William Alford Lloyd part 3.
International Recognition.

image of richard owen
Professor Richard Owen.

Meeting Dohrn - Crystal Palace Aquarium - Dohrn and Naples - Saville-Kent Dispute - Assisting Gosse - Birmingham - Consultancy Work

Undaunted by financial failure, using the experience and knowledge he had gained from his enterprise, but most important of all his installation in Paris, which had proved to be an immediate success eclipsing the Regent's Park Aquariums, Lloyd took advantage of his acquaintance with Dr. H. Meyer, whom he had met at the exhibition stand. As Mayer had revealed Baron Ernst von Merck was in the throes of establishing an aquarium in Hamburg, Lloyd immediately contacted Merck expressing his interest in the position of Aquarium Superintendent. Gaining a positive response to his enquiry, on the 22nd August 1862, Lloyd once again wrote to the benevolent Professor Owen, seeking testimonial support for his formal application for the Hamburg position.

Responding immediately, Owen's influential letter probably secured Lloyd the office he desperately sought as Supervisor of the Hamburg Aquarium. Upon his appointment, in early October, Lloyd moved his family to Grindel Dammthor, Hamburg, so that he could supervise the installation of the tanks and circulating system in the unfinished building. During the time the family were to spend in Germany, correspondence between the Lloyd family and Gatty's, continued, with Martha collecting and translating inscriptions from sundials for Mrs Gatty; which she would later included in her Book of Sundials.

Using the experience gained from his first ever anemone experiments and his successful design in Paris, Lloyd's plans for the Hamburg aquarium included a large underground reservoir of 5000 gallons. This he calculated would be of sufficient volume to stabilise the temperature of the overflowing circulating water, before delivery back to the aquariums under the pressure of steam pumps. Although he estimated the force of the circulating water entering the aquariums would cause sufficient aëration, he also planned to compliment the system with Hurwood's air pressure device as a backup. Finally, in an effort to improve the purity of the overflowing circulating water, before entering the reservoir, it would pass through three filters, the first being a sack filter to remove the large debris and then through two large sand filters for purification.

Lloyd planned to make the Hamburg aquarium the largest and most modern in Europe with 20 tanks available for pubic viewing, including a centrepiece display of two 12 feet long tanks, each being 4 feet high and 6 feet broad holding 1000 gallons of natural seawater, complementing these were eight tanks each 3 feet high, 6 feet long by 5 feet broad. To display tiny burrowing creatures he planned to install two 18 feet long narrow tanks, 20 inches broad and 8 inches deep, mounted low enough to be inspected from above, enabling its contents to be viewed in the same way as the drawers of a cabinet. These tanks, along with the other marine tanks, would be fitted with a self-acting tidal action designed to assist rhodospermeæ growth.

Meeting Dohrn.   top

After the aquarium opened its doors to the public it soon gained the reputation he desired, being visited by most naturalists of influence; including Professor Owen's son. By 1866 the parlour aquarium craze was all but over excepting for the stalwarts who were supported by an ever-dwindling number of dealers; as testament to his influence, Lloyd's name was often mentioned in their advertising literature.

In the summer of 1867, he was told by the Director of the Zoological Garden to lend a hand to Anton Dohrn, then a young student having arrived to study the eggs of the Norwegian crab. Unhappy to have his routine interrupted, Lloyd reluctantly agreed he could work next to his office. Later, sitting in his office with the door open, he heard Dohrn whistling a favourite tune of his, getting up from his chair he enquired if he knew the name of the tune. Not only giving the answer to his question, Dohrn informed Lloyd he was the godson of its composer, Mendelssohn. Overcome with surprise and joy Lloyd immediately changed his attitude towards his young student; forming a lifelong unselfish friendship, Dohrn coming to the aid of Lloyd's daughter Martha many years later.

With over five years of management experience behind him and a glowing reputation of success, propounded by such dignitaries as Dr. Meyer, Professor Mobius, Chief-Justice Schwartz, and Baron Ernst von Merck, in the summer of 1868, Lloyd began searching for a post in England, again enlisting the support of Professor Owen. Informing the professor that he had achieved all that he could in Hamburg and, knowing Owen held the position of Animal Acquisition Consultant, Lloyd strongly hinted he might influence the London Zoological Society Council to consider employing him as Curator of Aquariums, giving him the opportunity to modernise and re-organise their out-of-date fish house. Sadly, if Owen did react to Lloyds request, it proved to be beyond the bounds of even his considerable reputation and influence.

