Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Joseph Dorning Leigh

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1879 advert

Joseph Dorning Leigh (1822-1878), maker of stationary engines. [1]

c1822 Born at Eccles probably the son of Thomas Leigh who was a Wharfinger - the owner of a Wharf

1861 Living at Winton Road, Barton upon Irwell (age 39 born Eccles), Engineer and Ironfounder employing 48 men and 44 boys. With his wife Mary (age 28 born Eccles) and their children Maria (age 3) and Ann Dorning (age 3 months). Plus one servant. [2]

1866 Joseph Dorning Leigh, Ellesmere Foundry, Patricroft, near Manchester.[3]

1868 Partnership dissolved between Joseph Dorning Leigh and William Leigh (see J. and W. Leigh) [4]

Presumably continued in business by himself at Ellesmere Foundry in Patricroft, Manchester - see J. D. Leigh and Co

1871 Living at 40 Worsley Road, Barton upon Irwell (age 49 born Eccles), Iron Founder and Engine Works employing 77 men and 12 boys. With his wife Mary (age 38 born Eccles) and their children Maria (age 13), Ann Dorning (age 10), Ellen (age 8) Catherine (age 6) and Frances (age 3). Plus one servant. [5]

1872 800 HP two cylinder winding engine at Acton Hall Colliery, Featherstone. [6]

c.1874 Made a large cylinder (84" bore, 10 ft stroke) for a Bull-type pumping engine being installed at the Imperial Gold Mine, Thames, New Zealand. Other parts of the engine were made locally and also by the Union Foundry, Ballarat and Langlands & Co of Melbourne, Victoria [7]

1878 December 4th. Died at his home Winton, Patricroft aged 56 years [8]

1879 Listed as Joseph D. Leigh of Patricroft, Colliery Engineer [9]

1879 December. Legal case over his estate. Described as an Engineer late of Patricroft. Names his widow Mary and Jonathan Leigh as executors. [10]

1881 His daughters Ellen (age 18 born Winton) and Frances (age 13 born Winton) are living at Meadow Bank, Worsley Road, Worsley, with their grand-father Thomas Leigh (age 80 born Swinton) who has 'income from land, house interest from money and annuity' [11]


1879 Obituary [12]

JOSEPH DORNING LEIGH was born at Swinton, near Manchester, on 15th March 1822.

He was one of the first apprentices of the firm of Messrs. Nasmyth Gaskell and Co., Engineers, Bridgwater Foundry, Patricroft, near Manchester.

At the expiration of his apprenticeship he remained in the employment of the firm until April 1845, when he accepted an engagement as general manager to Messrs. Christopher Starr and Co., Engineers, Pernambuco, South America. He remained with that firm about six years, and was successfully engaged in making and erecting steam engines, sugar mills, steam dredgers, light-houses, &c.

After travelling through the States of America, and gleaning a considerable amount of information and experience, he returned to England at the end of July 1851. Here he commenced business as engineer and toolmaker, and brass and iron founder, erecting the works known as the Ellesmere Foundry, Patricroft, near Manchester. This business he carried on until the time of his death, which took place after a brief illness at his residence, Winton, Patricroft, near Manchester, on 4th December 1878, at the age of fifty-six.

He was a quick and thorough practical mechanic, and of high inventive genius.

Whilst at the Ellesmere Works he supplied machinery to several foreign governments, and also for the gold diggings and collieries in Australia.

He became a Member of the Institution in 1866.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. 'Stationary Steam Engines of Great Britain: Vol 10' by George Watkins
  2. 1861 Census
  3. 1866 Institution of Mechanical Engineers
  4. [1] The London Gazette, June 2, 1868
  5. 1871 Census
  6. "Steam Engine Research Resources" compiled and published by Stanley Challenger Graham on LULU.com. 2009
  7. [2] 'The Engineer' 13th March 1874 (pdf)
  8. Manchester Times, Saturday, December 7, 1878
  9. 1879 Slater's Directory of Manchester and Salford
  10. The Standard, Saturday, December 20, 1879
  11. 1881 Census
  12. 1879 Institution of Mechanical Engineers: Obituaries