Exhibitions, Medals and Awards

As a young man of 19, James Paxman visited the Great Exhibition of 1851 in Hyde Park. It is said this experience made a tremendous impression on him and influenced him for the rest of his life. That would certainly appear to be the case if his subsequent enthusiasm for participating in exhibitions is any guide.

From 1869, only four years after founding his company, James Paxman was regularly exhibiting his steam engines and other items, such as his patent steam corn dryer, at shows of the Royal Agricultural Society (organisers of the 'Royal Show'). He went on to display the company's products at major international exhibitions and trade fairs held in London and around the world. To promote export sales he exhibited at events as far afield as Paris, Gothenburg, Vienna, Philadelphia USA, Chile, Sydney in Australia and Tasmania. Taking part in these exhibitions required heavy investments of time, effort and money at a time when they were also needed at Colchester for developing the business and designing a succession of new engines and other products.

James Paxman's talents were not restricted to being an able and innovative engineer. He was an astute businessman, keenly aware of the importance of publicity which he sought assiduously at every opportunity. Regular participation in large exhibitions, which were widely reported in the general and technical press, gave the company and its products excellent public exposure. More importantly, it kept them in the eye of those who had influence over purchasing decisions, whether in their capacities as consulting engineers who advised clients, or as end-users.

Among the benefits of displaying products at major exhibitions was the potential to be awarded medals for the quality of those products. Particularly during the Victorian era, to be awarded a gold, silver or bronze medal for your product at an international show was of substantial commercial value. It was very public recognition that the company and its products were leaders, or among the leaders, in their field. Such endorsement greatly enhanced a company's reputation and its standing in the business community and, perhaps, the price it could command for its products. The importance of this recognition was reflected in the practice of recipients, including Paxman, of adorning their company letterheads, catalogues and advertisements with images of medals they had been awarded. Paxman acquired an impressive collection of gold, silver, bronze and other medals, several of which are now in the collection of Colchester Museum (but not on permanent display).

For James Paxman, involvement in major exhibitions, particularly London ones in the 1880s, was also valuable for the contacts it gave him. 'Networking' is nothing new in business! Through his involvement in the South Kensington exhibitions, for example, James Paxman was able to mix with some of the wealthy and highly influential men responsible for their organisation. Among important contacts was Colonel Crompton, the leading electrical engineer of the day, at a time when electric lighting was in its infancy. From 1880 plant for the supply of electric current for lighting was an important feature of all London exhibitions. At International Exhibitions in London where Paxman machinery was on show, many were dependent on Paxman engines and boilers to drive the generators for illumination of the various courts, gardens and halls. It is questionable whether Paxman earned much, if anything, directly from supplying the plant for these exhibitions but the publicity and reputation gained proved invaluable. It led to a good volume of business supplying engines and boilers for electric lighting installations.

Listed below are some of the exhibitions at which Paxman exhibited, some of the medals the company was awarded at them, and details of some of the engines and other products displayed at particular exhibitions.

1869 - Essex Agricultural Show, Colchester
Paxman exhibited a corn dryer, two sets of thrashing machine, an improved straw elevator, a portable engine, a clod crusher and a new sheepfold with feeding trough.
1869 - Leicester Agricultural Show, Ashby-de-la-Zouch
The company exhibited its corn dryer for which it won an award.
1869 - Derbyshire Agricultural Show
The company exhibited its corn dryer which was entered in a trial at the show. Awarded a Gold Medal.
1869 - Royal Agricultural Society of England Show, Manchester
Awarded Silver Medal for Steam Corn Drying Machine. The medal is 55mm, 2.3/16" diameter and has inscribed on its side: 'Davey, Paxman & Davey, for their Corn Drying Machine 1869'. Medal now in the Colchester Museum collection.
1870 - Essex Agricultural Show, Saffron Walden
Paxman awarded a prize for the best collection of implements manufactured by the exhibitor.
1870 (July) - Royal Agricultural Society of England Show, Oxford
Paxman competed in vertical steam engine and boiler trials where the performance of the boiler created a sensation. Subsequently, representatives of the technical press were invited to witness an independently controlled test of the boiler at the Colchester Works in October that year. A report of the test published in The Engineer remarked " … we have not the least hesitation in pronouncing it the best vertical boiler yet produced, and better with few exceptions than any boiler of the kind now before the public".
1871 - Royal Agricultural Show, Wolverhampton
 
