The Pulsometer Engineering Company
Our article, Hong Kong Water Supply – The Tai Tam Tuk Scheme First Section, contains this paragraph, mentioning a pulsometer pump, and the advert shown below for the Pulsometer Engineering Company based in London:
“To establish the nature of the ground, a series of brick wells or shafts were constructed in the shallow waters of Tai Tam bay. Using two barges equipped with boilers, steam winches and derricks were mobilised to support the construction of a brick shaft within the shallow waters. A brick shaft was constructed above a cast iron ring and this was then lowered through the water and sunk into the seabed. By excavating the soft material from inside the shaft, the brick shaft would descend into the sea bed. As the structure descended into the soft soil additional brick layers were added. With an internal size of 1.7m (5’8”) excavation was undertaken by hand or using a grab bucket operated by the steam winches. The wells were kept dry by bailing the water out or using a pulsometer pump driven by the steam from the barge boiler.”
Intrigued I investigated what a pulsometer pump was and discovered more about the Pulsometer Engineering Company, which I show below, on the excellent British Industrial History website Grace’s Guide, linked below.
Pulsometer Engineering Company
of Battersea and later Nine Elms Iron Works, London, and Reading.
1872 The Pulsometer steam pump, a piston-less pump, was invented by American Thomas Hall. The invention may have been inspired by the Savery steam pump invented by Thomas Savery. Around the turn of the century, it was a popular and effective pump for quarry pumping.
1875 John Eliot Hodgkin, a British engineer bought the patent rights of the Pulsometer and it was introduced to the market soon thereafter. This extremely simple pump was made of cast iron, and had no pistons, rods, cylinders, cranks, or flywheels. It operated by the direct action of steam on water. The mechanism consisted of two chambers. As the steam condensed in one chamber, it acted as a suction pump, while in the other chamber, steam was introduced under pressure and so it acted as a force pump. At the end of every stroke, a ball valve consisting of a small rubber ball moved slightly, causing the two chambers to swap functions from suction-pump to force-pump and vice versa. The result was that the water was first suction pumped and then force pumped.
The pump ran automatically without attendance. It was praised for its “extreme simplicity of construction, operation, compact form, high efficiency, economy, durability, and adaptability”. Later designs were improved upon to enhance efficiency and to make the machine more accessible for inspection and repairs, thus reducing maintenance costs.
1876 See Hodgkin, Neuhaus and Co.
1878 Public company. The company was formed as The Pulsometer Engineering Company Ltd. The pump range was continually expanded and it was as a pump manufacturer that the Company became best known.
With this increase in product range and trade all over the world, a larger factory was found and set up in Battersea, London.
1888 The ‘Torrent’ Filter for dealing with large quantities of water in the manufacturing process. 
1889 Ammonia Ice-making machine. 
1890 Advert on this page for “Champion” Hand Ice Machine. 
1895 Advert for filters and pumps. 
1899 Advert for filers and a steam pump. 
1901 The Company moved from London to new premises at a site in Reading, UK. By now Pulsometer was a name well established and respected across the world as a leading manufacturer of pump equipment.
1905 Advert for steam pump and as feed water specialists. 
1913 Advert for steam pumps, centrifugal and turbine pumps, refrigeration and filtration. 
1914 Engine for the West Gloucestershire Water Company (California Station).
1914 See 1914 Catalogue
1914 Listed specialities: the Pulsometer steam pump, direct-acting pumps, centrifugal and turbine pumps, ice-making and refrigerating machinery, water purification plants, installation of complete water work, sewage and drainage pumping. 
1917 Advert for steam pump for lifts up to 150 feet and centrifugal and turbine pumps. 
1919 Advert for steam pump for lifts up to 150 feet and centrifugal and turbine pumps. 
1927 Advert for steam pump for lifts up to 150 feet and centrifugal and turbine pumps. 
1940 Advert for centrifugal and turbine pumps. 
1945 Advert for centrifugal and turbine pumps. 
1956 Was part of the Camp Bird group. Some shares owned by Dresser Industries, owners of Pacific Pumps with which Pulsometer had an arrangement to market their pumps. Other shares would be sold to enable others to own some of the company.
1960 Advert for centrifugal, turbine, reciprocating and high-vacuum pumps.
1961 Pulsometer had maintained its reputation for products of exceptionally high quality and reliability for 60 years. Pulsometer Engineering Co was acquired jointly by Booker McConnell Group and G. and J. Weir Holdings; each purchaser took the parts of the company that they wanted. Booker already owned another pump company, Sigmund Pumps of Gateshead; together with Pulsometer this created one of the largest pump companies in Europe which became known as Sigmund Pulsometer Pumps, or SPP for short.
1961 Manufacturers of centrifugal, reciprocating, rotary and high vacuum pumps. 1,000 employees. 
1986 After a number of changes in subsequent years, SPP acquired Henry Sykes. This acquisition further expanded the product range with the addition of vacuum assisted self-priming pumps. It was around this time that SPP moved its manufacturing site from Reading to a more modern facility in Coleford, in the West of England.(1)
- Grace’s Guide to British Industrial History: Grace’s Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 148,707 pages of information and 234,058 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.
This article was first posted on 19th December 2021.
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