Crystal Palace Aquarium.   top

Although I cannot discover the date Lloyd left Hamburg to return to London, in the early summer of 1869 the newly formed Brighton Aquarium Company issued its Share Prospectus in which Lloyd is listed as the Aquarium Manager; and continues -

Before finally settling their plans the Directors have obtained data from reliable sources as to the construction an management of existing Aquaria; and they have also had the benefit of consulting some of the principal naturalists and other scientific men, amongst whom may be mentioned Professor Owen and Dr. Albert Günther, of the British Museum, and Dr. P. L. Sclater of the Zoological Society of London, to whose interest and confidence in the undertaking the following expressions of opinion, published with the sanction of the writers, bear ample testimony; -

"An Aquarium of adequate extent, well-stocked and skilfully managed, is a means of imparting a knowledge of the colours, movements, food, and habits of aquatic animals to spectators who, in no other way, could get such knowledge, and enjoy so interesting a spectacle of Nature.
"An Aquarium is essential as a means of making the observations and experiments requisite to the advancement of the Science or Natural History of aquatic and especially marine animals; out of which knowledge every analogy justifies the anticipation of an outcome of highly valuable results.
"The selection of Mr. W. A. Lloyd as Manager, will beget confidence in the fulfilment of the aims of the proposed undertaking.
"I know of no Naturalist whose experience, tact, zeal and judgment would ensure success in the establishment and applications of a large Aquarium, in a higher degree.
Richard Owen. July 19th 1869. British Museum.

"The experience gathered by Mr. W. A. Lloyd during his superintendence of the Hamburg Aquarium, and the very valuable observations made by him there, afford a sufficient guarantee that if the erection of an Aquarium at Brighton be entrusted to his care and management, not only the whole structure will probe to be as perfect as possible, but also that the establishment will conducted in such a manner that our knowledge of the habits, development, &c., of marine animals will be considerable advanced.
Albert Günther. July 19th 1869. British Museum.

"I look forward to the proposed establishment of a large Marine Aquarium at Brighton with great satisfaction – not only on account of the advantage thereby likely to accrue to zoological science, but also on account of the facilities which it is likely to render to other Aquaria in the interior of England, and on the Continent, for the acquisition of specimens.
"I have visited and carefully examined nearly all the principal Aquaria of the Continent – namely those a Boulogne, Harve, Paris, Hanover, Berlin, and Hamburg. I have no hesitation in stating that, in my opinion, that at Hamburg, under the direction of Mr. W. Alford Lloyd, is the best of them, and that no one has such a thorough practical acquaintance with the details necessary for the institution and conduct of such an establishment as Mr. Lloyd.
P. L. Sclatter, 11, Hanover Square, London. Secretary of the Zoological Society of London. July 19, 1869.

Although Royal Assent for the proposition to build the Aquarium, which included new roads and sea defences was granted on the 12th July of that year, a legal dispute over ownership of part of the land included within the plan inevitably delayed the beginning of construction. However, the inclusion of large under-floor reservoirs in the aquarium plans does suggest that Lloyd had been consulted during the design of the building.

In the spring of 1870 the Crystal Palace Aquarium Company revealed its ambitious plans to build a new marine aquarium on the site of the fire damaged north wing. Perhaps grasping the opportunity to work closely with Professor Owen, who had been instrumental in setting up the dinosaur display in the Crystal Palace grounds in 1851, Lloyd successfully applied for the post of Aquarium Superintendent. A letter to Owen dated 8th October 1870, Lloyd reveals the circumstances behind his new appointment; suggesting he had remained in the employ of the Hamburg Aquarium until this time.

The Crystal Palace Aquarium Co. Ltd.
Crystal Palace, S.E.
Dear Professor Owen,
I have arrived having secured the post of Superintendent of the great Aquarium now being erected here under my care, to be opened next Easter, and, mainly through the note you were so good as to send Mr Grove on my behalf last June. I have secured more pay than I otherwise should have done, though Grove and I have been occasional correspondents on musical matters for some years, and I think it right to tell you, as an old friend, (as indeed, my very oldest scientific friend,) that my salary is £400 –a year.