1871 - Riga, Latvia
First Prize for corn dryer.
1871 - Royal Agricultural Show, Gothenburg, Sweden
Awarded Gold, Silver and Bronze medals. Exhibited patent corn dryer and a vertical engine. Medal inscription 'Belöningsmedalj vid Allmänna Landtbruksmötet i Göteborg 1871'.
1872 - Second London International Exhibition, South Kensington, London
Paxman supplied a vertical steam engine and boiler which was used to power a printing press which produced a daily copy of The Echo newspaper throughout the exhibition.
1872 - Royal Agricultural Show, Cardiff
The first occasion on which Paxman competed in portable steam engine trials. Although not winning the event, it was a success for Paxman, with the technical press commenting, "This, Mr Paxman's first competitive portable engine, has proved in every respect so successful that we advise older firms to mind what they are about, or they may find themselves seriously beaten in the next competition".
1873 - Third Annual International Exhibition of All Fine Arts, South Kensington, London
Paxman supplied an engine to drive a sand blasting machine for glass engraving, for which it was awarded a Silver medal. The medal is 68mm, 2¾" diameter and is now in the Colchester Museum collection. Inscribed on the reverse is 'London International Exhibition of All Fine Arts Industries and Inventions MDCCCLXXIII', and on the side 'Davey, Paxman & Co Catalogue No 4907.
1873 (April) - Vienna International Exhibition (Weltausstellung 1873 Wien)
Paxman exhibited a corn dryer, a vertical engine and boiler, and a patent boiler. Awarded Medals of Merit for the boiler and for a water heater. Medal inscription 'Weltausstellung 1873 Wien dem Verdienste'
1873 (July) - Royal Agricultural Society of England Show, Hull.
Awarded Silver Medal for a new patent Water Feed Heater for traction, portable, and fixed steam engines. The medal is 55mm, 2.3/16" diameter and has inscribed on its side: 'Davey, Paxman & Co., for their Apparatus for Heating Water by Exhaust Steam Pipe. 1873'. Medal now in the Colchester Museum collection.
1874 - London Annual Exhibition of All Fine Arts Industries and Inventions, South Kensington, London.
Paxman supplied an engine to drive woodworking and rock drilling machinery and received a Bronze medal. The medal is 51mm, 2" diameter and is now in the Colchester Museum collection. Inscribed on the reverse is: 'London Annual International Exhibition All Fine Arts Industries and Inventions MDCCCLXXIV', and on the side 'Davey, Paxman & Co Catalogue No 7016'.
1874 (June) - International Agricultural Exhibition (Internationale Landwirthschaftliche Ausstellung), Bremen, Germany.
Awarded Silver Medal for a more universal water heater.
1874 (June) - Royal Agricultural Society of England Show, Bedford.
Awarded Silver Medal for a new patent water heater fitted to a portable steam engine. The medal is 55mm, 2.3/16" diameter and has inscribed on its side: 'Davey, Paxman & Co for Water Heater 1874'. Medal now in the Colchester Museum collection.
1875 - Preston Agricultural Society Show, Lancashire.
Paxman awarded Gold Medals for its Collection of Portable & Vertical Engines and for its Feed-Water Heater. It also received Silver Medals for a Portable Steam Engine and for its Steam Corn Dryer. The two Gold Medals are 31mm, 1¼" diameter. One is inscribed 'Awarded to Davey & (sic) Paxman for Collection of Portable & Vertical Engines 1875' and the other 'Awarded to Davey Paxman & Co for the Paxman Water Heater 1875'. The two Silver Medals are 53mm, 12.1/8" diameter. One is inscribed 'Awarded to Davey Paxman & Co for Portable Engine 1875' and the other 'Awarded to Davey Paxman & Co for Patent Corn Dryer 1875'. All four medals are now in the Colchester Museum collection.
1875 - Chili (Chile) International Exhibition, Santiago
Awarded a First Prize Medal for a portable steam engine. The company's corn dryer was 'Highly Commended'.
1875 - Dublin Show
Paxman exhibited two portable steam engines.
1875 (June) - Bath and West of England Show
Paxman exhibited two vertical steam engines and boilers, and a portable steam engine.
1875 (July) - Essex Agricultural Show, Brentwood
Paxman exhibited two portable steam engines.
1875 - Royal Agricultural Society of England Show, Taunton
Paxman exhibited and showed on test a vertical boiler.
1876 - Philadelphia International Exhibition
Paxman exhibited a corn dryer, vertical engine and boiler, and a portable steam engine. The company subsequently advertised that it had received the 'Only Award for Portable Engines of British Manufacture' at the exhibition. Not difficult as the Paxman engine was the only British portable exhibited! A medal was awarded to the company by the United States Centennial Commission.
1876 - Exposition et Congress D'Hygiene et de Sauvetage a Bruxelles
Awarded a Bronze Medal which is now in the Colchester Museum collection. The medal is 60mm diameter. Inscribed on the reverse is: 'Exposition et Congress D'Hygiene et de Sauvetage a Bruxelles. 1876. Medaille D'Admission Davey Paxman & Cie'.
1876 - Essex Agricultural Show
Paxman exhibited ten steam engines.
1876 - Other Exhibitions and Shows
A busy year when the Company exhibited at Rotterdam and Brussels, at the Swedish Agricultural Show where a Gold Medal was awarded for a newly developed double-cylinder portable, and for fuel economy of all products. It also exhibited four engines at the Smithfield Show, London, in December.
1877 - Royal Agricultural Show, Liverpool
Four Paxman products exhibited.
1878 - Exposition Universelle Internationale, Paris
Company exhibited its improved steam corn dryer, which earned an 'Honourable Mention', and a portable engine. Awarded a Bronze Medal for the portable. The medal is 68mm diameter and is now in the Colchester Museum collection. Inscribed on the reverse is, 'Exposition Universelle Internationale De 1878 Paris  Davey Paxman & Co', and on the side is stamped in small letters: 'Bronze'.
1878 - Royal Agricultural Show
Paxman exhibited an improved version of its steam corn dryer.
1879 - Royal Agricultural Show
Paxman exhibited fourteen items in all at the Show, including its new Class B horizontal girder steam engine.
1879 - International Exhibition, Sydney, NSW
