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British Industrial History

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James Bazeley Petter

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1896. Petter, Hill and Boll's Autocar. From Left to Right: (Front) James B. Petter, H. W. Southcombe, (Back) G. B. Petter and E. W. Petter.

James Bazeley Petter (1846- 1906), the founder of James B. Petter and Sons

1846 Born son of John and Eliza Petter[1] in Barnstaple[2].

1870 Married Charlotte Branscombe, of Bristol, daughter of a rubber merchant. They went on to have, in all, 15 children, including the twins Ernest and Percival who were to become the leaders in the development and growth of Petters.

He received the ironmongery firm Harman and Gillett of Yeovil as a present from his father on his marriage, his father having purchased the business as a wedding gift for his son.

1871 Ironmonger inYeovil employing 11 men and 10 boys[3]

Later acquired the Yeovil Foundry and Engineering Works, making agricultural machinery. Took the manager, Henry F. Edgar, as a partner in the business.

1871 Birth of son James H. B. Petter

1872 Birth of son Guy Bazeley Petter

1872 Advertisement: 'YEOVIL IRON FOUNDRY. JAS. B. PETTER & FRANK EDGAR. Having SUCCEEDED to the BUSINESS of Mr. Wm. HOWE, BRASS AND IRON FOUNDER AND AGRICULTURAL ENGINEER, Beg most respectfully to solicit the favours of the public, which shall at all times receive prompt and careful attention. Especial and personal attention will be given to the REPAIRS OF AGRICULTURAL IMPLEMENTS AND STEAM MACHINERY, Messrs. Petter & Edgar having engaged the services of good and experienced workmen in this department of their works. A STOCK OF BELTING, Leather, Gutta Percha, and India-rubber, kept in every useful size. Please address:— PETTER AND EDGAR, Iron Founders, Yeovil'[4]

1873 Birth of twin sons Ernest and Percival.

1881? Founded the Nautilus Stove Co, making grates and kitchen ranges.

After Queen Victoria installed Nautilus fire grates at Balmoral Castle and Osborne House, demand for these grew substantially.

1886 Henry Edgar died in accident.

1895 James appointed his son, Percy, as manager of the foundry.

Established Yeovil Motor Carriage Co (or may have been Yeovil Motor Car and Cycle Co); 12 horseless carriages manufactured.

The company concentrated on small agricultural engines.

1897 James B. Petter and Sons showed a combined oil engine and pump at the Royal Agricultural Show[5]

1901 Ernest and Percy bought the business from James

1901 Living at 16 High Street, Yeovil: James Petter (age 54 born Barnstaple), Ironmonger and Employer. With his wife Charlotte Petter (age 54 born Bristol) and their children Guy Petter (age 28 born Yeovil), Engine Maker; Percevil Petter (age 27 born Yeovil), Iron Founder; Hugh Petter (age 26 born Yeovil), Ironmonger; Mary Petter (age 25 born Yeovil); Claude Petter (age 20 born Yeovil), Glove Manufacturer; Evelyn Petter (age 11 born Yeovil); Gertrude Petter (age 24 born Yeovil); and Richard Petter (age 9 born Yeovil). Also one visitor and three servants.[6]

1906 Obituary [7]

We regret to have to announce the death of Mr. J . B. Petter, which took place at his house, West Park. Yeovil, after a very short illness, on Tuesday, April 17th. Mr. Petter was the founder of the firm of James B. Petter and Sons, and retired from active management in 1901.

He was fifty-nine years of age, a member of several public bodies at Yeovil, and a magistrate for the borough.

1906 Obituary [8]

See Also


Sources of Information

  • Sir Ernest Willoughby Petter, by Anne Pimlott Baker, ODNB.
  1. BMD
  2. A History of Petter Innovation by Jack Sweet [1]
  3. 1871 census
  4. Western Gazette, 22 March 1872
  5. The Engineer 1897/07/30
  6. 1901 Census
  7. The Engineer 1906/04/20
  8. Engineering 1906 Jan-Jun: Index: General Index