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James Edward Lea (c1869-1955), chairman and founder of the Lea Recorder Co
1955 Obituary 
WE record with regret the death of Mr. James Edward Lea, M.I.Mech.E., chairman and founder of the Lea Recorder Company, Ltd., which occurred at Southport, on April 3rd.
Mr. Lea, who was in his eighty-seventh year, was born at Sandbach, Cheshire. and was educated at the Sandbach Grammar School and at Parkhurst College, Buxton.
From 1883 until 1889 he served an apprenticeship with Edwin Foden and Co., Ltd., Sandbach, on completion of which he worked for a short time at Tangyes, Ltd., Birmingham, and at Cammell Lairds Shipyard, Birkenhead.
In 1891, Mr. Lea entered Owen's College, Manchester, where he won a Whitworth Exhibition, and in 1894 graduated with a B.Sc. degree in engineering.
He then went to Glasgow for some electrical experience, and subsequently served as third engineer on two steamships, which took him to the Middle East and America, respectively.
In 1895, he sailed for South Africa, where for a time he joined his brother on his farm at Brereton in the Transvaal. But Mr. Lea soon returned to the engineering profession, and took charge of a mining company's drawing office in Johannesburg for three years.
In 1902, Mr. Lea took up ah appointment with the East Rand Mines at Johannesburg. There he began making use of a vee-notch for the purpose of measuring water, the method being adopted in various mills and used for both boiler tests and for measuring water supplies. At the same time, Mr. Lea was perfecting his first automatic recorder which had a formula cam in the form of a spiral wire soldered to the outside of a cylindrical drum, and on which a saddle was carried to move the pen mechanism.
In 1905 he took out patents for the recorder, and returned to England to begin its manufacture.
In 1913, the Lea Recorder Company, Ltd., was registered as a limited company, and in the same year Mr. Lea went to America to arrange for the manufacture of his recorder there under licence. From then onwards, Mr. Lea's energies were devoted to the company which he had founded, and until comparatively recent years, he used to spend several hours a week in the works. Mr. Lea continued to serve as chairman of the company up till the time of his death.