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British Industrial History

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John Edward Clift

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John Edward Clift (c1817-1875)

of the Birmingham and Staffordshire Gas Works


1876 Obituary [1]

JOHN EDWARD CLIFT was born at Handsworth, near Birmingham, on 11th April 1817.

He was a pupil of Mr. John Brunton, engineer to the Birmingham and Staffordshire Gas Company, whose only works at that time were situated at Swan Village, Westbromwich.

On Mr. Brunton's retiring, Mr. Clift succeeded him as Engineer to the company, which position he held for more than twenty years. During that time he designed and constructed a second gas works for the company, the Pagoda Works in Adderley Street, Birmingham; and the demand for gas increasing so rapidly, in 1858 he began a third gas works for the company, at Saltley. Under his management the company prospered greatly, paying high dividends and accumulating a large reserve fund.

In 1858 he resigned his appointment with this company, and was invited to Redditch to construct gas works there, which he did on his own account, and the town was successfully lighted in 1859; these works were transferred to a company in 1873, in consequence of his health failing.

Mr. Clift also built the gas works at Longton and at Rowley Regis; and acted as consulting engineer to the gas works at Lincoln, Gainsborough, Tring, Grantham, Weston-super-mare, Oswestry, Chesham, and other towns. At many of these works the fire-brick gas retorts or ovens introduced by him, and known by his name, have been successfully at work for a number of years, in place of the former cast-iron retorts; of these retorts he gave a description to the Institution in 1852 (see Proceedings Inst. M. E. 1852 page 178).

In 1859 he went to Paris to report upon the gas works there; and in 1864 to Russia with a view of erecting new works at Moscow and St. Petersburg.

He had a great deal of parliamentary business in connection with gas works, and was instrumental in getting many bills passed.

In September 1873 he retired to Cheltenham for the benefit of his health; and his death took place suddenly at his residence, Mayfield, Cheltenham, on 26th April 1875, at the age of 58.

He was one of the original Members of the Institution from the commencement in 1847, and an active member of the Council for many years.


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