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British Industrial History

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George Thornley

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George Thornley (1835-1920)

of Buxton and Thornley, Waterloo Engineering Works, Burton-on-Trent.


1920 Obituary [1]

GEORGE THORNLEY was born on 8th April 1835 at Stanton, near Burton-on-Trent, in very humble surroundings, and from early boyhood evinced a keen interest in mechanical contrivances.

At the age of eighteen he was apprenticed for a term of three years to Messrs. Capes and Wright, millwrights and engineers of Burton-on-Trent.

After completing his apprenticeship, he obtained a post in the engineering department of Messrs. Ind, Coope and Co.'s Brewery at Burton, and was afterwards transferred to their older establishment at Romford, and subsequently obtained a situation in Legge's Engineering Works, London.

He returned to Burton in 1865, and with a friend started in business as Buxton and Thornley, at the Waterloo Engineering Works, Burton-on-Trent. At first the work of the firm was in connexion with breweries, but later it extended considerably.

He invented various improvements, the most notable being the "Burton" pump, a band-saw, and the special machinery for nook-making, many sets of which are still in active operation.

In 1895 the partnership was dissolved by mutual consent, and Mr. Thornley assumed the whole responsibility, which was too heavy for a man of his age.

In 1912 he was stricken with paralysis from which he recovered to a considerable extent. His death took place at Burton on 5th March 1920, in his eighty-fifth year.

He became a Member of this Institution in 1885.



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