My Lares and Penates are still at Hamburg, waiting for this war to be over before they can safely come over on water (I came by land route) and so my evenings are dull and lonely, though my days are busy enough.
Do you remember the very first note you ever sent me – dated June 7th 1853? I suppose not, but I have it still, carefully framed and glazed, as a mark of my first step upwards out of the rank of a journeyman mechanic.

Please give my kindest regards and friendly remembrances to Mrs. Owen and your son. I think that both Meg and you will be gratified when you see the preparations I am making for the accommodation of aquatic animals. It is the first important application of mechanical engineering to natural history in a systematic manner even made in this country.
I am Dear Professor Owen,
With many grateful remembrances,
Yours truly,
W. A. Lloyd.

The construction of the Crystal Palace aquarium began in July of 1870, and in conjunction with the architect, Mr C. H. Driver of Westminster, Lloyd announced his ambitious plans for the marine aquarium. It was to have 38 individual aquariums, supported by 22 stock tanks not available to the viewing public; all connected to a water circulating system served from a massive 100,000-gallon reservoir situated under the viewing saloon. 18 of the largest aquariums were to be sited along the back wall of the main saloon in terrace fashion, constructed of brick with machined slate mullions holding a one inch thick viewing glass; the largest aquariums being number 9 and 10, each three times the length of the smallest in the terrace.
Accessed from the main saloon were to two smaller wing galleries each holding 9 or 10 table aquariums, also supplied with water from the circulating system; based upon the best aspects of the Hamburg aquarium. The large underground reservoir at Hamburg had not only been very effective in refreshing the circulating water, more importantly, it had successfully proved Lloyd's theory on its measure to stabilise the temperature of the circulating water, protecting it from the vagaries of seasonal variation. Although it was due to open to the public on the Easter Holiday weekend in April of 1871, not being ready, a small temporary freshwater display was set up for three days to satisfy the curiosity of the holiday crowds; finally opening on 22 August 1871.

With the experience he had gained from his "Aquarium Warehouse venture," Lloyd knew the success of this new London aquarium was not only dependent on large aquariums, but also on interesting stock and publicity. Within weeks of the marine aquarium opening on October 12th, a large illustrated article was published in the Nature Magazine –

"For the general supply of the aquarium, the company possesses a large marine pond, in communication with the sea at every tide, and serving as a store, with a resident agent (Mr. C. Rogers), at Plymouth. This pond is capacious enough to furnish many animals, otherwise hard to be got, to all the public aquaria in Europe. The company has another agent (Mr. John Thompson) and store-place, at Southend, Essex; and supplies are obtained also from Weymouth, from Rev. R.T. Smith; from Menai in North Wales, from Mr. Edwards; from Tenby, in South Wales, from Mr. W. Jenkins, together with other contributions from North and South Devonshire and the Channel Islands. Notwithstanding all these facilities, however, the difficulty of procuring animals in good health, and of sufficient variety, and of right size, is very great – so great, indeed, on account of periods of excessive heat or cold, or rough weather, that there are probably not more than a dozen or fifteen weeks of any average year (with seldom a couple of weeks consecutively) in which animals can be most advantageously got, and this applies especially to fishes."

Dohrn and Naples.   top

To compliment this, Lloyd also produced an extraordinary detailed handbook comprising of 65 pages, explaining not only how the Crystal Palace aquarium and the systems he had devised worked, but also identified the creatures being displayed in each of the tanks; again learning from the enormous popularity his List of everything had gained some years earlier.
The Crystal Palace soon took over the mantle of biggest and best marine aquarium in Europe, with the handbook reflecting this esteemed position. Such was his success at the Crystal Palace Aquarium, he was by now recognised as the most knowledgeable marine aquarium superintendent in Europe, and many sought his specialist advice and opinion.

In the July of 1872, Anton Dohrn visited Lloyd at the Crystal Palace to tell him of his plans for a marine zoological station in Naples, seeking his help and advice; but with no funds available to pay him, Lloyd immediately sought the consent of his employers, who, seeing the prestige such an advisory appointment would reflect upon the Crystal Palace Aquarium Company, agreed to Lloyd becoming a corresponding supervisor assisting with the design and installation of the aquariums and scientific workstations.

