Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

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Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 149,723 pages of information and 235,473 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

James Walton (1803-1883)

From Graces Guide

James Walton (1803-1883) of Sowerby Bridge, Yorkshire; of Curtis, Parr and Walton, Manchester; of James Walton and Sons, Haughton Dale (near Manchester)

1803 Born at Stubbins, Ripponden, Yorkshire.

1839 Sowerby Exhibition. 'In the machine room the latest addition is a self-acting engine for cutting the teeth of gearwheels, furnished by Mr. J. Walton; and its value may be best appreciated by comparing it with those generally employed in the metropolis in the present day. The common cogwheels are formed by three operations, each of which requires manual labour, but in the instrument before us they are all effected at once, and that too without the aid of a human power.'[1]

1840 'On Wednesday, Mr. James Walton, of Sowerby Bridge, gave his mechanics, to the number of 80, a most substantial Yorkshire dinner of roast beef and plum pudding, to commemorate the finishing of the largest machine, for planing iron, in the kingdom. The dinner was served up on the machine, which was kept in motion the whole time, so that the party were moving backwards and forwards all the evening. The machine was named the "Nonpareil," by Mrs. James Walton, amidst the loud plaudits, and over flowing glasses of the men. The party remained upon the machine until a late hour, highly delighted with the generous entertainment of their master. The length of the bed of the machine is 32 feet, and the breadth 8 feet 6 inches; the weight of the bed is 22½ tons; length of carriage 24 feet, and breadth 8 feet 10 inches; weight of carriage 12 tons; breadth of machine, between the standards, 14 feet; height 22 feet; weight of the whole machine 65 tons. It will plane 24 feet in length, 14 in breadth, and 14 in depth.' [2]

1841 Trial for an infringement of one of Mr. Walton's (of Sowerby Bridge, near Halifax) Patents. The subject matter in the specification was "a certain improvement in cards for carding the wool, cotton, silk, and other fibrous substances, and for raising the pile on cloth..."[3]

1844 Sale of premises 'Also all that MILL or Factory adjoining the River Calder, being four Stories high, besides the Attic, situate near to the said Messuage or Dwellinghouse, formerly in the possession of the said George Greenup, but now of the the said Jas. Walton, and which is used by him as a Carding and Fulling Mill, with the three Water Wheels of 12-Horse power each...'[4]. Was this Greenup's Mill, Sowerby Bridge?

1845 'STEAM ENGINES AND WOOLLEN MACHINERY. TO BE SOLD BY AUCTION, by Mr. DAVIS, .... at the Mill and Premises occupied by Mr. James Walton, SOWERBY BRIDGE, near Halifax, who is declining the Woollen Business : The whole of the Valuable MACHINERY for Carding, Spinning, Fulling, and Finishing Woollen Cloths; comprising .....'[5]

1847 'xxx residing at Sowerby Bridge....and working as Journeyman for Mr. James Walton, Millwright and Machinemaker there from January 28th, 1846, to March 12th, 1847...'[6]

1853 Walton ended the partnership with Parr and Curtis.

1857 He built a factory in Haughton Dale. James Walton and Sons produced machinery and cards.


The death is recorded of Mr. James Walton, which took place on November 5, at his residence. Dolforgan Hall, Newtown, Montgomeryshire, in the 81st year of his age.
Up to little time ago he was senior partner in the firm of James Walton and Sons, Haughton Dale Mills, Denton, near Manchester. Remarkable for his inventive genius, he has left behind him a long roll of original ideas, many which carried into practice have been largely instrumental in assisting and increasing the productive powers of one of the great staple trades of this country — that of cotton spinning.

He commenced business at Sowerby Bridge, near Halifax, Yorkshire, about the year 1824, and achieved a first success by a now method of friezing the Petersham cloth, then so much in vogue. He also established there machine works, from which issued the largest planing machine which had to that time been attempted in this country. Later he invented and introduced the use of india rubber and cloth in place of leather as a foundation for wire-cards for the carding of cotton and other fibres. The system as regards cotton carding has become almost universal.
About the year 1838 he joined the firm of Parr, Curtis, and Co., in Manchester (who had succeeded to the business of J. C. Dyer and Co.) for the purpose of making cards by machinery. Up to that time they had been always set - i.e., inled with wire points — by hand. The original wire-card setting machine came from America. This machine, then somewhat primitive, he at once re-modelled and developed to its present high state of speed and perfection.

Other changes and improvements followed in rapid succession, and among them may be mentioned the application of wire cards for the purpose of raising the nap on woollen goods in place of teazles, the invention of a planing machine in 1820 for obtaining true surfaces, the invention of several machines for raising the nap on woollen goods, the invention of machine for making sheets of hollow indiarubber balls to be applied for making bed mattresses, also machines for testing the strength of wire, &c.

He retired from active business some years ago. He was High Sheriff of Montgomeryshire in 1877. His only surviving sons, William and Frederick, inherit some of his inventive talent, the latter having originated and established the now important industry of Linoleum floor-cloth, as well as that of Lincrusta-Walton wall decoration.
On Friday the remains of the deceased gentleman were consigned to their last resting place in the churchyard of the village. About fifty of the tenantry headed the funeral procession. ..... The coffin was of polished oak, with brass fittings. On the plate was the following inscription "James Walton, Dolforgan, Kerry; born April 15th, 1803; died November 5th, 1883. Aged 80 years."

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. Leeds Mercury - Saturday 2 November 1839
  2. Halifax Express, 13 June 1840
  3. Leeds Mercury - Saturday 20 February 1841
  4. Halifax Guardian - Saturday 19 October 1844
  5. Bradford Observer, 1 May 1845
  6. The London Gazette Publication date:5 April 1850 Issue:21084 Page:1013
  7. Eddowes's Journal, and General Advertiser for Shropshire, and the Principality of Wales - Wednesday 14 November 1883