Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Thomas Smithdale and Son

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of St Ann's Foundry, Norwich; the Iron Works, Acle, Norwich; Panxworth near Norwich; Huntingdon

1847 Company established by Thomas Smithdale at St Ann's Ironworks of King Street, Norwich

1856 Listed as 'Smithdale, Thomas, Ironfounder, St Ann's Lane'[1]

1873 Patent. '851. To Thomas Smithdale, of Saint Ann's Iron Works, King-street, in the city of Norwich, Engineer, for the invention of "a new auxiliary screw-propelling apparatus to be applied to fishing craft or other sailing vessels."'[2]

1874 Steam engine and wind-pump installed at Lotting Fen

1875 30 nhp steam pump installed at Ironsides pumping station, Glassmoor

1876 14 HP steam engine driving scoop wheel, installed in existing wind pump at Ugg Mere.

1878 'The Norfolk and Norwich Christmas Show ..... T. Smithdale and Son, St. Ann’s Iron Works, had at their stand a horizontal condensing steam engine, but that which claimed much attention was a steam turbine drainage pump, which seemed with the least amount of power to do the greatest amount of work — an immense body of water being lifted by a pump driven by engine of small horse power.... and Messrs. Smithdale of King Street, exhibited a fourteen horse-power horizontal condensing steam engine, steam turbine drainage pump, grist mill, land roll, water cart, improved horse gears, &c.' [3]

1883 Move to new works built at Panxworth

1883 Bankrupt. '...Liquidation by Arrangement or Composition with Creditors, instituted by Thomas Smithdale and Thomas Smithdale the younger, of St. Ann's Ironworks, in the city of Norwich, and of Panxworth, in the county of Norfolk, Millwrights, Engineers, Boiler Makers, Iron and Brass Founders, and Agricultural Implement Manufacturers, trading under the firm or style of Thomas Smithdale and Son...'[4]

1897 By this date they were at The Foundry, Acle (a former slaughterhouse).

1900 Set up branch works at Ramsey St Mary, Huntingdon

1948 Company still trading

Note: An 11-page history of the firm is available online[5]. It includes maps of the several works. St. Ann's works was bounded by Synagogue Street, Staithe Lane, and the River Wensum.

Information on many examples of the millwright's work carried out by the company, transcribed from quotations, etc., is available online, together with various contemporary reports relating to the business[6]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. 1856 Craven and Co.'s Commercial Directory of Norfolk
  2. [1] Gazette Issue 23960 published on the 21 March 1873. Page 11 of 48
  3. Norwich Mercury - Wednesday 27 November 1878
  4. [2] Gazette Issue 25221 published on the 13 April 1883. Page 43 of 62
  5. [3] 'Thomas Smithdale and Sons' by Mary Fewster, NIAS Journal, Vol 3 No.1, 1981
  6. [4] Norfolk Mills website: 'Smithdale of Norwich' by Michael Roots & Jonathan Neville
  • Steam Engine Builders of Norfolk by Ronald H. Clark. Published 1948 by The Augustine Steward Press
  • Fenland Pumping Engines by K. S. G. Hinde, Landmark Publishing Co., 2006 ISBN 1 84306 188 0