You may not have heard of Charles Babbage before, but you have him to thank, in part, for the fact that you’re able to read this article on a computerised device today.
Although there is some dispute over his place and date of birth (it is thought to have been either London or Teignmouth in 1791), Babbage spent much of his childhood in his family home in Teignmouth and it is this, plus his Devonian ancestry, which lands him a place in our list of remarkable people of Devon and Cornwall.
Charles Babbage had a somewhat turbulent early education – being moved between various schools, academies, and private tutors – but it culminated in him being accepted to Cambridge University to study mathematics. During his time there he lived by the motto ‘Let’s leave this world a wiser one than we found it.’ It’s fair to say he managed to do that!Continue reading
You may not have heard of him before, but we have a lot to thank Cornish-born Richard Trevithick for when it comes to steam engines, steam boilers, and central heating systems. He even has his own commemorative day celebrated in April each year.
The Cornish boiler
Toward the end of his career Trevithick expanded his horizons, working on many types of engineering projects. The most notable of these was perhaps the Cornish boiler, designed in 1812, which used horizontal cylindrical boilers in a design that significantly improved efficiency.
He developed new designs, including ship containers, a steamboat propeller, and a central heating system for homes. His work contributed towards many of the products we use today, including the heating systems installed by the plumbers Plymouth company. Despite this, he received very little recognition during his lifetime and died penniless in 1833.Continue reading
We start with perhaps one of the best known names to come out of Devon and Cornwall: Sir Francis Drake.
Drake is most famous for his explorations at sea, although he made plenty of contributions to his home county of Devon, too. But despite all his good work, some regard him as more of a villain than a hero – after all, there has to be a reason why he became known as the “Queen’s Pirate”.