Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

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Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 163,469 pages of information and 245,911 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.

James Green

From Graces Guide

James Green (1781-1849), civil engineer of Exeter

1809 Advertisement: 'JAMES GREEN, Surveyor and Civil Engineer, begs leave to inform the noblemen and gentlemen of Devonshire and the adjacent counties, that, in consequence of his recent appointment as general surveyor of the Devon county bridges, he has taken up his residence in the city of Exeter; and respectfully-solicits their patronage in the several branches of his profession.' [1]

1810 Built Elmfield House, Exeter

1812 November. Richard Trevithick builds an engine for James Green to drain the foundations of Exeter Bridge. It was constructed at the Hayle Foundry.

1823 September. Death of Elizabeth, Wife of James Green, Civil Engineer of Exeter.[2]

1824 James Green, Exeter(?), Civil Engineer, became a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers.[3]

1836 Advertisement: 'GRAND WESTERN CANAL COMPANY. NOTICE is Hereby Given, That Mr. James Green has Ceased to be Engineer of this Company. FRED. LEIGH, Principal Clerk. January 27th, 1836.'[4]

1837 Bankrupt. '...Bankruptcy is awarded and issued forth against James Green, of the city of Exeter, Civil Engineer, Dealer and Chapman, and he being declared a bankrupt...'[5]

FIFTY TONS of BAR IRON, STEAM ENGINE of High Pressure, Three-Horse Power, with all the Driving Gear, Valuable Models, large Cast Iron and Hand Turning Lathes, Nails, Screws, Bolts, Files, Smiths' Forges, together with an Extensive Assortment of Tools, Nut and Screw Machine, Patterns for Lock-Gates and other Canal purposes, Models [foundry patterns?] of perpendicular lifts, Aqueducts and Viaducts, Brass Bearings, Taps and Dies, Cranes, Anvils, Two pair of large Bellows, Counting-House Desks, &c. &c.
J. BURCH has received directions to SELL by PUBLIC AUCTION, on Wednesday, the 22nd March 1837, and following Days, the above mentioned VALUABLE EFFECTS,
Property of Mr. JAMES GREEN, Civil Engineer.
To enumerate all the Iron and Brass Work, Tools, and other useful Articles within the limits of an Advertisement would be impossible; but the whole will be arranged in suitable Lots for Purchasers and may be viewed one day previous to the Sale. Also, a valuable HORSE, PHAETON, GIG, &c, follows.....'.[6]

1837 Advertisement: 'MAGDALENE-STREET, EXETER.
LARGE and Valuable PROPERTY for Sale by Private Contract, in the following Lots :— Lot I. The Fee Simple and inberitance all that large substantial, and capital DWELLING HOUSE, with the Courtlage and numerous Rooms and Offices belonging thereto, situate in Magdalene-Street, extending thence to Little Southern-hay ; together with the large Coach Houses adjoining, and spacious Rooms over, to which there is access by a separate Staircase, — late in possession of Mr. James Green, Engineer.
Also, for the remainder of a Term granted by the Corporation of Exeter, determinable on the death of a Life aged 78, subject to a small Conventionary Rent, All those spacious PREMISES, comprising a large Courtlage, Workshops, Lofts, and other Offices; Counting House, with a large and excellent Walled Garden, situate adjoining Little Southernhay-lane, behind the aforesaid Dwelling House, late also in possession of the said James GREEN.
The above Premises are very extensive and Convenient, having frontage towards Magdalene-Sheet about 78 feet, and afford a most capital situation for any requiring room, and stand in a very eligible part of Exeter for Trade.
In the Courtlage are several valuable Buildings and Erections lately constructed by the said James Green at a great expense, to the benefit of which the Purchaser will be entitled. Immediate possession may had of this Lot.
Lot 2. The Fee-Simple and Inheritance of a DWELLING HOUSE situate adjoining Little Southerhay-Lane,.....'[7]

1839 Built First Bridge, Cullompton to replace the bridge washed away by flooding of the River Culm in 1839.

1842 'The Grand Newport Dock: —We have much pleasure in recording the merited and handsome testimonial paid to our late townsman, Mr. James Green, at a dinner at Newport, given to John Jones, Esq., as an expression of regard for the efforts made by his family in originating and bringing to completion the noble dock, which will the means of raising the town and port of Newport to one of the first Stations in the Bristol Channel. Sir Digby Mackworth, proposing the health of Mr. Green the Engineer, said— "Gentlemen, I have been and conversed with several persons well acquainted with the great works of the age, and have their united testimony that, considering the magnitude our splendid lock beyond all former attempts, the execution of the work is unprecedented ; indeed, gentlemen, who could behold the unyielding materials of iron and stone for so great a length in the hollow quoins of our splendid gates, made to unite with such precision as not to suffer one drop of water, under an enormous pressure, to escape them ? Who that has witnessed the case with which, even on the first attempt, the fleet of large merchantmen passed as with mechanical exactness into their several stations ; who that has witnessed the whole finish of these works, can withhold himself from giving that credit which is due, and in one sense due alone to their gifted and able engineer, Mr. Green? I do not hesitate to assert with perfect truth, that he has brought to completion the grandest work of modern engineering; and that when other names are forgotten, he will be remembered as the talented designer of the Newport Docks." [8]

