Simon Goodrich

Simon Goodrich

Simon Goodrich (1773-1847) was an engineer to the British Navy Board.

He was born 28 October 1773 in Suffolk. In 1796 was appointed draughtsman in the office of Sir Samuel Bentham, Inspector General of Naval Works, and in 1799 was promoted to the post of Mechanist. In 1812 the Inspector General's office was reorganised and Goodrich worked for two years as Mechanist without warrant - in effect on contract. In 1814 he was appointed Engineer and Mechanist, and remained in this post until he retired in 1831.

Goodrich was responsible to Bentham for the management of the installation of the machinery at the Portsmouth Block Mills, and for the Metal Mills and millwright's shop at Portsmouth. He was also responsible for the mechanical engineering work at all the other Naval Dockyards, and travelled incessantly on Naval business.

As well as his main responsibilities over time he was involved in devising machinery for testing anchor chains; for investigating different fire fighting apparatus used on ship board; reporting on machinery for making rope and cordage, and on saw-milling apparatus; for making sea-going trials of steam vessels. He was also involved greatly in the day-to-day management of the manufacturing staff. He was in close contact with many of the important engineers of the time, including Richard Trevithick, Matthew Murray, Henry Maudslay and Sir Marc Isambard Brunel.

On his retirement Goodrich moved to Lisbon, and died there 3 September 1847.

After his death his papers and drawings somehow were returned to England, and by 1875 were in a library collection somewhere (the location has yet to be discovered). They were later transferred to the library of the Science Museum, London now forming part of the libraries of Imperial College London. The SML accessioning records give no clue about the origins. The Simon Goodrich papers are an incomparable source of detailed information about what is something of a dark age in our knowledge of the engineering background to the Industrial Revolution and deserve to be more widely known and used.


* Woolrich, A. P., Goodrich, Simon, in "A Biographical Dictionary of Civil Engineers" vol 1, (2002) p 261 ISBN 0-7277-2939-X
* Coad, Jonathan, "The Portsmouth Block Mills : Bentham, Brunel and the start of the Royal Navy's Industrial Revolution", 2005,ISBN 1-873592-87-6

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