A Paxman portable steam engine was exhibited. The company was awarded a Bronze Medal which is now in the Colchester Museum collection. The medal is 76mm, 3" diameter. Inscribed on the obverse is 'International Exhibition . Sydney NSW MD.CCC.LXXIX' and on the reverse 'Davey Paxman & Co  Second Award'.
1882 - International Electric Light Exhibition, Crystal Palace, Sydenham
Paxman awarded a Gold Medal and Diploma for its semi-fixed horizontal steam engine which was selected to carry out all the experiments with the dynamo machinery sent in for trial, the engine itself being "specially commended for its efficient and regular performance". A 3NHP Vertical Engine and Boiler (Order No 2129) was also built for this exhibition. The Gold Medal is 40mm, 1½" diameter, with the side inscribed 'Davey Paxman & Co for Steam Engines', and is now in the Colchester Museum collection.
1883 - Royal Aquarium Winter Electric Exhibition, Westminster
Paxman plant chosen to drive the greater part of the electric lighting machinery. The company supplied four engines and seven boilers for the purpose. Among these were a 30NHP horizontal engine, 18" bore x 32" stroke (Order No 2163), two 25NHP Double Cylinder Semi-fixed Engines and Boilers (Order Nos 2164 and 2174), a 16NHP Compound Engine and Boiler (Order No 2165), and four 20NHP Semi-Portable Boilers (Order Nos 2166/67/68/68A).
1883 - Great International Fisheries Exhibition, South Kensington
Paxman selected "to supply the whole of the steam power required for driving the Electric Light at this exhibition, which up to the present is the largest single installation." A Paxman document dated June 1883 states, "Four distinct types of Engines, capable of giving off over 1100 indicated Horse-Power, may be seen working at this Exhibition until the last day of October next." These four engines included a Colchester Compound and a Class B or Class C engine. The company claimed that the power of their engines at the exhibition, "is greater than that of any display of Electric-Lighting which has yet taken place". The electric light shed at the exhibition housed the largest display of steam engines ever publicly exhibited at work by one firm, certainly in Europe, if not the world. One source says that Paxman had eight engines, the most powerful of which produced 350 IHP, and five locomotive type boilers at the exhibition.
1883-84 - Calcutta International Exhibition, India
The company was awarded a Medal (but no details available).
1884 - The International Health Exhibition, South Kensington
Paxman supplied six steam engines and eleven boilers for the lighting of this exhibition. These probably included an 18½" bore x 32" stroke engine and two locomotive-type boilers (Order No 2261 of August 1883, sent to 'South Kensington Museum' on 12th February 1884). The company was awarded a Gold Medal (44mm, 1¾" diameter and now in the Colchester Museum collection).
1885 - The International Inventions Exhibition, South Kensington
Paxman supplied five engines, ten boilers and eight locomotive-type boilers for the exhibition. Boilers and engines for the event were built under Paxman Order No 2550 of 13th March 1885, but the surviving copy order book gives no details of the engines or boilers. However, it is known that the engines included a Colchester Compound, a 350 IHP coupled horizontal engine and some undertype engines.
1886 - The Colonial and Indian Exhibition, South Kensington
Paxman supplied nine steam engines and eleven locomotive-type boilers for the lighting. The engines included two Windsors, two Colchester compounds, two tandem compounds, a 40 NHP undertype compound and a coupled compound girder engine.
1887 - Royal Agricultural Show, Newcastle upon Tyne
James Paxman competed in trials of portable steam engines in which he himself carried out the stoking of his engines to achieve the greatest fuel economy. He won awards of £100 for the best single cylinder engine and £200 for the best compound. These achievements were regularly trumpeted in the company's publicity literature for many years thereafter.
1887 - Manchester Royal Jubilee Exhibition, Old Trafford
Paxman supplied engines for the lighting of this exhibition.
1887 - Newcastle-upon-Tyne Royal Mining, Engineering, & Industrial Exhibition
Paxman supplied engines for the lighting of this exhibition.
1888 - Italian Exhibition in London, Earls Court.
Paxman supplied engines for the lighting of this exhibition.
1889 - The Paris Universal Exhibition
Paxman supplied the engines and boilers for the generating plant for the French section of the exhibition, and subsequently for the American and British sections when the existing plant failed. Four Paxman compound steam engines drove Gramme dynamos. Nine Paxman locomotive-type boilers were installed.
1889 - The Edinburgh Exhibition
Paxman exhibited compressors.
1890 - London International Exhibition of Mining & Metallurgy
Awarded Gold Medal. Medal is 44mm, 1¾" diameter and is now in the Colchester Museum collection.
1890 - The Royal Military Exhibition, Gordon House, Chelsea, London
Paxman supplied engines for the lighting of this exhibition.
1891 - The Royal Naval Exhibition, Chelsea, London
Paxman supplied engines for the lighting of this exhibition.
1891 - The German Exhibition, Earls Court, London
Paxman supplied engines for the lighting of this exhibition.
1891-2 - Tasmanian International Exhibition, Launceston
The Archives Office of Tasmania has a catalogue of exhibitors at the exhibition. A slim and fragile volume with small print and loose pages, it records James Paxman of Colchester as showing the following:-
1. 8 hp Single cylinder portable steam engine, with Colonial firebox, working pressure 70 p.s.i.
2. 8 hp Compound portable steam engine, 120 p.s.i.
3. 16 hp Semi fixed compound steam engine, 120 p.s.i.
4. 6 hp Class A Improved horizontal steam engine.
  All the foregoing were supplied with the Paxman Patent Automatic Expansion Gear and adjustable high speed governor.
5. 4 hp Standard vertical steam engine with 4 hp Essex patent vertical boiler on same base plate.
6. 16 hp Improved undertype geared winding engine and boiler with Colonial Firebox. Supplied with double winding drum, powerful brake, Donkey pump for feeding boiler.

