Scottish banker and experimenter with steam engines on marine vessels.
Born: 1730/1, Glasgow, Scotland
Patrick Miller of Dalswinton, just north of Dumfries, was a Scottish banker and shareholder in the Carron Co engineering works and an enthusiastic experimenter in ordnance and naval architecture, including double or triple hulled pleasure boats propelled by cranked paddle-wheels placed between the hulls.
He built 8 or more paddle driven vessels using manual labour to turn the paddles.
On seeing a steam-carriage model made by the engineer William Symington (or on the suggestion of Symington’s friend James Taylor), he got Symington to build his patent steam engine with its drive into a twin-hulled pleasure boat. This was successfully tried out on Dalswinton Loch near Miller’s house on the 14 October 1788.
He is reported to have spent £30,000 in experiments.
The next year a larger engine was fitted to a 60 ft long twin hull paddle boat and tried on the Forth and Clyde Canal. After initial problems of paddle wheels breaking up on 2 December, the vessel travelled some distance along the canal at a “motion of nearly seven miles an hour” on 26 December and 27 December 1789.
Miller had been complaining about the cost of the venture, and he then abandoned the project. Ten years later, Lord Dundas restarted Symington’s work on a steamboat, leading to the famous paddle steamer Charlotte Dundas.