The Willis Hydraulic Ram.
Willis Heating & Plumbing Co. Ltd. was founded in Belfast in 1887. The business was born out of the demand for piped water and town gas supplies that were being installed in Belfast at that time.
The Company’s early success was built on William Willis’s prowess as an inventor. Born on a farm that had no piped water supply, William heard of an invention by Etienne Montgolfier (of hot air balloon fame) called a hydraulic ram, that utilised the force of water from a flowing stream to drive a pump capable of lifting water to a higher level.
William Willis turned his mind to developing and improving on the idea and came up with the Willis Improved Hydraulic Ram. His design was to prove so successful in terms of performance and reliability that there are still working Willis rams about the countryside today. With a performance ratio of 1:10 i.e. for every 1m of head of water flowing into the ram, the Willis Ram is able to achieve a 10m lift.
With the average farmer now spending thousands of pounds a year on a piped water supply, there may still be a demand in today’s market for the Willis Hydraulic Ram, either in the agricultural market or in Third World applications.