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British Industrial History

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James Eastwood (1808-1874)

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1858. Improvements in steam hammers.

James Eastwood (1808-1874), Engineer. of James Eastwood and Sons and Eastwood, Swingler and Co

1856 of Railway Iron Works, Derby

1875 Obituary [1]

James Eastwood was born on 6th March 1808 at Alderwasley, near Ambergate, Derbyshire, and was with his father at Alderwasley Forge until twenty-one years of age, learning his trade as a hammerman.

After working a short time at the Codnor Park Iron Works and at Manchester, he settled at the Mersey Steel and Iron Works, Liverpool, where he remained many years, making the large marine-engine and other forgings, which were considered enormous at that period; and inasmuch as there was no steam hammer in use then they may still excite wonder.

Among many others may be mentioned the forgings for the 'President' and the 'Great Britain' steamships; and a malleable iron gun for the United States steam frigate 'Princeton,' which was turned and bored by Messrs. Fawcett Preston and Co., and was proved in 1845. The bore was 1 ft. diam. and 12 ft. length, and the weight previous to turning and boring was 12.39 tons, and 7.83 tons when finished, the weight of the shot being 219 lb.; in the proving thirty rounds were fired with charges of 30 to 45 lb. of powder.

In 1847 he left Liverpool to join the late Mr. Thomas Frost of Wigan, and commenced business in Derby under the style of Eastwood and Frost, which partnership was terminated by Mr. Frost's death in 1853.

He brought out several inventions, including steam-hammer motions and a hydraulic shearing press, of which last a description was given to the Institution (see Proceedings Inst. M. B. 1858 p. 70).

In 1867 he with his son amalgamated their business with that of their neighbours, Messrs. Swingler and Son, the two works being carried on under the style of Eastwood, Swingler and Co.

His death took place after about a year's illness, on 17th April 1874, in the 67th year of his age.

He became a Member of the Institution in 1866.

The following information is condensed from a 2012 article by Tony Ruff[2]:-

James Eastwood learned his trade at the Ambergate forge run by his father for Sir Francis Hurt.

He worked briefly at the Codnor Park Ironworks, and later in Manchester, before moving to the Mersey Steel and Iron Co.

In 1847, he returned to Derbyshire and went into partnership with ironfounder Thomas Frost, who died in 1853.

Thomas Swingler had established the Victoria Foundry by 1855, while Eastwood built his Railway ironworks on neighbouring land.

In 1867, James Eastwood and Thomas Swingler and their sons Reuben Eastwood and Henry Swingler became partners, their buisiness producing a wide range of ironwork for railways.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. 1875 Institution of Mechanical Engineers: Obituaries Minutes of the Proceedings
  2. [1] Derby Telegraph: 'Site's history of engineering started years before engine maker's time' by Tony Ruff: Derby Telegraph, posted October 20, 2012