Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 148,450 pages of information and 233,880 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.
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