Rubery Owen in Darlaston, and the other members of the Owen Organisation produced a vast range of products. In 1911 Rubery Owen developed a new product, a mechanical water filtration plant, and produced a version of Andrew's patented water softening plant. The following information was taken from an article in 'The Engineer', published on 10th November, 1911. The article includes a long and detailed description of the operation of both pieces of equipment, which I have shortened somewhat.

The Mechanical Filtration and Softening of Water

The mechanical filter.


The most frequently adopted method of filtering water is that of slow sand filtration, which requires a large area of land and a small filtering bed, the rate of filtration varying between one and four million gallons per acre per day.

In places where the price of land renders this system impracticable, and where the cost of the filters is a matter of consideration, mechanical filters can be substituted, as they not only take up very considerably less space, but also compare very favourably with the slow sand filters as regards working costs. It should be pointed out that the term "mechanical" here applies to the means adopted for cleansing the filtering material.

There are two principal methods of cleansing in use. In one, the water is caused to flow through the filter bed in the opposite direction to that in which filtration usually occurs, air being also injected underneath the bed. In the other the reverse flush of water is used simultaneously with a mechanical agitator.

Some makers introduce the necessary air by means of a steam injector. In the apparatus we are about to describe, which is made by Rubery, Owen and Co., Darlaston, the steam jet is done away with and the reverse flush itself is utilised to inject the air. In addition, a hand-operated agitator is provided, so that the filtering material is thoroughly broken up and a uniform contact with the air results.

The header tank A contains a supply of clean water which flows through pipe B into the cone D from where the water carries a current of air from openings T1 and T2 into space F, beneath the filters H.

The filters have been specially designed for the bacterial purification of water for town supplies, and are employed in conjunction with coagulants, by means of which a film is formed on the bed artificially. The coagulant is introduced into the pipe which supplies the filter with water.

The makers claim that, owing to the filter being covered, the growth of algae is prevented, and the formation of the desired film is under control, the time required for the growing process being only a few minutes.

The water and air pass upwards through the filtering material, and the air finally escapes by way of an air pipe not shown.


A sectional elevation of the mechanical filter.

The unfiltered water enters at P, and the filtered water passes through the filtering medium H and perforated filtering plate G, fitted with specially constructed screening chambers and gauze screens. The filtered water flows into the header tank via pipe U and flows out of the header tank through pipe L. Wheel S allows the filter to be agitated.



The Andrews Water Softener.

Andrew's patented water-softening plant is another device made by the same firm. The plant illustrated in the photograph has been erected at Messrs. Rubery and Owen 's works at Darlaston where it is effectually reducing hard water of from 54 deg. to 6 deg. of hardness. It can soften 5,000 gallons of water per hour.

The hard water enters header tank A and flows out through valve B into cone J where it is mixed with milk of lime from the chemical tank H via pipe R, and air. The passage of the water and chemicals together down pipe S and cylinder L, together with the impact against the baffle-plate K and the addition of air ensures an intimate mixing of the whole. The treated water next passes through the openings in the bottom of the cylinder L and the stand pipe T to the sand filter U where it is deprived of its precipitate, consisting of a powder which would otherwise find its way into the boiler. When header tank A has emptied, the fall of the float C brings the tripping gear into action and the positions of the passages in the two-way valve B are reversed. The header tank again fills, and when full, valve B operates and the whole process starts again.

The tripping gear.

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