Charles MacIntosh Part 2

In 1825, Charles MacIntosh supplied the Franklin 3rd Canadian and Arctic expedition with waterproofs. It is alleged that Franklin himself came looking for Macintosh, in the hope that this new technology would protect his party from the ravishes of Arctic storms. Captain William Parry’s narrative of an attempt to reach the North Pole in 1825:  “We narrowly escaped the loss of a bag of cocoa which fell overboard; the bag being made of Mackintosh’s Water-Proof Canvas, the cocoa did not suffer the slightest injury. I know of no material which, with an equal weight, is equally durable and water-tight; in the latter quality….. it is indeed perfect.”

1826 – Thomas Hancock, businessman by then had invented a machine to work raw rubber and in 1826 was contracted to work with Charles Macintosh and Company manufacturing waterproof garments in Manchester.

However, in the early years, problems developed during the manufacturing process. Tailors punctured the fabric while in the process of seaming them, allowing rain to penetrate. The natural oil in woolen cloth made the rubber deteriorate, and the garments became stiff in winter and humid in hot weather. Sometimes they melted in the sun! Hancock made some improvements and over the years sales continued to soar. And grow they did.

1828 – Charles became a partner with James Beaumont Neilson in a firm to exploit the latter’s patent for the hot blast blowing of blast furnaces, which saved considerably on their fuel consumption, boosting profits.

1829 – With managers in place for his various companies, this allowed Charles time again to turn to research. The inventions and experiments continued again that year at Crossbasket when Charles published an account of his experiments of using kelp as a manure. These experiments proved hugely successful, as described in an account published on 3rd June by The Inverness Courier.

“The power of agricultural art is, perhaps, in few places better displayed than in the estate of Charles Macintosh, Esq of Crossbasket. In it the ground, which, but a few years ago, might have been denominated sterility itself, being scarcely capable of bearing health, has its ridges now numbered with the most fertile of the adjoining fields, promising to the seed a sure reception, and to the crop luxuriance. This rapid conversion of most useless into the most useful, together with the excellent keeping of all the estate of Mr M’lntosh, it every day becoming more the admiration of not only the neighbouring, but also of the distant, farmer, till now the propriety of publicly adverting to the farming system of this gentleman, or even of commending it to others, is fully warranted ready to be started, whether its general success depends more upon that department of it which is original, or that which is customary, but executed in a superior manner by dint of superior means? The former consists of making substitute for ordure or common dung, that in the fields of Macintosh the common manure is rarely made use of; the latter of liming, draining and tilling, which department is always performed, and that with a degree of perfection that might be truly sufficient even to counterbalance negative tendencies of the former, and when done have a produce admirable to neighbouring husbandmen. Crossed experiments have, however, proven the former to be worthy adoption, and although its effect is not quite immediate as that of Common manure, it afterwards constitutes a richer and far more durable nutriment. Without any license to disclose the secret of this system further than not being restricted to the contrary, it may observed that this substitute for common dung is a compound heterogeneous, and as might be expected, dirty, ingredients, the naming of which might be offensive but for the recollection of their being essential to the staff of lite.

These are the leading materials according to their precedence-Old rags, old hats, old shoes, moss, burned bones, hoof and horn parings, salt, kitchen sweepings, refuse of soap, calves ears, cows’ tails, tripes, hair, trolly bags, &c.

Whatever difficulty lexicographers might feel in allowing this composition to pass under the name of only a substitute for dung, and whatever other farmers may think of it, it is, nevertheless, a species of nutriment from which, along with lime, extraordinary crops of wheat, &c., are produced on lands whence no such thing was ever anticipated it is, moreover, adopted by man whose character, already earned, is fit to impart commendation to whatever he does.

The effect, as has been already admitted, however, is not immediate, being hardly observable till the second year, the time perhaps necessary for putrefaction. After the waste ground alluded was prepared and stored with this manure, the first crop consisting of potatoes was not the better for it, as one drill set for experiment in common dung evinced, but the corn growing on the same ground the following year became so long, massy and luxuriant, as to require underprops, according to the manner in France.

This experiment directly suggested to Mr. Macintosh how suitable the thing would be for fallow ground, hence the beautiful brairds of wheat now be seen on Shielhill and Maughlinehole. At this season and during the summer, the stuff recommended is drawn from Glasgow in hay-wagons to these farms, where it is cut and prepared by old labourers for so much the ton. Another public good result from such experiments and improvements, is the employment they afford to working people, for which and other favours. the name of Macintosh is much esteemed at Kilbride.”

Charles conducted these agricultural experiments at an upper field of 9 acres which he drained with tile drains every 12 feet. He then divided the whole into 18 parts. The field located on the farm had previously been neglected through “ill treatment and mismanagement.” In the field adjacent he had 10 acres of potatoes and a further field with an impressive 30 acres of wheat.

Meantime, his success continued. An advertisement in Woolmer’s Exeter and Plymouth Gazette of Saturday 25 July 1829 stated (1): “Sheppard and Gains, having been appointed agents for Devon and Cornwall, respectfully announce to the Nobility, Gentry and the Public, that they have just received a large consignment of these goods, direct from the Patentees, which are quite ready for inspection.  Cloth, plaid cloths of various colours, wellingtons, cloaks and capes, travelling bags of Brussels carpeting, bathing caps, washing aprons, air cushions and air beds…”

1830 – On 28th July 1830, George McIntosh (the son of Charles) is shown to be the Vice President of “The Glasgow Celtic Society”, for promoting literary and other improvements connected to the Highlands of Scotland.

1832 – “The Enumeration of the Inhabitants of the City of Glasgow” by James Clelland of 1832 records Charles McIntosh and his son George, still living at Crossbasket during this year.

On 31st December, Charles attended a dinner for the Wesleyan Missionary Society, which again, noted his residence as Crossbasket.

1833 – July 1835 – Sometime in this period Charles McIntosh sold Crossbasket.

1836 – The Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser of 9 January 1836 (4) reported: “Charles Macintosh, of CrossBasket, near Glasgow, hereby gives notice that he intends forthwith to apply to His Majesty in council for the prolongation of a further term of seven years, or such term not exceeding seven years as His Majesty shall please; of his repetitive terms of sole using and vending his invention of a “process and manufacture whereby the texture of hemp, flax, wool, cotton and silk, and also leather, paper and other substances may be rendered impervious to water and air…”

The aforementioned newspaper report of 1836 suggests “Charles Macintosh of Crossbasket”. However, I think this was a reporting error, with Charles already left Crossbasket by this time. As such, I would be careful when considering this entry. My proof of this is from local minister Rev James Anderson, whom in July 1835 wrote Blantyre Parish Statistical Account mentioning that the “mines at Basket belong to A Downie of Crossbasket.”

It is my belief that Macintosh sold Crossbasket in early 1835 and moved out by Summer of that year, as I find no trace of him being there after that year.

1843 – Charles Macintosh died in 1843 at Dunchattan, Scotland, and was buried in the churchyard of Glasgow Cathedral.

Words taken from “The History of Crossbasket Castle” by Paul D Veverka 2015 (c)

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