John Olding, who researched the above for me, also located an unlisted publication which gave a report on proceedings. In this Davey Paxman is listed as having been given a special First Award for items 5 and 6 above. From another source we know the company was awarded two Silver Medals, presumably one for item 5 and one for item 6. One of these medals is 32mm, 1¼" diameter and has inscribed on the reverse: 'Awarded to Jame Paxman, Esq in Commemoration'. Medal now in the Colchester Museum collection.

The exhibition was held at the Albert Hall in Launceston which, in 1891, would have been quite new and seen as a very imposing building for its time. The emphasis for Paxman was on mining equipment as, at the time, mineral exploration and mining was booming in Tasmania. Launceston was where most of the venture capital was being raised and where mining companies had their offices. The town had the major engineering works, was the centre of the rail network, and the Albert Hall was constructed to mark the city's prosperity. (2)
1892 - Crystal Palace Electrical Exhibition
The exhibition, to celebrate a decade of electrical engineering, opened on 9th January. Paxman exhibited a triple-expansion Windsor engine, producing 350 IHP at 140 rpm, and driving a Siemens dynamo. The company was awarded a Gold Medal (40mm, 1½" diameter and now in the Colchester Museum collection). The company also supplied 8 locomotive-type boilers for the event.
1892 - International Horticultural Exhibition, Earls Court, London
Paxman supplied engines for the lighting of this event.
1893 - Iron Hardware & Metal Trades Pension Society Jubilee
Awarded a Bronze Medal which is now in the Colchester Museum collection. The medal is 32mm, 1¼" diameter. Inscribed on the reverse is 'Jubilee 1893. His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales Chairman.'
1894 - Forestry Exhibition, Earls Court, London
Paxman supplied engines for the lighting of this event.
1895 - Empire of India Exhibition, Earls Court, London
Open from June to November, at this event Paxman first exhibited its "Peache Patent" High-Speed steam engine. On display were three Peache tandem compound vertical engines: two 3-crank types and one 2-crank. These were engine numbers 8084, 8085 and 8086, each having cylinders of 10" (HP) and 15" (LP) bore x 10" stroke, and each driving Mawdsley alternators. Paxman also had on show two of its "Colchester" compound engines and one girder engines, these driving Brush generators.
1897 - In Commemoration of Reign of Queen Victoria, 1837-1897
Awarded Silver Medal.
1901 - Glasgow International Exhibition
For this event Paxman prepared a special publicity brochure which described the machinery being exhibited by the company.

