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James Easton, Junior

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James Easton (1830-1888) of Easton and Amos

1862 Patent to James Easton, Junior, Engineer and James Chapman Amos, Engineer, both of the Grove, Southwark, "improved machinery for sawing wood." [1]


1889 Obituary [2]

JAMES EASTON, born in Stamford Street, Southwark, on the 14th of September, 1830, was the second son of James Easton, the founder of the firm, of which the subject of this notice became subsequently the head.

Mr. Easton’s education commenced at a private school in Ramsgate, and was completed at King’s College School, London.

In his father’s works he obtained a desultory engineering training, until called upon, in 1851, to assume the management of the Wandsworth Paper Mills, now in the occupation of Mr. McMurray. The business was not found to answer; he therefore joined his maternal grandfather, Mr. Shaw, in a large stationer’s business, which comprised the manufacture of cheques and bank-notes ; but resigned the occupation in 1856, in order to enter his father’s office in the room of his elder brother, who had become incapacitated from work by a severe accident.

The firm of Easton and Amos, which Mr. Easton joined in 1858, was at that time largely engaged in the manufacture of centrifugal pumps, on the system introduced by Mr. Appold, and Mr. Easton devoted himself very much to the business, especially in the larger sizes used for drainage purposes, his strong common-sense and large views rendering him a very efficient adviser to the various Drainage Boards in Somersetshire, and in the Fen counties.

The drainage of Whittlesea Mere by a centrifugal pump in 1852 - a bold and thoroughly successful application of a comparatively new system - was followed by many equally important enterprises both at home and abroad, among which were the reclamation works at Wexford, the great pumping establishments erected, under Sir John Hawkshaw, for the Witham drainage at Lade Bank, near Boston, and on the Amsterdam Canal.

The experience which he had acquired as a paper-maker proved very useful in extending that branch of the business. His firm, in 1861, erected the Ettric Forest Paper-Mills on Dartford Creek, since become the property of the Daily Telegraph, the Stowmarket Paper-Mills, in 1865, and large mills in Egypt, Portugal, and Japan, besides improving and adding to many existing establishments.

The Franco-German war in 1870-1 prevented Messrs. Cail, of Paris, from completing some large contracts for cane-sugar factories which they had entered into with Ismail Pasha, the then Viceroy of Egypt; that astute ruler, who had made Mr. Easton’s acquaintance during the construction of the Boulac Paper-Mill and the large pumping establishment of Gizeh, and who had already entrusted one large sugar-mill to him, judged rightly that he would be best qualified, to complete, at short notice, the work which the French firm was unable to carry out, and so prevent a ruinous loss of cane.

Two more mills, each, like the first, capable of making 120 tons of white sugar per clay, and having the largest cane-crushing rolls in the world, were ordered, and two out of the three mere finished in the stipulated time, thus saving the crop which had actually been planted before the machinery was ordered. The third factory, though delivered in good time, was never completely erected.

In the waterworks branch of the business, Mr. Easton’s talents were chiefly devoted to the financial arrangements and negotiations necessary to carry out great undertakings abroad. He conceived the idea, in the case of such towns as Antwerp and Seville, of completing the works from his own resources and from those of many friends, whose confidence he enjoyed, and of disposing of the finished undertakings in complete working order to properly constituted companies.

The case of Antwerp was surrounded with extraordinary difficulties; the concession had been revoked and renewed more than once, and in addition there were several pretenders to a share in the prospective benefits to arise from the enterprise. The difficulty of disentangling the complicated business was very great, and this was intensified by the objectionable nature of the only available source of supply, which, although it would have yielded a sufficiently good water for municipal purposes, could never have commanded a ready sale for domestic use ; he had, therefore, to take the bold step of introducing the iron process of purification on a far larger scale than had ever been attempted before, and did so with complete success. The case of Seville was less difficult ; but much skill and patience were needed to complete the negotiations with the authorities and with the Government.

Mr. Easton’s health, never very robust, began to fail sensibly in the early part of 1888 ; his strength gave way gradually, and he died on the 28th of August in that year at Westgate, in Kent, and was buried in the old churchyard of St. Peter’s, where many of his wife’s relations lie at rest.

He married in 18.. Miss Annie Devonshire Sackette, daughter of Mr. S. Sackette, Deputy-Mayor of Ramsgate. The four daughters, the fruit of this marriage, all survive him.



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Sources of Information

  1. Gazette Issue 22685 published on the 28 November 1862. Page 7 of 198
  2. 1889 Institution of Civil Engineers: Obituaries