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British Industrial History

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St. James's Foundry (Taunton)

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in Taunton, Somerset

A good summary of the foundry's history is available here [1]. We learn that it was probably established by Thomas Richards, and produced a 12hp steam engine for a local bone-crushing mill in 1839. From 1839 to 1841 Richards was in partnership with James Dore Blake as Richards and Blake, the name appearing on a now-demolished iron bridge casting. Robert Lane was the proprietor from the late 1850s into the 1860s. James Stevens is listed in an 1887 directory and later (by 1897) Ernest William Stevens. He took into partnership Charles Potter Samson, trading as Stevens and Samson (1902). By July 1903 Stevens and Samson were in receivership and control passed to Rudman, Lancey and Craven. Hubert Rudman was a moulder, Harry T Lancey a pattern maker and John E H Craven had been chief draughtsman at Whitehall Iron Works. The firm had gone into liquidation by May 1918.

ST. JAMES'S FOUNDRY. Under Deed of Assignment. Re Stevens and Sampson.
Important and Unreserved SALE of the Whole at the MACHINERY, PLANT, and EFFECTS, including Portable Steam engine by Brown and May, Crossley 3½-h.p. Engine, 4-h.p. Electric Motor, by Coryton and Davies; Steel Shafting. Crank Shafts and Fittings. Ideal Steam Boiler and Fittings. Lathes. Radial, and other Drilling Machines: Artesian Well-boring Plant. 25 Tons Moulding Brass. 15 Tons Iron Patterns, Sluce Valves, 90 11-feet Gas or Electric Light Posts, and the usual Plant and Effects of Heating and General Engineers and Ironfounders, consisting of 1,000 Lots....'[2]

1909 'Sale Notice by William J. Villar & Co:- Lot 1.—The Extensive PREMISES, known ST. JAMES’ FOUNDRY, comprising Large Yard (with access to the River Tone), Iron Foundry, Fitting Shop, with three floors over same. Drilling Shop, Stores, w.c., Office, &c., now let to Messrs. RUDMAN & LANCEY on seven years' lease from 1908 .... A large BUILDING and a LOFT in the occupation of Mr. Heard, Haulier, at a rental of £15.
A BUILDING in the occupation of Mr. BARTLETT, Engineer, at a rental of £5.
A Three-storied BUILDING, now void, but formerly let to Messrs. SPENCE, Leather Dressers, at £25 per year, and a STABLE, also void, but formerly let at £5, making for Lot 1 a present ANNUAL VALUE OF £95, increasing to £110, exclusive of 2s. per year for Telephone Poles.'[3]

A three storey building survives on the site, now providing office accommodation.


For a Term of Twenty-one Years, determinable at Seven or Fourteen.
A most convenient WHARF, near the Bridge, in Taunton St. James’s, with a COAL YARD adjoining, to which there is an Entrance from St James's Street, with TWO TENEMENTS, now in the occupation of Mr. Trood, Tenant to the Feoffees of Taunton Town Charities, whose Term therein expires at Christmas next.
Also TWO TENEMENTS adjoining, one in the occupation of John Clarke, stonemason, or his undertenant, the other of Thos. Richards, smith. These Houses are most eligibly situate for Trade, being at the bottom of North Street and St. James's Street, in a very populous part the Town, and will be Let on Building Leases, or for such Terms as may be determined at the time of letting.....'[4]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. here Somerset Historic Environment Record 14501: St James's foundry, Foundry Road, Taunton
  2. Western Daily Press, 27 June 1903
  3. Taunton Courier, and Western Advertiser, 2 June 1909
  4. Taunton Courier, and Western Advertiser, 20 August 1828