So began a flood of correspondence between the two, which lasted until the opening of the public aquarium on the 26th January 1874; the entire aquarium system and equipment being imported into Italy from England and assembled under the supervision of another English engineer, Mr Digan. During this period of correspondence with Dohrn, in 1873, Lloyd was also pleased to meet up with his old friend Philip Henry Gosse, who, taking time out from what was to be his last visit to London, visited Lloyd at the Crystal Palace. Whilst showing him around, I often wonder if Lloyd told him the story of Bowerbank's earlier visit to view the live sponges on display, something Bowerbank believed would never be possible in his lifetime.

Saville-Kent Dispute.   top

With new public aquariums opening all over England, the first challenge to Lloyd's aquarium management methods came from William Saville-Kent, who had been employed as the manager of the Brighton Aquarium by the time it opened in 1873. Reading his paper before the Society of Arts in March 1876, he doubted the cost and efficiency of Lloyd's dark-chamber circulating system. Saville-Kent's experience of managing public aquaria extended no further than his post at the Brighton, but his earlier positions studying under Huxley at the Royal School of Mines, Owen in the British Museum and his subsequent post in the Cambridge Museum of Comparative Anatomy, added with his Fellowship of the London Zoological Society, afforded him a voice of some authority.

At the time of the dispute, both Lloyd and Saville-Kent were in the employ of Yarmouth aquarium, Saville-Kent as manager, Lloyd as paid advisor; also briefly having worked together in the same capacity in 1875 at the Royal Aquarium, Westminster, where Lloyd had supervised the installation of three huge underground reservoirs under the visitors promenade. When calculating the size of these reservoirs, Lloyd had taken into account not only the volume of water in the 13 aquariums positioned around the side of the main hall, but also the nature of the construction of the building. The huge hall at Westminster, although outwardly appearing robust and traditional with its tall brick walls and stone columns, the iron and glass roof once again allowed direct sunlight upon the aquariums. Under these conditions, if the aquariums were to maintain a constant temperature Lloyd calculated the huge reservoirs essential. The disagreement between them soon became public when Lloyd, holding the position of Society Naturalist, voluntarily resigned soon after the aquarium opened on the 22nd January 1876.

Saville-Kent claimed his aquarium design, which had been implemented at Manchester, was cheaper to build and operate because it had a reservoir only slightly larger than the volume of the largest aquarium, thus allowing any one aquarium to be drained for maintenance. Individual aquariums, although receiving a small supply of circulating water, this was secondary to the stimulating affect of compressed air being continually released below the water surface.
Although today we may view their disagreement as "splitting hairs", the advantage of the large underground reservoirs was, as Lloyd pointed out, to both stabilise the temperature of the circulating water and in consequence the aquariums, and clarify the circulating water by killing suspended spores and microbes in the dark reservoirs; topics Saville-Kent failed to mention. Although invited to answer Saville-Kent's observations in the discussion period after the reading, Lloyd, because of his stammer, as usual declined to speak in public explaining he preferred to answer by letter; which would be published in the same journal the following month.

Perhaps learning from the Brighton plan, Lloyd's design of the Naples marine aquarium took into consideration the advantages of an "open circulation system", where seawater after being filtered, was directly circulate to refresh the aquariums and then discharged back into the sea; negating the need for the large reservoirs required by an inland marine closed circulating system.

A much larger problem that neither admitted nor addressed, was the rapidly diminishing interest of the paying public, confirmed by the falling revenues of most town and city aquariums; which would be soon brought home to them both. Lloyd summed up his attitude to Saville-Kent after Owen enquired after Kent's whereabouts in 1877; Lloyd replied –

"Poor Saville Kent, you will be sorry to know, is still in the same state as that which you describe of him to me two years ago, - namely "tossing about in troubled seas". He made a dreadful mess of the Westminster Aquarium after I voluntarily left it, and then he blundered dreadfully in the Regent's Park one. Since he left the British Museum for aquarium work in 1871, he has been in five public aquaria, and has done no good, and has not made any reputation, in any. He is now in Jersey, trying to get up an Aquarium costing £3000 or £5000, in £1 – shares, but I fear for his success, and I think he has mistaken his vocation, as it wants a man to be a good deal more than a mere naturalist to be a good aquarium maker and manager.

