
fails to testify to their fertilizing effect. The peat is cut
in the usual manner, viz., by means of the slane or spade,
the turves being "footed" or "rowed," then clamped or
pyramided on the moss, and finally built up in stacks,
which should be roofed with thatch. A year's seasoning
in the rick greatly improves the material. Should the
summer be wet, a re-clamping on the moor may be
necessary, but when the peat is highly bituminous this
will not be called for. Working on a large scale with the
power excavator, the cost of graving is greatly diminished,
and large quantities can be got to bank from the lowest
strata, so that advantage may be taken of fine drying
weather. All the burning should be over by September
Or October. The ashes should, before being housed, be
riddled, so as to get rid of any stones or half-burnt turf,
and the heap covered over with a layer of soil. This sifting
ensures certainty and equality in the action of the
manure. The large particles are best suited to strong clay
An extensive employer and strong advocate of peat
ashes, one who had many years' experience of their good
qualities, writes: "The sulphurous and saline particles
with which these ashes abound have a most happy effect
in promoting vegetation, and, if used with discretion, the
increase produced by them is truly wonderful. All ashes
being of a caustic nature, they must, therefore, be used
with caution; but with respect to peat ashes, almost the
only danger may be anticipated from laying them in too
great quantities in improper seasons. Nothing can be
better for dressing low-lying damp meadows, spreading
from fifteen to twenty bushels to the acre. This work
should be done on a still day, not later than January or
February, so that the fine particles may be washed down
to the roots of the grass by the first spring rains. If spread
in the autumn, and rain should not speedily follow, the
application would be apt to burn the pasture. The damper
and stiffer the soil, the greater the quantity of ashes; but
on grass land, permanent pasture or seeds, the quantity
should never exceed thirty bushels, and on light warm
soil half this amount should suffice. On wheat crops these
ashes are of great service, but must be applied with discretion.
If applied in full measure to winter wheat, at or
immediately after the time of sowing, they, by inducing
a too rank growth, would do more harm than good. A
compromise, therefore, is adopted. About the beginning
of November, before the hard frosts set in, it is good
practice to treat heavy clay lands with eight bushels of
the coarser ashes, giving light warm lands only half that
quantity of the fine divided quality. This winter-dressing,
trifling as it may seem, has been found to be of great
service. It appears to warm the roots, to bring the plant
moderately forward, preserves its colour, and disposes it
to obtain a latent vigour such as enables it to push forward
its growth at the first call of spring weather. About the
latter end of February, or early in March, the lands get
another similar dressing, an extra two bushels being apportioned
to those of lighter description. These ashes, laid
on in the spring, are of the greatest service, without any
probability of danger. If it rains or snows within a few
days after the dressing has been applied, it is washed in,
and has a beneficial effect on the succeeding crop, co-operating
with the manure that was laid on in November.
If, on the contrary, dry weather should set in, the first
winter application will produce its full effect, and the
quantity laid on in the spring being so small, the possibility
of its burning or injuring the wheat is very much
The authority we refer to states that he found this
excellent manure of great use to the root crop. In the
case of turnip, it is very beneficial in overcoming the
ravages of the fly, this pest evidently finding the caustic
taste of the ashes disagreeable. "When," says this old
West Country farmer, "I sow my turnips, I have eight
bushels of these ashes broadcasted on every acre, and when
the plants show their first leaves I sow on every acre four
bushels more. By this management my crops seldom fail,
when at the same time some of my neighbours sow their
turnip land three or four times over." The farmer must
use this manure at first with great caution till repeated
experiments have made him acquainted with its action on
various crops and soils. In the case of peas especially, for
this crop, though it succeeded admirably in one season,
has on the next following, owing to variable weather, on
the same soil and in another part of the same field, proved
disappointing. In the case of barley and oats, these ashes
are not so certain a manure as with winter corn. These
crops, being quick growers, occupy the land but a few
months, and this energetic manure is often apt to push
them forward too rapidly, causing them to run to straw,
with a lean, immature yield of grain. Oats, however, are
not so apt to be damaged as barley. The best results with
barley have been obtained when following on turnips,
which, as stated above, have had two light dressings of
ashes. When the turnips are fed off, or drawn, the field,
season permitting, gets a good ploughing. If the roots
have been fed off, the land will require no more ashes;
but if they have been drawn and carried on to other
ground for sheep feed, or given to beasts being yard or
stall fed, each acre, after the ploughing, should get five
bushels of ashes, leaving them to be washed in by the
first rains. The land is left to lie till it receives a second
ploughing before being sown. Contrary to the experience
of others, this old West Country farmer "finds that the
effect of this manure is distinctly visible for three years,
and it does not, like some others, leave the land in an
impoverished state when its virtues are exhausted and
spent." He likens it, in its effect on the several crops,
to that produced by soot, one of the most powerful
manures in the class composing geine (decomposed
organic bodies) and salts of potash, ammonia and soda,
and is of opinion that it is the stronger of the two. In
concluding a long and explicit memorandum on this
cheap and effective fertilizer and its salutary effects on
the soil, this practical agriculturist says: "It is chiefly
to the fertilizing quality of these ashes that I owe the
ease I now enjoy." Being so light, one cart-load suffices
for the treatment of two acres. Despite our almost
prohibitive railway rates, these ashes are within the
reach of almost all our farmers, market gardeners, and
Brewers, distillers, tanners, dyers, chemical manufacturers,
and others have long had before them the difficult and
costly problem of how to get rid of surplus yeast, pot-ales,
spent washes, and other troublesome effluents which under
the Rivers Pollution Act may not be run into rivers, or
where the privilege of using public sewers for the discharge
of these waste products at present accorded by Local
Authorities is liable to be withdrawn at short notice.
Attempts of various kinds have been made to solve this
important and far-reaching question. Most of these
residuals are possessed of a commercial value. A paper
read about a year ago before the Federated Institutes of
Brewing by Mr. Julian L. Baker, F.I.C., F.C.S., on "The
Utilization of Waste Yeast in Breweries" has directed the
attention of the trade to its neglect of this valuable material
which is now daily got rid of often with some difficulty
and frequently at some cost. It certainly is a blot on
our scientific enlightenment to find that surplus yeast —
a substance rich in nutritive properties, of proved commercial
value as a fertilizer, and as a good discolorising
agent for tan liquors — should be put to no better purpose
than to be unceremoniously turned down the sewer or
Brewers are at present heavily handicapped by the difficulty
of carriage of their yeast as compared with that of the
patent article, to which latter preparation some medical
scientists ascribe the alarming prevalence of cancer. Brewers'
compressed yeast rapidly liquefies, and in any bulk becomes
unmanageable. In order to overcome this transportation
difficulty the objects kept in view must be the removal
of the moisture from the mass, and thus inhibit putrefactive
Mr. Baker gives particulars of numerous processes which
since 1888 have been published and patented having for
their object compounds as substitutes for meat extract, meal
and cake for cattle, milk, etc., at the same time referring to
the medicinal properties of yeast which, though they have
been recognized from the earliest times, have only recently
been systematically investigated. These researches have
confirmed its beneficial results in cases of boils, anthrax, and
skin diseases originating in derangements of the digestive
system. It is also of value, as a lotion or injection, for
various malignant discharges. Internally, dried yeast suspended
in beer is prescribed in doses of 1 to 3 teaspoonfuls
before meals. As a lotion fresh yeast is suspended in a
fermentable solution applied to the parts. The value of
yeast cannot be gainsaid. But, outside these varied applications,
there are other uses to which this product may be
converted, the chief of which, from a commercial point of
view, is as a material, in conjunction with peat, in the
manufacture of compound manures or as a fertilizer to be
used by itself. In this industry stale or dirty yeast can
advantageously be employed on account of its richness in
phosphates, nitrogenous matter, potash, etc. A sample of
dried mild ale yeast was analyzed with the following
results : —
Moisture, - - - 7·00
Organic matter, - - 81·40
Phosphoric acid, - - 5·60
Lime, - - - 0·50
Potash, - - 3·50
Nitrogen, - - - 8·20
Equal to Ammonia, - - - - 9·96
Taking the present price of ammonia at 10s. per unit, potash
at 4s. per unit, phosphate of lime at 1s. per unit, the value
of the sample of yeast, having the composition given above,
would be: —
Ammonia, - - - 9·96 x 10s. = 99·6s.
Potash, - - - - 3·50 x 4s. = 14·0s.
Phosphate of lime, - - 12·2 x 1s = 12·2s.
or a total value of £6 5s. per ton.
Several processes have been devised for the direct conversion
of peat into a manure, but its true economical use
will be found, after evaporation, in the manufacture of compound
manures. J. S. Johnson (Eng. patent 20,660 of 1897)
having by pressure or evaporation deprived yeast of a large
portion of its moisture, thoroughly dries it, pulverizing the
product. This is used either alone as a fertilizer or mixed
with dry loam, phosphate, or other suitable material. The
preliminary evaporation is best performed in a vacuum
vessel, provided with a steam jacket and mechanical stirrer,
the final drying being effected by exposing the material on
trays in a current of warm air. As the preparation when
required for storage needs a proportion of suitable antiseptic,
we suggest the addition of granulated peat. By the addition
of this cheap deodorizer and antiseptic the latent moisture
in the mass would be absorbed, and the fermentative properties
of the yeast must practically disappear.
For converting yeast into a fertilizer, top dressing, or fly
and wire-worm preventive, A. J. Oxford (Eng. patent 5936,
1901) heats the yeast, or it is mixed with unslaked lime,
powdered, and mixed with kiln dust, dried malt culms, or
other ingredients. Here again the use of peat mull suggests
itself. Mr. Julian L. Baker, the author of this valuable
résumé connected with the brewing industry, is at present
working in this direction, and has obtained encouraging
results. His modus operandi is to treat pressed yeast with
small quantities of sulphuric acid, heating the liquefied mass
for a short time to 212° Fahr. and then nearly, but not
completely, neutralizing with carbonate of lime or a mixture
of carbonate of lime and carbonate of potash. A copious
evolution of carbonic acid occurs, rendering the mass very
porous and spongy. In this state it can be dried with ease
and readily powdered. The cost of treatment is small, and
there are no difficulties arising from the disengagement of
malodorous gaseous products, as all the volatile nitrogenous
constituents are fixed by the sulphuric acid. The phosphates
are also made soluble. This utilization of yeast for
manurial purposes is in no sense speculative, and is a subject
of vast importance to the brewing industry. A material
having the composition mentioned above has a definite
market value per unit of ammonia, potash, and phosphoric
acid. It is produced in enormous quantities. It would not,
perhaps, pay any single brewery to convert its surplus yeast
into manure, but in large cities and towns, where the output
of beer is considerable, it certainly would be profitable for
the brewers to work on the co-operative principle, and to
send their surplus yeast to a central factory to be there
treated. We are confident that by composting their waste
product with peat an enriched fertilizer would result, accompanied
by reduced cost of the process of manufacture,
enhanced keeping qualities, and free division of particles.
Certainly it would banish the carriage difficulty which, at
present, is the lion in the path.
A plant lately installed at a distillery in the Highlands
for the purpose of evaporating pot-ale has proved entirely
successful, and from this it may be concluded that, so far as
regards this effluent, the question of river pollution has been
satisfactorily solved. We have no particulars as to the cost
of this process, but as the waste heat of the distillery is
utilized it cannot be heavy. A mixture of desiccated peat
with the pot-ale syrup has also been attended with good
results, as it enables a hitherto very difficult material to be
dried at a comparatively low temperature. Formerly a
temperature of 350° Fahr. was necessary, for if dried at a
lower heat the matter became deliquescent on exposure.
The pot-ale is injected into the evaporator in the form of a
fine spray. The resulting manure is worth £5. 10s. a ton.
One large distillery produces weekly some 600,000 gallons
of this waste effluent or spent wash.
BY the mixing and thorough incorporation of fibrous, nodulous,
and powdered peat with clay or clayey loam a worthy
and cheap competitor as against building-bricks, filtering
material, stone, and lumber, can be manufactured. It is a
cheaper product than ordinary building-brick, lighter in
weight by from 50 to 75 per cent., and remarkable for its
non-conducting qualities of heat, cold, sound and electricity.
It serves admirably for filtering and refrigerating purposes,
and, combined with the chemical compound referred to
under the head of cement, becomes waterproof and practically
indestructible by fire, acids, or age. It is a well-established
fact that brick structures outlast those built of
stone. To a great and appreciable extent this plastic
material carries its own fuel, thus effecting a considerable
saving in firing in the kiln — each block or brick containing
sufficient vegetable matter to bake the brick-earth or clay.
In burning, all that is necessary, after kindling the fire in
the usual brickmakers updraught kiln — for which purpose
peat fire-lighters may be conveniently used — is to continue
the firing only till the whole of the interior of the kiln, as
viewed through the peep holes, is in a state of incandescence.
All the vegetable matter in the bricks or other material
must be thoroughly consumed, but the combustion must be
gradual. Over-firing must be avoided. When the contents
of the kiln are fairly alight throughout draughts must then
be closed, a cherry red heat, of 950° Fahrenheit and no
greater, being maintained by guarded admission of air through
small flues or apertures until combustion has entirely
ceased. The kiln must not be opened until thoroughly cool.
Clay of any variety, free from grit, may be used. For
ordinary purposes surface clay is preferable to fictile or
kaolin clays, the former being easier to work and baking
with less heat. With the pulverized clay, ground or rolled
in any manner practised in ordinary clay working, the
peat, either fibrous or nodulous, or a mixture of both, is
thoroughly intermixed or incorporated, the proportions
varied according to the description of brick or earthenware
to be manufactured.
If long pieces like joists or beams are required, say up to
ten feet in length (which may be further strengthened to
resist tranverse strains by the addition of metal cores, which
are made subsequent to firing by running molten iron in
longitudinal holes created by the die when the material is
in a plastic state) only fibrous peat, chopped into lengths of
two inches or thereabouts, is used in the mixture. Nails
may be driven into this material, but it is not susceptible of
tooling by ordinary methods. If a product of great porosity
be demanded, which may be advantageously wrought with
wood-working tools subsequent to firing, then granular peat
may be used in the mixture. Mixtures which will afford
products intermediate in strength and porosity between
these two extremes may be had by varying the added
quantity of peat of either or both sorts described. For
instance for sills, girders, fence posts, and like constructions
(which may be further strengthened with iron cores, and
which are penetrable by nails) two parts of peat and one
of clay by measure are the usual proportions. Blocks to
build outside walls of buildings to resist moisture must,
before erection, be coated with a thin slip of cement; or for
underground construction, as for example pavements, pavement
foundations, electrical insulations, tunnel linings etc.,
the materials are impregnated with boiling asphaltum.
The formula recommended is two parts by measure of clay,
two of granulated, and one of fibrous peat. For chimneys,
chimney-flues, sheathing for roofs, to which slates may be
nailed, cement, metal and other coverings applied, and for
columns, and all interior work, such as partition walls,
ceilings, furring or lining of exterior walls, and sub-floors,
and other class of work upon which it is desirable to apply
cement or mortar by trowelling, a mixture of two parts of
clay, three of peat dust by measure accompanied by a
sprinkling of fibrous peat best serves the purpose; and for
boiler jackets, steam pipe coverings, filtering slabs, and safe
and vault linings (in which the latter material may, or may
not be injected with alum water or the like) as high as two
parts of granulated peat to one of clay by measure, to which
a sprinkling of fibrous peat may be added or not, affords
the proper mixture. The products of the two last described
mixtures may be wrought with common saws, and edged
tools, and will hold nails, or screws, measurably well. The
earthy and vegetable matters in measured proportions
are adapted to the subsequent use of the product as described,
intimately mingled together, with the addition of sufficient
water, to make the compound plastic by any of the various
tempering or pugging processes known to brick making;
which by thorough incorporation thereof will afford homogeneity
of mass, a qualification absolutely demanded when
tooling subsequent to firing is required. The simplest
method, however, is to measure and evenly distribute over
and upon each other the prepared earthy and vegetable
matter in alternate layers, proportioned in quantity, to
the supposed demand for future use of the product, and
dampened as the layers accumulate over each other, by
sprinkled water. A pile thus composed of dampened
alternate layers may be built up to a height of several feet,
and upon completion must be covered with old bagging,
blankets, or carpeting, thoroughly wetted to prevent
evaporation, and to ensure an even distribution of moisture
through the mass, and may be suffered to stand untouched
for forty-eight hours or more.
Two principles of pressing are utilized in the formation of
products of clay, to wit "compression" and "expression."
Machines of the former are used to fill stationary moulds
with plastic clay, as is done with brick, roofing and floor
tiles, filter blocks, slabs and the like. Of the latter, to press
the clay mixture while in motion by pushing it with great
power through hollow dies. If the pile prepared as described
be within convenient distance of the press, its contents may
be shovelled directly into the hopper. If not, they may be
thrown upon an endless belt, and conveyed thither, first being
dislodged from the end or side of the pile by workmen with
sharpened shovels, who cut off thin sections down from the
top through the intermediate layers to the bottom, taking
care to intermix the ingredients composing the individual
layers by gentle agitation, shovelling over and over before
the mixture is thrown into the press. The latter, which
may be of the "auger" variety, is a large iron cylinder
horizontally mounted, and gently tapering from its receiving
end, on which there is located a hopper to receive its load,
toward the delivery end, the mouth of which is blocked by
a die attached thereto with bolts, and which is easily removable,
and interchangeable with others of different
patterns. A screw or auger is adjusted to its interior, the
blades of which are attached to a horizontal revolving shaft,
and pitch forward toward the delivery end of the press at
an angle of thirty degrees.
Pushed forward by the revolving screw the mixture is
not only "pugged" or worked together into a plastic condition
in its passage, but is compressed with great power, a
compression greatly enhanced when the resistance to its
progress offered by the die is met. The friction thus
encountered causes the fibrous particles to arrange themselves
longitudinally and parallel with the axis ofdelivery. Around
and through the die the contents pass and emerge beyond
upon a receiving table in a solidly-pressed compact column,
corresponding to the form of the die. Moving forward with
constant steady motion, the column is divided into gauged
lengths automatically or by an attendant workman, and
carried to the drying yards or rooms. If the mixture be of
fibrous peat and clay only, these lengths may be as great as
ten feet or more. If of granulated peat and clay only, from
twelve to sixteen inches. If of clay and both varieties of
peat, of a length intermediate between the two, depending
upon the proportion of fibrous matter intermixed.
Those pressed blocks or slabs may be dried, when the
climate and season will allow, upon racks under out-of-door
sheds in winter, within the house by heat artificially
applied. Unlike green products of pure clay, sudden
application of heat does not cause the block to warp or
crack even when submitted to a heat as high as 185°
Fahrenheit as it comes from the press. Drying by artificial
means has for years been carefully considered by
practical brickmakers, so that every description of brick may
be dried and burnt all the year round and a substantial
saving effected in labour, time, fuel, and production generally.
The kiln tunnel, or drying chamber, the invention of
Messrs. A. H. Higginbottom and A. B. Lennox, ensures rapid
and expeditious drying at a low cost, yielding to the makers
also a considerably increased proportion of "best" bricks.
With efficient plant porous-partition sound-proof walling
bricks can be manufactured at the cost of ordinary "stock"
bricks. Samples were made for the writer by the late Mr.
Ward of Manchester, a well-known expert, and were submitted
to leading architects both in that city and in Liverpool,
general approval and large orders following. Peat plaster
or cement anchors itself to their surface with great tenacity,
forming a solid wall. The sound-proof qualities of this
material, as well as its lightness, is a strong recommendation.
Next-door neighbours cease from troubling.
These bricks are extensively used in Denmark. The heat
from the kilns can be used in the drying tunnels, thus
effecting a material saving.
An attractive waterproof roofing and hanging tile, about
the same weight as oak shingles, and of any pattern or
colour, can be made from this compound. A close-grained
material is used, the pores of which are hermetically sealed
up by an imperishable, hard, flinty substance completely
indurating the manufactured tiles, etc., thereby preventing
decay and safeguarding them against atmospheric influence
and fungoid growths. There is no exfoliation, no discoloration,
no damage from frost. The weight and strain of the
wood-work of a roof is, by reason of the lightness and water-resisting
qualities of those tiles, much reduced, and with it
the cost of construction. An external brick wall, consisting
of 12,000 of ordinary bricks, is capable, when saturated, of
holding 15,000 lbs., or tons, of water. Rain runs off
these tiles like water off a duck's back. There is no necessity
for counter lathing; no felt, no pointing with plaster or
cement, is required to make a thoroughly sound, dry-roof.
It is more effective and much more attractive than slate at
about the same price. These tiles are also adapted for hanging
purposes or for linings. They are quickly and easily
laid on the light roof and secured with or without nailing,
the joint of the pattern recommended excluding drifting rain
or snow and preventing wind stripping.
A peat earthenware known as "Torbite," the invention
of a sanitary engineer, is now largely used in the construction
of latrines. It is non-absorbent, and with an
occasional flushing or scrubbing remains in a perfectly
sanitary condition, free from all malodours.
As a fuel free from sulphur and a long flame with
little ash are essentials in firing glazed pottery work,
and as the cost of firing forms a large ratio of the cost
of manufacture, Peat, whether in the form of briquettes
mull, or gas, offers an excellent and economical form of
fuel not only for these especial productions, but for every
description of pottery, earthenware, glazed bricks, tiles,
and sanitary goods. Though at present Ireland imports
almost all her domestic ware, paying the heavy cost of
freight, yet she possesses within her own borders adequate
and suitable supplies of the raw materials. She thus
possesses all the means, saving skilled labour, necessary
to resuscitate her lost clay-working and pottery industry.
Good delft ware was manufactured in Belfast two hundred
years ago, and in these later days what is more beautiful
than Belleek china?
From time to time experiments have been made with
a view to converting peat into pavement. Seeing that
granulated cork, with a matrix or bind of bitumen, compressed
into flooring blocks, has been laid down at Messrs.
Tattersall's well-known establishment at Knightsbridge,
and in many other stables where the wear and tear
from hoofs is considerable and constant, and that this
flooring has given great satisfaction, it has been reasoned
that peat may equally well answer the purpose. Now
that wood pavement in the Metropolis is giving place to
greasy, slippery asphalte, the possibility of substituting
peat blocks for those of imported timber — the supply of
which all over the world is running short — has been
exploited and verified. The original process was to add
15 per cent. of well-dried fibrous material to coal tar,
and to boil this compound for several hours until the
entire mass had dissolved into a viscid liquid, which,
when cooled, presented a solid mass resembling asphalte.
An improvement on this was an artificial asphaltum composed
of carbonate of lime and coal tar, the result being
a solid and somewhat elastic block forming a roadway
or pavement in many respects superior to any compounded
of native asphaltum. The tendency of this
artificial mass to crack, disintegrate, or run is counteracted
by the strong fibre of the peat, which, added to
the chalk and tar while warm, acts as a bind throughout,
the cool mass overcoming its brittleness. Asphalte
pavement costs 5s. to 6s. per square foot, according to
circumstances, the price of mineral pitch being over £2
per ton delivered. These crude methods have now been
discarded, chemical research having discovered an effective
and economical bind enabling blocks of pure peat pavement
to be manufactured at a price bidding defiance to
imported wood or asphalte. These peat paviors can be
turned out at about 2s. the square foot. Numerous
practical tests have proved that the chemical combinations
of certain cheap materials produce, in conjunction with
raw peat, a tough, durable, uninflammable, and waterproof
material, which will resist atmospheric influences
for any reasonable length of time. Rain and horse
urine cannot penetrate it. As this material can, in the
form of cement or plaster, be run in or grouted into the
interstices or joints, and it hardens like adamant, a perfectly
water-tight and sanitary road or path, affording
firm grip and foothold, is formed. Such a road is an
ideal highway for auto-motors and cycles, and for every
vehicle with rubber tyres. There is no tendency towards
contraction, the blocks being firmly anchored by the
cement one to the other, forming a homogeneous whole.
As a flooring for railway stations, barracks, hospitals,
warehouses, workshops, granaries, coach-houses, stables,
and buildings generally this compound can be strongly
recommended. It can also be used as panelling, paraquet
flooring, etc., and it takes a high polish.
Another application of the mineral binding material
above referred to is that of manufacturing cement and
mortar from peat. This material solidifies in two or
three days, gaining increased strength with age; in three
days it stands as great a crushing strain as Portland
cement at eighteen. It possesses all the good qualities of
the various known cements, with none of the drawbacks;
owns several important properties that none of them can
claim, and is more economical to use than any. It
works well, and as it solidifies slowly the work need not
be hurried. After a day or two it dries, and then sets
hard with great rapidity. It adheres firmly to weather
boarding and other structures, making them absolutely
weatherproof and waterproof', even in the -most exposed
situations subject to storms of drifting rain. Mixed with
fine granite, slate dust, or even sea sand, it does not
chip or wear. A wooden frame-work covered with
canvas forms an air and water-tight dwelling much more
comfortable than our military huts, the canvas becoming
hard as rock. A strip of calico saturated with this
admixture proves a perfect joint for leaky hot-water
Run into moulds all sorts of useful and decorative work
can be turned out with this material — such as chimney-pieces,
cornices, picture frames, and mouldings generally.
For wood-work on board of ship — such as cabin bulkheads,
decks, bilges, and floors — it, on account of its
lightness, durability, and fire-resisting qualities, should
prove an efficient substitute for timber and cement. It
does not crack, and is vermin-proof As a covering for
boilers and steam-pipes, to minimise the radiation of heat,
this cement answers well.
Though Mr. Tatlow scouts the idea of peat being converted
into paper or cardboard on a paying commercial
scale, and instances cases of the manufacture being abandoned
as impracticable, we are not disposed to agree with
him. The failure of Tschormer & Co., of Vienna, though
the fiasco brought many to grief, proves nothing except
that the process was worthless and the scheme rotten.
When methods are bolstered up by high falutin paragraphs
in a subsidised press they usually "pan out"
worthless. That people still have faith in the possibilities
of the manufacture is substantiated by the starting
of another company in Vienna, with a factory at Admont,
the object being to manufacture paper from 90 per cent.
of peat and 10 per cent. of the cheapest cellulose, without
any chemicals whatever. This patent — if there be a
patent such as can hold water? — is, we are told, to be
exploited by the Peat Mill-board Company, with a capital
of £100,000, to which we wish every success. The
prospectus we have not seen, but, presuming all to
be "square and above board," and that the rapacious.
promoter or underwriter has not taken undue care of himself,
we wish the venture every success. But why this huge
capital? It is claimed for this process that the lowest class
of cardboard made thereby ranks with the imported straw
and wood-pulp boards now selling in the market at £5
and £7 a ton. Nearly five million pounds worth of paper
was imported into England last year.
In some paper mills, and in the manufacture of celluloid,
peat fibre and bog-cotton (Eriophorum Vaginatum), which
grows more or less abundantly on all bogs — in some to the
extent of 60 to 70 per cent. — and is frequently found immediately
underlying the red-peat, are largely used. At no
distant date wood pulp threatens to become dearer and
dearer, and the substitution of sphagnum and this
bastard cotton promises to develop into an important
demand. Linen rags are dear also, and it is predicted
from present statistics that unless something
be done towards replanting, at the current rate of consumption
the forests capable of supplying pulp will
all have been felled within the next thirty years. The
world's newspaper press alone devours 11,000,000 tons a
year of paper, and in all countries supplies are being
rapidly depleted. So acute is the dearth of timber in
the United States, that proposals are before the Department
of Agriculture at Washington for regulating and
systematizing the cutting of woods and forests. The late
coal famine has brought home to the Americans the dire
results of their thoughtless and prodigal waste of timber.
The broad tide of immigration now in full flood from East
and South into Canada must, year by year, tax her forests.
The axe of the lumberer is ever busy, and pulp mills
multiply. In Sweden and Norway the vast woods are
rapidly disappearing. Of all the substitutes peat, for the
stronger and coarser papers in particular, appears to be
the cheapest and readiest to hand. If, as Herr Geige
asserts, peat wool of the sample we have before us can
be manufactured at 1 3/5d. per lb., then in price it should
come out well. For very strong packing paper, such as
is used by ironmongers, an expert suggests the addition
of hop fibre, which is of great strength and easily prepared.
