AN EIGHTEENTH CENTURY HAND GRENADE.
A large great Conflagration at Stockholm, in Sweden, will, it is hop’d, engage all persons of Worth, for their own security, to sign to Mr. Povey’s Petition for obtaining a Charter or an act of Parliament to establish his undertaking to extinguish Fires; and before that petition is granted, which now cannot be till next Sessions of Parliament, to assist towards preparing a sufficient Number of Men and Bombs to be plac’d in all paits of the Cities and Suburbs of London and Westminster, and in other Cities and great towns, to be ready at Hand to extinguish Fires that shall break out.
Just at the writing of this Paper, a French Gentleman told Mr. Povey that he saw, at Paris in November last, a German put out a flame of fire in a Soldier’s B’rrack with several sorts of Powders and Liquids mixt together, and put into a barrel of water set upon a carriage with wheels, and drawn by four men. This invention can be of no use at all to put out Fires in upper rooms, in case the said German’s preparations had been of force, as they were not, to extinguish a fire of Shavings, Brushes, Faggots, Pitch, Tar, Oil, and Tallow, as this author did in his Park at Belisize, where all these combustible matters flam’d and roar’d in a Timber House built with dry Deal Boards, with an incredible fury, and yet the said house is still standing. Another experiment to quench Fire was made near London on the 2nd of April last, before several of the Nobility, by a Chymist. He declared to them, that the materials he made use of upon that occasion were Chymical and Physical Preparations of his own mixing ; and the House where the said Chymist try’d his Experiment was burnt down.
The sight of that accident, gave Mr. Povey the first thought of making use of Gunpowder and water to extinguish Fire ; he never receiv’d any advice or information in the matter from any person in the World ; neither was ever Bomb prepar’d without the particular direction of Mr. Povey, and no other person did prepare any Bomb that extinguish’d the fires in his project at Belisize, but only Mr. Peter Cook, Tutner, in the little Minories, as the said Cook and his son are ready, if requir’d, to testify upon Oath.
This is the Preface or introduction to show that the experiment to extinguish fires in reality was never found out and brought to Perfection till now. And it is plain that nothing will perform the work but Gunpowder and water only.
Now as the Legislature has thought fit, to offer a reward of £20,000, to find out the longitude, and have made Statutes for fixing FirePlugs and Engines in all proper places, it is not to be question’d, but that they will make an Act to invest the sole Property of preparing and selling the Bombs to the Inventor thereof, and oblige the Churchwardens of every Parish, in all Countries, to always keep by them a certain Number of the said Bombs, and appoint the Beadle, or some other parish Servant, to repair immediately with the said Bombs upon the first notice of any Fire, and to extinguish it.
It is propos’d that the Price of each Bomb be settled at 7s. 6d., and never more, that no person may have Occasion to complain that they are too expensive. Not less than 80,000 Bombs will be sufficient to answer the Demands of the first call of the Fire Offices, Church Wardens of Parishes, the Nobility, Gentry, Wholesale Dealers, Commanders of Ships, and other persons of estates and fortunes.
It is certain that an Act of this nature will have no open Enemies, because it will for the future prevent great Conflagrations, and save from de struction by Fire, Magazines, Cities, Towns. Vil lages. Noblemen and Gentlemen’s Seats, Ships of War, and Merchants’ Vessels. This is fact; the Conflagration can never spread, even in cases of Treachery or in great storms of wind, for one moment after the bomb goes off, the fire is extinguished.
These Bombs can be made use of in narrow streets and Alleys where Engines cannot be brought into play, and each bomb requires only Four Gallons of Water, and one Bomb is sufficient to extinguish the greatest Fire that can ever happen in any room of twelve or fourteen foot square; but in Warehouses and large Places two or three may be wanted ; so that the scarcity of water can never be any hindrance to the success of this new Invention. And what fatal consequences often happen in Cities and Towns for want of great quantities of water to Extinguish Fires !
The use of Engines requires much time and many hands to fetch and prepare them service, whereas one man can immediately run away with as many Bombs in a basket as will extinguish fires in five or six several apartments. In cases of general conflagrations the Offices that ensure from losses by fire will avail little ; all those companies cannot repair the damage of £500,000 or £600,000. But had the Bombs that are now invented been used at the late Fire in Sweden, the loss of above £2,000,000 sterling might have been saved in the short space of one Day and a Night.
Note.—This author has invented an Engine that goes with a spring to throw the Bombs in at windows one, two or three stories high, without opening any doors.—From The London Journal of June 8, 1723.