He should never have left the British Museum for an occupation needing much and dirty hard work, and where Kid gloves and chimney-pot hats have not place.

I have helped him in a most disinterested manner, with money and work, and influence, but he seems to have a curious facility for separating from his friends, all round."

Assisting Gosse.   top

In the spring of 1876, Lloyd was pleased to receive an invitation to visit the home of his old friend Philip Gosse at St Marychurch in South Devon.With his interest in the seashore renewed, Gosse wanted Lloyd's advice about installing a new aquarium in his home, based upon Lloyd's circulating system. Glad to be of service, Lloyd not only advised him of the most up to date management methods, but immediately arranged for a circulating system to be installed insisting Gosse accept the essential pump as a present in respect of their enduring friendship; in return Gosse took Lloyd out to sea, dredging from Oddicombe Beach; the first and last mention of Lloyd ever collecting marine specimens for an aquarium.

The system Lloyd designed for Gosse was described in detail in the 'Midland Naturalist', in response to a request from William Hughes, Treasurer of Birmingham Council and President of the Birmingham Naturalist and Microscopical Society. Hughes had been a friend of both Gosse and Lloyd since the opening of the Regent's Park fish house and had been promoting the need for a public aquarium in Birmingham since 1874. Also having corresponded with Lloyd in Hamburg, there can be no doubt Hughes visited Lloyd at the Crystal Palace where he would have seen his most prized exhibit, a single small aquarium set up in his own workroom displaying a pike.

Birmingham.   top

The diminishing interest of the paying public hit Lloyd hard in the summer of 1878, when a financial crisis overtook the Crystal Palace Aquarium Company and it was unable to pay his salary of £400 per annum, forcing him to look elsewhere for other work. Fortunately a new company had been formed to develop the Lower Aston Grounds, in Birmingham, which proposed to extend the existing building to include a large concert hall, skating rink and aquarium. Four years before the formation of this new development company however, in response to a presentation by Hughes at their annual soirée, the Birmingham Natural History and Microscopical Society, decided to build their own aquarium, which is detailed in a reported in the 'Midland Naturalist' of 1878.

"The first step towards the attainment of this desirable object (now about to be realised) was the appointment of a Committee of the Birmingham Natural History and Microscopical Society four years ago, to obtain information on the subject, with the view of promoting an efficient Marine Aquarium in Birmingham; the subject having been introduced by the President, Mr. W. E. Hughes, in an address at the annual soiree of the Society. This Committee, after procuring information from different Aquaria in this country and on the continent, sent a deputation to visit and examine the Crystal Palace Aquarium and the Brighton Aquarium, for the purpose of obtaining practical information about the requirements to be provided for, and specially to enquire into the two different systems of circulation and aeration of the water that are carried out at those places and the results of their working."

"The result of the examination and enquiry of the Committee was a recommendation of the Crystal Palace system, (which is the plan of Mr. Lloyd, the Manager of that Aquarium,) in consequence of their finding the Brighton Aquarium not to successful, zoologically considered, as to the health and condition of the animals, and the clearness of the water in the tanks. The Crystal Palace Aquarium was found to be eminently successful in these respects, the most delicate animals being maintained in perfect health and almost free from those parasitic growths to which they are so subject in confinement, whilst the water in the tanks was beautifully transparent and brilliant. The action of the Committee resulted in a proposal to construct an Aquarium in the basement story of the Midland Institute Building, facing the Town Hall, and plans were prepared by the writer for this purpose under the advice of Mr. Lloyd who was called in to examine and reported favourably upon the proposal."

"That proposal, however, had ultimately to be given up, in consequence of it being found impracticable to adapt the existing building satisfactorily for the desired object. The idea in this proposal had been to establish a Public Aquarium pure and simple, with appliances for scientific study and instruction, in close connection with the Public Library and Art Gallery, and supported only by a small admission charge; the original cost of construction being intended to be materially reduced by the circumstance of adapting a portion of an existing building and thus avoiding the cost of erecting a new building."

