Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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James Shanks

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James Shanks (1800–1867)

1800 Born at Johnstone, Renfrew on 24 April, son of William Shanks, a millwright and engineer

1807 William Shanks moved to Linwood to erect a cotton mill. Appointed partner of one the cotton mills in Johnstone

c.1821 Studied medicine at Glasgow University

Became junior doctor in Johnstone

Turned to chemical production, established works in Paisley making alum and potassium chromate

Moved to Worcester and then Newcastle upon Tyne after the Paisley venture failed

1836 William Gossage asked Shanks to help him erect his new plant

1841 Moved to St Helens to manage the Greenbank Alkali works of Gamble and Crosfields

1841 Shanks took out the first of several patents - on the manufacture of carbonate of soda.

c.1843 "Shanks Vats" were introduced and became widely used although others also claimed the same idea.

1845 When Gamble retired, Shanks took his place in a new firm with the Crosfield brothers; the firm later became Crosfield and Shanks

He patented a process for making carbonate of soda

1858 Patented a process for making chlorine which won great recognition

1867 Died at St Helens on 13 August

See Also

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Sources of Information

  • Some founders of the chemical industry, by J Fenwick Allen, 1907 [1]