Born in Newark, Nottinghamshire, on 28 December 1836: died Ashton
on Mersey 13 January 1914. Educated at Newark Grammar School. Inventor
of improvements to steam locomotives. During training as an artist at South
Kensington he was advised by W.P. Frith (famous as painter of The
Railway Station, 1862) to take up mechanical drawing. This brought him
into contact with engineering and gave scope for his inventive talent. From
1857 he worked as draughtsman for Sharp, Stewart & Co, Manchester on
locomotive design, including improvements to brakes. He. also applied his
inventive genius to textile machinery.
In 1864 he began improving the Giffard injector by making the combining cone adjustable relative to the steam cone. This was patented in conjunction with John Robinson who was a partner in the firm. In 1865 Gresham left Sharp, Stewart and after a period in London started a works in Manchester in 1866 to manufacture sewing machines and injectors. He was joined by Thomas Craven and J. S. Heron, but in 1880 when Heron died the title of the firm became Gresham & Craven. In 1877 Gresham took out his first patent for improvements in the vacuum brake injector. This was followed by many patents concerning the vacuum brake. Together with the Derby works manager, Holt, Gresham developed from 1885 the first steam sanding gear, much more effective in adverse conditions than gravity sanding. He had originally intended to use Westinghouse brake equipment to supply the jet, but Westinghouse refused permission for this, and so ended that firm's chances of persuading the Midland Railway to adopt the Westinghouse brake. By overcoming driving wheel slip this gave a new lease of life for the single driver type engine. In 1889 he took out his first patent for railway passenger communication, consisting of a glass disc, breakage of which admitted air to the train pipe. Elected MIME 1880, MICE 1.12.1885. He was also JP, an art collector, and he presented a statue of King Edward VII to Manchester Corporation.
2784/1864 with John Robinson injector improvements
3169/1867 injector improvements
Min Proc ICE V 196 1914 p 360; Proc IME 2.1914 p 212; The Eng V 117. 16.1.1914 p 75; Engg V 97 16.1.1914 p 78 [Marshall modified with reference to Radford]
See: W. A. Tuplin, Midland Steam (1973).