Brown packing papers made entirely of peat, or
blended with other fibrous material, such as old gunny
bags, submitted to the writer, were very tough, and the
boards were in every way superior to those tender and
easily torn German straw boards. As peat charcoal is
an excellent bleach for vegetable dyes, it is quite possible to
manufacture a snow-white paper from the grey surface
peat mixed with bog cotton. Furriers whose losses from
the moth are very serious, and who have not yet found a
paper capable of keeping these fretting pests out of their
goods, will do well to turn their attention to peat paper, for
it will not harbour moths. The housekeeper will find it
useful to lay it down under carpets. Treated with Velvril,
the new substitute for india-rubber and gutta-percha, it can
be rendered water and grease proof by adding the mineral
preparation referred to at page 187. It can be used as roofing,
lining for walls, packing-cases, etc. The pulp can be
moulded into any shape.¹
Experimenting with peat a few years ago, the writer's
attention was directed by a well-known expert in paper
manufacture to a novel application of certain vegetable
substances found in peat adaptable to that manufacture
and the improvements to be obtained therefrom. It is
a binding and stiffening substance, the action of which,
though identical with that of starch, does not contract
and cause that brittleness which the latter is apt to produce.
Numerous kinds of vegetables also produce this
binding substance, but none, so far, have been found capable
of yielding it regularly and at all seasons at such a low cost
¹ From this pulp, by a process we may not here describe, it is commercially
practicable to manufacture unbreakable ware extremely light, hard,
tough, and elastic, with a remarkably smooth surface, which is capable of
standing the hardest and roughest wear and tear. For naval, military,
and colonial service, being so light of carriage, in institutions, asylums,
hospitals, and for general household purposes it is unequalled. The price
at which this ware in its numerous useful forms can be placed on the
market brings it within the reach of all, and suggests a special industry.
and in practically inexhaustible quantities. Though now
decomposed, this deposit originates from a very leafy vegetation,
and when prepared it again becomes soft and pulpy.
In the process here referred to the aim has been to solve the
problem in as simple a manner as possible without necessitating
additions to or rearrangement of plant, or involving
any complicated handling. There is always a strong
opposition to any interference with vested capital in this
country. In America the manufacturer, when he considers
his plant antiquated or behind the times — not up-to-date —
does not hesitate to uproot it, "lock, stock, and barrel," and
consign it to the scrap-heap. Not so with us. Here it is
extremely difficult, and takes a long time and much insistency
to succeed in the introduction of new methods. Innovations,
even of the simplest character, are discountenanced
in running installations, and it is almost impossible to
prevail upon those interested in established works to take
up any new idea, be it ever so promising, if heavy inaugurative
expenses or elaborate manipulation are thereby
entailed. Happily this process steers clear of all these
drawbacks, and works out the solution in an exceedingly
simple way, requiring no disturbance of machinery and
involving no costly skilled labour. This vegetable matter
chemically combines with the fibrous and mineral matters
contained in the pulp without in any way injuring their
properties, grasping and interlocking the irregularities of
the fibres, contracting them in the process of drying into
a horny condition, and thus gluing them together, the
result being a strong cohesive paper. Starch being so
susceptible to mineral substances, and differently affected
by almost every kind, so that in the ordinary way the
minerals considerably interfere with its action, very uncertain
results are produced. Not so with this substance,
which so perfectly binds the mineral matters that large
proportions of these may be employed without corresponding
deterioration of the paper or interference with the other
sizing agents which it may be necessary to employ. All
that is required is to add certain proportions of this bind to
the pulp in the beating engine. The materials at this stage
being loose and in an extremely fine state of division in the
water of the pulp, much of which now runs off with the
water, are by this addition retained, and on this retention
much depends.
To Mr. W. M. Callender, of the Celbridge Mills, Co.
Kildare, belongs the credit of having established the first
peat paper mill in the sister isle. "Making paper from
the soil of 'Old Ireland'" is now an established industry,
well advanced beyond the theme of academic discussion.
This development of the Irish bogs deserves all the support
and generous advocacy it can obtain. The Irish public is
taking its share in making this new departure a success.
At a recent meeting of the committee of the local branch of
the Gaelic League it was resolved that — "As a mill has
been recently established in Celbridge for the manufacture
of paper actually made from the soil of the country, and
that such mill is giving considerable employment in the
village, and will give considerably more employment in the
immediate future, it is the duty of all members of the
League to give such support as they can to this mill.
Resolved, therefore, that each member upon purchasing any
article in a shop, or otherwise, request that the parcels be
wrapped up in the Celbridge Irish peat paper, and that all
the shopkeepers be asked to request their wholesalers to
send all their parcels packed in the same paper, and thus
encourage an Irish industry and give employment in our
village, cause an increased circulation of money, and in
consequence put a stay to emigration."If the League is
prepared to second the endeavours of those bent on developing
the island's natural resources in this active wholehearted
manner, then there is a future for the industrial
activity of the distressful country.¹
Started with barely sufficient capital the company, after
equipping the huge factory on the Liffey with suitable
machinery, found itself hampered by a shortage of working
capital. A futile attempt to wreck the infant concern was
¹ Peat-paper is also being manufactured in Sweden.
happily defeated, and additional ways and means having
been found, mostly from local sources, the concern, free from
all encumbrances, now finds itself in full work, with more
orders on its books than, with the present plant, it can
meet. Seeing that the paper manufactured contains 75 per
cent. of peat, and that in consequence the mill has a distinct
advantage of about 10s. a ton in cost of raw material (waste
paper is much more costly, from £1 to £5 a ton), the
company, under efficient management, cannot fail to become
a dividend-paying concern.
At present the operations are confined to the manufacture
of a series of wrapping papers of the description technically
known as "ochre glazed." This article commands a universal
market, and is at present manufactured in Germany
and Scandinavia from ordinary material, and, of course, imported
into this country in enormous quantities duty free.
These peat wrappers are not brittle, as might be supposed,
but on the contrary are strong and tough, equal in every
respect to the product of the best foreign wood-pulp, and
quite as attractive. Later on it is proposed to treat the
waste liquors for the extraction of a valuable dye, and
probably the manufacture of mattresses, rugs, carpets, and
other coarse goods will be added to the programme. The
following description of the works is from the Freeman's
Journal, December 30, 1903: —
"The Callender Paper Manufacturing Co., Ltd., have
just started at Celbridge, Co. Kildare, a new Irish industry
of considerable importance. They are utilizing peat for the
manufacture of paper by a process at once interesting and
ingenious, and the success with which this highly novel
transformation is achieved promises much for the future of
the new industry. The peat bogs of Ireland have long been
regarded as possible fields for industrial development. They
have formed the material for many suggestions of a more or
less utilitarian kind. But for want of the necessary initiative
nothing was ever done with them to the present day,
if we except the labour that is annually expended by the
agricultural population of the country for the purpose of
extracting from them quantities of turf for fuel, and they
practically remained — what they always were — mere vast
stretches of waste land, almost as extensive as prairies, but
at the same time as desolate and unproductive as barren
wildernesses. The idea of manufacturing, not fuel, but an
article of such universal use in the commercial world as
paper, from all this raw and waste material may seem at
first sight somewhat fantastic. Still, the fact remains that
by the application of a skilful scientific process, the wonderful
metamorphosis has been successfully accomplished, as
anyone may see who visits the new mills at Celbridge.
There the peat is brought in huge quantities from the
adjoining bogs, which, in ages extending back to the uttermost
epochs of the dim and distant past, were covered by
great primeval forests, and after having been subjected to
the necessary treatment in the large factory established by
the Callender Manufacturing Company, it emerges from the
process in the form of wrapping paper of splendid texture,
admirably suited for the requirements of the shops and
warehouses of our towns and cities. This industry deserves
and needs all the notice and publicity it can obtain. It has
been the means already of giving a great deal of employment
in the district. If adequately supported it should
ultimately prove to be an industry not only commercially
important and remunerative, but beneficial from a national
point of view. The Celbridge factory is now at work night
and day. It is equipped with a fine stock of machinery
driven partly by steam and partly by water power, the
adjacent Liffey being harnessed to a 200 h.p. turbine for the
latter purpose, and this powerful turbine drives a dynamo,
which, by means of cables, communicates the power to
motors, and from these the motive force is conveyed to the
different machines. When the peat reaches the factory it is
placed in immense revolving boilers, where, under the
influence of chemicals, it undergoes what may be described
as a process of cooking. Then it is teased and torn, and, in
the language of the factory, scarified until it is ready for the
transfer into the beating machines, in which it is quickly
converted into pulp. Next, it passes through a marvellously
constructed machine, weighing about 150 tons and
fully 100 feet long, and out of this it ultimately appears in
the form of paper, which is at once wound up on reels. In
this shape it goes to the polishing machines, where the
paper is glazed and cut into the requisite sizes. Afterwards
it is sorted and tied up in bundles of various weights by the
girl workers who are employed for the purpose. No more
interesting sight could be seen anywhere than the process
by which the raw peat is converted in this factory into
finished paper. The evolution goes on under the eyes of the
spectator, and the astonishing skill with which the wondrous
change is accomplished cannot but be regarded as a
great scientific and industrial triumph. The paper, coloured
brown after the prevalent fashion, is neat in appearance,
strong and tough in texture, and durable in quality. It is
satisfactory to be able to state that the Dublin wholesale
houses are supporting the new enterprise by taking in
supplies of the paper, which, it is to be hoped, will find
a large and remunerative market."
PEAT-PULP can be moulded into Papier Mâché of great
strength, and which is quite as light and wears as well
as that prepared from the refuse of cotton and flax mills.
It may also be found useful for mouldings. In Australia,
where French tiles are used for roofing, the question is
being discussed as to whether a better tile could be made
of paper pulp. The objection to the French tile is its
weight, its tendency to absorb moisture, thus increasing its
original weight and creating a growth of vegetation that
speedily discolours it. A peat fibre tile would be much
lighter, be moisture-proof, preserve its colour better, be less
liable to break than either slate or tile, suffer less from
expansion and contractions through variations in temperature,
and be free from the rattle in a storm characteristic
of corrugated iron.
Those who think of applying for patents to manufacture
paper from peat will do well to remember that, in 1854,
Mr. J. Lallemand of Besançon, France, procured a patent
for producing paper from the fibrous portions of peat mixed
with five to ten per cent. of rag-pulp.¹
For the consideration of paper makers we would suggest
an admixture of hemp with peat. If this blend be found
useful, it might tend towards the resuscitation of the
growth of the plant as a field crop in this country. There
never was a better opportunity, for, though we can grow
the best of hemp, most of our supplies come from abroad —
mainly from Italy. It is now forty per cent. dearer than
it was three years ago, dearer than it has been for the
last five and twenty years, and likely to remain so. To
land foreign hemp at our mills costs about £3 a ton in
transit, and to this £3 must be added for commissions
and intermediate profits, so that the margin of profit to
the grower is assured. The Department of Agriculture
for Ireland has resolutely set to work to ascertain, by
actual experiment, the most profitable methods of cultivating
this crop, also of obtaining flax for our market. With
this end in view, careful tests are being made as to the
application of the various manures, as well as the retting
and scotching of the plant so as to secure the highest
market price. The value of different descriptions of seed
is being tested. So far these experiments are not final,
but we may safely anticipate therefrom the solution of
various problems affecting our home flax production and
industry. In their present stage they go far to prove
that we have much to unlearn, for, in the application
and selection of artificial fertilizers, what has been found
to hold good in most other farm crops is curiously
reversed in the case of flax. Possibly what applies to flax
may also hold good in the case of hemp.
In connection with paper manufacture we see great
possibilities in a blend of peat and of those common reeds,
¹ A Dresden expert has succeeded in manufacturing timber from peat.
This imitation shows the best features of some of the hard woods, can be
easily worked, takes a high polish, and is from 33 to 50 per cent cheaper
than oak. It wears well, can be moulded into any form, and is particularly
suited to panels, parquet flooring. No insect will touch it.
the Phragmites communis and the Bulrush, the Scriptus
lacustris, which grow in abundance in all damp situations,
and are by the thrifty peasants of Schleswig turned
to good account. Wherever, especially in the West of
Scotland and Ireland, there is stagnant water, and along
the muddy banks of rivers, these reeds would grow in
profuse abundance, and during the long winter evenings
could be made to serve as a supplementary industry. We
commend the cultivation and preparation of these reeds
to the Congested Districts Boards, both of Scotland and
Ireland. We gather from an article in The New Ireland
Review ("An Industry for Ireland," by J. Tissington
Tatlow) that the so-called "Schilfrohr" cultivation and
industry, which extends more or less throughout the
entire province of Schleswig-Holstein is well worth the
consideration of every owner of a swamp, and the possessor
of a tract of marshy ground along the seashore.
The plants grow luxuriantly on the margin of the numerous
marshes and ponds which are found in these Isles. In
this simple but paying industry we have presented to
us an object lesson of the ingenuity and perseverance of
the frugal, hard-working, German in turning everything
and anything, no matter how small and apparently trivial,
to account. Nearly every resident on the damp and
bleak shores of the Baltic, be he farmer, peasant or
mechanic, assists his hard struggle for subsistence by
some "side industry" supplementary to his regular calling
or during periods of enforced idleness from his professed
avocation. Many turn their attention to the growth and
utilization of these rank reed growths with profit; and
from the middle of November, all through the long winter
till early days of spring, their busy hands find plenty to
do, first in harvesting the Schilfrohr, and then in converting
it into several commercial uses. Towards the end
of autumn the plants, we are told, under the influence of
sharp frosts, change colour, become paler in the stalk, the
ornamental waving plumes becoming of a dark, dull,
leaden hue. Then the marshes are invaded by jack-booted
reapers, to protect them from the damp and from dangerous
snakes. Armed with scythes these reapers cut down the
reeds, and bands of harvesters, mostly women and
children, following in their wake, gather them, tying them
in small sheaves and stacking them on the dry ground.
The harvested reeds are indifferent to all weathers, defying
the elements, though they are the better for being stacked
upright in the open for a few days, and then being left
to dry before being scutched or combed by a very simple
process. After Christmas the farmer prepares the Schilfrohr
for the factories which are to be found in various parts
of the province. The wholesale price paid for the combed
material is about £8 per thousand bundles of nearly two
feet in circumference. The scutcher is usually a very
primitive implement, consisting of a long board armed
with a number of teeth or pegs placed upright as in a
hayrake. Through these the reeds are drawn several
times in order to free them from broken and decayed
bits, and to arrange them all parallel one to the other.
An improvement on this rough and ready process is
adopted by owners of a factory, the Johannisburg, about
ten miles from Schleswig, one Herr Jons. Probably our
mechanics are capable of still further improving on this
method. The handling of this fibrous material cannot
present many difficulties, even to the most ordinary
labourer, for the writer saw it efficiently carried on by
the inmates of a small branch of a district lunatic asylum,
where a number of patients reside who are able to engage
in basket industry. Visiting an almshouse he found the
inmates thereof — a man with a wooden leg, three deaf
old women, and two dumb children — all cheerfully working
at this "binsen" industry, the man working at the frames
making mats, the women doing the plaiting and sewing.
The uses to which Schilfrohr may be applied are
numerous, and, as already suggested, its application as a
cheap and tough paper material appears to us full of promise.
The refuse is used for bedding for horses and cattle, its
manurial value being considerable, as it contains 8·33 per
cent. potash as against 0·7 to 1·0 per cent. found in
straw. Prepared fibre is extensively used by builders as
a substitute for laths for ceilings, plastered walls, and
partitions, for which purposes it is said not only to be
much cheaper, but more lasting. A smart workman can,
in a few minutes, cover a ceiling or wall with it, preparatory
to floating on the plaster. The price to the
builder is one penny per metre (1 yard 3 inches). The
coarser samples are used for thatching purposes; in fact
in the province of Schleswig-Holstein a straw thatched
house is never met with.
The treatment of the common Bulrush, though also
very simple, differs somewhat from that applied to the
Schilfrohr. Immediately before being used this reed, known
as Binsen, is steeped in warm water to render it more
pliable. It is platted into long strips or woven on
frames into mats as coverings for footstools, seats for
chairs, and such like. The strips, when stitched together,
make capital carpets and matting, being warm, comfortable,
neat, and fresh-looking, and certainly very inexpensive,
quite a large strip being purchaseable for sixpence. Every
acre of cut-away bog, every bog-hole, can grow Binsen
and Schilfrohr, and furnish profitable employment during
the winter to many hands.
Yet in another and not unimportant direction can
"the sombre genius of the moor" be brought under
contribution. Elsewhere we have referred to a new system
for the low distillation of Peat. An excellent antiseptic,
healing, and cleansing soap can be made from these
distillates; and though at present the compound is offered
in a somewhat crude tentative condition, hardly coming
up to what chemists term "an elegant preparation," we
venture to predict that some soap-boiler will make a
fortune out of it. These emollient vegetable detergent
oils and tars, in combination with a high-class dehydrated
soap, exercise a marvellous effect on the skin and scalp
of "the human form divine," and have been found most
useful in preventing the spread of infectious and contagious
diseases due to the presence and multiplication of minute
germs. The soap is strongly recommended for cleansing
the bodies of fever and other patients, the balmy sensation
from the application of this detergent being refreshing
and much appreciated. Certainly its effect on the skin is
very marked, for it keeps the epidermis in a thoroughly
healthy condition, soft and free from cutaneous eruptions.
In cases of Acne and Eczema (that most irritating of
skin diseases) in its various forms, psoriasis (dry-scale),
herpes, sloughing sores and ulcers, it is of extraordinary
efficacy. Travellers in the tropics, though often forced to
bathe in water as foul as that of "the Holy Gunga" at
Benares, in which loathsome lepers, those afflicted with
itch and other cutaneous diseases, added to most of the
ills to which mankind is heir, are constantly bathing, may
by the free use of this soap escape contamination. It has
been found most useful as a preventive of that annoying
rash known as prickly-heat, in severe cases of sunburn,
and inflamed eyelids. Many suffering from ophthalmia
have derived great benefit from this non-irritant balm, and
its free use in Egypt and Arabia, where ophthalmia is ever
rampant, is strongly recommended. In Egypt every person
appears to suffer more or less from this disease. Little
children stone-blind swarm in towns and villages, their
eyes blotched with the "white plague." Numbers of men
and women blind from their birth — the disease has now
become hereditary — may be seen led about by their more
fortunate brethren. Superstition decrees that the poor
suffering children should not disturb the flies from setting
on the corners of their streaming, matter-laden eyes;
hence the disease is carried by these loathsome pests far
and wide to a calamitous extent. Sir E. Cassel, with his
usual considerate liberality, has placed £40,000 at Lord
Cromer's disposal for the relief of the suffering in Egypt
and for the training of qualified men for such Samaritan
work. The officials who have the expenditure of this
generous grant should certainly give this peat-soap a trial,
and, if successful, enforce its use. Though not warranted
to produce a fine crop of hair on a billiard ball, or to
fledge the frog's back, this soap certainly renders the hair
soft, pliable, and brilliant, banishes dandriff, and leaves the
scalp in the best condition for the reception of any bona
fide hair restorer. In cases of ringworm it effects a cure.
The only drawback at present is that it is not free from
the peculiar, but no means offensive peat odour, and that
it discolours the water, without, however, staining the
skin. In due course the chemist may be trusted to
eliminate these objections without sacrifice of the curative
and cleansing properties.
In the form of an ointment these distillates are effective
in the treatment of piles.
The acid-tar bye-products of peat find wide application in
veterinary practice not only in the form of soaps of varying
strengths, ointments, etc., but as a sheep dip and
smear for scab. Large fortunes have been made from well
ad vertized sheep dips. The owner of one in particular has,
from very humble beginnings, piled up a huge fortune.
The active principle in most of these dips is that virulent
poison — arsenic, often fatal to the lambs and to sheep grazing
on the pastures where the dipped animals have stood to
drain after their immersion. Corrosive sublimate, and
mercury in other forms, is also employed. The "Turbarium"
dip, the base of which is an extract of peat, is
perfectly safe. Its natural antiseptic and cleaning qualities
are intensified by the addition of a kindred substance,
which, though non-poisonous and non-irritant, may with
safety be taken internally, is as powerful an insecticide as
corrosive sublimate or mercury in any form, or pure phenol
(carbolic acid). This dip improves the wool and may be
safely left about. In handling wool, the fleeces of sheep
dipped in this compound, the sorter, comber, and carpet
manufacturer may banish all fear of contracting that fatal
malady anthrax. A smear or ointment compounded from a
somewhat similar formula is a certain cure for the scab, and
rapidly heals cuts, wounds, and sores. In conjunction with
the free use of the soap it is a sovereign remedy in greasy
heels, mange in dogs and horses — even the follicular variety
— and will be found most useful wherever stock of any
kind is kept. Though we cannot speak from experience, it
suggests itself to us as a fitting cure for that deadly pest
the cattle-tick of New South Wales. Dogs frequently
washed with the soap in tepid water, the lather being permitted
to remain on for some time, are free from all external
parasites and from the objectionable "doggy" smell, and
carry fine glossy coats. There are none of those ill effects
so often produced by the application of carbolic compounds.
In respect of cost and economy, these preparations compare
favourably with any now in the market, and, being homemade
products, deserve recognition.
The Lancet, The Hospital, and other medical journals
write in the highest terms of peat wool, commending it for
its marked powers of absorption and its marked elasticity,
which is little impaired by moisture. It has the capacity
of checking fermentation and putrefaction. In every
respect it is superior to all the medical preparations of
tow and cotton-wool or other material used for the dressing
of wounds and as padding. However badly and carelessly
treated, it never felts or becomes sour and malodorous.
This dressing is largely used in French and German military
hospitals. Experiments made in the naval and military
hospitals at Kiel with peat-wool antiseptic bandages produced
good results. As a padding for splints in cases of
fractured limbs the wool, on account of its consistency, was
found to do better than any other similar material known
to surgery. The present retail price of this wool is 1s. 6d.
per lb., and as it can be manufactured at the cost of 1 3/5d.
there remains a very handsome profit. In the direction of
wadding for stuffing palliasses there ought to be a great
demand for this sanitary wool, and, doubtless, this demand
will spring up when the article is put upon the market at
popular prices and is better known.
An improvement on this wool of French manufacture are
the compressed sheets, broken moss, felt, and hygenic towels
of Sphagnum manufactured by Mr. W. Martindale, 10 New
Cavendish Street, London, W., as used in the largest
hospitals in the United Kingdom. In these surgical
dressings only the surface grey peat is used. The material
is soft, springy, highly absorbent, and antiputrescent; it
may be teased out, when it forms excellent elastic hygienic
pillows and packing for splints, particularly in cases where
there is fracture complicated with flesh wounds.
Hitherto peat moss has only been used, to any extent, as
a litter or bedding for horses and cattle, and it was not till
we had perused a paper lately read before the Congress of
the Sanitary Institute at Glasgow by Mr. Peter Fyfe,
Sanitary Inspector of that great city, entitled "What the
People Sleep Upon," that we recognized the practically
illimitable field lying open to properly prepared peat fibre
in remedying the appalling conditions infesting the beds,
bedding, sofas, couches, and cushions used by our middle
and humbler classes, and not infrequently by the upper
circles. The existing state of the sleeping arrangements of
full 78 per cent. of our population is almost indescribably
filthy and unsanitary. It would, said the lecturer, "be manifestly
safer to sleep on a bed filled with sewage than on
this material (flock), upon which, as I have shown, this large
percentage of our humbler fellow-citizens are reposing."
For the purpose of ascertaining the kinds of bedding the
majority sleep upon, about 2300 houses were visited, in
which special investigation was made into the composition
of 3163 beds. The following was the result: Hair beds, 22;
feather beds, 115; clean flock, 37; cotton clippings, 103;
straw, 371; chaff, 39; shavings, 4; old clothes, 1; and
common flock, 2471. Common flock prevails mainly on
account of its cheapness, but nothing bad is cheap. Of what
is this pernicious death-dealing substance composed? Of
filthy rags gathered from every quarter of the globe, the offcast
of all the pariahs of humanity, saturated with the germs
of plague, cholera, small-pox, leprosy, cancer, enteric, loathsome
skin diseases, and all the ills that human flesh is heir
to. Add to this agglomeration of abomination the discarded
clothing of the classes and the masses from the "Upper Ten
Thousand" down to the verminous vagrant, tramp, and
alien. In order to conduct his investigations without "fear,
favour, or affection," Mr. Fyfe personally visited some of
these flock manufactories, and gives the following description
of the modas operandi. "To explain to you," he says,
"in parliamentary language, what I observed in some of
these torn garments would be impossible. It is better left
to the imagination. Only those pieces soaking wet or too
damp for the Devil' (N.B. — The Devil, in this instance, is
a toothed revolving tearing-machine generally employed in
the preparation of shoddy for the cheap clothing industry)
to tear into shreds were cast aside to be stoved either
beside the steam boiler or in a special drying chamber
heated by steam. Nothing in the nature of cleansing or
disinfection is attempted. All goes into the machine if
sufficiently dry. At the other end it comes out as 'flock,'
shredded so finely by the spikes or teeth on the periphery of
the drums as to appear a fluffy wool of a dark grey, black,
or brown hue, depending on the colour of the rags passing
through the machine. The great mass of dust and finely-powdered
filth which is set free by the 'Devil' is blown by
a fan attached to it into a dust chamber, out of which it
finds its way into the surrounding atmosphere."
Careful examination and tests, applied by Dr. Buchanan,
the Corporation chemist, proved that the material as it came
from the machine contained more solids than the crude
sewage of the city. The average sewage contained 24·4
grains per gallon, whereas the bedding reached the alarming
figure of 227·07 grains per gallon. The difference between
the live potential dirt in the dirty, unwashed flock costing
ls. 9¼d. per bed and that known in the trade as woollen
mill-puff at 10s. per cwt., a difference of 2s. a bed, is trivial.
This higher priced and apparently clean grey mill-puff is
kept moving in a stream of pure water for three-quarters of
an hour, but is in no way disinfected. It is clearly against
the public interest that this vile material should be dispersed
broadcast over the country. Even the makers themselves
— no doubt strict chapel-going people on a Sunday —
admit that the material is filthy and dangerous, and wonder
that the manufacture has not long since been put a stop to.
But it is not only in the slums and in the tenements of
the poor that we find this combination of evils. The
bedding of most of our private hotels, lodging-houses,
apartments, and servants' rooms is, from a sanitary point of
view, little removed from that found in the common "doss"
house. In thousands of private houses, too, the mattresses,
bolsters, and pillows are teeming with bacteria — the above-mentioned
"live potential dirt," calculated to bring disease
into the closest proximity with those reposing on these
filthy nests. At our, often costly, rooms or apartments at
fashionable watering-places and seaside resorts, where in the
season the visitors are so unmercifully plucked, the bedding
is full of microbial impurity. With the Chief Sanitary
Inspector of Glasgow, we hope that the facts now known
will prompt the Government to lose as little time as
possible in passing a measure which will enable all Local
Authorities to sample bedding both in the presence of the
flock manufacturers and in those who sell beds, sofas,
couches, and cushions, and that punishment may follow
every sale of every such material as does not conform to a
certain standard of cleanliness and freedom from microbial
impurity — the standard being fixed by biological experts.
The bedding of every hotel, lodging, and boarding-house
should be subjected to frequent and rigorous inspection.
This is not one of those combinations of evil against which
no human energies can be made to stand. It can as readily
be dealt with as the water supply, the sewage system, the
safeguarding of our flesh, fish, or meat supplies, and as
easily brought into operation as the Contagious Diseases
Act or any other preventive measure.
Flock at its very best, even when manufactured from
high-class material, is not well adapted for bedding purposes.
Stoved at a high temperature for cleansing and
disinfection the fibre becomes brittle and crumbles. Even
when only washed and dried it, under pressure, soon runs
together, becomes lumpy, and concretes. It lacks resiliency.
Saddlers when stuffing the seat and panels of a
saddle with flock (their flock is generally made from combed-out
bath blankets) enliven it by running through it a proportion
of curled white horse hair, thus retaining the spring
and counteracting the tendency to felt. We confidently
suggest the substitution of peat moss fibre for flock. The
peculiarities of this sanitary fibre will be found fully
described under the headings of Peat Moss Litter and Peat
Textile Fabrics. The addition of a little white curled horse
hair might be advantageous. No insect would harbour in
this bedding. It will be found — we write from experience
— to be comfortable lying. An occasional opening up of
the ticking, and the exposure of the material for an hour or
two to sun and air, is easily accomplished, and is a preserver
of sweetness. On the score of cost the balance is largely in
favour of peat. The common unwashed flock costs 90s. a
ton. At less than half this cost a superior peat-fibre
bedding, entirely free from dust or any objectionable
particle, could be manufactured and sold at a satisfactory
OF the many uses to which peat and its products may be
applied, and the power it possesses, in combination with
acids, in securing protection to man and beast from certain
infectious diseases and epidemics, is a subject well worthy
of consideration. In this cheap and effective germicide our
sanitary authorities and the public in general have at hand
a powerful and easily applied means of putting into practice
the old adage that "prevention is better than cure."