As soon as the Aston Lower Grounds Company announced its plans, Lloyd successfully applied for the post of Superintendent of the aquarium; immediately writing to Richard Owen in that October to inform him of his success. Lloyd was to supervise the building of the underground water chambers and the installation of the circulating system, allowing him to bring not only his vast experience to the project, but also include the latest technology into his design; electricity and factitious sea water. Wishing to gain the support of Hughes and his considerable influence, but still lacking the confidence to speak in public, Lloyd sent his paper On the Principles of Aquaria to him, which was read to the assembled members of the Society on the 22nd April 1879, by Mr. Forrest. The paper aroused much discussion on the use of factitious seawater, not least because it had never been used on such a grand scale.

Taking great pains to make it his best work, Lloyd planned to use the most approved engineering appliances of his own devising, which included two steam powered pumps to circulate the water and a steam generator to provide electric light. To save on running costs, the marine aquariums would for the first time use artificial seawater mixed on the spot, with electric lights placed above each aquarium to stimulate weed growth. Further savings were to be made by only dimly illuminating the viewing gallery, anticipating the light from the tanks would also flood out from the front of the aquariums.

Consultancy Work.   top

On the 10th of July 1879 the Aston Aquarium opened, but whilst on the continent, Dohrn's Zoological Station was flourishing to such an extent, Professor Loven, had sent a representative to London to consult with Lloyd about the possibility of a similar establishment being built in Sweden; Lloyd was already worried about the future of his new post. Making a short visit to London a few weeks before the opening, he wrote to Professor Owen to see if he could give assurance to those in Birmingham of his management abilities, but the problem was not of Lloyd's ability, but the financial stability of the Aston Lower Grounds Company. Within six months of the aquarium opening Lloyd was again out of work. Returning to his London home at 4 Zingair Terrrace, Lower Norwood, he found some part-time work at the Crystal Palace and with publishers Cassell & Company as a consultant. With more time on his hands he was able to return to his writing started the year before. His book was to relate his experiences gained managing public aquariums, dedicated to the ever-benevolent Professor Owen, but it was never to be published. Nine months after his return to London, William Alford Lloyd died on the morning of the 13th of July, 1880, at the age of 54; it being reported in both The Norwood Review and Crystal Palace Reporter –

"Mr Lloyd of Gipsy Road, so well known in the connection with the establishments and management's of Aquariums especially that at the Crystal Palace died very suddenly on Tuesday morning".

"Another startling example of the truth that in the midst of life we are in death occurred on Tuesday last when Mr Lloyd of Zingari Terrace, well known as the former manager of the Crystal Palace Aquarium suddenly expired at his residence. It appears that the deceased went out about nine o'clock in the morning to fetch the daily papers and went into his study to write, he being a man of very studious labours.
Soon after, he fell heavily forward out of his chair on to his face. A medical man was at once sent for and friends of the deceased were called on, but all help was unavailing, for the unfortunate gentleman was found to be quite dead. The cause of death, we understand is the breaking of a blood vessel on the brain".

His estate was valued under £400, being left to his wife Amelia who, after being widowed for twenty-six years, died in 1906 at the age of 83. Daughter Martha both contributed and assisted Julie Gatty to publish a book of her mother's collection of sundial inscriptions. Remaining a spinster, she looked after her mother until her death; Martha Lloyd died on the 25th of April 1932, aged 81 years.

All that remains to mark the existence of William Alford Lloyd are the scattered documents I have brought together in an effort to record his life. Perhaps it would have been different if his book had ever been published, which would prove he had far exceeded expectation. He never forgot his humble beginnings and in reading his letters, I am still struck by his deference and humility, particularly to Professor Richard Owen. I often think, had I the opportunity of meeting with Lloyd to discuss his achievements, he would be embarrassed that I should hold him in such high regard.

The remnants of his greatest achievement, the Crystal Palace Aquarium, are being excavated by a group of enthusiastic volunteers, revealing the almost complete remains of aquariums No.'s 17 & 18 and the floor of his workroom, including the underground reservoir. Whilst excavating these, the remains of a small tank were uncovered close to Lloyd's workroom, the same as that illustrated holding a pike in his first series of articles; as fanciful as the notion might be, I believe it be the very same tank.

During his life as an aquarist, Lloyd had discovered, although not understanding the biology behind it, the gravel filter bed, sand filter, charcoal filter, and the effect of light upon microscopic suspended water-life. He designed public viewing galleries illuminated with light emitted from the display tanks and a circulating system that has changed very little in the years since.     top

References for all Lloyd pages are provided as a pdf at the top of Part 1.

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