In the Main Machinery Hall Paxman exhibited a complete plant for generating electricity for traction and lighting duties. The engine (Order No 6196) was a 650 bhp horizontal coupled-compound steam engine, with cylinders of 15½" and 27" bore x 30" stroke. Described in the company's brochure as carefully adapted 'to meet the special running conditions encountered in Electric Traction service', it was designed to run at 150 rpm with a working steam pressure of 160 psi. The engine was 'equipped for the use of superheated steam of the highest temperature' and provided with an inter-heater between the cylinders. Steam, supplied by a Paxman Economic boiler located in a boiler house adjacent to the Main Machinery Hall, was distributed by Paxman Patent Automatic Expansion Gear operating the piston valves which admitted steam into the cored recesses around the main piston valves. Expansion Gear was applied to both the high and low pressure cylinders. The 8 pole, compound wound, 550 volt, 300 kW generator was built by the Electric Construction Company Ltd of Wolverhampton.

Also on show was a 360 IHP "Peache Patent" High Speed steam engine. Built under Order No 6195, this was a Kc type with cylinders of 10½" and 17½" bore x 11" stroke. The publicity brochure contained an extensive technical description of the Peache engine and the following particulars of the dynamo to which it was coupled:
  "This Engine is coupled to a Multipolar Dynamo made by The General Electric Company (1900) Limited, of London and Manchester. The Dynamo was made at their Manchester Works, and the duty of same is 420 amperes at any voltage from 460 to 500 on lighting load, and 500 to 550 volts, 300 amperes on traction load. These Dynamos can be overloaded 20 per cent. on lighting load and 25 per cent. on traction load. The machine is, of course, over-compounded for traction work, the compounding being cut out for lighting service. The magnet frames of the Generator are divided on the horizontal diameter, and have especially light fields and yokes much resembling the typical American standard. The pole pieces and field coils are of cylindrical shape. The armature is of the fly-wheel type of large diameter, with slotted core. The carbon brushes can be retained in fixed position and run sparklessly from no load to 25 per cent. overload."

