Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

Registered UK Charity (No. 115342)

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Charles Burrell

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December 1908.

Charles Burrell (1817–1906) of Charles Burrell and Sons

1817 Born at Thetford the son of James Burrell and his wife Elizabeth

1837 Took over the running of the business on the death of his father

1841 Living at Water lane, Thetford (age 20), Iron Founder. With his mother Elizabeth (age 50) and his brother George (age 20), a surgeon. [1]

In 1846 Charles Burrell married Elizabeth Cowen (d. c.1895), daughter of Robert Cowen, owner of Beck Foundry, Nottingham.

Charles Burrell served on Thetford council's navigation committee for the River Ouse.

1851 Living at St. Nicholas Lane, Thetford (age 33 born Thetford), Machine and Engine Master and Iron Founder employing 52 men and 7 boys. Living with wife Elizabeth (age 29) and children Charles (age 3), George R. (age 2) and William (age 10 months). Three servants. [2]

1861 Living at Thetford (age 43 born Thetford), Engineer and Agricultural Implement Maker employing 136 men and 24 boys. Living with his wife Elizabeth (age 39) and children Charles (age 13), Robert G. (age 12), Frederick J. (age 6), Ellen E. (age 4) and Fanny E. (age 2). Three servants. [3]

1871 Patent. '3105. To Charles Burrell, of Saint Nicholas Works, Thetford, in the county of Norfolk, and George John Fowell, of the same place, for the invention of "improvements in elastic wheel tyres."'[4]

1871 Living at St. Mary's House, Thetford (age 53 born Thetford), Agricultural engineer employing 180 men and 10 boys. Living with wife Elizabeth (age 49) and children Charles (age 23), Engineer Traveller; Robert (age 22), Engineer; and Frederick (age 16). Also two visitors and three servants. [5]

1877 He was a justice of the peace for the county, appointed in 1877.

1881 Living at Bury Road, Thetford (age 63 born Thetford), Agricultural Engineer. With wife Elizabeth (age 59) and children Fred J. (age 26), Agricultural Engineer and Ellen (age 24). Three servants. [6]

In 1884 the family business was incorporated as Charles Burrell and Sons. Charles Burrell remained as chairman, though by now he was not so actively engaged in day-to-day management.

1891 Living at St. Mary's House, Bury Road, Thetford (age 73 born Thetford), Manufacturing Engineer. With wife Elizabeth (age 69) and children Fred J. (age 36), Manufacturing Engineer and Ellen E. (age 34). Three servants. [7]

1901 Living at St. Mary's House, Bury Road, Thetford (age 83 born Thetford), Retired agricultural Engineer. With daughter Ellen E. (age 44). Also a visitor and four servants. [8]

1904 He retired completely and was succeeded as chairman of the company in 1904 by his eldest son, Charles Burrell (Junior)

He died at Thetford on 28 June 1906.

1906 Obituary [9]

We have to record with regret the death of Mr. Charles Burrell, of Thetford, Norfolk, on June 28th, at the age of eighty-nine years.

The business in which he succeeded his father when he was only nineteen years of age had been founded in 1770, and consisted chiefly or the manufacture of agricultural implements, but under the enterprise of Mr. Burrell it was soon extended to the manufacture of other classes of machinery.

Mr. Burrell may be considered as one of the pioneers of the introduction of thrashing machinery, he having in the year 1848 produced the first successful combined thrashing and dressing machine. It was exhibited at the Royal Agricultural Society's Show at York in that year. At the same time he commenced the manufacture of portable engines.

About the year 1857 Mr. Burrell became interested in self-moving engines, and in the following year he commenced the manufacture of the Boydell traction engine, of which many successful examples were built. These were used not only for ordinary road transport, but also for ploughing and cultivating by direct traction.

Later on, in 1870, he took up the manufacture of the Thompson road steamer, and, in the course of some years' successful experience with it, built engines for many countries.

During all this time the design of traction engines generally had been going through a period of transition, but after this period it seems to have settled into a type which was practically the basis of that now in use. and the firm of Charles Burrell and Sons, which Mr. Burrell founded, has been intimately associated with the production and development of tho modern traction in all its applications.

Mr. Burrell, for some years prior to bis death, had practically retired from the business of his firm, which had been converted into a limited company, and the management of it has been in the hands of his sons.

He was a magistrate of his native town, and in private life he was held in the highest esteem by a very large circle of friends and acquaintances.

1906 Obituary [10]


  • Charles c1848
  • Robert G. c1849
  • Frederick J. c1855
  • Ellen E. c1857
  • Fanny E. c1859

See Also


Sources of Information