HC Deb 11 May 1860 vol 158 cc1087-90

said, he rose to draw the attention of the House to the system of cooking in the army invented by Captain Grant, and to ask the Secretary of State for War, if he intends to recommend that some remuneration shall be given to Captain Grant for the great services he has rendered in improving and economising the system. The hon. and gallant Gentleman observed that before those improvements were introduced the only means employed for cooking soldiers' dinners were boilers, and if the men desired to have their food baked they bad to take it to an oven in the town where they happened to be, and to pay for it out of their own pockets. A Board, presided over by Colonel Franklin at Woolwich, in 1856, by whom the subject was investigated, had borne conclusive testimony to the immense saving in fuel from the use of Captain Grant's apparatus; and a subsequent inquiry, conducted by Lieutenant-Colonel Travers, R.A., had also established its value in that respect. There was at present no allowance of fuel for cooking in barracks; but the winter allowance of fuel per week was 3461bs. and the summer 1881bs. per mess; of which it was the custom to devote one-third to cooking. The expense of cooking at the present moment varied from ½d. per man per week to 5d. per man per week. But this last was an excessive charge. It occurred at St. George's Barracks, and was caused by the apparatus of cooking by gas, which for military reasons ought to be discontinued. The system which only cost a halfpenny per day per man was that of Captain Grant. The Army Sanitary Commission, of which the right hon. Gentleman the present Secretary for War was president, entered very minutely into this question, and while it stated that there were then no means for cooking the soldiers' rations but by boiling, recommended that the means should be furnished the soldiers of having their rations cooked by baking, stewing, and frying. Now, these facilities bad been afforded them by the apparatus of Captain Grant. The attention of that officer was first directed to this subject, in consequence of the dreadful reports that were received from the army in the Crimea during the Russian war. Being permitted to make experiments at Aldershot, he fitted up a kitchen there for 1,000 men. His plan was so successful that he was allowed to extend his apparatus to the whole of that encampment, and at this moment it was in use throughout the whole of the encampment. It had also been adopted at Woolwich, Shorncliffe, the Curragh, and Canterbury. It had been in full operation for 60,000 men, and the cost had been at the rate of ½d. per man per week. The amount of fuel consumed by it was 51b. per man per week, while under the old system the consumption was no less than 3 7–81b. per man per day. The saving effected to the country by Captain Grant's apparatus on 1,000 men was, in round numbers, no less than £300 a year, and to the 1,000 men £275 a year, making £575. Captain Grant in his apparatus had simply adopted the principle of four flues, radiating towards a common centre, and communicating with a chimney; and the greater the draught produced in that chimney the greater the heat. The apparatus had also been applied to field cooking, with great success. Captain Grant had likewise invented a system of cooking on the march, which had been extensively tried at Woolwich, and pronounced successful; and the Government had sent the apparatus out to China on a scale calculated for 5,000 men. General Peel, when Secretary of State for War, had spoken of the services rendered by Captain Grant in terms of unqualified praise. In December, 1859, Captain Grant, feeling that he had rendered great service to the army, and was entitled to some consideration from the Government, brought his case under the notice of the present Secretary of State for War, by letter, in which he stated he had been engaged five years in perfecting and practically applying the apparatus, and expressed a hope—not that any Vote should be taken expressly in the Estimates—but that a remuneration to the amount of twelve weeks' saving on two-thirds of the military force might be awarded to him. Seven months afterwards he received an answer to the effect that the cooking waggons were still under experiment, and that his applications for remuneration could not be entertained. He (Colonel Lindsay) thought it was hardly considerate to send so brief a letter to Captain Grant, in which the services he had so recently performed were not even acknowledged. Captain Grant had received applications from the Russian Government to furnish them with a kitchen for 1,000 men, and similar applications from other Governments. An application had also been made from the Indian Army to have it introduced into that service. He (Colonel Lindsay) felt, under the circumstances he had stated, that Captain Grant had been a benefactor both to the public service and to the soldier, and he begged to ask the Secretary of State for War if he intended to recommend that some remuneration should be given to him for the services lie had rendered.


craved the permission of the House to say a few words on this subject. He had the pleasure of knowing Captain Grant, and he could state that no remuneration whatever had been given him by the Government from first to last for all his services in the army, though his apparatus had now been in use for nearly five years; which alone showed that it had received the approbation of the authorities. He hoped, therefore, that the right hon. Secretary for War, who had already done so much for the good of the army, would take this matter into con- sideration, and he was quite willing to leave it in his hands.


said, if he also might be allowed to interpose for a moment between the question and answer he would gladly add his testimony to the great practical utility of Captain Grant's invention. He had had an opportunity of seeing it in operation in the North West London Reformatory, of which Captain Grant had long been an active supporter. So simple was the apparatus that the half-taught boys, with the assistance of an ordinary smith, were able to construct it; and so great the economy, that in the article of bread alone, the saving for an establishment of a little over 100 amounted, as compared with the price previously paid to the baker, to 30s. a week, and the saving in fuel, comparing it with an ordinary range of equal capacity, was upwards of twenty-five tons of coals a year. It was quite proper that a charitable institution should avail itself of Captain Grant's gratuitous services; but it was neither creditable, nor, he might say, politic that a country like England should accept such services without acknowledgment. He thought the principle which seemed to regulate proceedings in such cases a somewhat extraordinary one. If a man invented a method of blowing a whole regiment to atoms, he was amply rewarded, and covered with distinction; but if he merely contrived a means of keeping them alive, he was not thought entitled to distinction or reward by the Government of the country.