We do not advocate the claims of this compound without
due and reliable support. We produce the views and
opinions of some of the highest authorities, of men well
known in the world of chemistry and agriculture — practical
and scientific — who have given this important matter close
consideration. We are enabled to give a few short extracts
from the work of the German Agricultural Company on
The Germ-destroying Action of Peat-dust, quoting particularly
from the contributions of Professor Dr. Stutzer,
director of the Agricultural Experimental Station, Bonn;
Professor Dr. Fränkel, director of the Hygienic Institute,
Marburg; Professor Dr. Gärtner, director of the Hygienic
Institute, Jena; and Professor Dr. Löffler, director of the
Hygienic Institute, Greifswald.
This work with explanatory notes was compiled and
edited by Dr. J. H. Vogel, managing director of the German
Agricultural Company and president of the Agricultural
and Chemical Analytical Laboratory, Berlin. Experiments
and tests carried out on a sufficiently large scale and with
exactitude at the Agricultural Experimental Station at Bonn,
also at the Hygienic Institute of the Universities of Bonn,
Marburg, Jena, and Greifswald, have incontestably proved
that peat-dust, mixed with certain inexpensive acids, has
the property of destroying the germs of infectious diseases
found in the faecal matter of human beings and live stock
generally, and especially in cases of cholera and typhus, at
the same time favourably influencing the plant feeding
properties contained in the excrement. These competent
and exact investigators unanimously confirm the fact that
peat fortified by acid has a powerful germicidal effect both
on solid fæces and urine. This important question may
therefore be considered satisfactorily answered, and the
profitable utilization of night-soil in agriculture and horticulture
may now be deemed not only practicable, but, from
a sanitary point of view, absolutely safe. Not only is
protection secured against the propagation and dissemination
of infectious diseases inimical to mankind, but, by
bedding our animals on specially prepared moss litter, our
live stock may be safeguarded from many of the plagues
which thin our stables, byres, and piggeries. When we add
to this immunity the increased value of the manures thus
obtained, the importance of this new departure is evident.
The Agricultural Department of Ireland, in a late communication
to the writer, appears never to have heard of
such a thing as peat manure, but peat is not one of its
hobbies. The German Agricultural Society (Breeding
Department), wiser in its generation, has made further
experiments with moss litter treated with acids. It has
come to the conclusion that by using this bedding the
spread of such epidemics as foot-and-mouth disease, swine
fever, etc., can be checked. We may venture safely to
extend the category to influenza or "pink eye," abortion,
milk fever, navel-ill, mange of various species, ringworm,
and to many other diseases now so prevalent in our stables,
stock yards, and folds. Professor Dr. Stutzer of Bonn and
the director of the Veterinary Department of the University
of Jena has devoted much time and attention to this litter
question, and confirms, after careful bacteriological research,
the statement that peat powder mixed with acids destroyed
swine fever and swine pestilence (the nature of the "pestilence"
is not stated).
Dr. J. H. Vogel, of Berlin, previously referred to, writes:
"As already mentioned, it is indisputable that both peat
litter and peat dust possess powerful and extensive capacity
for absorbing fluids, that being from nine to ten times the
weight of the peat. With an average sufficient strewing of
the peat in the closet there is never a surcharge of moisture
in the peat. Experience teaches us that never from such
dung heaps, whether in the closets, the manure pit, or the
manure heaps in the open air, do the liquids escape, and in
that form percolate through the soil, reaching and poisoning
the wells." The value of this retention of urine in the heap
can be appreciated when we consider that urine putrefying
for a month contains double the ammonia of fresh urine,
and that unless mixed up with loam, peat, or swamp muck,
or where kept in tanks with its bulk of water, it loses
ammonia. Rivers of fertilizing riches run to waste from
the ordinary farmyard or field manure heap. Each man,
it is calculated, annually evacuates enough salts to manure
an acre of land. There is scarcely a single element in
human urine which is not essentially an ingredient in all
plants. Even heavy dews are greedily absorbed by peat
manure heaps. With anything approaching to careful
handling and storage, this certainty of freedom from
evaporation and leakage may be regarded as absolute.
It is certain that malodorous and dangerous gases cannot
escape from peat dung with an ordinary temperature, the
peat itself being a greedy absorber of gases. Further, there
are means of assisting this absorptive capacity by the
chemical mixing of these gases, means which rationally
tend towards the better utilization of the nitrogen in the
peat manure, which should be and will be used in every
form as additions to this fertilizer — e.g. phosphates and
potash, materials which represent plant foods — and so highly
increase the value of the compound. A correct treatment
of the peat dust results in a moisture which has no ill effect
on the breathing organs and has no objectionable odour
when stored. In conclusion, it follows that the storage of
this manure, whether in closets, dung pits, or manure heaps,
neither offends the eye nor the sense of smell, and it
remains perfectly cleanly to handle; in fact, it is so completely
unobjectionable that for transport and application
to the land so rich a manure cannot be obtained under
other conditions.
The question, therefore, of the adaptability of peat dust
for the provinces and small towns with manufacturing and
agricultural populations is completely answered, and the
value of the substance for mixing with excrements is fully
established, for it helps materially in purifying the earth,
air, and water, ensuring these results without in any way
offending the people's senses. In such places it is self-evident
that, in the case of an outbreak of disease, the
existing night soil should be removed as speedily as
possible, so that it may not become a centre of disease
germs. Under such circumstances, and as a temporary
measure, some more speedy and certain method of killing
the germs may be substituted for this system, or it may be
adopted in conjunction with it. The peat-dust process
answers here all the demands of hygiene if properly applied,
and therefore the use of peat-dust closets for the open
country and in small towns can be pressingly recommended.
Where the system prevails of removing the ordure in
buckets or pails to some central dumping ground, by using
peat closets the atmosphere will remain untainted, the
earth and wells free from contamination.¹
We now come to the acids mixed with the peat dust and
the proportions used. On this subject the Professor states:
"During the investigations I often took the opportunity
of placing myself in communication with the experimenters,
and of discussing with them some variations of the modus
¹ We venture to commend these important facts to all interested in the
Garden Cities project. To them it is of vital moment.
operandi. As it appeared indubitable from the first experiments
that satisfactory results could only be looked
for from very acid material, some peat dust thoroughly
impregnated with sulphuric acid was included in the
experiments. After a preliminary examination conducted
by Professor Dr. Pfeiffer, director of the agricultural analyst
station at Jena, at the suggestion of Professor Stutzer, of
the firm of Fedor Wolff & Co., of Bremen, manure manufacturers,
he succeeded in compounding a mixture composed
of 100 parts peat dust, 2 parts sulphuric acid (of 60 Bé),
to which were added 10 parts of water. The external
condition of the peat under this treatment did not appear
to be altered — at least, the preparation had no difference
in appearance to that of ordinary peat. The composition
of this preparation was:
3·60% sulphuric acid (H2SO4), of which
2·67% free sulphuric acid (H2SO4), answering to
2·18% sulphuric acid anhydrid (SO35).
0·93% sulphuric acid in form of salts.
69·46% dry substances."
Professor Dr. Stutzer, director of the agricultural experiment
station at Bonn, writes: "Our attempts must be
directed not only to the destruction of cholera bacteria,
but also to the carbonic acid ammonia existing in privies,
and to (Agens), or sprouting substance, which carb. ac. amm.
creates anew, as by the presence of a minimum mixture of
carb. ac. amm., the cholera bacteria receive a new impulse.
In our opinion this destruction is best accomplished by
the addition of a small quantity of sulphuric acid or
muriatic acid, which is to be mixed with the excrements
in such a manner that the entire mass undergoes an acid
reaction. Additions of kanite or gypsum, either to old or
fresh excrements, have, in accordance with the conclusions
of former experimenters, proved themselves quite inactive.
The treatment of old excrements with free phos. ac., or
phos. ac. in the form of sup. phos. lime, is equally inefficient.
Phos. acid, when one does not employ it in important
quantities, is too weak an acid. On the foregoing grounds
we must go deliberately to work to annihilate the ammonia
bacteria existing in excrements if one would effectually
fight the cholera bacteria, and success is best obtained by
sulphuric acid and muriatic acid. Nevertheless, we must
not renounce the use of peat dust, if only for the reason
that this material renders the ordure practically inodorous,
removes the nasty repulsive appearance, and (what particularly
for small towns and the country is most important)
really improves the agricultural value of the night-soil.
In addition to this, peat dust is a most effective means of
absorbing the quantity of sulphuric acid or muriatic
acid necessary for disinfection. A quantity of peat
dust impregnated with 1½% or 2% red sulphuric
acid will be quite sufficient, after being mixed with the
excrements, to kill all the cholera bacteria. Concentrated
sulphuric acid or muriatic acid cannot be entrusted to
every one, as these acids are too powerful, and inexperienced
persons may easily do damage with them, while, on the
contrary, peat dust impregnated with 1½% to 2% sulphuric
acid is quite harmless."
In his report, Professor Dr. Gartner, of Jena, says: "The
extermination of cholera and typhus bacilli takes place
quickly and certainly when to the peat is added more
than 20% sup. phosphite of lime (calcic superphosphate
containing about 15% to 18% phosphoric acid and sold at
about 4s. 9d. per cwt. — author), or when 2% sulphuric acid
anhydrid is added; on this condition, however, that a thorough
mixing of the disinfectant is made with the excrement."
"The proportion of acid," writes Professor Dr. Fränkel,
"is, therefore, the decisive point on the bacterial effect of
peat. If this be raised, then the germ-destroying power
is enhanced; on the contrary, reduced or limited in its
specific effect by the presence of feeding substance — then
its acting influence is appreciably lessened. Thus it follows
that it must be our aim to artificially enhance as much as
possible the acid properties of the peat and avoid all that
might lessen them."
We may here observe that though the presence of some
acid is the distinguishing quality of all peat mosses, different
acids have been discovered in different mosses. The
smell of most burning peaty certainly points to the presence
of an acid allied to the pyroligneous, resembling the sorreline,
the gallic, and suberic. Distillation certainly gives
out the acetic, but Dr. Jameson, in his treatise on peat
moss, is of opinion that in some species suberic prevails.
The acidity of moss dust distinguishes it from vegetable
mould, though both are formed from nearly the same
materials. In some bogs the sourness is due to sulphuric
acid. When, therefore, peat has to be considered as to its
manurial capabilities, it is of importance to supply chemical
tests to determine what acid prevails and its proportion.
The clays at the bottom of certain peat deposits are strongly
impregnated with sulphuric acid. Some authorities consider
that the acidity in peat is due to a distinct acid of
vegetable origin. Dr. Fränkel, after a long series of experiments,
pronounces strongly in favour of a compound
containing 100 parts of peat dust, 2 parts 60% sulphuric
acid, and 10 parts of water, and confirms the already
impressed opinions that the admixture of the acid in no
way detracts from its fertilizing value, and does not alter
the absorbent capacity of the peat. This expert's careful
and very important report closes thus:
"From the foregoing reported experiments it is shown,
with sufficient distinction, that the disinfecting capacities
of peat-dust over cholera germs in a mixture of excrements
or urine is entirely a question of the reaction arising
therein. As a rule, peat-dust impregnated with 2%
sulphuric acid destroys in two, or at most seven, hours the
cholera bacilli contained in the excrements. This operation
is not, however, absolutely certain, and can be exceptionally
altered under certain conditions, e.g. when the influence of
the acid is worked upon by the action of alkalis. In
practice these unwished-for happenings need scarcely be
feared if one takes the precautions of avoiding a long
keeping of the excrements, thereby excluding a prolonged
fermentation. On this account it is recommended, when
using peat-dust closets, to remove often and in small
vessels. Facts show us immediately in what way we may
succeed in strengthening the germ-destroying power of
peat. It can be done by raising the proportions of the
sulphuric acid, which may be considerably increased without
damaging the agricultural value of the preparation.
A very important item remains to be noticed, viz,, that the
raising of the proportion of free acid does not reduce the
powers of the peat to absorb ammonia."
It is important that the United Kingdom in the economic
struggle between the Old and the New World, and in
the agricultural crises from which we are now suffering,
should be in a position to resist successfully the keen competition
of the United States, Russia, the Argentine Republic,
and other cereal growing countries. It is manifest
that this struggle which has driven so many thousands of
broad acres out of cultivation, in which virgin soil contends
against often worn out land, is being carried on under conditions,
the gravity and extent of which, under the gospel of
"the free fooder," will increase rather than lessen in future.
We leave the theoretical Cobdenite and the practical economist
of the day to fight the fiscal battle out between them,
devoutly praying that the so-called free traders may be
defeated all along the line and silenced for ever. We would,
however. with M. Georges Ville, the famous French agricultural
chemist, experimentalist, and authority on manures,
point to the lesson to be learnt from our cousins over the
water, and remark that the experience of to-day goes to
condemn the fallacies of those who preach the doctrine, and
who, for party reasons, pin their faith to the heresy that
one-sided free trade is a certain and unalloyed blessing to
the nation. After a prolonged civil war, almost unparalleled
in history, the United States of America found
itself suddenly confronted with a debt such as would have
swamped most of the nations of Europe. Obliged to face
the position and to provide immediate resources, the Americans
cast the theories of classical economists aside, and
though the "bunkum" of so-called free trade was only then
being found out, with an utter disregard of existing opinion,
they unhesitatingly, and contrary to all expectation, levied
an almost prohibitory tax on all foreign products. This
was forty years ago; what is the position to-day? The
effects of these measures were immediate. Her new import
duties and taxes rescued her from her pecuniary difficulties.
Protected from foreign competition her manufactures sprung
into life, and to-day she rivals us in almost every item of
trade and commerce, and, thanks also to low freights and
carriage, in a large measure contributes to our national food
supply. We must protect ourselves. This is one means by
which agriculture may once more resume its commanding
and proper position in these Islands, the other is cheap and
effective home manufactured fertilizers.
It is an undeniable fact, that, except under rare and
altogether exceptional circumstances, farming operations
carried on solely with the aid of manures produced on the
farm itself, have for a long time ceased to be remunerative.
"The farmer who uses nothing but farm-yard manure
infallibly exhausts his land, for the manure has the soil for
its source, and if he only diminishes the loss the soil has
suffered he cannot in the end repair it" ("Artificial Manures,"
by M. Georges Ville). When farm-yard manure only is
used, the improvement of the land requires length of time
and an enormous outlay of capital, whereas with chemical
manures the result is more rapidly arrived at. From these
efficient substitutes we may almost immediately obtain
large crops from comparative barren soils, thus realizing
a profit at the outset. To obtain certain profits we must
have recourse to manufactured manures of ascertained and
guaranteed standard. The profits to the manure manufacturer
which are all too heavy are a burden on the farmer.
We have one or two large co-operative societies the object of
which is to obtain for local co-operative societies and their
members all descriptions of agricultural and garden requirements
of the best quality at the lowest market prices.
These associations offer to compound farmers' own prescriptions
to suit various soils and crops, analysis and condition
guaranteed. But this movement does not go far enough;
the agriculturist, market gardener, fruit grower, and horticulturist
must combine to manufacture their own fertilizers.
How is this to be done? The difficulty of manufacture
may be urged as an insuperable obstacle. In Great Britain
and Ireland there are about 8,073,694 inhabited houses each
occupied on an average by 5·16 persons. Our estimated
population is 42,373,000. Of our 32,550,882 acres in 1903,
5,455,142 were under corn crop, 2,338,099 green crops,
2,822,079 rotation of clover, and grasses, 13,581,178 permanent
pastures, 916 flax, 47,938 hops, 68,968 small fruit,
and 337,059 acres were under bare fallow. Thus we had last
year over 11,000,000 acres under cultivation all requiring
plentiful and continuous manuring with a suitable and
reliable compost. In practice it is considered that the
application of 16 tons of farm-yard manure every two years
is sufficient for all ordinary purposes. Straw at its present
price is too costly for mere manuring purposes in the muck-heap
or the open court. The nitrogen present in manure
expresses its true value. In farm-yard manure the nitrogen
exists in the excreta and in half-decomposed straw, etc.,
which cannot be assimilated as plant food until it has
undergone a process of decomposition, which completely
changes its condition. Nitrogen can only be assimilated
after it has been transformed into ammonia or nitrate. The
previous decomposition, therefore, results in the loss of from
30 to 40 per cent. of the nitrogen which the manure originally
contained, which escapes into the air in the elementary
form. Not so with chemical manures from which the
whole of the nitrogen may be assimilated direct. Peat, as
has been shown, has a remarkable power of absorbing and
retaining ammonia, and in promoting the disintegration and
solution of the mineral ingredients of the soil; moreover, it
is a direct fertilizer. "The urine of one cow for a winter,
mixed up as it is daily collected, with peat, is sufficient
to manure half an acre of land with 20 loads of manure of
the best quality, while her solid evacuations and litter
for the same period, afforded only 17 loads, whose value
was not half of the former" (Dana). Experiments conducted
by order of the Saxon and German authorities at
Dresden and Berlin, with the object of testing the effect
of the sewage of these towns on the barren soils in their
vicinity, established the fact that if a soil without manure
yields a crop of 3 for 1 sown, then the same land, dressed
with cow dung yields 7 for 1 sown, with horse dung 10,
and with night soil 14. Each adult, as already stated,
evacuates enough yearly to fertilize an acre of land. The
value of good poudrette (i.e. human ordure mixed
with sulphite of muriate of lime and dried) depending on
its ammonia, is, compared with green cow dung, as 14 to 1.
All night-soil from vaults or cess-pools has begun to evolve
ammonia, hence the advantage of mixing ground peat with
the material before drying.
Though with our modern w.c's. and the elaborate
system of town sewage by which the night soil, much
diluted by various mixtures, finds an outlet on the sea,
pollutes our rivers, or is, in some instances, utilized on
sewage farms, a very large proportion of this invaluable
plant food is lost to us, still there is ample room for the
dry peat-closet. In England and Wales alone over 1,200,000
adult males are engaged in agriculture, as artizans, labourers
in our great building yards, on our railways, down the
mines, at the docks, and in the hundred and one trades and
manufactures. At the various works there must, of course
be conveniences for this huge army of labour. There is
no reason why the rich evacuations of these people should
not be saved without creating the faintest nuisance or
offending the strictest hygienic principles. Were peat more
generally employed as a fuel the ashes would be found to
be a valuable manurial, as well as mechanical adjunct, for
they abound in carbonate, sulphate, and especially phosphate
of lime. Some well-considered economical scheme for
collection, treatment, storage, and destruction would have
to be thought out. The co-operation of the county and
town, urban and rural councils, as well as of the local
agricultural societies, would have to be secured. A dry
earth closet on an improved self-acting principle, lately
brought out by an enterprising firm of sanitary specialists,
should be generally adopted. In it the valve, which in
other closets is liable to get out of order and to close, is
dispensed with. With a perforated shovel as a spreader,
certain automatic action, with equal and sufficient distribution
of the deodorizer, is secured. In other closets the
distribution of the deodorant is imperfect. A chamber for
containing the dry material is formed at the back. When
the convenience is being used the weight of the occupant,
depressing the seat about an inch, forces down rods on
either side of the seat, these raising toothed levers, which
in turn throw back the perforated shovel into a compartment
under the peat chamber, where it receives a charge of
the deodorizing material. When the seat is relieved the
weight of the lever throws the shovel quickly forward,
spreading the peat evenly over the excreta. A strong
substantial closet, in its simplest form, designed for public
works and workmen's houses, can be supplied for £3. This
firm also manufactures a material from peat for the construction
of urinals, which, as it needs no stream of water,
and possesses special sanitary features and economy in cost
and maintenance, promises to have a wide application.
The manufacture of chemical manures involves no great
outlay in expensive plant. The operation of mixing the
various products in their due proportions without being
difficult requires care. A co-operative association working
on a large scale should secure the services of a thoroughly
practical and exact agricultural chemist. To such a factory
there should be added experimental fields on which all
classes of the community may witness verification of results.
The results would arouse the interests of the surrounding
population, would excite their energy and lead to analogous
trials. Such "proving fields" would appeal to the eyes and
the senses. Peat as a basis on which to compound can now,
by land or water, be brought within the reach of all, and
many spent, now useless, products turned to good account.
The establishment of such associations, under careful and
intelligent management, would result in the annual saving
of millions of pounds, and, through that economy and the
general use of chemical fertilizers of superior quality, the
increase in production would amount to from forty to
eighty millions sterling annually. We may safely calculate
upon a saving of 20 per cent. in cost of manure to the
farmer, and an increase of 10 per cent. to the crop.
Among the mixed manures, poudrette has been mentioned
as ranking next to night-soil and equal to guano. There
is another form of what in France is also termed poudrette,
and which is a powerful fertilizer. It is almost one-third
animal matter, and is formed, without any offensive evolution
of gas, by boiling the offal of the slaughter-house by
steam into a thick soup and then mixing the whole with
coal ashes into a stiff paste and drying. If putrefaction
should have set in, the addition of ashes sweetens the mass,
and the prepared "animal coal," as it is termed, or poudrette,
is as sweet to the nose as garden mould. It is transported
from Paris to the interior. The ashes of anthracite coal
contain carbonate of lime, alumina, and oxide of iron, and
are valuable so far as they abound, but for mixing with
animal matter preference is due to peat dust or peat ashes.
For Paris, read London, Liverpool, Manchester, Bristol,
Glasgow, and all our great cities and towns. Every
slaughter-house and knackers' yard in the kingdom should
be put under contribution. Blood is an excellent fertilizer.
Flesh, fish (thousands of tons of decomposed fish are
thrown away yearly from Billingsgate and the fishery
ports), and all animal solids — muscle, gristle, skin, sinews,
etc. — evolve vast quantities of ammonia. A dead horse
can convert twenty tons of ground peat into a valuable
THOSE unacquainted with peat-bogs naturally regard them
as insalubrious manufactories of intermittent fevers and
rheumatism. On the contrary, all over Europe, America
and Canada, with one exception, the Welland bog, Ontario,
the air and water of peat mosses, as evidenced by the health
of inhabitants, are peculiarly free from malaria. They are
not liable to fever and ague prevailing on the low lying
swampy lands in their immediate vicinity where there are
no sphagnum mosses. If there be one spot more than
another on the face of the globe the visitor to those
uninteresting parts would condemn as a deadly, fever-laden,
gloomy quagmire it is "The Great Dismal Swamp," of
Virginia. An officer who served in the memorable Civil
War, a stranger to this vast morass, writes: "The water
of the Great Dismal Swamp, though of a dark-reddish
colour, is clear and fit for all domestic purposes. I have
often used it to quench my thirst, in preference to the water
of the springs and wells of that vicinity. Indeed, the people
near the swamp believe it to possess medicinal qualities, and
declare that those who steadily use it will not be troubled
with ague or the bilious disorders incident to the summers
in that region. I have heard the inhabitants of that neighbourhood
repeatedly affirm that to visit the swamp and to.
partake of the waters beneath the dense shade of its
luxuriant magnolias, lofty junipers, and white cedars, was
as invigorating as a trip to the sulphur springs or the
healing waters of Saratoga. We smile as if the idea was
absurd; but certain it is, that the juniper water, as it is
called, possessed astringent qualities at least — and the
experience of the army abundantly proves that it is much
more wholesome to those not acclimated — than the waters
of various villainous properties drawn from the wells of that
torpid locality. To us the huge, strange swamp itself was
much less dismal and unpleasant than the half-tilled
borderland of our own encampment." Another officer, who
also served in this region, said: "One peculiarity of this
swamp is its entire freedom from malaria. While on the
open lands surrounding it ague and congestive fevers
prevail, none has ever been known within it, although
there are lumbermen now at work who have spent fifty
years among its recesses. During the prevalence of yellow
fever in Norfolk the swamp proved a safe retreat for
hundreds of people. There is no doubt that the salubrity
of the climate is due, in a great degree, to the balsamic
nature of the principal trees with which this vast area was
once entirely covered. The water of the lake and swamp
is of the colour of sherry, and although perfectly quiescent
it never stagnates, but remains perfectly pure and sweet.
For a great many years the naval authorities at Gosport
have been in the practice of filling the water-tanks of all
vessels bound on long sea voyages with the juniper water,
and the sailors have never known it to spoil." As further
testimony to this "sweet water" Mr. Leavitt said that
water taken from this swamp remained in a barrel for
thirty years and at the end of that period was perfectly
sweet and clear. It must be remembered that Virginia
is "down South" and that during the summer months
the climate is almost tropical. The Virginia Condensed
Peat Company, reporting on this region, says: "Negroes
have been known to live for years in the swamp enjoying
excellent health and strength. The lumbermen are of
opinion that the quantity of pine and other resinous trees
that grow there impart a balsamic property to the water.
This juniper water is sweet and healthy and used for all
culinary purposes."
Rain or river water, when allowed to stagnate, becomes
putrid. Not so with peat water, which possesses astringent
antiseptic properties. Rosier observes that the air of
peat-mosses is always salubrious; that by a wonderful
provision of nature oxygen is exhaled and hydrogen
absorbed; and, by reason of the low temperature of the
moss, carbonic acid is not evolved, so that by this means
the air is never infected with these deleterious gases.
Other observers have remarked that though stagnant water
in the fens, in warm weather especially, occasion intermittent
diseases, no such ill effects are formed from peat
water. The moors and mosses in Scotland and the turf-bogs
in Ireland are inhabited by as healthy folk as any
in the world. The red peat undulating bogs which form
so remarkable a feature in the great central plain of Ireland,
on which are found branches of fir, pine, oak, yew, and
hazel, contain a good deal of iron deposited in a thin
layer at the bottom. This metallic pan is known as bog-iron
ore, and has its origin in the various heaths and
heathers, which are said to contain a larger percentage of
iron than any other plants. The peat, doubtless, owes its
colour to this oxide of iron. The bogs of Scotland contain
a very large proportion of turpentine from resinous plants,
and, consequently, produce a fatter fuel than most other
varieties. This remark applies also to Hatfield Chase, now
worked by the British Moss Litter Company. The odour
emitted by burning peat is occasioned by an essential oil,
and is useful therefore for the lungs; indeed, there is a
traditional opinion among the Irish that those who use
peat are less liable to tuberculosis than others. The
Scottish crofter, too, holds "peat reek" in high esteem for
all diseases of the respiratory organs. Its antiseptic properties
are abundantly proved by the high state of preservation
of animal substances found submerged in bogs in various
parts of the world, and the amount of resinous and
vegetable matter in some peats, those especially in which
bog oak and pine are found, apparently points to it as
an excellent substance for tanning leather. The condition
of preservation in which the remains of human beings and
animals that have lain for centuries imbedded in peat is
conclusive proof of its capacity of converting skins
into leather, and of the presence of tannic acid. In
Philosophical Transactions we find that the bodies of
two persons buried in moist peat in Derbyshire, about a
yard below the surface, on being brought to the surface
showed no signs of decay, the colour of the skin being
that of persons immediately after death, but slightly tanned.
Professor Lyall says: "One interesting circumstance attending
the history of peat mosses is the high state of preservation
of animal substances buried in them for many years.
In June, 1747, the body of a woman was found six feet
deep in a peat moor in the Island of Axholm, Lincolnshire.
Upon the feet were leather shoes or sandals, each cut out
of a single piece of ox-hide folded about the foot and heel
and piked with iron — such as are described by Chaucer as
being worn in his time. This certainly afforded evidence
of the corpse having been buried there for ages; yet the
nails, hair, and skin are described as having shown hardly
any marks of decay. In a turbary on the estate of the
Earl of Moira, in Ireland, a human body was dug up, a
foot deep in gravel, covered with eleven feet of peat;
the body was completely clothed and the garments seemed
all of hair. Before the use of wool in that country, the
clothing of the inhabitants was made of hair, so that it
would appear that this body had been buried at an early
period, yet it was fresh and unimpaired. Dr. Rennie, in
his essays, makes reference to several other instances of
this kind, all tending to confirm the presence of gallic
acid, which issued from the decaying wood. "Among
other analogous facts," he writes, "we may mention that
in digging a pit for a well near Dulverton, in Sornersetshire,
many pigs were found in various postures, still entire.
Their shape was well preserved; the skin which retained
the hair, a dry membraneous appearance. Their whole
substance was converted into a white, friable, laminated,
inodorous, and tasteless substance, but which, when
From Photos helot at Marienbad.
exposed to heat, emitted an odour precisely similar to
broiled bacon."
