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Practice of British Geology, 1750-1850

Series: Variorum Collected Studies Series

By: Hugh Torrens

212 pages, B/w pgotos

Ashgate Publishing Limited

Hardback | Mar 2002 | #132826 | ISBN: 0860788768
Availability: Usually dispatched within 1 week Details
NHBS Price: £80.00 $102/€95 approx

About this book

Geology is the most historical of all sciences. Yet its own history remains neglected, especially the many aspects of how geology was practised in the past. This volume analyses the careers of some important practical figures in English, Welsh, Scottish and Irish geology between 1750 and 1850. These include people who would have regarded themselves more as mining engineers (or `coal viewers' as they were then called in the vital coal industry) or `mineral surveyors' as today's mineral prospectors were first called (from 1808), or even inventors. Their expertise, in the land which led the industrial revolution, took them all over the world. Those included here went to Italy, and South (Peru) and North America (Virginia and Canada). The practice of geology, through the search for mines and minerals, has been much less attended to by historians than the geology which was undertaken by leisured amateurs - even though practical geology was as important in the past as the oil industry is today.

Reviews
'... the present collection of papers, from 1983 to 1999, is especially welcome... Torrens's papers are essential to understanding the history of geology ...' Archives of Natural History

'... Hopefully this important collection of essays (...) will be acquired and placed on open shelves for geologists to access... a fascinating expedition into the past... opens windows into the long-lost world of the surveyors and engineers, all artisans rather than university-trained gentlemen, who were the first actually to practice geology.... Torrens has an eye for detail that reveals as much about the lives of these people as the very real geological world of shafts, wimbles, sections and strata.' Geological Magazine

'Few other practitioners in this field recreate the drama of historical discovery so convincingly... Torres writes (...) for specialists and has much to teach them.' Isis

'It is genuinely worthwhile and convenient to have these papers in one volume, given their disparate places of issue, sometimes in publications of limited distribution; and the index is a bonus of real value... Anyone interested in the history of British geology at the relevant period, and many local historians and industrial archaeologists, would find this worth checking for the issues that these papers raise...' Annals of Science

'This book should be on the shelf of all interested in the early development of both geology and mineral prospecting, particularly coal mining.' Geology Today


Contents

Some thoughts on the complex and forgotten history of mineral exploration; the British 'mineral engineer' John Williams (1732-1795), his work in Britain from 1749 to 1793 and as a mineral surveyor in the Veneto and North Italy between 1793 and 1795; geological communication in the Bath area in the last half of the 18th century; le 'Nouvel Art de Prospection Miniere' de William Smith et le "Projet de Houillere de Brewham" - un essai malencontreux de recherche de charbon dans le sud-ouest de l'Angleterre, entre 1803 et 1810; patronage and problems - Banks and the earth sciences; John Farey (1766-1826), an unrecognized polymath; coal hunting at Bexhill 1805-1811 - how the new science of stratigraphy was ignored; James Ryan (c.1770-1847) and the problems of introducing Irish "new technology" to British mines in the early 19th century; Arthur Aikin's mineralogical survey of Shropshire 1796-1816 and the contemporary audience for geological publications; the scientific ancestry and historiography of "The Silurian System"; Joseph Harrison Fryer (1777-1855) - geologist and mining engineer in England 1803-1825 and South America 1826-1828 - a study in failure; William Edmond Logan's geological apprenticeship in Britain 1831-1842; James Buckman (1814-1884), English consulting geologist and his visit to the Guyandotte coal fields in 1854.

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