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British Industrial History

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Edgar Gilkes

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Edgar Gilkes (1821-1894)

An engineer on the Stockton and Darlington Railway who with C. A. Leatham started Teeside Furnaces

1856 of Gilkes, Wilson and Co

1894 December 18th. Died


1895 Obituary [1]

EDGAR GILKES was born at Nailsworth, Gloucestershire, on 22ud February 1821.

His early engineering training was received at the works of Messrs. Barrett, Exall, and Andrewes, Reading.

In 1839 he went to Shildon as an engineer on the Stockton and Darlington Railway; and in 1843 was appointed manager at Middlesbrough of a branch establishment for the repair of rolling stock, under the name of the Tees Engine Works.

Shortly afterwards he entered into partnership with Mr. Isaac Wilson for carrying on the works under the name of Gilkes, Wilson and Co.; this venture was the pioneer of the engineering trade on the Tees. For some years the firm assisted Messrs. Robert Stephenson and Co. in making the locomotives used in the North of England.

Other work in which they engaged was the construction of viaducts and bridges, including some of the most noted erections in this country, such as the Deepdale and Beelah viaducts between Barnard Castle and Kirkby Stephen on the North Eastern Railway; also the elegant structure crossing the valley at Saltburn-by-the-Sea, and the Kingston Bridge over the Thames. They also turned out general work, including mill, colliery, awl marine engines.

In 1852 he followed Mr. John Vaughan in erecting blast-furnaces, called the Tees Iron Works; and two years later more furnaces were erected at Cargo Fleet, under the name of Gilkes, Wilson, Leatham and Co., the discovery of the Cleveland ore having caused the construction of the Guisborough railway, and thus afforded an opening for greater enterprise. He took an active part in the local and municipal affairs of Middlesbrough, and was a county and borough magistrate.

In 1882 he removed to Stockton-on-Tees for a few years; but failing health led him to retire from active life, and in 1887 he went to live at Grange-over-Sands.

During the last three years he became increasingly an invalid, and after much suffering died at his residence on 18th December 1894, in his seventy-fourth year.

He became a Member of this Institution in 1856; and was a Member of Council from 1868 to 1875.

He was also President of the Cleveland Iron Masters' Association in 1872.



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