Users of peat are not slow to admit its undeniable
value as a disinfectant and deodorizer. In the United
States, we are told, a famous "Chemical Deodorized
Powder," which for fifteen years was extensively advertised
and enjoyed an enormous sale, bringing in a rich harvest
to the enterprising quack, was simply pulverized peat-charcoal
put up for convenient use in neat, attractive
packages. The advertisement ran thus: "Nature is ever
true to herself This preparation is the greatest absorbent
of carbonic acid gas in Nature, and also of all those noxious
and poisonous miasma which we generate in thickly
populated. districts from the decomposition of animal and
vegetable substances. It is a great antiseptic, and will
prevent the cholera and fever from entering your premises,
as it absorbs all the noxious malaria which are so prevalent
during the warm season. It is indispensable in the sick
room and the sleeping room; a small quantity in an open
vessel will keep the air pure and agreeable. It supersedes
every other neutralizing substance, as it is entirely harmless
and without odour of any kind. It is highly recommended
by eminent chemists and medical men. It is really the
abater of every nuisance." This statement was perfectly
correct, for peat charcoal does possess the properties claimed.
We are aware that various preparations of acid peat-tar
have a marvellous effect in allaying the irritation caused by
eczema, mosquito and gnat bites, in healing various skin
diseases, and we are informed that they possess considerable
efficacy in the treatment of the scalp: but most of our
readers will possibly be surprised to learn that the medical
faculty claims for this homely and somewhat unattractive
substance curative properties in cases of chronic rheumatism,
neurotic and muscular pains, gout, chronic stiffness
of the joints, sciatica, the early stages of paralysis and
locomotor ataxy, and in nervous disorders, also that it has a
"champagne" stimulating effect on the circulation generally.
Most of us who have done the "cure" at the much-frequented
French, German, and Austrian spas must have
noticed, if we have not actually experienced, the various
mud-baths where this peculiar form of treatment forms a
special feature that they are frequently attended with the
best results.
The warmed substance in which the patients are immersed
is not "moor earth" or soil, as it is called, but peat
specially prepared. The peat-baths of the much-resorted-to
Highland spa, Strathpeffer, within thirteen hours of
London, are as efficacious as those of Bohemia or elsewhere.
It is only at Franzenbad, Bohemia, that the peat
is naturally saturated with waters from perennial warm
mineral springs. At most of the spas the peat mull is
carefully freed from all fibrous substance, and then, in a
fine state of division, kneaded with mineral water, charged
with carbonic acid, and heated by artificial means. At
Dax, in the south of France, sea-weed and marine deposits
are added with good effect, especially in the reduction of
obesity, glandular swellings, and in promoting the resolution
and absorption of the products of inflammation. The
secret of success appears to lie in the maintenance for a
lengthy period of an even given temperature. At Carlsbad,
where 47,000 visitors congregate annually to "make the
cure," the action of the peat is intensified by being worked
up into the necessary consistency with the mineral water
of the famous Sprudel spring, which has a temperature
of 163·6 Fahr., and with this fortifying the action of the
bath becomes so drastic that it is known as "the skin-eater."

We do not propose to enter minutely into any analytical
disquisition on the comparative properties of the waters of
the various home and continental spas, but we venture to
submit that the ingredients found at Harrogate — where the
bath equipments and buildings are the most perfect in the
world — Buxton, Woodhall Spa, Leamington, Strathpeffer,
and other localities, are of well-established efficacy in a
wide range of diseases, and that those interested in those
establishments will find to their advantage to utilize these
curative waters in connection with the peat-bath. Our
brine-baths at Droitwich, Nantwich, and Saltburn-by-the-Sea
should adopt the salt mud-bath system now in vogue
at Strömstad, Sweden, and as beds of rock-salt are now
being systematically worked in the Carrickfergus district
of Antrim there is no reason why Ireland should not have
its brine-peat-baths. The once fashionable Lucan Spa may
yet recover its prestige.
The nerve and pain-racked sufferer is advised to try the
electro-peat-bath, which will be found not only palliative
and curative, but restorative and invigorating. The potentialities
of this electrical treatment, in conjunction with
peat saturated with certain mineral waters at high temperatures,
cannot, we submit, be overrated. The passage of
a continuous current of electricity through the mass of peat
not only generates heat but disintegrates and pulverizes
the material. Electrodes are inserted at each end or side
of the bath, to which are attached electric wires, and thus a
well-regulated current is kept up during the patient's
immersion. We would further suggest the heating of the
bath, where an electric current is not to be recommended,
on the principle of the light baths now installed by the
King at Windsor Castle and at Buckingham Palace, the
benefits derived from which are, we are informed, greatly
appreciated by His Majesty. These are fitted internally
with a series of electric bulbs capable of generating a temperature,
inside the bath, of 170° Fahr.
An interesting description of the Continental mud-baths
from the pen of Miss Mary Fermor appeared in the
November, 1900, issue of Pearson's Magazine, and to the
publishers of this communication we are indebted for
the illustrations. These peat-baths are not inviting to
look upon, but "handsome is that handsome does," and
appearances are oft deceptive. This lady describes the
sensation in language such as should tempt the invalid to
yield his or her self to soft persuasion of these time-honoured
healing agents. She writes:
"I went into the bath-room, the windows of which
opened out on to a long corridor pervaded with a faint,
boggy odour. I gave my instructions boldly in spite of
my qualms about tasting forbidden fruit. The bath did not
look at all tempting as it was rolled in by the man who
had prepared the mixture, but I put my foot willingly into
the bath and could not return. The other foot followed,
and as I sank into the slimy compound and was comfortably
settled I gave forth an involuntary cry of pleasure,
the sensation was so delicious. Once the disagreeable feeling
of having to get in was overcome, I felt a delight
which continually increased at the enjoyable sensation of
warmth, as my body became more and more impregnated
with the moor.
"All my nerves tingled. I forgot to look at the sand-glass,
and, instead of the twenty minutes prescribed — for
my friends — I remained fully half-an-hour before ringing
for the attendant to douse me with luke-warm water preparatory
to stepping into the clean warm bath placed next
to the moor one. I dressed quickly. I was all of a glow:
a new life seemed born in me as I rapidly walked home —
to rest. Every time I took a moor bath I enjoyed it more,
and I went to Marienbad a third and a fourth time. The
sensation in all three sister spas is to me pretty much the
same, for whichever I patronise I have the same feeling of
exaltation after the bath, and it is never followed by the
prostration which I hear occurs in the majority of cases,
and which renders absolute rest a necessity, for this rest
brings one back to a normal condition."

WHEN a coal pit is exhausted it leaves nothing but long
lines of underground burrowings, a gaping shaft, and a
broken surface, often useless for cultivation. Not so
with the cut-away peat bog. Mr. G. H. Kinahan, Vice-President
of the Royal Geological Society of Ireland,
points to how the Dutch in Friesland, Groningen, Derenth,
and in numerous other localities, have shown the world
what can be done with worked-out bog; and in France,
in the vicinity of Amiens, we see fruitful orchards and
gardens with a yearly rental of £5 and upwards (one-fifth
of each acre is water) valued at over £160 an acre,
on what a few years ago were swamps. This statement
is fully confirmed by the late Mr. H. N. Jenkins, Secretary
to the Royal Agricultural Society of England. As an
instance of the cultivation of turf moors in olden times,
the province of Groningen may be particularized. For
centuries the vast moors originally in existence round
the town of that name have been opened up to tillage, all
the manure and sewage having been carried thither by
the canal. The British Consul at Rotterdam, reporting
to the Foreign Office, wrote: "Although the special advantages
attaching to the mixture of litter and sewage appear
to be so little recognized as yet, nevertheless we think that
through this industry the grey turf moors have a great
future before them. In 1889 the value of one hectare (fully
two acres) of this kind of moor was £100, whilst only ten
years previously the grey turf, being considered valueless,
was ruthlessly cut up and thrown away, the object being to
get the substrata of black turf. In the Netherlands, on
granting a license to work a moor, the Government stipulates
that within a certain number of years the soil must
be fit either for agriculture or forestry. In Sweden over
600,000 acres of bog have been brought into cultivation
in the Southern and Central provinces; and during the last
half century increased and growing attention has been paid
to the profits attainable from the Scandinavian peat bogs,
both as regards their cultivation and the fuel obtainable
from them. The Corporation of Manchester is rapidly reclaiming
Carrington Moss, and the day will come when
every acre of Chat Moss, of which this is but the tail
end, will be one vast market garden. A waste, barren
wilderness is being converted into a charming expanse
of valuable farm and garden, every acre of which is indicative
of fertility. Here may be seen a potato patch
of 100 acres or more, whose leaves, flowers, and thriving
condition betoken a heavy yield of sound tubers; there is
a plantation of a dozen acres of birch, larch, rhododendron,
Scotch and spruce fir, and sundry other growths, all of
which thrive wonderfully. A big slice of moss which
brought about 500 tons of excellent potatoes last year is
now growing a promising crop of oats, with clover to
follow. Mangolds, swedes, carrots, and cabbages all are full
of promise. The development of Carrington Moss, covering
about 1000 acres, originally cost the Corporation £38,000, a
trifle over £34 an acre, and was first made productive by
the judicious application of the refuse of the great manufacturing
town; and this area, together with 2600 acres
of Chat Moss, subsequently acquired from Sir Humphrey
de Trafford, notorious as the largest and most treacherous
of the country's wastes, is fast becoming one of the most
fertile plains in Great Britain. In a paper read by Mr.
J. Tissington Tatlow, of Schleswig-Holstein, before the
Industrial Conference held with the Cork International
Exhibition of 1902, some very interesting particulars are
given of what on the Continent is known as Moorkulter.
These are here reproduced in extenso from the Blue-Book.
"The first person who achieved success in the cultivation of
bogs in Germany was Hermann Rimpau, whose story reads
like a fairy tale. Rimpau was the originator and inventor
of what is called 'Moordammkultur,' by means of which, if
properly applied to the right class of bog, it can be made to
pay better than the richest land used for the culture of
beets grown for the sugar industry of Germany. In the
year 1849 Hermann purchased from the Baron Cunrau what
is known as the Cunrau Moor for the sum of £18,000, of
which he was only able to pay down £1000 in cash, giving
security for the balance. In a few years, so great was his
success, he was able to pay off the debt, and eventually
realized a large fortune for himself. But where Rimpau
succeeded many of his imitators failed, because they applied
his methods cut and dry to their bogs without pausing
to consider whether they were suitable. Rimpau bog was
flat, and consisted of deep, well-decomposed stuff, extending
down to the sand upon which the bog rested, and heavily
charged with nitrogen. He drained this bog by means of a
main drain, with others running at right angles; and from
the bottoms of the draining he threw up sand, which he
laid out upon the ridges. If lime is wanting when proceeding
with the Rimpauische system, it must be artificially
supplied together with potash and phosphoric acid, and
thus a soil is made up which, mingling with the underneath
decomposed stuff, produces the crops which made
Hermann Rimpau's fortune, and gained for him the title
of a benefactor of the German Empire. Authorities differ
as to the requisite depth of decomposed nitrogeneous stuff
which a bog should contain for agricultural purposes under
the Rimpauische system, but the consensus of opinion seems
to be 30 centimetres, or about 2½ feet English; if anything
less than that the Rimpau system does not work, and
the sand and chemicals only shut out the air from the
soil, thus turning it into sour, poisonous stuff, strongly
charged with saltpetre, in which nothing will grow." Mr.
Tatlow instances another brilliant example of this warping
system in the case of the farm of Bokelholm, in Schleswig-Holstein.
About twenty years ago the Government purchased
this tract, consisting of 2000 acres of swampy bog.
In twenty years it has been converted into a magnificent
property, producing all classes of crops, with butter, cheese,
bread, and turf factories. All classes of stock are reared on
it, and the concern is a source of a rich return to the province.
Dr. Dvorkovitz (see Appendix) mentions similar
efforts on the part of Lord Longford and his enterprising
agent, Colonel Clark, in Ireland.
It has been established beyond doubt that in parts of
Great Britain and Ireland sugar beet richer in saccharine
than that produced in any of the beet-sugar producing
countries can be grown, and that here it yields a heavier
crop per acre. It took many years to convince our
farmers that any virtue lay in the field turnip; and as
the sugar industry necessitates a heavy outlay in machinery
and the constant presence of the chemical expert, it will
probably be some time before conservative farmers can be
induced to see any profit in this white beet. Such an
industry can be successfully worked only by co-operation
between the capitalist and the grower. The six continental
countries interested in the growth and manufacture of
this sugar produce annually about a million tons. Upon
the Continent there are experimental stations for peat
and bog culture. From such establishments, aided by the
advice of the practical agricultural chemist, much good
would assuredly result. The condition of forestry in the
West Highlands and in Ireland is deplorable. Half a
century ago Denmark found itself in a similar condition
of surface nakedness. A society, commencing on a very
limited scale, was formed, having for its object the re-afforestation
of the kingdom, and it has achieved remarkable
results, and a source of great wealth is being evolved
from land which for centuries lay unproductive. Thousands
of acres of waste land are now covered with fine timber,
mainly spruce. Every year new tracts of land are planted,
and in the course of half a century Denmark will boast
immense forests sufficient to supply the country with all the
wood it requires, and probably with a surplus for export.
Referring again to the important operations carried on
by the Manchester Corporation, and the material advantage
which the city has derived, and is deriving, from this
great work as resulting from the acquisition of portions
of Chat Moss as its natural deposit of its refuse. Thanks
to the courtesy of the Cleansing Committee and of the
Estates Sub-Committee of the Corporation, we are in a
position to set before our readers a summary of these
operations, together with some particulars of the financial
results. Further, we add some extracts from The Manchester
Evening Chronicle describing a visit of the Corporation
to these properties.
Situation. — The Chat Moss Estate is situate in the
townships of Parton-on-Irwell and Irlam, Lancashire, and
is distant from Manchester about 7 miles by road and 6½
by the Manchester Ship Canal, to which it has a frontage
of 1 miles.
Purchase and Development of the Estate.- The estate
comprises 2579 acres, 3 roods, and 24 perches of land, and
was purchased from Sir Humphrey de Trafford fbr the sum
of £136,701 18s. 1d., with an additional sum for stamp duty
and legal and surveyor's expenses of £1819 1s. 7d., making
the total cost £138,520 19s. 8d., being an average price of
£53 per acre. The purchase was agreed upon in June,
1893, and completed on August 2nd, 1895.
In addition to the amount required for the purchase of
the estates, sanction was to be obtained for the borrowing
of a sum of £55,000 for the works necessary in the development
of the estate, for the building and repair of farmsteads,
reconstruction of roads and drains, the provision of a
wharf on the Ship Canal, and the construction of a light
railway for the conveyance of manure to the tenants.
The amount expended to the 31st March, 1902, was as
follows :—
Farms, cottages, outbuildings.
Sheds and water supply, - - - £29,196 4 0
Loco. sheds, workshops, and stores, - 1,696 5 8
Boundary and partition fencing, - 1,180 6 7
Pipe and field draining, - - - - 4,522 5 2
Ditching, - - - - - 791 1 2
Road work, - 575 6 5
Rolling stock, - - 4,239 3 9
Light railway, - - - - 7,966 4 6
Cutting and tunnel under Liverpool Road, 2,680 4 6
Construction of Boyshope basin and wall, 6,446 5 3
Cutting through Ship Canal bank, - 352 2 2
Contingencies, - - - - - 394 12 2
£60,040 1 4
(Excess of expenditure over borrowing powers paid out of
money received for sale of Bridgewater Street land.)
Repayment of Borrowed Capital. — The repayment of
amount borrowed for the purchase extends over 50 years
from 1893, and the amount for works is repayable in 30
years from the date of borrowing.
Sinking Fund and Interest. — The amounts paid during
the twelve months ending March 31st, 1902, were : — Sinking
fund, £2642; and interest, £5229; total, £7871.
Division of the Estate. — The estate is divided as follows: —
1000 Parts of
an acre.
54 Tenants occupy {Farm land, - 2,270 043
{Moss land, - 106 478
Cottages, - - - - - 2 772
Raw moss, - - - - - 22 172
Plantations, - - - - - 54 343
Sludge, spoil banks, and old river bed, 32 219
Wharf and railway cutting, - - 5 676
Corporation depot, - - - - 2 969
Roads and light railway, - - 82 999
Chief rents, - - - - 0 231
Total, - 2575 902
Rents. — The rents received from all sources upon the
estate for the twelve months ending March, 1902, amounted
to £5081 6s. 5d.
Manure and Refuse disposed of. — The Boyshope wharf
was first used for the reception of manure, etc., on the 14th
December, 1898, and up to the 31st March, 1902, 208,349
tons of material have been received there and despatched
by the light railway (of which there are about 10 miles) to
various parts of the estate.
Situation. — The Carrington Estate is situate about 10
miles from Manchester in the parishes of Carrington and
Dunham, Cheshire.
Purchase and Development. — The estate was purchased
by the Corporation in 1886 from the trustees of Lord
Stamford at a cost of £39,165 16s. 4d., inclusive of stamp
duty and legal and other expenses. Since the date of
purchase an additional sum of £43,976 12s. 8d. has been
expended on capital account in the drainage on the land,
formation and equipment of light railway, farm and other
buildings, road, etc., making the total cost to the 31st
March, 1902, £83,142 9s., and the City Surveyor's valuation
of the estate on the 31st March, 1901, was £118,354 5s. 9d.
Repayment of Borrowed Capital. — The repayment of the
amount borrowed for the purchase of the estate extends
over 50 years from 1886, and the amount for works is
repayable in 30 years from the dates of borrowing, which
range from 1886 to 1891.
Sinking Fund and Interest. — The payments during the
twelve months ending March 31st, 1902, were: Sinking
Fund, £2025, and Interest, £1911; total, £3936.
Cultivation and Division of Estate. — At the time of
purchase the estate comprised 600 acres of wild moss,
plantations, etc., 209 acres of cultivated moss, 282 acres of
agricultural land, and 10 acres of roads, etc.; or a total of
1101 acres.
Since the purchase of the estate the whole of the wild
moss and the partially cultivated moss has been drained,
delved, manured, and brought into a thorough state of
The Parks and Cemeteries Committee have 58½ acres of
the land as a nursery upon which they grow shrubs for
the Manchester parks. The golden elder, rhododendron,
privet, and poplar grow in perfection. Nurserymen and
market gardeners occupy a considerable area, and grow
shrubs and vegetables on an extensive scale.
The estate is now divided as follows: —
A. R. P.
18 tenants occupy - - - - - 1012 3 8
Cottages, siding, and wharf, - - - 7 0 27
Land at wharf received from Ship Canal
Co., not yet in full use, - - - 4 2 32
Roads and plantations, - - - 75 3 21
Sand-hole, - - - - 0 3 18
1101 1 26
Rents. — The rents received from the estate for the
twelve months ending 31st March, 1902, amounted to
£1986 5s. 8d.
Disposal of Refuse. — The manure and refuse is sent to
the estate by the Ship Canal from the Committee's wharf
at Water Street, Manchester, to their lay-bye at Carrington,
and also from their dépôt, Gorton Lane, Ardwick,
Manchester, to their railway sidings on the south side of
the estate.
The quantity of manure and refuse sent to the estate
during the 14 years ending March 31st, 1902, was 661,236
The manure and refuse, after being unloaded at either
the lay-bye or railway siding, is despatched by the light
railway to various parts of the estate and disposed of as
manure to tenants, and the rough refuse utilized in the
formation and repair of roads.
There are nearly 12 miles of light railway, and considerably
more than this length of good roads upon the
What has been done in and about Manchester can be
equally well, and at less cost, carried out in Dublin, in
the vicinity of which, on either side of the Grand Canal,
there is an abundance of fine peat resting on limestone.
EXTRACT FROM The Manchester Evening Chronicle, "THE
Three considerations combine to show the citizen that
it was enlightened and salutary policy which directed the
acquirement of the Moss, and to prove the wisdom and the
forethought with which the estate has been managed for his
communal good. It has relieved the cleansing authorities
of the necessity of casting the rough refuse on the town tips,
and being a menace to public health; it has opened up
a fertile area, augmenting the sources of a cheap vegetable
supply; and the rapidly improving letting value of the
land establishes that it is a sound commercial investment.
Beyond this, if he cares to give a passing thought to the
subject otherwise than as it affects his material self, he may
see an economic fitness in a great industrial centre drawing
so much of its wealth from the natural products of the soil,
giving back to the earth a quality of fertility which Nature
had withheld for many a long century.
The history and the mystery of these mosses, of which
there is an area of 20,000 acres in Lancashire, provide a
theme of curious speculation and informing research. But
our object is not to discuss their nature; it is to examine
their use. If the purchase of Carrington was a profitable
investment for our Corporation, how much more so does
their more recent and more important venture, Chat Moss,
promise to be? Whilst a visit to Carrington last week
revealed how much had been accomplished by the Corporation,
under the thoughtful direction of Mr. Councillor
Richards (the Chairman of the Cleansing Committee) and
Alderham Grantham (the Chairman of the Estates Sub-Committee),
aided by the able organizing abilities of Mr. B.
D. Callison, the superintendent, and the sound agricultural
knowledge of Mr. M'Connell, the farm bailiff — a visit to
Chat Moss since discovers how great a work they have yet
to undertake. To most people figures — outside their own
personal business regard — do not constitute an excessively
interesting study, but if the reader will bear with us a
short while, it shall be made clear by their instrumentality
how much more speedily the financial advantage to the
city of the purchase of Chat Moss is likely to make itself
manifest than was to be expected in the case of Carrington.
The Two Mosses: A Comparison. — When Carrington was
purchased from the trustees of Lord Stamford eleven years
ago, it was in the main an uncultivated and practically
undrained waste of 1101 acres, and cost £38,000. The
Corporation have since expended upon it in light railways,
roads, drainage, rolling stock, buildings, and other ways,
£60,000. They have been sending to the estate some 50,000
tons of refuse per annum. Last year the net cost of
maintaining the estate, paying the interest and repaying
the instalment of principal upon the loans was £2482.
The receipts from rents last year were £1458, exclusive of
the rent charged against the Corporation's farming operation
of £933. Chat Moss, which is between two and three miles
nearer Manchester — the nearest point of the estate being
within seven miles of the city — consists of 2595 acres,
and was purchased from Sir Humphrey de Trafford at a
cost, with legal expenses, of £139,350 8s. 8d. This is
£19 an acre more than was given for Carrington; but it
has been under cultivation for 90 years, and when the
leases expired in February of this year, and the Corporation
took possession, they were in a position to re-let
at £2 an acre. In the previous month Mr. Callison had
presented to his committee a detailed report of proposed
tenancies and rents, and upon this report he estimated the
rents would amount in the aggregate to £4772 3s. 2d.
The amount the department contemplated spending
wharves, roads, railways, homesteads, rolling stock, etc.,
was £55,000, making a total outlay of £200,000, to use
round figures. The payment of the interest and instalment
of loans would be £5960; so that there was a balance
against the rents of only £1187 16s. 10d. The estate will
require about 20 tons of manure per acre, and the tenants
will buy this from the Committee at 1s. 3d. per ton, which
represents a good profit to the Corporation. At Carrington,
hitherto, the tenants have had what manure they required
and paid nothing for it, excepting in their rent.
These figures, and the superior advantages the estate
possesses, seem thoroughly to justify the expectation of the
Committee that, when they have had Chat Moss as long
as they have had Carrington, it will be worth more than
double the price of the purchase money. The Committee
have only had it in their possession six months, and that
is but a short time in which to achieve much of the great
work they have to do in developing and improving the
estate. But already the entire face of the Moss has
undergone remarkable alteration. It will be readily understood
into what a dilapidated condition the estate had
fallen. Nearly the whole of it was under 90 years
leases, and the leaseholders had so neglected the buildings
that, with a few exceptions, they were unfit for occupation,
and the roads were in a deplorable state, and required
re-making, levelling, and ballasting; the ditches (some of
which had been in existence for nearly 100 years) needed
thoroughly cleaning and reforming, and the fences were
in an equally had way. On every side tumble-down and
old wooden shanties are coming down, and their places
being taken by well-constructed and commodious brick
The Evening Chronicle a week or so since investigated
a complaint made that the Committee were dealing hardly
with some of the tenants. That investigation, while revealing
that the tenant in question was not in a position
to receive as great an advantage from occupancy under
the Committee as the terms of his lease had provided,
showed a praiseworthy concern upon the part of the
Corporation Department, to avoid driving any one off
the estate who wished to remain there. This attitude
they have universally adopted. They have refrained from
turning away any tenant who wished to re-establish
himself upon the Moss; but it was imperative that they
should consolidate a number of the smaller farms, and in
doing this they have succeeded in giving excellent new
homesteads to a number of holdings, and in spite of that
outlay, and notwithstanding the improvements which they
will make to the estate to the direct benefit of each
individual tenant, have been in a position to substantially
reduce rents.
When the estate was let out 90 years ago on lease the
rents were merely nominal, but subsequently the leases and
interests were repeatedly sold, and, as a result, some of the
small holdings were very heavily rented. In comparing
the rents which were paid with the rents which the Corporation
have fixed, we should say, without being able to
exactly calculate it, that the Corporation is charging in the
aggregate a less rental than was charged before, and is at
the same time spending £21,500 on new homesteads and
accessory buildings, and providing a very material saving
to the tenant by bringing his manure to his farm at a third
the cost to which he was put before, when he had to cart it
by road from Manchester. This saving in the cost of
manure alone represents a long way towards the payment
of the rental. An incidental benefit which the estate
derives from Corporation ownership is that it will secure
a pure water supply. Twelve months before they came into
actual possession, a mile of pipes to supply town water was
put down. All the circumstances considered, the Committee
are well entitled to claim they are both liberal and
indulgent landlords, and under their management the estate,
which has hitherto been highly productive, may be looked
to yield to the tenants far heavier and more profitable
crops. The land will be better drained, manure in sufficient
quantities will be more accessible, the facilities for conveyance
of produce to market greatly increased. The land is
admirably adapted and easily worked under some of the
most valuable vegetable crops. Celery does excellently,
and in letting highly cultivated land of this description to
the tenants at forty shillings or so per acre the Committee
have displayed a liberal-minded spirit. The largest farm
on the estate consists of 460 acres, and this brings in a
rental of £2 per acre. The Committee are rebuilding or
repairing 42 houses and outbuildings, at a cost of £21,500;
they will spend £8000 on ten miles of light railway, £4000
in making and repairing the roads, £4000 in ditching and
draining, £2700 in fencing, £2250 in locomotives and
waggons, and £3650 in the construction of a dock at
Bovsnope, in connecting the lay-bye with the Ship Canal,
and providing engine-sheds, workshops, and other buildings
at the wharf. The estate has a frontage of a mile and
a quarter to the Ship Canal. The basin is being made out
of the old river bed, and the wharf wall, which is 100
yards long, has already been built. In a month it is hoped
the steam travelling crane, similar to that at Carrington,
will be fixed and ready for work. The rails conveying the
manure trucks from the basin to the estate, owing to
obstacles placed in the way by the Parish Council, instead
of crossing over the Liverpool Road, as originally intended
by a bridge, will pass under by a tunnel. The Chat Moss
and Carrington estates together have an area of 3700 acres,
and will take all the rough refuse which the Committee
have to dispose of in order to keep them under sound cultivation.
This method of utilizing refuse is unquestionably
the cheapest and the best in existence.
Thanks to the exertions of the National Potato Society,
and the Exhibition which it recently organized at the
Crystal Palace, considerable attention has been drawn in
this country to the desirability of improving the yield
and the immunity to disease of our most popular vegetable.
The exertions of potato-growers are directed to
two main objects — increasing the weight of edible tubers
which a given acreage can produce, and making them proof
against the onsets of the potato disease, which practically
means the rotting caused by the fungus Phytophthora
infestans. In a sense the two things are connected, because
a potato which produces a heavy crop is usually
also a hardy potato. An interesting piece of news was
laid before the last meeting of the French Academy of
Science. One of the great enemies of the ordinary potato
is a wet summer, which lowers the vitality of the potato
and enfeebles its resistance to the germs of disease, which
are always waiting for an opportunity of seizing upon its
plants. M. Labergerie, a well-known agriculturist of the
Department of Vienne, in Central France, has been working
for some time, by judicious selection, to produce a damp-proof
potato. With the aid of a wild Uruguayan variety as
the parent stock, he has succeeded in raising a potato which
flourishes best in wet soil, where its yield is about six times
that of the ordinary variety.
The normal yield of potato-growing land in these islands
is between five and six tons to the acre; roughly speaking,
we raise about three million tons annually on an area
of 500,000 to 600,000 acres. Mr. Labergerie's new potato
is said to produce about 36 tons to the acre in a damp soil,
though in dry ground the yield is below the average.
Analysis shows that its proportion of carbo-hydrates — in
other words, its food value — is about normal. The great
trouble of potato-growers in this country and Ireland is
the excessive moisture which debilitates the crop, and if
further experiments bear out M. Labergerie's statements
his new potato should, for years to come, prove of incalculable
benefit to the Sister Isle, where the bulk of the
population is almost wholly dependent on this tuber for its
daily food, and should invest damp, peaty soils with a
greatly enhanced value. We commend the Labergerie
potato to the Department of Agriculture for Ireland, and
to the Congested Districts Boards of Scotland and Ireland.
