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Grubb and Parsons: Optical and engineering giants

12th April 2017
Grubb and Parsons: Optical and engineering giants, by William Fagan

It was my recent acquisition of a Grubb lens made in Dublin around 1855, shown above, that led me to pen this article about two remarkable Irish and Anglo Irish families. In particular, this involves two father and son duos where the fathers were born in the same year (1800) and the sons both passed away in the same year (1931). 
The contributions of the Grubb and Parsons families in the fields of optics and astronomy are well known, but they also had achievements in other fields such as the consistent printing of bank notes and the creation of the steam turbine. The 19th century was truly a great time for inventors and creators and what we might call ‘renaissance men’ or ‘polymaths’ who could, seemingly, turn their hand to anything and succeed.

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