Roaming with RAMM Challenge 5 – Answer
And the answer is………………..The Kings Beam (located on the Quay in Exeter)
The Kings Beam is a wish bone shaped iron apparatus which can be found under the
canopy of the transit shed on the quay in Exeter. There is also a similar King’s Beam in Topsham on the quay in front of the Lighter Inn (formerly the Custom House for the area). The Kings Beam on Exeter quay was cast in iron in 1838 by Bodley & Co of Commercial Road. The beam was used by customs officers for suspending weighing scales when assessing the duty on imported goods. It is marked “A and WC Bodley, Iron Founders, Exeter 1838”.
When Bodley’s factory closed in 1967, a series of engraved blocks used by the firm to advertise their products was given to our museum, among them the three examples shown here (pictured below). The two on the right show a particular specialism of the firm: the casting of iron gear-wheels used to power machinery. The other device shown was a machine which converted a rapid machine to steadier but more powerful motion. For more information on the many artefacts that RAMM has in its collections please have a look at our collections explorer: https://rammcollections.org.uk/
George Bodley started the Bodely & Co iron foundry in 1790, initially in the Westgate Quarter which for 177 years was one of the city’s most successful and innovative iron foundries. Bodley and Co. manufactured many items from machine-tools through to traction and steam engines. They also became specialists in manufacturing cast iron, machine moulded gear wheels, building up an impressive collection of finely carved, wooden moulds like the ones in RAMM’s collection. They used machinery and techniques developed in Lancashire for the textile industry, adapting them for their own use.
Much of their specialist machinery was either purchased or designed and manufactured for their own use, for example, mechanical cupola-charging machines, blast mains, fans, loam mills, cranes and drying ovens were installed in the mid 19th century. The largest machine tool they owned was a lathe bearing the name Alfred Bodley 1858.