A new class of market gardeners has sprung up in the
fertile valley of the Avon, long noted for the excellence
of its fruits and vegetables — a class which is determined to
secure the market in London for early produce — such as
lettuce, asparagus, and other crops — now held by the
On the Continent these crops are largely grown under
glass, with the result that they can be placed on the market
when no English vegetables are to be had.
To study these methods a large party of gardeners will
leave Evesham for Paris in January; and in order that the
small growers may be in a position to make the journey
a number of gentlemen of the neighbourhood have subscribed
to a fund to defray a portion of the expenses.
An interesting experiment in co-operative organisation
has been made by a number of fruit and vegetable growers
in the Evesham district during the present year. A central
depot, says Country Life, has been formed, to which the
produce is sent, and the manager of this depot is in direct
communication, by telegraph and telephone, with dealers in
the great centres of population. Sales can thus be arranged
for the Worcestershire produce at rates which, owing to
the exclusion of several different middlemen's profits, will
frequently bring a paying return to the growers where
formerly the profit was not sufficient to cover the cost of
picking and carriage. A weekly price-list is also sent out
to shopkeepers all over the country, while efforts are also
being made to develop a business with private consumers,
boxes of fruit being sent to any address at rates which
include carriage and delivery.
THE systematic working of a peat-bog is best understood
in the Netherlands, and lately some hundreds of Hollanders
have been imported to work the moors at Thorne
and Hatfield-Chase, near Doncaster, also on that part of
Chat Moss acquired from the Astley Estates Company by
the Corporation of Manchester. The Dutch peat-cutter
has a deservedly high reputation for skill in this moist
and not very interesting occupation, he having acquired
proficiency from his forefathers in a land where, from earliest
times, peat as fuel has been an article of prime necessity.
The treatment of wet, quaking bogs, lying on level ground,
the subsoil of which is an impervious clay, must, of necessity,
differ from that known as mountain bogs or such as are
formed on undulating land, resting, in some instances, on
granite. If these latter are not worked in a careful manner
they may slide, doing enormous damage. Not long ago an
avalanche of peat submerged a large area of land in the
County of Kerry, Ireland.¹ One Sunday night "The Bog of
the Mule," as it is interpreted in the Saxon language, suddenly
got under weigh. It lay about fourteen miles from
Killarney, on the Kenmore estate, at a height of about twelve
hundred feet above the sea, — occupying a kind of table-land
from which the ground slopes gently downwards to the
south. It was about two hundred acres in extent, and had
a maximum depth of about thirty feet. Accidents of the kind
are by no means unprecedented; indeed, in some parts of
¹Another and very serious bog-slide has just taken place in Roscommon.
Ireland and Scotland they are far from uncommon. The
wet bogs of these countries are especially liable to such
mishaps; and even Chat Moss, in our own country, is
accused by Leland of doing something of the kind about the
year 1546. One at Enaghmore in Ireland did considerable
mischief in January, 1853; and another at Dunmore in
October, 1873, covered both houses and fields. In Sligo, in
1831, a bog burst after a sudden thaw of snow and swept on
over the meadows like a torrent. Solway Moss also, in 1772,
after heavy rains, is said to have swelled up almost like a
bladder and then burst, the mud destroying several cottages
and covering four hundred acres of land.
Injudiciously planned and constructed canals and drains,
and a badly conceived system of working, may cast the
Moss free from its moorings and induce it to slide, when the
owners may find themselves landed in heavy damages for
injury done to neighbouring proprietors. There is a great
diversity in bogs and their contents owing mainly to the
varying depressions in their beds, and the rain and snow fall.
In boring for water in America, on Otter Creek flats, eighty
feet of peat were pierced, and at seventy-two feet the drill
struck a sound log of wood, the trunk of a former growth.
On the summit of the Mansfield Mountains, New England,
at an elevation of 4348 feet above sea level, beds of peat
have been found with the sphagnous moss that produces
them. Submerged deposits are existent on the sea-shore.
There is one difference between the ordinary Irish bog
and those on the East coast, and inland to within a few
miles of Doncaster, bordering the North Sea, which at once
attracts the traveller's notice. The latter occupy the lowest
ground, and their surface, allowing for chance vegetable, is
a dead level. The former are by no means always thus
situated, and the surface takes the form of an extremely fiat
dome — that is to say, it slopes very gently upwards towards
the centre. Moreover, this surface often seems stronger and
more tenacious than is sometimes the case in an undrained
fen; a considerable variety of plants are growing among and
above the actual mosses, such as bog-myrtle, heaths, and
heather, besides rushes and sedges, cotton and other grasses.
In fact, the bog often seems to be enclosed in a rather tenacious
envelope of skin, formed by the matted roots of these
plants, together, sometimes, with the king and other ferns,
and even sundry shrubs which love damp places. To the
rupture of this envelope calamities such as that which has
just occurred in the Killarney district are largely due. Heavy
rain such as there was at the ill-fated spot referred to rapidly
sink into the loose mass, which is gradually swollen by the
water just as happens with a sponge, the outer envelope
holding the whole together for a time. Mean while the
coherency of the peat in the sodden mass is diminished; it
continues to increase in volume, to become more fluid, and to
press against the only thing which prevents it from spreading
like a mass of "hasty pudding" — namely, the skin of growing
vegetation. At last this retaining envelope bursts, and the
semi-liquid peat flows in the direction of least resistance —
that is down such slope as there may be. But since the
surface of the bog, as already explained, may be higher than
the ground at its margin, some movement may take place
even in perfectly flat ground. It is evident that in the case
of the bog of the Mule circumstances were very favourable
to a flow of the mass when once rupture has taken place, even
the black mud of some swollen Alpine torrents could hardly
be a more merciless or deadly foe.
Before cutting, after surface uncovering, be commenced,
whether for moss-litter or fuel, the bog must be well
drained. If this be neglected the labour and cost of
winning of the peat and its subsequent drying is very
seriously increased. With every sod an amount of water
far exceeding its own weight is raised to the surface,
and this water must subsequently be got rid of In moist
climates and during wet summers artificial drying must
of necessity be had recourse to. The surface must first be
attacked by a series of shallow, narrow, sloping drains
leading into larger ones, or canals, the process being
gradual and progressive. The herring-bone system for
these drains is in most instances the best and safest.
In these drainage operations we must bear in mind that it
is necessary to leave the lower parts of the bog in a
moist condition, so the artificial main drains must not
be carried right down to the pan; indeed, in some deep
bogs this cutting down to the substratum of clay, sand,
gravel, or rock is impossible. In cutting the surface for
litter the diggers seldom go lower than four feet, as at
that depth the fibrous peat begins to merge into the darker
coloured variety — that which has undergone decay. Those
drains in wet bogs cannot be cut down to their projected
depth at one operation, but must be deepened at
intervals as the mass becomes drier and more consolidated.
If this is not observed the sides of the drains are liable
to cave in, rifts and flaws appearing in the peat, rendering
the subsequent working more difficult. Ditches are run at
about a distance of eleven yards from each other, all emptying
themselves into a larger ditch communicating with a
canal, through which the manufactured produce is conveyed
to the nearest station or canal. These main ditches or canals
are usually two hundred yards apart, and parallel to each
other, so that no portion of the moor being worked is at
a greater distance than one hundred yards from these main
arteries. The configuration of Holland lends itself to this
method of transport. There these leading canals communicate
with the large canals and rivers, and so carriage is
cheap by means of barges. Some of these barges are constructed
to carry 200 tons, and reach Rotterdam and
Antwerp in four or five days from the moors bordering
on the "Zuid Willems Canal." "The importance of situation,"
reports our Consul, "is emphasized by the fact that
whereas 50 per cent. of the selling price of the Northern
moss litter represents freight, that from the South (the peat
district bordering on North Brabant and Limburg) figures
for only 20 per cent. of the price of the Southern product."
This canal system is adaptable to many of the low-lying
bogs of Ireland. In that country of all others, where
the exorbitant cost of carriage weighs so ruinously on
all industries, the question of locality and consequent
cost of haulage should be very carefully considered by
all intending to embark in the peat industry. Some years
ago these "hasty pudding" formations were worked by
flat-bottomed barges termed "scows," carrying a power-driven
centrifugal pump that delivered the pulpy substance
on to a drying bed formed on the surface of the bog. A
somewhat similar process has lately been brought out by
Mr. F. Schulke, of Hamburg, the salient feature of which
is that after cleaning the peat to be operated upon from
roots, gravel, or other foreign matters, it is liquefied by
water and pumped several miles to the works through
a pipe line; it is then leached and converted by heat
and pressure into briquettes, at a cost of 8s. a ton, or
into artificial coal, having a thermal value of 6250 calories,
at a cost of 10s. per ton. It is understood that a large
plant to work on a commercial scale is now being installed
on the North Coast of Germany, but as to the practical value
of the enterprise no exact information is at present obtainable.

The steam dredgers invented by Herr O. Fruling, of
Brunswick, which, so far as regards Great Britain and its
dependencies, is now the property of the British Dredging
Company (Limited), promise to simplify the working of
"quaking" and submerged bogs, and to facilitate, at a cost
not exceeding 3d. per ton of spoil, the working of these
deposits on a scale hitherto not dreamt of. The principle
of this Fruhling system may be briefly described as a combination
of mechanism in which mechanical attrition is
successfully applied to heavier and more clay-like soils than
it has hitherto been considered possible to deal with by
suction. Dredging by suction is not new, and may be seen
in operation in many of our harbours. It was brought into
requisition for cutting the Suez Canal with economy and
advantage. But the original type, Bazine's, of a centrifugal
pump acting upon a suction pipe whose nozzle was
placed close to the submerged sand, did not give satisfactory
results when the bottom acted upon was more of a mud or
clay deposit. This difficulty Herr Fruhling has overcome,
and, as proved by the operations of the pioneer dredger,
the "Nicolaus," in the Kiel Canal, efficient dredging can be
carried on at any depth from 9 feet up to 47 feet at the rate
of 1750 tons per hour. The Chief Engineer of the German
Government shows the work done on the system of the
Kiel Canal Company: —
"Kiel, 12th March, 1903. — This is to certify that the
dredger Nicolaus' in the Emperor William Canal, from
the 15th October, 1901, to the let March, 1903, has dredged
in 700 working hours 1,350,000 tons of sand, mud, and
salt, and has transported and discharged this material for
a distance of 1·5 miles in 1450 hours. The average cost of
the above work (including transport) was three fifths of a
penny per ton."
The steam hopper in this instance was 155 feet long by
28 feet beam, but a vessel of such dimensions would not be
necessary for working a bog and conveying the spoil to the
bank. A remodelling of the lighter on a considerably
reduced scale would be necessary, retaining the powerful
centrifugal and Blake pumps and the 15¾ inch suction
pipe. There is a contrivance by which the material in the
holds or wells can be lifted by the suction pump and
delivered on the banks or into the lighters. The dredger
itself also is fitted with an elevator. An important feature
is that the volume of water lifted with the dredged material
can be regulated at will and limited to the minimum
quantity; moreover, it is possible to work to a uniformly
level bottom.
The special dredging apparatus consists of a dredging
head-piece about 11½ feet wide. The forward or front part
is in the form of a scoop or bucket having a cutting edge
of several sharp prongs or points, which excavates the
ground mechanically. The other or hindermost portion
forms a chamber, well, or receiver, closed all round, into
which the excavated material is pushed, and into which the
necessary volume of water can also be admitted in adjustable
proportions. The vessel being propelled by two powerful
winches, the ground is cut or scooped out level to any
required depth, the dredger head and its conduit, suspended
from a crane fixed aloft on deck, being lowered or raised at
will; the spoil is delivered by the powerful centrifugal
pump making 200 revolutions a minute into barges and
deposited on the bank. When excavating ground of such
medium stiffness as would be found in a submerged peat
bog, the dredger can be made to travel forward at a speed
to enable the dredging head to cut just sufficient material.
The dredging of the bottom is done in long strips 11 feet
wide. This dredged material is atomized in a well or
mixing chamber situate in the after part of the vessel, so
that any lumps brought up by the prongs or points may
be split up. The loosening is effected by means of water
under pressure forced by a Blake pump. This piping
system is very perfect, and can be made also to assist the
cutting apparatus at will in loosening the ground when
working in stiff; tenacious material. The crane can be used
for lifting submerged trunks and roots of trees, such as are
frequently found in peat bogs. The description of peat
found in floating bogs is usually of excellent quality, and in
North Germany is called baggertorf, or mud-peat.
In graving peat from the bog the surface layer of "ling,"
composed of earth and growing plants, such as heather,
heaths, the cotton plant, etc., and their roots, is removed to
the depth of six to nine inches. The "slane" is then
brought into play. This digging implement is a peculiarly
shaped spade fifteen inches long by four and a half wide,
with a flange or wing on one side bent up wards at right
angles to the blade. In Germany slaves with flanges on
both sides of the cutter are employed. With this tool the
peat is cut perpendicularly into long rectangular bricks or
turves and laid on the bank in one operation. On the
Continent four men work in each gang, one man cutting
vertically from the top, the second following and dividing
the turves as he goes along with a round-ended cutter of
the "whale-spade" pattern. He is followed by a third with
a four-pronged fork, the handle of which is bent upwards to
an angle of 45 degrees, who lifts and removes the turves,
the fourth hand laying them out in rows on the moor. One
cubic metre of turf yields 400 of these sods. Women, after
the turves have lain some time on the surface and,weather permitting,
are partially dried, "up end" them, each turf leaning
against the other so that they may be exposed to the action
of sun and air. During a dry summer the turves will dry down
to a water content of about 30 per cent., as stated above, by
which time they will have shrunk to about a quarter of their
original dimensions. Under the best conditions, viz. bright
sun, a high, dry temperature, and a strong wind, a wall of
peat turves, each turf from 1½ to 2 inches thick, will evaporate
from the original 80 per cent. of moisture down to 45 per
cent. in about 2½ hours. It is worthy of note that while a
layer of excavated peat lying on the surface of a bog is
evaporated down to 45 per cent. in this short time, a similar
layer spread on a raised dry surface, with the current of air
circulating below it, the moisture will be evaporated down to
35 per cent., thus proving that while the upper portion of the
layer lying on the bog is losing moisture the lower portion
in contact with the bog is, by capillary action, drawing
moisture from the damp bog below. This circumstance
points to the necessity of drying peat on elevated platforms
as adopted by the Scottish Peat Industries at Racks. A
good dry wind such as we have in March has more influence
than the sun. Having got rid of much of the moisture
after several days' weathering — peat turves as a rule retain
35 per cent. of hygroscopic moisture — and have acquired some
consistency, they are piled or cobbled up into loosely built
pyramids so disposed as to admit a free circulation of air.
These pyramids are generally 6 feet long by 3 feet broad
and 6 feet high, representing 3 cubic metres of peat or 1200
turves. Having remained some weeks in the pyramid they
are then stacked for use. These turves as originally cut —
much depends on the condition and drainage of the bog —
weigh from 12 to 25 pounds each. It is said that an
Irishman used to handle the Slane, and working with a
will — such men are few and far between — cut out 25 or
more peats a minute. When working by the "job" he will
cut 22, and when "by the day " the output dwindles down
to 15 of only 15 pounds each. The result is 225 wet turves
per minute, and consequently 62½ tons in a working day of
10 hours. The writer has not met the man capable of
keeping slogging at such break-back work for such a length
of time. Mr. B. H. Paul, who published a paper on the
"Utilisation of Peat" in the Journal of the Society of Arts,
asserts that two men working together, one cutting and the
other casting the peat, will in good weather get through
what is equivalent to 10 tons of dried peat; so that if they
were able to work every day during May they would cut
and cast from 200 to 300 tons of peat in the mouth, and
that to win 10,000 tons, cut and spread, the services of 100
men would be required.
The mountain peats of Scotland and Ireland being more
uniform in texture and character, better naturally drained,
and, therefore, more consolidated than the wet quaking bogs,
are more easily worked. This mountain peat weighs from
53 to 78 pounds the cubic foot, and, when dry and compressed,
has a density greater than water and takes a high
polish. These mountain deposits are seldom of great depth,
averaging 2 to 12 feet. The method of graving peat in the
Highlands differs from that in vogue on lowland bogs.
After removing the surface sod and heather, the peat cutter
digs out turves a foot square and three or four inches thick,
using a peculiar shaped tool for the purpose. These large
flat slices are then spread out on the ground to cure and dry,
the process from the nature of the material being more
speedily accomplished than is the case with other peat.
These are then set up on edge, and are dry and fit for the
stack in from six weeks to two months. The surface of the
turves acquires a kind of skin, something like a dark
coloured gold-beater's skin, which is nearly if not quite
water-proof. In the Hebrides and Western Islands of
Scotland, where there is a large extent of excellent peat, and
where rain is very frequent, even in the summer months,
artificial drying must be had recourse to; but as the bye-products
of these peats are more than usually valuable this
extra expense need not be seriously considered, as with an
efficient system, bottom peat is, of all materials, the best able
to bear this expense, for it provides its own fuel on the spot
at prime cost price.
Several attempts have been made in the past to substitute
machinery for hand labour in cutting bogs. In
North Prussia Brosowky's Peat-Cutting Machine was in
much request, and thirteen thousand of these implements
were at work in Mecklenburg and Pomerania within three
years of its introduction. It had the advantage of being
able to raise peat from below the surface of the water, thus,
in some cases, rendering drainage unnecessary. It consisted
of a rectangular casing made like the four sides of a box,
but with oblique lower edges, which, by its own weight,
and by means of a crank and a rack-work operated by
hand, was forced down to various depths. Having
penetrated to the desired depth a spade-like blade, acting
horizontally, was driven under the cutter by means of levers
thus releasing a solid parallelopipedon of peat. By reversing
the crank-motion this mass, a block of ten feet or more in
length and twenty four by twenty eight inches in other
dimensions, was lifted out from the bog. Each of these
blocks made one hundred and forty-four sods, enabling four
hands to lay out twelve thousand turves, or 3100 cubic feet
daily. This machine could only cut at the edge or on the
perpendicular face of an excavation. The Mecklenburg moors
are now traversed by canals cut by this mechanical graver.
In Canada, where labour is scarce and costly, and
where there is no demand for Moss-Litter, after the
surface of the bog has been drained and levelled, a
mechanical excavator — the Dobson — is used. This implement,
actuated by electricity, travels slowly up and down
both sides of the area under removal, the excavator or
slicer working against the side or perpendicular face of
the ditch. It consists of a platform 7 feet wide by 10
feet long, mounted on four wood-faced wheels, the front
pair being the drivers and measuring 33 inches in
diameter and 18 inches face, and the rear wheels being
22 inches in diameter and 18 inches face. The great
width of the tyre is designed to meet the softness and the
yielding nature of the bog surface. A barrel-shaped
wheel would be an improvement. A 10 H.P. electric
motor operates, by belting and gear wheels, all the
machinery, at the same time propelling the carriage forward
at the desired speed. Overhanging the cutting on
the bog, on the right-hand side of the machine, is the
excavating and elevating mechanism, which is an endless
chain, armed along its lower surface with alternating
cutting teeth and sharp-edged plates, somewhat on the
principle of the dredger. This armed chain, which can
be raised or lowered according to the depth of the cut
to be made, the maximum depth being 4 feet, travels in
a vertical plane down the outside and up the inside of
the elevator box, serving the double purpose of scraping
off a thin slice of peat and elevating it to a conveyer
running across the front of the carriage. At the opposite
side of the distributor a partially hooded paddle wheel,
revolving at a high speed, catches the stream of wet-peat
fragments, showering them broadcast over the surface
of the bog to a distance of 30 to 50 feet. Each such
distribution leaves a deposit about half an inch thick,
consisting of finely divided fragments, in excellent condition,
to be dried by sun and wind. A steering gear
is provided. The machine travels at the rate of 3 to 3·5
feet per minute, excavating about 4500 cubic feet in a
day of 10 hours. Heavy insulated transmission wires
trail on the bog behind the carriage, conveying the electric
current to the motor.
The most primitive method of working a moor for
Litter is that practised in North-west Germany, where, on
the higher-lying moors, after the ling and heather
has been burnt off, the surface is ploughed up arid
harrowed in the autumn. In the following spring, when
the surface, from the action of the March winds, is
sufficiently dry to be workable, it is again harrowed and
thrown into heaps. This process of harrowing is repeated
as often as the weather permits. The method is simple
and inexpensive, but has brought much discredit on imported
litter, for this bedding, though useful on the farm
where live stock is ripening for the shambles, it is too full
of mull and earthy matter to be marketable. A somewhat
similar process is in vogue on the Canadian mosses,
where the object is fuel and not litter.
The writer has invented two "knifing" or cutting implements,
either of which, as a labour-saving machine, in
his opinion, may be found useful. Both are impelled
either by an auto-motor or by electricity, or by a small
portable engine fitted with winding drum and steel rope,
as in steam ploughs and cultivating tackle. At a late
trial at Biggleswade the Ivel agricultural motor, with a
three-furrow plough, turned over 5 acres 4 poles in 8
hours 24 minutes at a consumption of 11½ gallons of
petrol, which works out at 2 gallons 1 quart per acre.
In one of these turf-cutters the framework of mild steel
is mounted on hollow barrel-shaped wheels, the ends being
closed to permit of their travelling over the surface of
the bog. The knives are so arranged that they cut several
parallel strips of turf, each of the required width and
thickness, both vertically and horizontally, in such a manner
that each layer lies in its own original bed, but completely
severed one from the other, and from the bog. The
number of these continuous strips or ribbons, running the
whole length of the surface operated upon, is regulated
by the width of the machine and the motive power
employed; but as a rule a foot in width, and three to
four inches in depth, will be found sufficient. Thus a
six-foot implement will cut six strips and from three to
four layers at one operation. The knives can be arranged
to cut any desired width and depth. By shifting the
anchors and pulleys, an operation of a few minutes, and
by substituting a different pattern of knife, the implement,
then crossing the surface so treated, cuts these long strips
into turves of any length, when they can be lifted out
rapidly by the fork; or, if preferred, these turves can be
severed by hand. This operation, by severing the fibres
of the peat, even if the turf be left for a time in situ,
greatly facilitates drainage.
The other implement is an application of the ordinary
hand-cutting spade used in skinning and lifting turves on
pastures for laying down for lawns and grass plots. It
has one or more sharp-edged winged shovels fixed to the
frame at an obtuse angle, the gradual slope or incline
being from the front towards the rear of the implement.
On either side of the cutting edge of each shovel are
two sharp-edged steel revolving discs, which, as they
advance, sever the sides of the turf. By this means a
continuous strip of turf is released, which, seized by an
endless band fitted with a series of revolving spiked
rollers travelling over the upper face of the shovel, carries
the turf upwards and backwards along and up the inclined
plane till, on reaching the back edge of the
channel, it falls over and on to the surface of the moor,
breaking as it falls. If uniformity of length be desired, a
revolving blade, as in the case of the chaff-cutter and
brick machine, is so placed that the strip of turf is
automatically severed into lengths as it leaves the channel.
The shovel or shovels, with their revolving disc cutters,
can be regulated to cut to various depths as desired. By
this means turves up to six inches of thickness can be
raised. The cutters are interchangeable, and can be removed
to be sharpened. A man, riding as is usual with
steam cultivators, steers the implement. The frame is
carried on barrel-shaped wheels of peculiar construction.
In the United States, where there is an abundance of
peat, the clam-claw dredger has been used with effect.
An improvement on this is the Hone-Tyne-Grab, and,
where extensive operations are contemplated, will be found
most efficient and labour saving. It is manufactured by
the Thames Iron Works and Shipbuilding Company. This
grab has been used for dealing with vestry, town, and
market rubbish. The powerful blades can be made with
cutting edges capable of severing fibrous peat and of tearing
it from its bed. A grab of 4 feet by 3 feet and a half,
when closed, weighing 16 hundred-weights, can excavate
18 cubic feet per hour. Its cost is £93. To this the
cost of the crane must be added. As some of the water
in the peat is got rid of in the process of grabbing and
lifting by the powerful pressure on the material, a 3 to
5-ton locomotive crane should suffice. The former is
equal to a lift of 3 tons at a 16 feet radius, and travels
upon rails of 4 feet 8½ inches gauge. The cranes are
fitted with steam-lifting, lowering, and propelling jib-adjustment
and gear. They can be turned in any
direction whilst raising or lowering the load, without
stopping or reversing the engine, and all hand levers are
placed in a position to be easily manipulated, while the
driver has a clear view of his work. The makers claim
that these grabs reduce labour about 35 per cent. Such
a weighty mechanical digger or sapper can only be used
on consolidated bogs. It will be found most useful in
forming and deepening canals and drains, in raising submerged
peat, and in warping operations. In a peat
factory, whether for fuel or litter, the crane will always
be found handy.
In the Netherlands, after digging the canals and drains,
the following plan of working the bogs is sometimes
The upper crust of ground is first broken up, and,
when in the spring it has somewhat dried up, the
whole surface is burnt through the following process. A
few bits of dry turf are placed on an iron basket at
the end of a long pole, and then lighted. This basket
is held on high, and, through the action of the wind,
some bits of smouldering turf are blown over the ground
and set fire to it. As soon as the basket is nearly empty,
it is refilled and the same process repeated. With a
fairly good blaze the whole field is soon a smouldering
mass, occasioning that irritating smoke which, in the
Macpherson's heather-burner will be found useful for this purpose. It
is simple, effective and cheap.
spring, pretty nearly covers the whole of the country, and is
known as "turf fire." The smouldering mass extinguishes
itself, as the ground is covered with only a small crust,
beneath which the soil is very wet, but a small layer of
ashes is left behind which serves as manure for the crop
of buckwheat about to be sown. The sowing and harvesting
of the crop do not differ from the processes adapted as
regards cultivation on sandy soil, excepting that in the
carrying due attention must be given to the softness of
the ground; and with this view the carts are provided
with broad-tyre wheels, and the horses have broad bits
of woods attached to their feet. This process of cultivation
can be carried on for six succeeding years, the
ground being annually burned, after which period, the
humus being exhausted from which the manure was
obtained, it would not pay to raise any further crop. It
is then that preparations are made for the digging up of
what is called the "grey turf," the leading element of the
peat-moss industry.
In order to work a wet, floating or submerged bog, it
is obvious that dredging or pumping by the centrifugal
chain disc pump, or raising by means of the dredger or
grab, must be resorted to. Here the peat is found in a
more or less coherent condition, or in the form of paste
or mud. The following method was in vogue some years
ago on the Continent; but probably the grab just
described, especially when fibrous peat is met with, worked
from a flat-bottomed lighter or scow, from a pontoon or
raft, would prove vastly superior to the make-shift here
referred to by Professor Johnson. In such a case the
peat is dredged from the bottom of the bog by means
of an iron scoop, like a pail with sharp edges fastened
to a long handle. The bottom is made of coarse sacking,
so that the water may run off Sometimes a stout ring
of iron, with a bag attached, is employed in the same
way. The fine peat is emptied from the dredge upon
the ground, where it remains until the water has been
absorbed or has evaporated so far as to leave the mass
somewhat firm and elastic. In the meantime a drying
bed is prepared by smoothing, and, if needful, stamping
a sufficient space of ground, and enclosing it in boards
fourteen inches wide set on edge. In this bed the
partially dried peat is thrown, and, as it cracks on the
surface by drying, it is compressed by blows with a
heavy mallet or flail, or by treading it with flat boards
attached to the feet, something like snowshoes. By this
treatment the mass is reduced to a continuous sheet of
less than one-half its first thickness, and becomes so firm
that a man's step makes little impression on it. The
boards are now removed, and it is cut into blocks by
means of a very sharp, thin spade. Every other block
being lifted out and placed crossways on those remaining,
air is admitted to the whole and drying goes on rapidly.
Here the construction of the pulp bed is faulty, for no
provision is made for drainage. Surely the modern pug-mill
would do all the kneading necessary at a fraction of
the cost and in much less time.
