Field, Joshua (DNB00)

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FIELD, JOSHUA (1787?–1863), civil engineer, born about 1787, was of the firm of Messrs. Maudslay, Sons, & Field of Lambeth [see Maudslay, Henry]. Field had closely studied the marine engine and steam navigation since 1816, when Maudslay & Co. made a pair of combined engines, each fourteen horse-power, applying the power to the paddle-wheel shaft by the crank instead of by cog-wheels, according to the previous mode. Messrs. Maudslay & Field undertook to construct engines of adequate power to propel a vessel, with sufficient storage for fuel, across the Atlantic, at a time when many of the constructors of the day declined to attempt an apparently impracticable feat. The engines were completed and fitted on board the Great Western in March 1838, and shortly afterwards the vessel started on her first voyage from Bristol, reaching New York, a distance of three thousand miles, in thirteen days and ten hours.

Field was one of six young men who, towards the end of 1817, founded the Institution of Civil Engineers. He was one of its earliest vice-presidents, and he continued to hold that office until elected president on 18 Jan. 1848, being the first president selected from the class of purely mechanical engineers. In his inaugural address, delivered on 1 Feb., he alluded particularly to the changes which had then been introduced into steam navigation, and to some of the more marked improvements, both in the engines and the vessels, by which they had been adapted for carrying cargo and fuel for long voyages, and for attaining great speed on short voyages. This office he filled for two years, the period permitted by the regulations. On 3 March 1836 he became a fellow of the Royal Society, and was also a member of the Society of Arts. Field died at his residence, Balham Hill House, Surrey, on 11 Aug. 1863, aged 76.

[Builder, cited in Gent. Mag. 3rd ser. xv. 379–80; Lists of Fellows of the Royal Society.]

G. G.