(References above to 'electric traction', 'traction load' and 'traction work' are to uses of the plant for electric traction applications, typically trams, which was an important market at the time.)
1904 - Cairo Show, Egypt.
Here the company exhibited a producer gas plant.
1908 - Franco-British Exhibition, White City, London
Awarded the Grand Prix for the large gas engine the company exhibited. The engine thought to be a double-cylinder type, rated 250 bhp at 160 rpm, with a 9 foot diameter flywheel.
1908 - Royal Cornwall Agricultural Association Show
Awarded a Silver Medal which is now in the Colchester Museum collection. The medal is 46mm, 1¾" diameter and has inscribed on the reverse: 'Royal Cornwall Agricultural Association. Awarded to Davey Paxman & Co for Suction Gas Engine Chain Lubricator 1908'.
1911 - Royal Cornwall Agricultural Association Show
Awarded a Bronze Medal which is now in the Colchester Museum collection. The medal is 46mm, 1¾" diameter and has inscribed on the reverse: 'Royal Cornwall Agricultural Association. Awarded to Messrs Davey Paxman & Co Ltd, Colchester for 36-40 BHP (L) Gas Engine 1911'.
1913 - First Manchester Laundry & Allied Trades Exhibition
Awarded a Silver Medal which is now in the Colchester Museum collection. The medal is 32mm, 1¼" diameter and has inscribed on the reverse: 'Awarded for Exhibit to Davey, Paxman & Co Ltd.'
1925 - The Nation's Food Exhibition, Olympia
Awarded a Bronze Medal which is now in the Colchester Museum collection. The medal is 44mm, 1¾" diameter and has inscribed on the reverse: 'The Nation's Food Exhibition Olympia London April 11th to May 2nd 1925'.
1926 (May 10th to 18th) - International Laundry and Allied Trades Exhibition, Royal Agricultural Hall, London.
Exhibits for this exhibition were made under Paxman Order No 16083 of 30 December 1925. The surviving copy order book does not record what particular exhibits were supplied for the exhibition but it is likely they included a Class 'K' stationary steam engine, probably of the 'oil free' type. Paxman Publication No 741, Power Plant for Laundries, of 1926, which was presumably prepared for this exhibition, described the oil-free type of Class K engine as being of particular relevance to laundry operations. The exhaust steam, being free of oil contamination, could be used for laundry processes.
1929 - Exposicion Internacional de Barcelona
Awarded a Silver Medal which is now in the Colchester Museum collection. The medal is 50mm diameter and has inscribed on the reverse: 'Exposicion Internacional de Barcelona 1929'.

Later Awards

1968 - Queens Award to Industry.

1977 - Queen's Award to Industry for Technological Achievement, in recognition of the Company's work on the Valenta engine.

1987 - Queens Award to Industry (Export) - mainly in recognition of the Company's sales of Valenta engines to the US Coastguard Service.

1998 - Paxman was one of the finalists for the MacRobert Award for the VP185 series of high-performance diesel engines by the team of Paxman engineers. The presentation of the Award recognises the successful development of innovative ideas in engineering. It seeks to demonstrate the importance of engineering and the role of engineers and scientists in contributing to national prosperity and international prestige. Originally founded by the MacRobert Trusts the Award is now presented by The Royal Academy of Engineering. These innovative engines have a greatly improved power-to-weight ratio than previous designs but are also extremely environmentally friendly: they have a low fuel consumption, produce very low smoke emissions and already meet NOx emissions targets set for the year 2000. This also gives significant benefits to the operator, for example, through using a VP185 engine, high-speed train fuel consumption is reduced by 10%, which in turn could lead to lower public transport costs.

References

1. Steam and the Road to Glory, Andrew Phillips, Hervey Benham Charitable Trust 2002, ISBN 0 9529360 1 1
2. Tasmanian State Archives.


Acknowledgements: My thanks to John Olding who researched documents in the Tasmanian State archives for information about the company's participation in the 1891 exhibition.


© Richard Carr 2014

Page updated: 22 SEP 2015