Mr. James Hodges of Montreal conceived the idea of a
complete floating manufactory constructed to excavate,
pulp, dry, and manufacture. His modus operandi was
to select an extensive undrained bog, from eight to twelve
feet deep — or, if deeper, the better — and to trace out, at
some distance from its margin, a contour level line of,
say, several miles in extent. Along this line a space or
strip of some nineteen feet in width was cleared, and
the live moss or turf entirely removed. By the side of
this uncovering a space of ninety feet in width was
cleared and drained to receive the pulped peat. At one
end of the nineteen feet canal a barge or scow, 81 feet
long 16 feet beam and 6 feet deep, was constructed and
launched into a hole or bay in the bog dug to receive
her. This barge contained all the machinery necessary
for the complete manufacture of the peat. At one end
of the scow were placed a pair of large screw augurs
eleven feet in diameter, which, provided with suitable
shafting and gearing, were caused to revolve by an
engine placed in the stern of the vessel. These augurs
or screw elevators bored out the peat in precisely the
same manner that a common augur bores out wood. In
this way a canal nineteen feet wide, and from four to
six feet deep, was cut as the scow progressed, the water
draining from the adjacent pulp bed filling the canal as
fast (?) as it is excavated. The speed at which the scow
advances is about fifteen feet an hour. A competent
engineer should determine and lay out the canal level as
well as arrange its water-supply, for upon this greatly
depends the successful working of the whole.
The peat when bored out or excavated by the screws is
delivered into the well of the barge and conveyed from
thence by means of an elevator to a hopper, into which it
is tumbled. It then passes through machinery, which, removing
all sticks and roots and thoroughly destroying the
fibre, reduces the peat to a homogeneous mass of soft, pulp-like,
well-tempered mortar. This pulp is then passed into a
long spout or distributer, which, extending at right angles
over the side of the scow, spreads out the pulp upon the
levelled strip of moss bordering the canal in a thin slab
nine inches thick and ninety feet wide. After the slab of
pulp has been deposited for a couple of days, or in the hot
weather a shorter period, it begins to consolidate and shows
symptoms of cracking. Immediately any cracks make their
appearance the surface is marked out by drawing a framework,
carrying curved knives placed six inches apart,
across it. A few days' more exposure hardens the pulp so
that, by the aid of boards, a man can walk on and mark it
longitudinally with cuts eighteen inches apart. In about a
fortnight the shrinkage of the pulp slab causes the cuts
made in it to gape open and the whole presents the appearance
of an immense floor covered with bricks eighteen
inches long and six inches wide. As soon as the bricks are
sufficiently hard to bear handling they are separated and
"footed," that is stood up on end, five in a stook with one
across the top, in which position they remain until dry
enough to be removed to the store or market.
In the preparation of the pulp-bed great care should be
taken, and the surface obtained must be as level as possible.
The roots of all trees are carefully removed. The long
grass, shrubs, and rank mosses are cut clown with a short
scythe and are used to fill up any irregularities on the
surface. Drains from nine to twelve inches deep are cut
leading into the canal and are filled up with brush-wood or
any open material and covered by a fibrous inverted turf.
The soft pulp, when poured upon this drying bed in a
semi-fluid condition, advances, lava-like, covering the
whole surface. The pulp should not be deposited nearer
than five feet off the canal and upon this space or bank may
be shot any surplus moss or turf from the uncovering of the
canal track. A double thickness of turves is all that is
necessary to complete the sides and divisions of the pulp-bed.

The canal track and pulp-bed having been prepared, and
the scow with its machinery in position, nothing more is
required than to set it in motion. As each revolution
excavates from one and a half to three inches, the augurs
must he kept up to the face of the peat by hand on a
cable anchored on a head, so as to preserve a continuous
feed. As the screws revolve they cut off continuous slices
of the peat, which, by the assistance of a couple of men,
are delivered, through the rear of the casing the screw
works in, into a well in the bow of the scow. These men
also remove any large masses of foreign material coining to
the surface, such as pieces of wood, roots of trees, etc.
Some bogs are full of roots. After the peat has reached
the well it is carried to the hopper by means of an endless
elevator, from which it passes through a stick and fibre-catcher,
on to the pulping and distributing trough or spout.
If the pulp be too stiff or dry a pump is turned on until it is
reduced to the proper liquid consistency. The levelling of
the pulp should be attended to. A few days' experience
will enable any intelligent man to accomplish this; and
upon its being well done depends, in some measure, the
quality of the skin of the peat, so essential, not only in
shedding the rain and preventing cracking from the sun,
but also for giving permanent toughness to the bricks.
The marking of the pulp beds in transverse cuts at six-inch
intervals is proceeded with as soon as the pulp begins to
set, or becomes so tough that when the incisions are made in
it by the knives the blocks do not reunite. The operation
is performed by two men, one at each end of the pulp bed,
who, by means of a rope, pull a frame-work of wood
carrying curved knives too and fro across the bed. A little
practice causes the work to be performed with great
accuracy. The longitudinal cuts, eighteen inches apart,
are made as soon as the pulp is firm enough to bear the
weight of a man upon a plank laid on the surface, the
implement used being a disc-cutter, something like the
circular saw, which severs the pulp right down to the
bed. The "footing" is done by gangs of men and boys,
one man and three boys working together — the man to
separate the bricks, the boys to upend them in groups of
five as already explained. In footing and turning, two
boys can handle four thousand in a day.
The crew of the scow all told numbers six hands, including
the "skipper," who keeps the knives of the scow
excavator clean and sees that all is going right, two men
to the excavators, one engine-man, one man leading and
levelling the pulp, and one man to attend to the stick-catcher
and pulp-flow spout.
In working mountain deposits the main difficulty lies in
the conveyance of the manufactured article to the nearest
railway, canal or tramway. The aerial ropeway system
solves this difficulty better than any other method, and
will be found the most convenient and economical means of
transporting litter, fuel, or the bye-products of peat even,
over somewhat long distances. Roe & Bedlington's systems,
manufactured by the Ropeways Syndicate, 30 St. Mary
Axe, London, E.C., possesses many advantages. Aerial
ropeways have no regard for irregularities of ground, as
they span rivers and valleys, cross railways and roads, and
go over hills and ravines in a manner impossible by any
other existing method of transport. Nor are their advantages
confined to hilly districts, as they compare favourably
with light railways on easy ground, and also with
traction engines, without their great disadvantage of
damage to roads, and the attendant constant squabbles with
local authorities with regard to repairs; while, naturally,
the costs of haulage by this means are far below those of the
primitive method of carting. They are also valuable as
auxiliaries or feeders to establish means of communication,
as well as in localities where the daily output to be transported
would not warrant railways or trams. Another
important feature is the fact that where the gradient in
favour of the load is sufficient they become self-acting; the
descending loaded buckets not only giving sufficient power
to haul up the empties, but leaving a surplus energy
available for other purposes. As an instance of the ease
with which these suspended lines work, an installation
2830 metres long, conveying 40 tons with a mean grade
of 1 in 22, or 4½ per cent., is self-acting with a small amount
of spare power. By this system 2 to 70 tons per hour can
be transported, the weight of each individual load being
from 2½ to 10 cwt., though, by special arrangements,
heavier loads can be carried, and the suspended carriers or
receptacles may be designed for any material. Various
modifications of the system can be arranged to meet
special requirements with regard to loading and unloading,
and the unloading station can be designed for dumping into
railway trucks or canal boats, or into shoots for feeding
mills. Some of the spans between the trestles or supports
are as much as 2000 feet clear. The loads automatically
take on and leave the cable at the stations without any
separate coupling operations. With regard to that important
item, haulage costs, these depend upon the capacity
of the line, heavy installations being more favourable in
this respect than the lighter ropeways. An example of this
system is to be seen at work at Bellinhassig station on the
Cork, Bandon and South Coast Railway, the cable of which
is four miles long, with a capacity of 10 tons per hour, and
this works at just over 1d. per ton per mile. The Gowrie
and Blockhouse Collieries (Limited), at their mines, Port
Morien, Cape Breton, despatched 100 buckets per hour from
the pithead to the shipping pier. At the Dalbeattie Granite
Works, N.B., 200 tons of crushed granite pass over one of
these ropeways every day, a distance of half a mile.
For centuries, both at home and abroad, the windmill has
played a leading part in the drainage of morasses and bogs,
and now that those wind engines are being treated scientifically
there is every probability of the theory being converted
into fact, and of their being employed over a larger
field of usefulness. So far they have been constructed
empirically, but the late important trials of wind-pumping
engines instituted by the Royal Agricultural Society in its
Show Yard have directed the attention of the engineer
to these little understood sources of motor-power. Though
one Canadian firm of builders had an exhibit, America was
unrepresented at this trial, and this is to be regretted, for in
the United States the wind-engine is in far more general
use than in this country. American builders have arrived
at a standard type, though we cannot say for certain that
this type, the outcome of gradual evolution, is the best
or incapable of improvement. Many questions regarding
the shape and number of the sails, whether they are
best tapered or twisted, their relative position one to
the other, the angle at which they should be set, their
width, the method of self-governing, steady running, change
of pressure, speed, ease of arrangement and maintenance,
size as relative to power, stability of tower, and other
important points present themselves, and will, let us hope,
be clearly answered. Though never so efficient as a well-planned
system of drainage, the self-governed wind-engine,
running night and day, will be found to be an economical
and effective adjunct for keeping the water in a bog down
to the desired level, and in many ways may be turned
We have lately seen a working model of an air-motor on an entirely new
principle promising to revolutionize this economical method of obtaining
to good account in a peat factory. "Let man invent,
scheme and drive, but let wind, the forerunner of Nature,
do the toil."
The elevators and spiral conveyers manufactured by
the Conveyor and Elevator Company of Accrington will
be found very efficient in carrying peat in any form as
graved from the bog to the hopper of the briquette or
moss-litter mill. The steel-chain push-plate conveyers
are best adapted for the rapid and continuous delivery of
turves and briquettes to the stack, or of peat-bricks to the
clamp or kiln.
One of the phenomena of latter-day industrial development,
and an outcome of the remarkable growth of the
motor innovation, a remarkable departure seriously challenging
the empire of the horse in the field of agriculture,
and destined to revolutionize our system of tillage, is found
in the Ivel Agricultural Motor. This novel invention and
application of the portable petrol motor, though it has been
designed mainly for farm work to haul ploughs, cultivators,
reapers, and all the field implements, as well as to actuate
the machinery of the rick-yard and the barn, we propose to
harness to the various labour-saving devices of the peat
moor and the peat factory, and also to utilize it as a
force for the traction of the broad-wheeled waggons over
the surface of the moss and on the road. We are second to
none in our love of the horse, in our appreciation of
his usefulness, and in our admiration of his picturesque
symmetry and beauty; we regret his decadence, but we are
reluctantly compelled to put sentiment on one side arid to
accept the inevitable. Agriculture cannot be conducted
on sentimental lines. Successful farming in our fickle
and often "juicy" climate means the carrying out of
field operations in the shortest possible space of time,
and this is doubly true when a sponge-like material such
as peat, stubborn in its retention of moisture, has to be
dealt with. Save on the best drained and most consolidated
bogs horses, even when their feet are armed with
pattens or broad boots, are useless, or at least over-taxed.
To plough an acre of land the horse has to traverse fourteen
miles, and with such a surface to plod over the
work, always slow — the man at the tail of the implement,
to save his own legs, sees carefully to that — is
slower still. On heavy land with most teams half an
acre to three-quarters of an acre in a day is about all
that the modern ploughman gets over. It is true that the
motor requires occasional repairs, and that there is not so
much difference in the upkeep as the Car and other journals
devoted to this industry would have us believe; it is a
fact also that the agricultural tractor has sometimes, like
the horse, to go into hospital; but no "spares" are required,
there are no epidemics of influenza or pink-eye;
and when the cost and amount of work got through are
compared, to say nothing of the quality and reliability, the
machine is, from a commercial point of view, much to be
preferred. The initial expenditure is a serious item, but
then the equipment of a farm with suitable horse-power
must always be provided for. If the motor falls lame
it can be restored to absolute soundness, it does not suffer
from musty oats or mow-burnt hay, it is not pricked in
the shoeing, it does not suffer from gripes or inflammatory
attacks; it is, if kept in proper repair, always ready
for continuous work in all weathers, and need never be
idle; when idle it needs no corn and no attendance. The
tractor here depicted at rest and at work is supplied
with a 14 H.P., governed, double-cylinder motor of a
special construction. The machine complete weighs 28
cwt., this weight being distributed over three wide tyred
wheels. Although this weight makes little impression
on ordinary land, the wheels, the steering one in front
in particular, should be wider in the rim and boxed in
when the surface to be worked over is of such a yielding
nature as peat; the grips also with advantage might
be deeper. Detachable rubber pads are supplied to the
wheels, and these, or an extension of them, might prove
useful on soft land. Extra road wheels might be provided.
This illustration is not one of an ideal trial trip, for the
invention has been put to numerous severe continuous
tests in the presence of practical farmers, and has done
excellent work in the field at harvest time. This tireless
instrument, the "shadow before" of the type of the future
all-round cultivator and handy general-purpose machine,
has done excellent work at a speed beyond compare. It
works with perfect accuracy. A pair of horses, costing
say £80, will average an acre a day in the plough, whereas
this 14 H.P. motor costs £300, and will do the work of
at least eight of the best Shires, Clydes, or Suffolks that
ever trod a furrow or wore a collar. This price in the
face of possible and probable opposition, must come down.
This agricultural motor ploughed 11 acres 1 rood and
13 poles of wet land in 17 hours 28 minutes, using 251
gallons of petrol, the cost including lubricant, men's time,
etc., being 5s. per acre. It finished cutting 19 acres of
wheat in 10 hours at a cost of 1s. 9d. per acre, and cut
three acres of grass in 1 hour 33 minutes at the same
cost. It is impossible to get corn cut with a binder
under 5s. an acre. Unfortunately, in the absence of
detailed statistics, it is impossible to contrast the cost
of upkeep of agricultural motors with that of the horse
team. Some interesting and useful information from a
general purpose point of view has been supplied by Mr.
F. Johnson of Clapham, who, since he abandoned horse
traction for the motor, has kept an accurate and detailed
account of every item of expenditure in the upkeep
and running of his cars. The results of 23 months'
almost daily work of his 7 H.P. car show that with a
record of 15,306 miles the total cost per mile, including
petrol, repairs, lubrication and wages, works out at 4·93
pence. The average monthly mileage was 665½, and the
average total cost per month £13 5s. 6d. Against this
the estimated cost of the same work with horses is put
down at £29 per month, or 10·47 pence per mile.¹
¹ The Metropolitan and other omnibus companies are now rapidly turning
their attention to the double-decker motor omnibuses. The omnibus mare
and the cab horse will soon be extinct as the dodo.
The harrow, as already mentioned, is largely employed
in both North Germany and Canada to break up the
surface beat bogs to the depth of two or three inches,
the broken-up stuff being left to dry and then gathered,
generally by hand rakes, into windrows preparatory to
being conveyed to the factory or stacked for future use.
The disc plough has of late years also been an implement
much used on mosses, and with good effect. A great
improvement on the ordinary pattern is found in that
new and distinct application of this revolving cultivator,
the Spalding-Robbins Disc Plough, which is held in high
esteem in the United States and in our Colonies, and
which, ere long, is destined to supplant the old types in
this "the base of all industry — ploughing," the most
extensive industry of the earth, costing more time, labour,
and money than any other avocation. Where the ground
to be operated on is, as in the case of peat, of a distinctly
fibrous nature the downward, advancing, circular, sliding
sweep of the heavily-weighted revolving steel disc, so set
that by the friction it is self-sharpening, is the most
perfect system for severing this peculiar vegetable substance.
It has been found to work admirably in Alfalfa
(Lucerne), Salt grass, and in such obstructions as Buckthorn
and Greasewood roots. Practically unbreakable,
it has all the advantages of the "stump-jump plough,"
for what roots it cannot cut through it rides or rolls over.
It works to a depth of 9 inches, cutting and turning
a perfect furrow, throwing up the soil in such a manner
that it can dry or freeze in a short time. By cross-ploughing
the fibrous peat becomes thoroughly cut up
and disintegrated. The implement can be worked by
any ordinary farm hand, it turns a perfect square corner
without touching a lever, and requires one-third less
traction than the ordinary horse plough. A Californian
estate owner certifies that he ploughed 1800 acres of soft
peat land, averaging fourteen to fifteen acres daily, and
that the discs lost only an eighth of an inch in wear.
Another large farming concern, The Holt Manufacturing
Company, using traction engines, ploughed 4000 acres
with this implement in one season, some of the land
being so hard that no ordinary horse plough could touch
it, averaging 20 to 40 acres a day. In stripping and
uncovering the surface of a moss, a necessity before
tramways can be laid down and operations commenced,
the disc plough is specially useful, for it cuts up the
sterns and roots of the ling, the coarse water plants,
and the top growth generally. On the Welland bog in
Canada the cost of this operation by ordinary means
was 30s. an acre. In California the Spalding-Robbins
plough breaks up alfalfa sod at a cost of 3s. an acre.
Our firm impression is that when the merits of the disc
come to be known by our farmers, at home and in the
Colonies, the mould board and share plough will disappear.

Reprinted from the Journal of the Society of Chemical Industry,
30 June, 1894.
IT is with very great reluctance that I venture to approach
the subject of peat treatment in face of the
strong prejudice which exists against any method for its
profitable utilization; moreover, geologists and botanists
having after careful research ignored its usefulness, it
remains for the chemist to determine whether it can be
turned to profitable account; hence with this object in
view I have recently visited Ireland and, supported by
considerate Government influence, have inspected the
principal peat districts, procured reliable samples, and I
propose to place before you as precisely as I can the
result of my experiments.
Although peat has been known so long ago as B.C., it
is only lately that it has excited a certain interest, it
having been brought before your notice in very able
addresses by two of your presidents: in 1889 by Mr.
Ludwig Mond, and in 1892 by Professor Emerson
Reynolds; and I think that as our Society has for its
main object the furtherance and development of chemical
industry in the United Kingdom, a few remarks on the
development of the distillation of peat may interest you.
Before showing how peat could be treated, I will explain
what it really is. Generally, opinions as to the origin of
peat are diverse. First, that peat is mainly received by
the decay of forests; and this view is supported by Mr. H.
O'Hara in his paper read before the Royal Dublin Society
in 1864. He says that abundant proofs exist that peat
bogs in Ireland are mainly formed from forests, and that
formerly Ireland was one vast forest. In times of warfare
broad tracts were cleared to facilitate military operations,
and extensive woods were consumed by fire. Immense
quantities of timber were likewise consumed by the forges
and iron furnaces, which at various times were in a state of
great activity. The remains of these ancient bloomaries
which are found in the counties of Antrim, Leitrim,
Roscommon, Sligo, Tyrone, Killarney, Carlow, Tipperary,
Limerick, Kerry, and Cork prove that smelting of iron
was very generally known in Ireland previous to the exhaustion
of wood.
The destruction of the forests caused a considerable
change in the climate, and a still greater change in the
soil; indeed, the most remarkable fact has been the conversion
of nearly one-seventh of Ireland into a swamp. This
results from the greater exposure of the surface of the land
to the moist winds of the Atlantic, which are highly favourable
to the growth of a species of moss known as Sphagnum
Palustre. This moss thrives only in exposed situations, and
so favourable is the condition of Ireland to its propagation
that if the existing arable and pasture lands which have
a south-westerly exposure were abandoned to nature most of
them would be covered by peat moss to a depth of several
inches* in the course of a century.
Captain Portlock, in his account of the survey of Londonderry,
is of opinion that sphagnum is acted upon by the
superabundant moisture of the climate in inducing the
formation, and this opinion is supported by Mr. Aher, who
shows that trees are found generally six or seven feet above
the bogs, standing as they grew, conclusively proving the
foundation of peat to have been prior to the growth of the
trees, a fact which, in relation to firs, may be verified in
every bog in the parish of Donegal, where turf exists from
threeto five feet underlying the layer of such trees.
* Query — feet. Author.
Further, Messrs. Nimeno and Griffiths in their bog report
are of opinion that the strong resemblance to ancient watercourses
of the valleys and basins which now contain the
bog, and the accumulation of marl and shells at the bottom
of the moss naturally suggest the idea of shallow lakes.
Such lakes may have originated in natural inequalities of
the ground, or been formed by the choking up of channels
of transit by heaps of clay and gravel, or they may have
been reduced to a condition of shallowness by the gradual
wearing away of the obstacles which had blocked up and
retained their water at a higher level. In all such cases the
origin and formation of bogs would be as follows: A shallow
pool induces and favours the vegetation of aquatic plants,
which gradually creep in from the borders towards the
deeper centre, mud accumulates around their roots and
stocks in a spongy semi-fluid mass specially conducive to
the growth of moss, which latter, particularly sphagnum,
begins to luxuriate, thus absorbing a large quantity of
water and tending to shoot out new plants above, while
the old ones are decaying, pressing the lower ones into
a solid substance, and gradually replacing the water by
a mass of vegetable matter. In this manner a marsh might
be filled up, while the centre moisture portion, continuing to
excite a more rapid growth of the moss, would gradually
rise above the edges until the whole surface had attained an
elevation sufficient to discharge the surface water by existing
channels. Springs existing under the bog would raise
the surface so high as to cause it to flow over the retaining
obstacle and flood the adjacent country.
The last theory as to the formation of bog from sphagnum
only, I think, is the most interesting, and this is corroborated
by the experiments made by Mr. Joseph Boehm in
the year 1875 about the fermentation of marsh and aquatic
plants. He investigated the character of a large number of
different plants, and has come to the following conclusion:
Firstly, that a large number of marsh plants — for example,
Berula Augustifolia, Nasturum Officinale, etc. — if under
water for any considerable time undergo a process of fermentation.
Secondly, that aquatic plants and a large
number of the marsh plants develop marsh gas. Thirdly,
that the development of marsh gas from the decaying plants
must be taken as a consequent result. This fermentation
arises from yet unknown bacilli, which are very sensitive to
high temperatures. Fourthly, the destruction of the cellulose
of the plants by fermentation could be explained by the
formation from one part of cellulose of three parts of
carbonic acid and three parts of marsh gas:
C6H12O6 = 3CO2 + 3CH4
By this experiment the amount of carbonic acid has
been less than it should be under the formula, and this
is accounted for by the presence of ammonia with which a
portion of the carbonic acid is combined, and lastly, and
most important, that by a prolonged continuation of such
fermentation a certain amount of turf is formed. Mr.
Fremy in 1879, in Comptes Rendus XXI., has expressed
the opinion that plants have been first transformed into
peat, and afterwards into coal, and that this process of
transformation is the result of fermentation. I think that
only upon this theory of the formation of peat from plants
belonging to the family of sphagnum could be explained
such facts as are known about the renovating of peat
bogs. Already about 150 years ago, the Earl of Cromarty
demonstrated that moss could be renovated if the bogs
were cut down to the bottom and the moss peat from
above filled in again, when in the course of years the
bog will grow up again. Mr. De Luc who has had a
very great experience at the beginning of this century
in the surveying of peat bogs all over Europe has
expressed his full belief in the possibility of growing up
peat bogs in a comparatively short space of time.
Mr. Waggemann, in 1828, made experiments in the artificial
production of peat from the plants of sphagnum, which
he placed in brick tanks three feet high, filled with water,
and carefully covered, leaving them to undergo fermentation,
which resulted in dark brown peat the following
As it is shown by the Table I., the area of the bogs
which are spread over Ireland amounts to 2,830,000
acres. Of this quantity 1,816,642 acres lie in the
mountains and hilly districts near the coast, and the
remaining acres, viz, 1,013,358 extend across the great
limestone plain, and contain almost an inexhaustible supply
of peat.
In the Table I, I have shown that the chief bogs are
sufficiently high above the level of the nearest rivers and
lakes, and therefore they could easily be drained.
One fourth of the entire superficial extent of Ireland
between a line drawn from Wicklow Head to Galway, and
another line drawn from Horoth Head to Sligo, comprised
within it about six sevenths of the bogs of Ireland,
exclusive of mountain bogs and bogs less than 500 acres.
This division of Ireland from east to west is traversed
by the river Shannon from north to south, and were the
bogs to be divided into 20 parts, 17 of them would be
found between those lines, 12 parts west of the Shannon,
5 east of the Shannon, and of the remaining three parts,
two are south, and one north of the division.
If we take the average depth of the bogs of 20 feet,
which, according to the Table III., contains in the average
6·94 lbs. per cubic feet, we will find that each
acre contains 2,700 tons or about 7,440,000,000 tons
of very dry peat is on the bogs of Ireland.
Professor Reynolds is of opinion that the stores of
peat are only an asset which may become valuable when
the coal beds have been exhausted after 170 years. But
certainly it is in the interest of the owners of the bogs,
and all the Irish people to anticipate the consequent
benefit, before the expiration of such period. It is also
a matter of very great importance to the prosperity of
that country to utilize so serious an amount of waste
We find that the British Government turned its attention
to this question at the commencement of this century,
a special commission of surveyors having been appointed,
and about £50,000 spent in surveying and preparing
plans of the Irish peat bogs. I do not know for what
reasons, but the further investigation was abandoned, and
no practical result obtained from the very valuable reports
and maps now quiescent in the Government archives.
I show here five sections of beat bogs taken by the
Commissioners appointed by the English Government; the
first representing a section of turf bank exhibiting marl
on bog. As is seen from the drawing, in the centre
of the bog there is a layer of marl, the bottom being
limestone gravel. The next represents marl on the surface
of the bog with the root of a fir tree well preserved.
The third represents a section of two growths of trees
on bog. The fourth a section of a renovated pit, showing
from the other side the method of cutting drains. Regarding
renovating pits, sometimes old pits and turf hill are
found filled with a new growth of moss, the surface
appearing to have been sunk in the centre on being
deprived of its water. This new growth consists of some
of the varieties of the hipnum and sphagnum, and seems
perfectly distinct from the original formation with which
it is in contact, and in some eases is not even the same
variety of plant. No part of this new formation has
yet undergone the process of decomposition, or even far
advanced towards a state of decay. There are other
pits in which the process of renovation appears to be
going on, where the tender fibres of the conferva are
spreading like a green film on the surface of the stagnant
water. This, by interweaving with other aquatic plants
may form a receptacle for the deposition of the light
seeds or mosses which are blown about in abundance
at the shedding season.
Figure 5 is a section of turf bank representing three
distinct growth of trees. This bog is 12 feet high, and
the lowest part represents the roots of trees based on
limestone gravel. Above these roots is about 4 feet of
compact black peat or strong turf. This constitutes the
best and most durable fuel, is very hard, and has a
high specific gravity. Above this black peat you will
see roots of fir trees again well preserved. Beyond these
we have another 4 feet deep blackish peat or turf, and,
further, roots of young fir trees, on the surface of which
exists a layer of moss grasses. The fir roots and trunks
possess a high degree of inflammability from the resin
they contain, and when dried are used by the peasants
in place of candles.
The question presents itself is peat advantageously
convertible for industrial purposes? If we turn our
attention to the development and use of peat in Europe,
we discover that it is used in very great quantities in
different industries. Already in 1856 in Germany the
Aldenburg Iron Company was established and has consumed
not less than 20,000 tons of peat per year, and
notwithstanding coal existed in the immediate neighbourhood,
and very profitable results followed. Not far from
the works of this company, in 1873, another company
was established for steel manufacture by means of peat
charcoal. Further, we find that in 1890, 27 glass
works in Germany used peat fuel, one ton of glass consuming
eight tons of peat. A Mr. Peach at Berlin
said that one ton of ready-made bottles (1600 ordinary
wine bottles) required only 2½ tons of peat dried in
the air; or if we take 1000 sods of peat as equal
to 3½ tons, we find that one ton of bottles required
700 sods. A glass-melting stove, with eight pots, having
a charge of 400 kilos. each, consumed 4½ tons of peat
per day. In Bavaria about 60,000 tons of peat are
used annually as fuel for railway locomotives.
In the report prepared by the Russian Government
for the Exhibition of 1893 at Chicago, certain figures
are given about the utilization of peat for different manufacturing
purposes; and we find for 1890 the following
industries have used peat as fuel, viz., the cotton manufacturers
have consumed 537,000 tons; sugar manufacturers,
alcohol manufacturers, confectioners, flour mills, and macaroni
manufacturers, 70,000 tons; chemical manufacturers,
5000 tons; candle, tallow, and leather manufacturers,
4000 tons; wood-workers, 1000 tons; metal manufacturers,
60,000 tons; glass manufacturers, 80,000 tons;
paper manufacturers, 12,000 tons; miscellaneous manufacturers,
2000 tons; aggregating approximately, 772,000
tons. In addition, the Oural mines used 60,000 tons
and the railway companies 15,000 tons, with prospectively
an increased demand, proving conclusively the value of
peat as fuel.
The use of peat for moss litter has greatly increased
both in England and on the Continent during the last
few years, and forms a most important branch of the
industry. It is also largely used in Russia and on the
Continent for earth closets and other sanitary purposes, for
which, from its antiseptic properties, it is especially suited.
These properties are also utilized for the preservation of
fish, meat, and eggs in transit, and its non-conducting properties
have rendered it useful for the preservation of ice.
