Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Francis Ley

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Ley, Sir Francis, first baronet (1846–1916), industrialist and promoter of sport

1846 Francis Ley was born at Winshill, Burton on Trent, the only surviving child of George Phillips Ley (1821–1886), high bailiff of the Burton upon Trent county court, and his wife, Sarah Potts (d. 1883).

Educated at Burton grammar school and privately; spent several terms at the Royal Agricultural College in Cirencester.

Instead of continuing the family tradition of gentleman farming he joined the Derby engineering firm of Andrew Handyside and Co.

c.1861 At the age of 15 he trained as a draughtsman with Andrew Handyside and Co.

1870 He became a partner in the firm.

1870 married Georgina Townsend (d. 1886), with whom he had a son and two daughters.

1874 left Handysides and built his own works at Litchurch in Derby, where he made malleable castings; this was to become Leys Malleable Castings Co. The firm became the first European producers of blackheart malleable iron.

1878 his firm infringed the patent of an American company making drive chain belts but he was soon the recipient of the sole manufacturing rights and was successful enough to be able to pull down the original works in 1880 and rebuild on a larger scale.

Active in the public life of Derby and Nottinghamshire. He supported local hospitals and nursing institutions.

Promoted athletic sports in Derby, particularly cricket. He laid out a recreation ground for his workers. He was a patron of the Derbyshire Football Association for many years. He also attempted to establish baseball as a professional spectacle in Derby. The Baseball Ground was leased to Derby County Football Club in 1895 and remained their ground until 1997.

1916 Died at Epperstone Manor

See Also


Sources of Information

  • Biography of Sir Francis Ley, ODNB