Joseph Aspdin (December 1778 – 20 March 1855) was an English cement manufacturer who obtained the patent for Portland cement on 21 October 1824.
1778 Aspdin (or Aspden) was born, the eldest of the six children of Thomas Aspdin, a bricklayer living in the Hunslet district of Leeds, Yorkshire. He was baptised on Christmas Day, 1778.
He entered his father's trade
1811 He married Mary Fotherby at Leeds Parish Church (the Parish Church of St Peter at Leeds) on 21 May 1811.
By 1817 he had set up in business on his own in central Leeds.
1824 He must have experimented with cement manufacture during the next few years, because on 21 October 1824 he was granted the British Patent BP 5022 entitled An Improvement in the Mode of Producing an Artificial Stone, in which he coined the term "Portland cement" by analogy with the Portland stone, an oolitic limestone that is quarried on the channel coast of England, on the Isle of Portland in Dorset. Aspdin's specification, No. 5022, is dated October 24th, 1824, and relates to "An Improvement in Modes of Producing Artificial Stone". 
1825 In partnership with a Leeds neighbour, William Beverley, he set up a production plant for this product in Kirkgate, Wakefield. Beverley stayed in Leeds, but Aspdin and his family moved to Wakefield (about nine miles away) at this point.
1825 He obtained a second patent, for a method of making lime.
1837 Dissolution of the Partnership between Joseph Aspdin of Wakefield, and William Beverley, of Leeds, as Manufacturers of Portland Cement, and also lately carrying on business at Liverpool, as Dealers in Cement
The Kirkgate plant was closed in 1838 after compulsory purchase of the land by the Manchester and Leeds Railway Company, and the site was cleared. He moved his equipment to a second site nearby in Kirkgate.
At this time his eldest son James was working as an accountant in Leeds, and his younger son, William, was running the plant. However, in 1841, Joseph went into partnership with James as Joseph Aspdin and Son; he posted a notice that William had left, and that the company would not be responsible for his debts, stating "I think it right to give notice that my late agent, William Aspdin, is not now in my employment, and that he is not authorised to receive any money, nor contract any debts on my behalf or on behalf of the new firm."
In 1843, William established his own plant at Rotherhithe, near London. There he introduced a new and substantially stronger cement, using a modified recipe for cement-making, the first "modern" Portland cement.
In 1844 Joseph retired, transferring his share of the business to James.
1848 James moved to a third site at Ings Road, Northfleet, and this plant continued in operation until 1900.
Sources of Information
- The Engineer 1903/05/22
- The London Gazette 11 April 1837