Lately attention has been paid to the utilization of the
fibres of the top peat for making paper-pulp, felt soles, and
in substitution for shoddy in the manufacture of horse-clothing
and other cheap cloths.
Professor Reynolds in his paper showed that peat
in its ordinary condition is a very bulky fuel, occupying
more than five times the space of an equal weight of
coal; that it contains from 15 to 25 per cent. of water
and seldom less than 10 per cent. of ash, and that
at least 2½ lb. of Irish peat is required to perform
the same work as 1 lb. of Staffordshire coal in an
ordinary fireplace or furnace. All these disadvantages
could be easily removed by more careful treatment of
the peat itself. Reduction of the bulk and the removal
of the water could be done by partial carbonization.
Carbonization of peat is a very old question, and generally
speaking can be described under the following
First, carbonization in heaps.
Second, in closed ovens of brick and iron in which the
peat is lighted, and after it has sufficiently formed a good
flame the oven is closed, air excluded, and the carbonization
goes on.
Third, the carbonization in closed retorts heated from
the outside.
Fourth, carbonization by superheated steam.
Fifth, carbonization by burnt and consumed gases.
First, carbonization by heaps. As early as 1712 Mr.
Carlowitz in his Sylviacultura Economica proposed to
carbonize peat in heaps, but no important steps appear
to have been taken until 1836, when Mr. Schmidt introduced
it into the Bavarian State iron manufactories. This
method was to pile up heaps of 2500 cubic feet capacity;
the quantity of peat carbonized was stated to be 13½
tons, and the amount of peat charcoal obtained 3 tons
8 cwt., or 25·2 per cent. The carbonization of such
heaps and the cooling down required about 12 to 14
Second, in closed ovens. The oldest and best known
oven has been constructed by Mr. Lange in 1745. As
it is seen from the drawing, this oven consists of a square
foundation (a a) on which an iron plate (b b) is placed,
in which (b) a square hole of 15 inches is made; (c) is the
grate, which is closed by a door. On the plate is based
an iron cylinder (d), above (d) a second one (e), and
above (e) a conical stone ( f ) is placed with an opening
(g) 16 inches diameter.
In 1767 an oven of new construction was built on a
round foundation of 17 feet diameter, and from 2 to 4 feet
high, on which has been placed a round brick cupola of 16
feet exterior diameter, and 4 feet thickness. In the centre
of this cupola a cylinder of 6 inches diameter has been
built up filled with sand and ashes. At a height of 13
feet, the oven finishes with an opening of 4 feet diameter.
Both ovens, however, proved a failure. The peat lying
above crushed down the charcoal formed below it, and
to avoid this Mr. Hahnemann proposed the following construction
as seen by the drawing. A round cupola of 16
feet high and 7 feet diameter, with a thickness of the walls
of 2 feet at the bottom and 10 inches at the top, on the
foundation the grate (f) is placed, and connected with an
opening (k) for taking out the charcoal. At the commencement
of the charring, the opening (k) is closed, and
the cupola is filled up with peat and fired from the top.
When the peat has commenced to burn sufficiently, then
the top of the opening of the cupola (a b) is closed,
and thereby the gases produced are bound to pass down
through the mass of the peat and through the opening (f)
and pipe (g) through the retorts. The products of this
distillation are condensed in the condenser. When the
fire in the cupola has come down nearer to the opening
(f) all the openings are closed and the stove is left to
cool down.
On the same principle is based the stove of Moreau,
Père and Fils, a model of which has been exhibited in
the Paris Industry Exhibition in the year 1855. This
apparatus consists of a cylinder of sheet iron eight feet in
diameter and the same height, such stove carbonizing in
24 hours three tons, and producing 40 per cent. of charcoal.
In 1851 a special process was invented by Mr. Reece, in
which process the British Government took very great
interest, and appointed a special commission to investigate
with a view to establishing profitable peat industries in
Ireland, and the Irish Peat Co. was then formed. A
site was chosen in the North of Ireland, called Kilberry,
about four miles from the town of Athy in connection with
the Carlo branch of the Great Southern and Western
Railway, while on the other side runs the navigable river
Barrow and the canal to Dublin and Waterford. 500
acres of very excellent bog land were taken on a lease for
100 years at a rent of 5s. per acre. Mr. Scanlon, chemist,
was sent by the Company to make experiments. He
commenced working the furnaces at low temperature, and
distilling the products by steam. From the information
supplied by the Company it seems that from 100 tons of
peat were received —
1 ton of sulphate of ammonia - £12 0 0
¾ ton of acetate of lime - - 9 10 0
50 gallons of naphtha - - 12 10 0
300 lbs. of paraffin - - - 15 0 0
300 gallons of volatile oils - 15 0 0
£64 0 0
these being current value at the time. Cost of production
of peat, acids, labour, etc., £32.
The last practical attempts, so far as I know, were made
in the year 1880. A company was formed in the name of
the West of England Compressed Peat Co., which constructed
12 ovens for making peat charcoal at Rattlebrook on
the slope of one of the highest hills of Dartmoor, nearly
2,000 feet high. The process which was adopted by this
company was the invention of Mr. Kidd. The principle of
his invention was the introduction of a jet of superheated
steam, but nothing came of the scheme. The Duke of
Sutherland was the first to take up Kidd's process, and
in 1874 an experimental plant was erected on his estate in
Sutherlandshire. The peat here is of very dense quality
like the Dartmoor peat, and contains a large amount of
From this short description of the processes introduced
for the utilization of peat in one way or the other, it will be
seen that most of the inventors have only had one end in
view, whereas to gain a real practical success we must
work in the same sensible manner as we do with all other
products. Most of the inventors have striven to produce
only peat-charcoal, not taking notice of by-products which
could be and should be received in course of charring, or
they have concentrated their attention on the by-products
without regard to the charcoal.
In my investigation I have first tried to avoid all the
conditions under which any of the constituent parts of the
peat would be destroyed. I have applied in this the same
principle as I have adopted in the destructive gasification of
oil and of coal. This means using a very low temperature,
and gasifying in the presence of an inert gas which could
not have any chemical influence on the substances received,
but which would have the mechanical effect of extracting all
the by-products and leaving only pure charcoal in the retorts.
The apparatus with which I propose to treat the peat
consists, as you will see from the drawing, of two or more
chambers or retorts, in which the peat is placed. The
chambers or retorts are heated externally by generator gas
from a furnace (d). The inside of the retorts or chambers
is heated by water gas produced in a furnace (k) and
passing to the upper parts of such retorts. This water gas,
which is admitted into the retorts at a temperature above
the initial heat of the interior of the retorts, mingles with
the matter under treatment, and rapidly separates the
volatile constituents, which are conveyed from the passage
(m) through the pipe (o) and then into the condensers in
which the liquid by-products are condensed.
From Barrow-in-Furness.
The charcoal contains 4·23 per cent. of ash. The liquor
contains an average of 5·89 per cent. of tar, and 35·7 per
cent. of water solution. The specific gravity of the liquor
is 1·0135. 100 cc. of the solution contains 0·2344 grms.
of ammonia and 2·16 grms. of acetic acid.
From the Table II., which is a result of 13 analyses made
by my assistant Dr. Fuerst (to whom I now take the
opportunity of expressing my thanks) I have received such
A. — Peat from the Estate of the Earl of Longford, Killucan, Ireland.
B. — Peat from the Estate of Mr. Atkins, Dunmanway, Ireland.
C. — Distillation of Peat A. and B. Calculated on Dry Peat.
results as applied in practical form will give the possibility
of developing a large chemical industry in Ireland. The
peat used for this analysis was sent down to me from
Barrow-in-Furness, and was sufficiently dry. But to obtain
a fairer sample and a practical knowledge of the peat bogs
themselves I made a special journey to Ireland in April
last, and after careful investigations took samples representing
both lowland and mountain bogs. The first range of
samples which I took (lowland) were from the estate of the
Earl of Longford. This estate is situated at Killucan, with
the Royal Canal on one side and the railway on the other,
and contains about 11,683 acres, which mostly consist of
peat bogs. On this estate are about 340 tenants, who cut
the peat for fuel, and afterwards reclaim the land. I also
take here the opportunity of thanking the manager of this
estate, Colonel Clark, for his kindness in showing me such
a well conducted estate. He has been for 19 years fighting
hard with the object of reclaiming the peat land for agricultural
purposes with splendid results, of which he has
reason to be proud. From the view shown to you you will
see that a large number of trees have been planted by him
on the peat bogs. It is true that the work demanded a
large expenditure of energy, especially during the first years,
but the results are so satisfactory that I am sure the gallant
Colonel will never regret the pains taken, nor the owners
the expense. The trees on the sides of the bogs are doing
very well, but those planted in the centre do not thrive so
well, on account of the excess of moisture. The other
samples, which represent the mountain peat, were taken
from the estate of Mr. Atkins, at Dunmanway, County Cork.
This peat is much blacker than the peat from the North.
The difference between the top and the bottom peat is not
so great, and the top peat has not the elasticity which we
have seen in the case of Killucan. In such cases this peat
should be used for distillation purposes only, but when we
have the top parts light coloured, I think it would be more
practical to treat them separately and prepare from them
very valuable moss litter, leaving the lower layers for
From the results shown in the Table III. you will see
that I have taken care to have a fair sample of the peat bog
as it is. I have taken a section from the top to the bottom,
so that my analyses represents the real nature of the peat.
The higher strata has a lighter colour, which is chiefly due
to the fact that it is not sufficiently decomposed. The
main constituent of this top part is the real moss, which is
very elastic and like a sponge, having the quality of holding
a large amount of water, the most of which you could press
out by hand, after which the moss regains its original form
and volume. When dried in the air, or artificially, it does
not form hard lumps, but always remains soft and elastic.
The analysis shows that whereas the volume of the lower
layers has been reduced more than one half after drying,
the volume of the top has reduced very little. The lower
peat is generally very much decomposed, and after drying,
has not the property of reabsorption, whereas the top
section will absorb the same amount of water which they
previously contained. These results are in accordance with
those obtained by Professor Fleischer, the director of the
German official peat investigation station at Bremen.
As it is seen from the analysis, the difference between the
low land peat and mountain bogs is chiefly in the producing
of more charcoal. The quantity of other products is less
than in lowland bogs, and I think that is mainly due to the
physical condition of the top part of the bog. Whereas
the top part at Killucan is very porous and elastic, and
therefore the absorption of ammonia from the air is great,
the top part at Dunmanway's bogs do not differ from the
bottom part. But in the average the difference is very
The distillation of peat for by-products is not a new idea.
It was proposed long ago, but, unfortunately, for the reasons
already explained, the industry has not flourished. The
production of mineral oil and paraffin from peat was
established in 1889 in Brazil at Marahu. In the Journal of
the Society of Chemical industry there is an account of this
establishment, which was producing not less than 80 tons
per month of solid paraffin for candle-making. What is very
important for the practical establishment of such industry
is the treatment of peat before distillation.
The analysis shows that the peat as originally won contains
from 85 per cent. to 93 per cent. of water, which when
pressed out is found to contain in solution salt, and therefore
it is very important to squeeze out as much as possible,
as thereby the amount of ashes in the charcoal will be
reduced. We have certainly in the market a great many
different systems of compressing machines, and I am quite
sure that the English engineers will soon find out the best
means for compressing out this large amount of water at a
cheap price. Apart from this, special attention must be
paid to the drainage of peat bogs themselves. If the
peat bogs are not properly drained, as very often is the
case, the amount of work necessary for cutting and drying
is increased tremendously. At the same time you must
always bear in mind that in draining off the water it is
necessary to leave a sufficient amount to keep the lower
parts in a sufficiently spongy state. This, however, is not a
place to explain all the necessary conditions under which
peat bogs must be worked, nor have I gained sufficient
practical knowledge to warrant my advising upon the
best methods of cutting and drying. My researches have
been directed to the treatment of the industry from a
chemical point of view, and I certainly think there is something
to be done, and I am also sure that painstaking work
will show fresh means of treatment, and larger openings for
products obtained.
THE heading sufficiently indicates the scope of this paper,
limiting it strictly to the employment of peat as a fuel for
the purpose specified.
Professor Johnson, in his pamphlet on The Irish Peat
Question (1899), shows that, while freshly dug peat may
contain as much as 90, the air-dried turf will still have
from 15 to 30 per cent. of water; and, further on, expresses
the opinion that "ordinary air-dried turf has about half the
heating power of good coal."
Hausding, in his Industrielle Torfgewinnung (1887), states
that air-dried machine-made turf, with at most 10 per cent.
of ash, has two-thirds the heating power of superior coal,
whilst ordinary turves are equivalent to only one-third.
The general inference from all this is that, as a rough
assumption, the calorific value of ten tons of ordinary bog
stuff, as freshly dug, should at least equal that of one ton of
fairly good coal, and this equation, if accepted, will be useful
in dealing with the next point, viz.: —
First, as to the gross quantity of stuff available, we have
in Ireland, on the authority of Sir Robert Kane, an area of
about 2·8 millions of acres, varying in depth from 16 to 30
Professor Johnson observes, in reference to the depth of
bogs, that "while the average thickness of turf in Europe
is 9 to 20 feet, Ireland has beds as much as 40 feet thick,
the average being 25 feet." Without accurate surveys
and soundings no reliable calculation can be made on this
point; I therefore prefer, in our present state of information,
to take 15 feet as a conservative estimate of average
Taking the specific gravity of turf as that of water
(actual, 1·025), we find each acre has 18,231 tons of peat
stuff; or, applying our useful equation above, the equivalent
of 1823 tons of average coal in calorific value. This,
multiplied into 2·8 millions, gives a grand total for Ireland
equivalent to 5104 million tons of coal.
Is it, therefore, too sanguine to assume that one-half of
this quantity might be fairly counted on (or, say, 2500
millions) as available ultimately for steam-raising purposes?
We have it on the high authority of Sir Frederick
Bramwell, as the result of careful investigations made by
him, that old pattern steam engines all round may be
taken to have consumed 18 lbs. of coal per indicated horsepower
per hour, and allowing on an average 3000 hours'
work per annum, the total annual consumption would thus
have been about 24 tons.
But with more modern engines (e.g. Willans and Robinson's
Central Valve, Parsons' Turbines, and other high-class
engines) the thermal efficiency is vastly better than this,
and I think we may confidently take 2 tons of coal, or even
less, as the quantity required annually for an indicated
horse-power. On this basis we should thus have for an
annual output of
100,000 horse-power a life in the bogs of about 1250 years;
200,000 " " " 625 "
300,000 " " " 412 "
This necessarily entirely depends on the unknown factor
of horse-power likely to be developed annually, but for the
moment the above figures may furnish a rough indication.
If even approximately correct, the outlook, it must be
admitted, is not depressing.
England's outlook with the present output of coal is not
so good as this, but even here a further question arises as
to the reproductive or recuperative powers in bogs. As
observed by Professor Johnson, their growth in thickness
"is naturally dependent on the nature of the flora, and, in
some cases, the bogs increase in thickness each year five or
six inches; in others, not at all. This process of growth
must not be overlooked, especially in districts where peat
fuel is scarce, and it is necessary to make provision for a
renewal of the peat beds." Further on, "that a continual
production of peat may be confidently anticipated," and,
again, that it may be "considered sufficient to prepare a
plan for from 50 to 100 years, according to the extent of
the bog."
I find that other authorities are not so favourable as to
the possibilities of reproduction, and therefore without
labouring the subject further, I note it in this connection as
one worthy of discussion and special study, as in case reproduction
be at all feasible it must be manifest that the life
of the bogs as a fuel preserve would, under adequate
arrangements, be capable, like that of well-managed forests,
of indefinite extension. The bogs, as I maintain, are the
true gold-mines of Ireland, and, if reproducible, infinitely
more valuable than any inexhaustible supply of the precious
On this, which is probably the most important point, the
evidence at present available is inconclusive, as so much
depends on the locality selected for the generating centre,
the price of land, labour, etc.
As regards the acquirement of bog land, while possessing
but little knowledge of the subject, I may be permitted to
quote a letter, in which the writer observes: "A friend to
whom I wrote, told me that he had a bog of 8000 acres on
the Dublin-Cork Railway, which he would be very pleased
to let me have if I started the working of a process in
Ireland," adding "The Congested District Board for Scotland
are, I understand, prepared to view the matter favourably
in order to promote industries," and I think it may
confidently be assumed that in such a cause the Congested
District Board of Ireland will, on occasion arising, not be
found wanting in their support.
If, as stated by Mr. Ralph Richardson in his pamphlet
on Peat as a Substitute for Coal, peat fuel prepared by the
Schlickeysen process, costs in Prussia 6s. 6d., in Bohemia
6s. 9d., and in France only 6s., it surely would not be an
over sanguine estimate to assume that peat fuel, equal to
coal, could be produced for 7s. a ton on the spot in selected
positions in Ireland. We should thus have the equivalent
of good English coal to convert, in situ, into power, at less
than half the present price. My conviction is, that with
properly designed works and organization generally, the cost
could be reduced; but, even as it is, this, as will presently
be seen, would prove an inestimable boon to the country.
In this connection, it is needless to advert to what has
already, as a matter of common knowledge, been accomplished,
regarding the electrical lighting of cities and towns,
electrifying of tramways, etc., etc., these being hardly such
as to be classed as schemes for the generation of electrical
power in bulk, and "on tap" for general purposes, all over
a district, such as that which I venture to suggest as the
distinctive province of peat fuel, used in situ, though, of
course, such matters are incidentally included.
No less than thirteen power schemes have already
obtained Parliamentary authorization in the British Isles
within the last three or four years, and it is not too much
to assume that before another decade has passed there will
be hardly an existing industry anywhere which will not
be within reach of electrical energy, and able to apply it.
The Newcastle-upon-Tyne Electric Supply Company, Ltd.,
one of the first in the field, and which also, I believe, has
parented the very successful installation at Cork, has been
at work over two years, and has already achieved most
striking results. In connection with this, evidence was
lately given before a Parliamentary Committee by the great
firm of Armstrong & Co., that, as regards one of their
building yards on the Tyne, involving the use of 500 H.P.
steam engines, 40 per cent. would be saved by the substitution
of electrical power taken from this company.
With coal at 6s. to 7s. per ton, which is about the price
nearly everywhere available close to the pits, energy conveyed
at high tension (5,000 to 15,000 volts) and transformed
at subsidiary stations to direct current of sufficiently
low potentiality, can be supplied in bulk (500,000 units) at
prices ranging from 1 1/8d. to 1½d. per Board of Trade unit.
As the energy thus supplied comes more into general use, as
it is certain to do, and the "load factor" accordingly rises,
the price at which it can be offered to the public will no
doubt come down, but even as it is, power of this kind "on
tap" is so cheap, and easily applied, that nobody having any
work to do, from curling a lady's hair, to driving all the
machinery in Belfast, can possibly resist its attractions.
Yes! even tramway and railway boards, all employers of
labour, high or low, great or small, must in time bow the
knee to the Electric King!
This is a matter entirely dependent on section of the
copper wires, and the perfection of insulation of the cables,
now preferably placed underground for conveyance of high
potential currents; but already it is considered by good
authorities that the losses of transmission at present should
not exceed one per cent. per mile (some even claim only
one-fifth of this loss), and that this, trifling as it is, can be
further improved on in future.
Speaking very generally, however, generating centres are
taken to command an area of about sixteen miles radius,
with very little loss of energy; but forty or fifty miles
might easily prove economically feasible under favourable
conditions. In this connection, it may not be out of place
to mention that with quite a late installation, utilizing the
falls of the river Cauvery, in Mysore (S.India), for working
the well-known Colar Gold Fields, the energy has to be
transmitted at least ninety miles, and not long since, when
on a tour in America, the great Lord Kelvin is reported to
have expressed an opinion that eventually it might possibly
be found feasible to transmit the power generated at
Niagara, 400 miles, to New York.
Why should not Mayo, and other distant areas in Ireland,
thus one day, from their interminable and now useless wastes
of bog land, send out vivifying streams of power to the
farthest extremity of Ireland? The day cannot surely be
far distant when, with scientific advance, this, and much
more, will be achieved, and Ireland be placed in a position
to compete in all forms of industry with England and Scotland,
and any part of the world, for that matter.
The River Shannon Power Scheme, to which everyone
must wish success, now that it has obtained Parliamentary
sanction, may at first sight appear to refute the idea that
the water power of Ireland, which has, as is well known, a
strong hold on the popular imagination, would be incapable
if properly applied to do all, and more than all, that I claim
for the peat supplies available from the bogs.
It would be quite outside the scope of this short paper to
deal in detail with this matter; but I think a very slight
consideration of the enormous area drained by the Shannon
(4,500 square miles) as compared with the very small
results, only 10,000 horse-power, as aimed at by the
approved scheme, will, per se, suffice to create a doubt as to
the sufficiency of the power stored up in the other Irish
rivers, and available for use.
Setting aside the great cost and difficulties inseparable
from the buying out and acquirement of all vested interests,
etc., it must be borne in mind that in dealing with a waterpower
scheme the head works must, unlike those depending
on steam power (which may from very small beginnings be
added to from time to time as business comes in), be
designed ab initio for utilizing in each case the whole
volume of the stream or river. The total expense must, in
fact, be incurred at the outset on these, the most costly
portions of the works. Again, unless where any great
storage capacity be present, as, say, in the case of Lough
Neagh, provision must be made for auxiliary steam power,
in order to make suitable provision against the possible
effects of recurring droughts and shortage of water.
With undeveloped industries, my conviction is that (1)
there are only some very rare cases in Ireland in which, for
the above reasons, water can with advantage be made use of
for the economical generation of electricity, and (2) the
aggregate results as measured in horse-power resulting from
such schemes would be quite a bagatelle as compared with
what can be derived from the utilization of the bogs in the
way I propose. This, however, by no means excludes the
idea that some local schemes might prove remunerative, and
these certainly should not be neglected, or their development
Similarly, as regards other sources of power production,
the existing coalfields of Ireland, the tides, winds, etc.;
which, however, in no wise, to my mind, come in competition
with cheap peat fuel.
We are now fairly embarked on the electrical era, in
which every civilized nation, finding at hand a power
applicable to every form of human activity, is already
exercising its ingenuity to the utmost in turning to account
all the forces at its disposal for fighting the industrial
battle, and securing the spoils. Woe to the nation that
lags behind! Already it is to be feared that even England
and Scotland have been caught napping. "Mr. Pigeon the
Pie-man," and all the forces of Bumbledom in City Councils,
and, worst of all, in Parliament, have till quite lately
succeeded in clogging the wheels of industry, and especially
in impeding the free adaptation of electricity in the British
Isles. But, thank God! at last "Pie-man" and all other
municipal ignoramuses have substantially been defeated.
Parliament has at length began to rub its sleepy eyes, and
though as yet not wholly awake, it has conceded much.
Powers are now being granted, through the Companies above
adverted to, for generating and selling electrical energy in
bulk. Everywhere motor cars, previously compelled to
crawl, can now at last legally move at a moderate pace
along our high roads. With liberal views on the part of
the Board of Trade, the obstruction of municipalities is
giving way more and more. The day is breaking, even in
ultra-conservative England, and surely it is time that
Ireland should take part in this great awakening, now that,
as I firmly believe, she finds within her grasp a store of
power in her peat bogs unequalled in the world.
But, gentlemen, I am only too conscious that the adequate
treatment of this great subject is beyond my powers,
and that it should, properly speaking, have fallen into the
hands of one of the many learned and able scientific gentlemen
whom I see around me, and whom I can only now, in
all seriousness, ask to criticise what I have said in a
perfectly frank manner, being only too well aware of the
many points which must have escaped me in hastily compiling
this paper.
On concluding the reading of his paper, Sir Richard
Sankey stated that he had on the previous morning perused
the first Report, made in 1810 (on the reclamation of the
Bogs in Ireland), by his predecessor in the Board of Works,
Sir Richard Griffiths, when a young man, and found that
the attached plans, sections, etc., gave such details as would
enable an engineer now to frame a reliable scheme for
utilizing the bogs for the generation of electrical energy.
He found — to select a single example by way of illustration
— that, in dealing with that portion of the Bog of Allen
comprising the Lullymore, Timahoe, Monds, and Clane Bogs,
the maps showed their total area to amount to 36,430
acres (English), with depths, respectively, of 20, 25, 30, and
30 feet.
The cost of draining these for reclamation did not exceed
2s. per acre.
We have thus an average depth of bog stuff in this
locality nearly double that (15 feet) assumed in his paper
as probably available for electrical generation, and further,
that the cost of unwatering would be absurdly small.
The next point, Sir Richard Sankey went on to say,
which he wished to enforce, being the widely extending
limits for the transmission of electrical energy, and with
this object he read out the following observations from the
pen of Mr. Alton D. Adams, as published in the current
month's number of the well-known scientific journal, the
Engineering Magazine, viz.:
"For several years groups of transformers have been
worked regularly at 40,000 volts, notably those concerned
in the transmission of power from Prove to the Mercur
Mills, Utah, over a distance of thirty-five miles. More
recently transformers operating most of the time at 40,000
volts, but on one or two occasions at 60,000 volts, for which
they are ultimately intended, have been used in the transmission
from the Colgate power-house in Yuba county,
California, to San Francisco, a distance of 218 miles. Since
the early months of the present year, transformers have
been operating at 50,000 volts at Cañon Ferry and Butte,
Montana, for the purpose of an electrical transmission between
these points, a distance of seventy miles.
"In none of these instances, where transformers are
working at 40,000 to 60,000 volts, is there any indication
that the maximum limit of practicable voltage has been
reached. On the contrary, transformers have repeatedly
been worked experimentally up to and above 100,000
In this connection the following extract from a letter
from Mr. E. K. Carmichael, who,,jointly with Mr. Sahlström,
holds patents for the process bearing their names,
will, Sir Richard Sankey hopes, be found apposite:
"I think the fuel ought to be used as powder, which
would be practically smokeless, with perfect combustion.
Some years ago Professor Sahlström invented a process for
manufacturing carbonized peat and sawdust fuel in London,
which was the parent of our new process.
"The carbonized fuel was pulverized, and used in this
state by being blown into the furnace by an air jet.
"There has now come into use powdered coal as fuel in
the process of the Central Cyclone Co., for which they claim
from 20 per cent. to 25 per cent. higher efficiency than can
be obtained by the present method of stoking.
"I think this is a detail of some importance in carrying
out your proposal that the fuel can so conveniently be used
as powder, the state to which it has almost to be reduced in
carbonizing for the proper extraction and separation of the
bye-products, as it will not require to be in the form of
briquettes, which otherwise is necessary, as powdered fuel
cannot easily be carried.
"Again, where peat is used on a large scale, it should be
carbonized; not so much, in this case, to improve the fuel,
as it will not require to be carried far, in order that the
bye-products may not be wasted, they being all so useful
and valuable.
"Tar is, of course, the most valuable of these bye-products,
and in some notes of Professor Sahlström's I find
that from an average sample of sun-dried good Scotch peat,
on which he experimented, he extracted 9·085 per cent. of
tar, of which 18·678 per cent. was petroleum benzine,
20·165 per cent. lubricating oil, 3.318 per cent. solid
paraffin, and 20·459 per cent. was creosote and carbolic
acid, the remainder being pitch and waste. The pitch is
what we propose to use for briquetting, so that none of the
more valuable products of the tar might be wasted."
Sir Richard Sankey expressed his belief that some process,
owing to the use made of the waste gases in carbonizing
the bog stuff ((1) securing all the valuable bye-products,
and (2) making, without having to incur the expense of
forming, the fuel into briquettes), the stuff can be turned in
situ by a very simple process into fuel in the form of
powder, which will ensure automatic stoking, and with this
the most economical way of raising steam for the object in
I AM highly honoured by the invitation of the Department
of Agriculture and Technical Instruction for Ireland, and
I am very happy to have the opportunity of putting before
you some information as to my experience in Austria.
The large empire of Austro-Hungary shows a great variety
of economic conditions, and there are provinces which have
a great resemblance to Ireland in the physiognomy of the
surface of the soil, as well as in the combination of agriculture
and industry. Therefore, I may hope that what I
shall report and the hints I shall permit myself to give
you may be not without value.
I have been informed that you would like to become
acquainted with my opinions concerning the promotion of
handicraft trades and cottage industries; therefore, I shall
not, in this address, occupy myself with agriculture or the
great industries (fabrics), but shall endeavour to explain
what we have done, and what results we have obtained,
in relation to the small rural and urban industries and
trades during the last two or three decades, in Austria,
especially in localities where the conditions are similar
to those in Ireland.
