Help Bude’s ‘forgotten genius’ win heritage award

Help Bude’s ‘forgotten genius’ win heritage award

The Gurney Stove – invented in the 1800s by Sir Goldsworthy Gurney (who also built the Castle, Bude) – has been shortlisted in the Cornwall Heritage Awards.


If you have ever visited The Castle, you will have been sure to have seen the Gurney Stove for yourself, as it is positioned near The Castle’s entrance to welcome visitors inside.


The Gurney Stove was an early type of radiator and was one of Sir Goldsworthy’s most successful inventions. In fact, it is likely that Gurney’s design was the forerunner of the modern radiator – so we may have him to thank for keeping warm this winter!


The stove was installed into 22 cathedrals, including world-famous St Paul’s Cathedral, and over 10,000 churches, schools, and government buildings across the country. There are still some working examples that have been converted to gas, at Chester, Hereford and Tewksbury.


Sir Goldsworthy Gurney is often described as Cornwall’s ‘Forgotten Genius’. He trained as a surgeon but excelled as an inventor, engineer and scientist. You may be surprised to discover he came up with many other inventions and innovations that changed British life.


One of Gurney’s most innovative ideas involved his home here at The Castle, whereby injecting a stream of oxygen into an oil flame, he invented a completely new system of lighting – known as the Bude Light – which was used to illuminate Trafalgar Square, Pall Mall and the Houses of Parliament as well as The Castle.


A true Cornishman, Sir Goldsworthy Gurney’s inventions made a significant impact around the world, which still resonate today. Please vote for the Gurney stove to win ‘Cornish Object of the Year’ and help get Bude’s forgotten genius the recognition he deserves. Votes are free to cast via the Cornwall Museums Partnership website here.


Did you know…?


Sir Goldsworthy Gurney, the builder of The Castle, was a prolific inventor whose inventions were often ahead of their time. As well as the Gurney Stove, he also invented:


  • The first steam-driven carriage, a forerunner of the steam engine.
  • The Bude Light which used oxygen to create a very bright light. His invention was used to light the Houses of Parliament for over 50 years.
  • His Steam Jet Furnance also heated and ventilated the Houses of Parliament.
  • The Gurney and Rixon light that led to lighthouses having individual flashing sequences so that ships would know which lighthouse they were approaching, a concept still used today.
  • The Oxy-Blowpipe, a device which safely burnt oxygen and hydrogen together, creating a very hot flame.
  • Limelight which was used to illuminate theatres and music halls during the 1800s.



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