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British Industrial History

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Edwin Foden

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Edwin Foden (1841-1911), vehicle manufacturer, was born on 5 August 1841 in Smallwood, near Sandbach, Cheshire, the son of William Foden, Senior, a grocer, and his wife, Martha, née Goodall.

1851 He is aged 10 and living with his parents and family at Smallwood [1]

He left school at thirteen, and after two years as a village post-boy he took up an apprenticeship with the agricultural engineering firm of Plant and Hancock, at Elworth, near Sandbach, walking the 3 miles from Smallwood daily.

1861 He is aged 19, an iron founder and living with his parents at Wheeleck Road, Sandbach [2]

He then widened his experience at Crewe railway workshops and at another workshop in nearby Kidsgrove before returning to Elworth, where by the age of nineteen he was shop foreman.

Mid-1860s He married Sophia Scragg (1841–1893).

1866 At age 25 he became a partner in Hancock and Foden.

1870 Foden's partner, George Hancock, retired from the firm, though remaining as adviser.

1871 Living at Foundry Street, Bradwell, age 29 (born at Astbury), an engineer and iron founder with wife Sophia and children Fanny (age 7), Hannah (age 7), William (age 2) and Edwin (age 1). He is next door to his business partner George Hancock. [3]

1874 Listed as Edwin Foden, Coal dealer of Railway Station; Elworth Foundry, Sandbach. Also mentions the brass and iron foundry of Edward (sic) Foden at Bradwell / Sandbach. Also listed as Edwin Foden, engineer, iron founder and agent for the principal agricultural makers, Elworth Foundry. [4]

1876 Foden took sole control and renamed the firm Edwin Foden & Sons

1891 Living at Bradwell, Cheshire age 49, an engine maker, employer, with his wife Sophia age 49 and children Hannah (age 25), William (age 22) and Edwin R. (age 21). [5]

1893 Sophia died; several years later he married Annie Cowap (1868–1939); from the second marriage, two daughters and one surviving son, John Edward Foden (1894-1922).

1911 Manager engineer works (steam wagon works], 69; of his 4 children of his second marriage, 3 were still alive; lived in Bradwall with Annie Foden 43, Amy Foden 15, Patty Foden 12[6]

Edwin Foden died on 31st August 1911, being succeeded by his sons William and Edwin Richard.


1911 Obituaries

At age 25 he became a partner and the company was called Hancock and Foden. First steam wagon produced in 1901 and today the Foden company employs 700.[7]

'A Romance of Industry. — The death took place yesterday at Sandbach, Cheshire, of Mr Edwin Foden, of the firm of Fodens, engineers , Elworth, Cheshire. Entering the works as a boy, he served his apprenticeship, and at twenty-five years of age, entirely by his initiative , became a partner, the firm being known as Hancock & Foden . He invented a compound double high pressure gear which was largely adopted in the South Wales tinplate trade. Becoming principal of the firm , Mr Foden directed his attention to threshing machines, and gained successes at the Roval and other agricultural shows, but it was the invention of the steam motor waggon which brought prosperity to Fodens. The first waggon turned out by the firm took part in the War Office trials in 1901, and was awarded a prize of £250. It went through the road trials of 257 miles without mishap. To cope with the orders forthcoming immediately Fodens became a limited liability company, with Mr Cecil Brunner as chairman . Extensions were commenced, and are still proceeding. Mr Foden saw the concern develop from a dozen men to upwards of seven hundred.'
The Scotsman, 1 September 1911

See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. 1851 Census
  2. 1861 Census
  3. 1871 Census
  4. Morris & Co.'s Directory & Gazetteer of Cheshire, 1874
  5. 1891 Census
  6. 1911 census
  7. The Times, Friday, Sep 1, 1911
  • Biography of Edwin Foden, ODNB