On several occasions the rural industries have been the
object of public attention. The so-called "national or
traditional" cottage industries — an appellation sanctioned
officially by the International Statistical Congress of Budapest
in 1876 — are to be distinguished from the mechanical
factory industries, which have neither national nor traditional
root, and which are not closely connected with
any agricultural industry. It is, indeed, difficult to draw
the line between these two classes of industries, and in
many cases it is impossible to distinguish between rural
industries and trade industries. It is not, however, necessary
to determine these special circumstances, and it would
not be desirable to enter, here, into scientific considerations
bearing on the matter.
Agricultural, forestry, and industrial exhibitions might
always insert into their programme a special representation
for this particular form of production, the so-called rural,
domestic or cottage industry. Whenever such an opportunity
is offered these industries arouse universal interest,
and most sincere sympathy is given to the most deserving
class who carry on these industries. The experiment of
making use of exhibitions to bring before the public those
industries, which occupy the country people outside of their
main agricultural occupations, was attempted and worked
out several times, in Ireland as well as in Austria, always,
for a considerable period at least, with the same striking
These exhibitions offer to the intelligent visitor, who is
desirous of profiting thereby, a collective picture of the
rural and domestic industries then practised in the country,
a picture that is sure to be full of colour and variety.
Such a picture helps to draw the attention of the town
inhabitants to various little-known circumstances; and
monographic studies, which are written and edited in connection
with the exhibitions, are of even greater value.
Such a work was entrusted to my charge, and I had to
prepare an official handbook dealing with the Austrian
domestic industries, which were represented in a special
department of the Vienna Exhibition of 1891. This book,
The Domestic Industry in Austria, is a compilation of
descriptions of the most remarkable rural industries existing
in the provinces and countries of Austria; and the descriptions
contributed by various authors have been written
with great care and profound knowledge.
Just the same thing was done by the Irish Department
of Agriculture and Technical Instruction when it took part
in the Glasgow International Exhibition, 1901, by organizing
an Irish Pavilion. Mr. William P. Coyne and his
colleagues published an admirable book, which gives a
review of Ireland's chief economic resources. Everyone
who desires to get ample information on the art and cottage
industries of Ireland will find it in that handbook. A
splendid new edition of Ireland: Industrial and Agricultural,
was issued this year, which was, indeed, a very
useful book of reference for me.
Mr. T. W. Rolleston says in this book the principal
cottage industries of Ireland are hand weaving and spinning,
lace-making, hand-knitting, and embroidery. Of the
extent to which these cottage industries are practised no
accurate statistics are available. In many cases they are
carried on in spare hours as subsidiary occupations to
farming and household work. There can be no doubt,
however, that they are widely diffused over the country,
and add largely to the comfort of many hundreds of
families, especially in the poorer districts of the West of
Ireland. They are nowhere so much practised, or found
in such variety, as in County Donegal, which offers a kind
of microcosm of the cottage industries of Ireland.
It may surprise many, as it surprised me, to learn that
the hand loom and the spinning wheel are still capable of
holding their own against steam machinery in any quarter
of the United Kingdom: but such is the case in some
districts. Hand-spun and hand-woven cloths, dyed with
the lichens and plants, which the Irish peasant has understood
how to use from time immemorial, is not only a
peculiarly comfortable material to wear, but has, also, a
certain artistic character of its own, possessing a distinct
market value, which is so well recognized in the trade.
The result is that attempts, more or less unsuccessful, are
constantly made to imitate by machinery the effect of
genuine home spinning; and power-loom cloths are sometimes
even impregnated with peat smoke, in order to
heighten the illusion that they have been produced in a
peasant's cottage. I speak, here, of woollen goods chiefly,
for in linen goods the power loom has practically supplanted
the hand loom, save as regards the very finest cambrics, while
the linen-spinning wheel has entirely disappeared from
Ireland, though in France it is still in use for the production
of yarns whose delicacy no existing agency of a
purely mechanical kind can approach. But hand weaving
and spinning in wool still hold their ground in Donegal,
Connemara, Kerry, and a few other districts, where there is
mountain grazing for a hardy breed of sheep, and where
there is much superfluous labour during the winter months,
as well as a hereditary aptitude for dealing with wool. It
is principally in County Donegal that we find home-spun
cloth produced, not merely for local use, but for sale outside
the district — the local dealers having agents in the principal
cities of Great Britain and Ireland.
The technical details of the industry are not only
interesting in themselves, but are worthy of observation as
exhibiting the germs of the whole textile industry, which,
under the influence of steam power and the Jacquard loom,
has attained such mighty proportions. The remarks which
I have made on the Irish woollen cottage industry are true,
with a few modifications only, of the Austrian woollen
hand-loom weaving industry.
The Irish linen industry has a higher importance, compared
with the rest of Austrian cottage industries treated of
in this article, for the manufacture of linen is undoubtedly,
after agriculture, the most important industry in Ireland,
although it is practically confined to the north-eastern
corner of the country. The growth of the trade is shown
by the fact that Belfast, the headquarters of this industry,
has grown from a small town of 8000 inhabitants, in 1757,
into a great city, with an estimated population of 350,000.
It is well known that Louis Crommelin, one of the
Huguenot refugees, who was induced by William III. to
emigrate to Ireland, is considered the real founder of this
industry. He was appointed overseer of the "Royal linen
manufacture of Ireland." The distribution of Parliamentary
grants, which varied from £10,000 to £33,000 a year,
must not be forgotten. The extent of the linen manufacture
in Ireland is indicated for the years 1899, 1900,
1901, by the fact that the number of spindles employed
was 835,100, and the number of looms 31,484. Most of
the flax used now is imported, though formerly a very large
quantity was produced in Ireland. The Department of
Agriculture and Technical Instruction for Ireland is conducting
experiments as to the kind of soil and the manures
best suited for the flax plant. The history of Irish linen
industry is a good example of how to create, to develop, to
protect, and to maintain an industry.
The French and Hungarian silk production would not
have reached their present importance without the aid of
the Government, and the Austrian silk production in the
southern districts of Tyrol will very soon disappear, because
the indispensable aid has not been granted. There are cases
in which protection and help are needed, and ought to be
The highest interest is directed and reserved to those
branches of the textile industry, in which the artistic taste
is prominent, as it is the case in lace-making and embroidery.

The growth of lace-making can, in Ireland, be distinctly
traced from its origin in embroidered linen, at the beginning
of the sixteenth century. At the Cork Exhibition in 1883
special notice was given to the excellence of the work, as
far as the use of the needle was concerned; but it was
found to be combined with poverty of design and very bad
Mr. James Brenan and Mr. Alan Cole made, in 1884,
the first effort to improve the character of the design, and
the quality of drawing. A great and ruling principle was
laid down, namely, that it is absolutely impossible for any
student, no matter how clever he may be, to make successful
designs, without fully comprehending the limitations
of the material in which the design is to be carried out.
The efforts to develop the lace industry from 1883 have
been very successful — all known schemes of protecting this
industry have been employed — and the revival of Irish
lace-making is of such a nature as to lead to permanent
results if the intelligent supervision be maintained.
I agree with Mr. James Brenan in thinking that the
existing lace centres in Ireland are quite adequate to supply
the present demand for hand-made lace; but the hand-made
article need never expect to keep its place in the market
unless it can prove its superiority to the machine-made
With twenty-three co-operative societies of lace workers,
sixteen successful schools under the Congested Districts
Board, and large numbers of unorganized workers, furnishing
an abundant supply, and the Lace Depôt and other
agencies opening the way to the market, the prospects of
the lace industry in Ireland are decidedly hopeful. The
following figures show the growth of the sales in recent
years: — 1895, £4,230; 1897, 16,904; 1899, £11,130;
1900, £23,149.
Hand knitting, in spite of the growing severity of the
competition of the knitting-machine, is still widely spread
over the country, and is the means of bringing in earnings
great in bulk if small from the point of view of the
individual worker. There are important centres of this
industry in County Donegal. The Arran industry, in
County Mayo, turns out beautiful specimens of hand knitting,
and in other places, also, it is practised with a
success which is, in no small degree, due to the market
provided by the depots, and sales of the Irish Industries
Hand embroidery in the more artistic developments,
fortunately, is still incapable of satisfactory imitation by
machinery, and must rank in Ireland as a very considerable,
and by no means decaying industry. The so-called Swiss
embroidery has, no doubt, largely killed some of the cheaper
and poorer forms of white embroidery (or "sprigging"), but
the better forms have shared in the benefit of the reviving
taste for genuine hand work in industrial art; and more
exquisite work in colour, than that which is produced in
obedience to a large and steady demand, by the Royal
School of Art Needlework, in Dublin, or the Garryhill,
Turbotstown, Dalkey, or Kenmare industries, would be
difficult to produce from any period of European art
The white embroidery and drawn-work, produced for
the large Belfast firms, is also of most admirable quality
in design and execution.
In the whole department of Irish art-work, it may
safely be said that nothing approaching it for excellence
is to be found anywhere else in the United Kingdom,
and not very much even in France or Belgium.
In Austria the administrator of public instruction
(Ministry of Cult and Instruction) organized a great
number of schools and ateliers for the promotion of the
various branches of the textile industry. The Austrian
weaving schools are intended to give instruction to young
men who wish to be engaged in textile establishments.
The hand loom is more and more displaced by the power
loom, and the cottage weaving industry is absorbed by
the great power loom manufactories. Our schools help
and facilitate the transformation of the old hand loom
practice into the modern system of fabrication. It would
be useless to resist such an irresistible development. Of
over thirty weaving schools only four are limited to instruction
in hand-loom weaving. But our weaving schools
render service to the poor weaving districts, where the
cottage industry is still existing.
The Central Lace-making School at Vienna is intended
to cultivate needle-point, pillow, and crochet lace, and to
instruct teachers in lace-making. The Atelier for lace-making
at the Imperial Austrian Industrial Art Museum
is charged with providing the provincial schools with new,
tasteful, modern designs and sketches, and occupies itself
with lace marketing.
Under the direction and inspection of these institutions
there are eleven lace schools of the State, and nine private
schools with annual State grants. The budget for the
lace schools for 1902 is as follows: —
For the Central School, - 17,000
For the State Schools, - - 28,980
Subventions, - - - - 7,000
Total, - - - - 53,000
For the last few years a young lady has been engaged
to teach Irish crochet lace-making at the Central school.
Copies are made of old Irish originals. The number of
women and girls engaged in lace-making in Austria is
estimated at 4000; the number of scholars of the classes
for 1901-2 is 751.
For embroidery we must distinguish between common
embroidery, compulsorily taught in all public schools (Volksschulen)
and artistic embroidery, which is the object of a
high school in Vienna, with three years' day classes, and an
atelier of seven sections for embroidery in State-trade schools,
and of a number of private schools aided by the State.
Compared to the textile industries, no other cottage
industries are, in Ireland, of any considerable importance,
but in Austria the wood industries are very remarkable.
Basket-work of an ornamental as well as useful character
is carried on at various places in Ireland. Much ingenuity
and taste are displayed in adopting wicker-work to various
purposes; but these industries have suffered, hitherto, from
the lack of native-grown osiers of the right quality; a
need which steps are being taken to supply.
We, in Austria, had not long ago imported a very considerable
quantity of basket-work from Germany, Bavaria,
Coburg, and France, and as the conditions for the manufacturing
of baskets were favourable in our countries, we
tried to develop the existing domestic basket-making, and
to create new centres for this simple industry. We
engaged a clever Bavarian basket-maker, charged him to
buy tools, models, and good articles, and organized with
him a workshop at the Technological Museum at Vienna,
in the year 1879. We made selection from among the
inhabitants of certain young men of rural districts, where
genuine basket-working was carried on, granted allowances
to these persons, and gave them, during six months or
a year, instruction in the craft and trade of dyeing,
drawing, and designing of baskets, bookkeeping, etc. In
this way we gained instructors for ateliers and schools
for basket-work in the provinces. These schools, or teaching
workshops, have been erected by the Government,
boards, societies, and private individuals. The State gave
subventions, and supervised the private undertakings — in
one word, we made this proceeding an affair of the State.
We did not neglect osier culture, because wild-growing
osiers can never provide a sufficiently good raw material
for finer basket work. A very eminent authority on osier
culture — the late Professor Breitenlohner, of the High
School of Agriculture at Vienna — has been invited to give
lessons in the culture of osiers, and a model plantation of
osiers has been organized, in order to forward sets or slips
of cultivated osiers to managers of agricultural properties.
The scholars of the Vienna Imperial Central School of
Basket-work and of the Culture of Osiers (now independent
of the Technological Museum), on their return to their
villages, became the pioneers for propagating the industry
and culture. The result was astonishing. After a few
years we could do without any imports of basket work;
on the contrary, our exportation became very considerable,
and is still growing. In some districts of Bohemia,
Moravia, and Galicia, thousands are engaged in the basket
cottage industry, and have received great benefit; and
wealth is rising out of the soil, where only a short time
ago poverty was dominant. At present the Ministry of
Cult and Instruction assigns for the development of the
basket industry alone 88,697 crowns, which are allocated
as follows: —
Central workshop for practical instruction,
- - - - - 35,460
Professional schools of the State for
basket work, - - - - - 22,627
Subventions for 31 private schools and
workshops, - - - - - 30,610
It may be remarked that in Austria, besides the product
of the osier plantations, Esparto, Piasava, rush, reed-grass,
aspwood, splinters, and palm leaves are also used for basketwork.
The present extension of the Austro-Hungarian
basket industry is shewn by the following figures: — The
number of basket-makers is at present 11,000. Of these,
1000 are occupied all the year long in basket-work shops,
in manufactures for children-carriages, and for glass. The
other 10,000 workmen, women and children, are rural
industrials, who are, however, not occupied the whole year,
some of them half a year, others only three months. The
value of their products is nearly 5,000,000 crowns. Of
this sum, the workmen are earning half. The value of
the exports in the year 1901 was 1,200,000 crowns.
To this sum are to be added 100,000 crowns for fruit-commerce
baskets. England and the United States use
enormous quantities of baskets of a special shape.
The domestic industries which depend on wood-working
are capable of great extension. In the charming valley
of Gröden (Tyrol) about 2000 persons — men, women, and
children — occupy themselves in their spare hours with
wood-carving and wood turnery. They manufacture with
great ability crucifixes and toys. They make these objects
with a few chisels only, and work all day long to earn
a few pence. In another valley, the Viechtau, near
Gmunden, in the province of Upper Austria, formerly
a considerable cottage industry existed; but now there
are only a few peasant houses where house implements
and utensils are manufactured. The chief material, maple
wood, becomes more scarce, and, therefore, more expensive;
so it is probable that this industry will disappear. In
the south of Krain, in the province of Austria, where
beech forests furnish a cheap and highly-qualified material
for the rural people, the latter occupy themselves on a
considerable scale with manufacturing shovels, sieve hoops,
and cooper's work. Rural wood industries, like the
above-mentioned industry in Krain, are carried on in the
eastern part of Moravia and the south-western mountain
district of Bohemia (Böhmerwald). A large quantity of
first-rate pine-wood has been preserved. An important
speciality is the forming of resounding-boards of highly-qualified
pine-wood. Very interesting examples of domestic
industries are the chair-makers at Mariano, a village in
the neighbourhood of Trieste, our most important Adriatic
port. About 600 men and women are engaged in the
manufacture of chairs. We have founded, with the aid
of the professional school, a co-operative society, and a
workshop with wood-working machinery; and so the production
rose from 32,832 chairs in the year 1880 to
88,440 chairs, of the value of 143,660 crowns, in the
year 1899. The material is exclusively beech-wood,
brought from the neighbouring forests. A chair-maker
earned, in 1880, 60 heller a day, while he now earns
three times as much — 2 crowns; and the consumption of
meat is now nine times larger than before.
The cottage industries producing joiner-work at Vola
(Sweden) and in the valley of Chiavari (Italy) have, in
some degree, a certain resemblance to the above-described
cottage industry at Mariano. No similar circumstances
are to be found in Ireland. But it must be mentioned
that cabinet-making exists, as you know, in one locality —
Killarney. Here, however, a school of arts and crafts,
founded by the Viscountess Castleross, has lately been
producing work of the greatest promise.
At Cortina d'Ampezzo — very famous on account of the
picturesque Dolomite mountains, highly appreciated by
tourists — a trades school for wood-work (cabinet-making,
carving, and turnery) has, through its students, created
a cottage industry of importance. That is, especially, a
certain manufacturing of Tar-Kashi ware (metal intarsia
in wood — an Indian article), which has had great success.
The number of workmen, with a tolerably good income,
has risen to nearly 200 in the small town and its neighbouring
cottages. They are also occupied in cabinetmaking,
joinery, and smith's work. Cortina will be very
soon a centre for industrial arts, which signifies a great
economic development.
A small town in the Böhmerwald is the seat of a
wood-button turnery. The citizens — half peasants, half
craftsmen — make, in a very primitive manner, buttons for
tapestry work, for exportation, the material being alder-wood.
The influence of the Imperial professional school
at Tachau — the name of the town — has not been considerable.

In the northern corner of Bohemia there exists a very
curious industry, which gives occupation to more than
3000 persons (men, women, children). The product of
this industry is called "spartery," and consists in weaving
thin and small splinters or chips from Russian white
asp-wood on a loom. This product is employed to manufacture
summer hats and other fancy articles, The centre
of this industry has been for more than a century at
The rural industries of the nations which occupy the
east of Galicia (Polonian province of Austria) and of the
Bukowina, if not of much importance from the economic
point of view, are still very interesting for artisans — the
Hazuls and the Tsiganes (gipsies). The ornaments and
the style are original, and, at the same time, traditional,
showing the character of a special culture. The form and
ornamentation of these products are as primitive as the
methods of their workmen. The number of the domestic
industrial working men and women in the Bukowina is
estimated at 20,000, and the value of the wood consumed
by them 3,000,000 crowns. The professional schools at
Zakopane and Kolomea produce a very successful influence
on the rural wood industry of the East.
There are in Austria very remarkable examples of cottage
industries, by which iron and steel are worked up to locks,
knives, various cutting tools, and household implements. In
Galicia there exists a locksmith's trade-colony (Swiatniki).
The knife-making industry is spread over the district of
Steyr, in Upper Austria; tools are worked in Fulpnes
(Tyrol). In all these places the Ministry of Public
Instruction has organized professional schools, trades' day
classes, with theoretical instruction and manual training
in modern-equipped workshop. The "Special Service," of
which I shall speak later on, has also in these places
organized co-operative societies, which are under the
supervision of the school authorities. Very good results
may be expected; for instance, at Swiatniki, in the year
1901, 60,000 parts of locks were manufactured. Steyr
and Fulpmes are beginning to fight successfully against
the dangerous competition of Solingen, in Germany.
While in Austria, as we have seen, there are old
national cottage industries for iron and steel work, there
is in Ireland one example of metal-work produced, and this
is a recently-founded industry, the repoussé metal-work of
Fivemiletown. Cottage industries have flourished in Fivemiletown
for several years, under the direction of Mrs.
Montgomery, of Blessingborne, who has organized embroidery
and sewing classes for girls. Mrs. Montgomery wished
to extend the scope of the work, and to find occupation
to which the young men, as well as the young women,
of Fivemiletown could devote their spare hours. She went
to London in 1891, and placed herself under the tuition of
a lady teacher in repoussé metal-work, who had been recommended
to her by the Home Arts and Industries Association,
and by the spring of 1892 she was able to start an art
metal-work class at Fivemiletown itself. She was at first
the only teacher, but was soon ably seconded by Mr.
Wilson, the manager of the Fivemiletown branch of the
Northern Bank. The Fivemiletown repoussé work earned
the most favourable notice and the warmest praise of many
exhibitions: one of the judges gave expression to the opinion
that he had seldom seen modern work approach so high
a standard of excellence.
The Belleek pottery ware, which has been made so
popular by its characteristic lustre and tint, is the one
pottery industry of any considerable extent in Ireland;
but in Austria there are many considerable centres — one in
nearly every province. Very remarkable are the peasants'
Majolicas in several districts of Galicia, and of Lüstenau, in
The movement for the general introduction of Drawing
into public schools, and the work that has been done to
promote art education, with the purpose of developing and
improving the art industries of a nation, appeared alike
suddenly in Europe and in the United States. In England
it was, apparently, the definite result of the first world's fair
— the Exhibition of 1851. In Austria it had its origin in
Vienna; in the United States, in Boston, where it was a
direct outcome of the English movement. Other States —
Germany, Belgium, the Scandinavian countries — followed
soon. France alone did not need new institutions, for
there the superiority of taste and artistic ability has
never been wanting. But France did not forget that
scientific and technical instruction is no less important than
artistic ability, and, therefore, the Conservatoire des Arts
et Metiers (which is a technological institute) had been
organized in Paris before the end of the eighteenth century.
About, or nearly, a hundred years later than in France
other progressive nations began to realize that for a complete
work, as well as for an industry, which will survive
and not decay, artistic faculties are not sufficient; on the
contrary, the first condition for a permanent success on
the market is the technical and practical performance
of the workman. We in Austria were famous for our
products from the esthetic point of view; but we
missed in our workshops the knowledge and employment
of scientific technical progress, the accuracy of
handicraft, the durability and exactitude of the products,
the scrupulous choice of the raw material — the genuine
technical element.
Consequently, I thought of getting help from a technological
institution, or museum, which consists of a number
of lower and higher trades-schools, industrial schools, testing
stations, technological collections, scientific laboratories and
workshops for the training of handicraft, etc. I have
already shown how we developed the basket industry, and
how we had to perfect wood-carving and turnery in cottage
industries for the manufacturing of household implements,
toys, Christ-bodies, etc. Our success was not so great as
in the basket industry, but our efforts were sufficiently
But it would be wrong to think that the Vienna Technological
Museum has nothing else to attend to but Cottage
industries. It is hard to distinguish in a great many cases
where cottage industry ends and urban trade begins, and
the same difficulty occurs sometimes to determine a line
of demarcation between handicraft or trade and industry.
I have not been pedantic in this matter; I have been trying
to help wherever national labour would need my
It would not be convenient to relate here the history
of the development of the Technological Museum. I only
want to mention that at first, in 1879, one section was
inaugurated — the section for wood-work, basket-making,
carving, turnery, cabinetmaking and joinery, carpentering,
etc. All means for the promotion of labour have been
employed; a collection of different varieties of wood, tools,
machines for wood-working, selected products of the various
industries which consist in wood-working, have been brought
together. We opened evening classes and professional
schools, published monographs about technological matters
concerning wood industries, and made a series of experiments
on various questions, etc.
According to the same scheme, we organized — encouraged
by the success of the first — a second section for applied
chemistry, especially for those branches which lacked
institutions to sustain them — as dyeing, printing, bleaching,
The third section has been devoted to metal-work trades
and the construction of machines, and electric engineering.
The collections have been enlarged, and the evening classes
— at the beginning mere drawing courses and series of
technological lessons — are now very complete.
Testing institutions for the paper industry, for brewing
operations, for the quality (strength) of building and construction
of materials, for chemistry, for electric engineering,
all in connection with our lower and superior
professional schools, became from day to day more appreciated
and popular, and the Parliamentary Grant, increasing
till the year 1885, when it reached the sum of 800,000
crowns, is now a very modest contribution to our yearly
expenditure of 380,000 crowns.
The staff of the Institute consisted, at the opening of the
first section, of two volunteers (that is, myself and my
assistant), a clerk, and a servant. At present more than
100 persons are engaged — professors, assistants, teachers,
clerks, etc., etc. We have now nearly 1200 students,
and the buildings devoted to the constitution by the
Lower Austrian Industrial Society (Nieder-oesterreichischer
Gewerbe-Verein) cost a sum of 1,200,000 crowns
£56,000), not including the value of the outfitting,
machinery, etc.
You must not forget that exclusively technical instruction
is our task — experimental science, drawing, mathematics,
and technology, as the head branches of the
so-called theoretical instruction, combined with workshop
practice, and experimental study in the laboratories; and
you may find in our schools apprentices for various trades,
as well as students who come from universities and high
technical colleges, to find in our laboratories a supplementary
scientific training.
A very important enlargement of the Technological
Museum took place in the year 1892, in consequence
of a motion of my political friends in Parliament: a new
(the fifth) section was joined to the former four; that is
the Service for the promotion of Trades.
But while these four former sections (for wood and
metal-work, for electric engineering, and for applied
chemistry) were, and are, intended for the rising industrial
generation, the new "Service" is destined to bring
direct and, as far as possible, immediate help to those
grown-up men as are already carrying on their profession
as masters, foremen, or journeymen. A very important
administrative difference is that it divides the jurisdictions
of the Boards of Education and of Trade. You can easily
fancy that such an opportunity for red-tape difficulties was
not altogether thrown away.
Nevertheless, this fifth section of the Museum — namely,
the Service for the promotion of Trades — has within these
ten years grown to be a very large Board itself, with about
seventy officers, under my direction, and it now carries out
the following duties:
1. It keeps an intelligence office, which is very much
applied to by all sorts of tradesmen when they are
about to buy machines, to introduce new methods of work
or new articles, when they wish to form co-operative
societies, and in all such questions. The office has experts
for the various branches of industry, and agents in
the provinces.
2. Classes for Masters exist now, for shoemakers, tailors,
carpenters, builders, joiners, locksmiths, and tool-makers, and
for galvanisers. In course of preparation are classes for
plumbers, (canal-boat) barge-builders, electricians, etc.
A feature common to all these classes is that only the
best and only carefully selected men are admitted, who may
be expected to transfer the newly-acquired knowledge to
their fellow-tradesmen in the guilds and in co-operative
societies, or to their apprentices. The classes, then, must
not last too long — from four to twelve weeks at the most —
with a very intensive instruction from morning till evening,
and to all the students an allowance is made in the form of
stipends, varying from 100 to 240 crowns, for the loss of
their usual wages or gains during the attendance of the
The object of the teaching in the classes is to make the
student thoroughly acquainted with the modern technical
methods of his trade, with book-keeping and with calculation;
all this according to the exigencies of a trade of
medium size, or of a co-operative society. The student
becomes interested in the modern methods of work, and is,
in a model workshop, instructed in the use of labour-saving
machines. Although the classes began but a few years ago,
more than 250 have been held in Vienna and in the
provinces, with more than 5000 students.
3. The Promotion of Co-operative Societies was also
taken up by the Service. This is the most important
and also the most difficult and the most costly task of
the Service. Co-operation is promoted in every way by the
Service, but chiefly by giving loans, or by lending machines
to industrial societies of workmen or tradesmen. The
machines must be paid for by instalments; presents are
strictly prohibited. Other conditions for granting machines
are the following: No tradesman may be the borrower of a
machine, only associations; the machines themselves are
lent, not the money to buy them; the machines are chosen,
bought, and tested by the Service, and remain the property
of the State until the last of the yearly instalments, usually
ten in number, have been paid; the expense of building the
workshop must be provided for by the society, because
building loans are not given. The Service always keeps in
contact with the societies, watches over their technical
management and bookkeeping, and helps them as much as
possible when they are under difficulties.
The Service might, of course, simplify matters, and cut
down its expenditure by limiting its task to handing over
the machines or the loans; but I think there are benefits
which oblige the giver rather more than the receiver, and
the Service, therefore, incurs the responsibility of seeing that
the machines become really profitable to the users, and that
co-operation will be an unmixed blessing to the members of
the society.
A few statistics will give you an idea of the extent
to which this branch of the Service has grown. Since 1893
to more than 200 societies or associations of various kinds,
machines have been given of the value of more than
600,000 crowns (£25,000), and loans averaging 4000
crowns (£166) each to fifty societies.
And what has been the success of all these exertions,
you may be eager to ask? Naturally, we have had failures,
but, on the whole, we may be satisfied with the results of
our work: the co-operative movement has been quickened,
to many able tradesmen new and fairer chances of economic
prosperity have been given, and finally, we prove that, contrary
to what the Manchester School tried to make us
believe, handicraft must by no means disappear, but may,
under certain conditions, flourish and thrive alongside of
manufacturing industry.
I have finished. I gave you, what I thought convenient
on this opportunity, as far as I understood the task entrusted
to me. I will not neglect, however, to offer you the opportunity
of making further use of my experiences now, and at
any time you might require them; for I consider that
industrial progress ought not to be the exclusive privilege
of one nation or one state, but an acquirement for the
whole of the labouring classes fighting for their every-day

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Peat and Its Products: An Illustrated Treatise on Peat and Its Products as a National Source of Wealth

Document Information

Document ID 100
Title Peat and Its Products: An Illustrated Treatise on Peat and Its Products as a National Source of Wealth
Year group 1900-1950
Genre Instructional prose
Year of publication 1905
Wordcount 112529

Author information: Kerr, William Alexander

Author ID 236
Forenames William Alexander
Surname Kerr
Gender Male