1844 Bankrupt '...Fiat in Bankruptcy, bearing date the 28th day of February 1844, awarded and issued forth against James Green, of the city of Exeter, Civil Engineer,...'[9]

1849 Death notice: 'Feb. 15, James Green, Esq., civil engineer. In Devon, Mr. Green was the county surveyor for many years, and he also constructed the Exeter Basin, extended the Canal, and effected numerous important works on the Exe, as well as in the North of Devon, in Bude Haven, and in Wales. At the time of his death he was the oldest member of the Institution of Civil Engineers. Mr. Green was in his 67th year, and his death was sudden, at his residence, Manchester Buildings, Westminster, on the evening the 15th instant.'[10]

1851 'THE LATE MR. JAMES GREEN. The following extract from the Annual Report of the Institution of Civil Engineers, not only reflects high credit upon the character and abilities of the late Mr. James Green, whose latest work, it will be remembered, was the improvement of our River Froom [Frome] and of our drainage, but must also prove a source of satisfaction to his eldest son, Mr. Joseph D. Green, our resident Dock Engineer. Mr James Green was born at Birmingham, in the year 1781, and received his first professional instruction from his father, who united with the practice of civil engineering, the execution of contracts for works in Warwickshire and the adjoining counties; upon these Mr. Green was actively engaged until 1801, when he was employed by the late Mr. Rennie, under whom be acted for several years, upon extensive surveys, canal works, the drainage of bogs and fens, and the design and execution of engineering works generally, both in England and Ireland, including the Royal Canal, and drainage of the extensive bogs in that district.
In 1808 he was appointed Surveyor of Bridges, Roads, &c., in the County of Devon, which post he retained until the year 18?1 and, on relinquishing it, he was presented by the Court of Quarter Sessions with a very handsome acknowledgement of the valuable services he had rendered the county for a period of thirty-six[?] years. During this period, in addition to the construction of prisons, private mansions, bridges, roads, and many important works in Devonshire, all designed and executed under his superintendence, he was engaged on many large engineering surveys and works in Somerset, Dorset, and Cornwall. The large works at Bude harbour, and the canal of forty miles in length, with six inclined planes, a extensive breakwater, and a sea lock, and other works executed by Mr. Green, were considered to exhibit so much engineering ability, that Mr. Telford offered him the appointment of engineer for the Government in the Ionian Islands, which, however, he declined.
The survey of, and original designs for, the Bude Canal and docks at Cardiff, were made by him; and, in 1834, l835, and 1836, he constructed the Pembry Harbour sea-lock and dock, the Llanelly and Kidwelly Canal, and the Grand Western Canal from Taunton to Loudwell, a distance of twelve miles, with a rise? of 260 feet, surmounted by one inclined plane and six perpendicular lifts.
In the autumn of 1842 he terminated satisfactorily the important docks at Newport (Monmouthshire), the entrance lock of which is 61 feet in width, with three sets of cast-iron gates, and other works of corresponding magnitude.
It was only in 1843, too late in his career, that he settled in London, for, owing to this and the active competition of younger men, he was not so extensively employed as he might have been.
The last work he was engaged on was the improvement of the river Froom [Frome] and the drainage of the city of Bristol, the first portion of which he lived to see satisfactorily completed.
Few men had seen so much good work, possessed such experience, or had enjoyed so much of the confidence and close intercourse with Rennie, Telford, and other eminent men. His misfortunes (which were heavy in the latter period of his life) were regretted by all who knew him, for then, as at his death, which occurred suddenly, from the rupture of a blood-vessel in the heart, on the 11th of February, 1849, he was universally acknowledged to be an honest, worthy, clever, and experienced man by all who enjoyed his company. Bristol Mirror.' [11]


A concise account of Green's life and work may be found in 'A Biographical Dictionary of Civil Engineers in Great Britain and Ireland' [12]

A more detailed account may be found in the book 'James Green - Canal Builder and County Surveyor' by Brian George, published in 1997 [13]. Mr. George was well qualified to produce this biography, having been a chief bridge engineer for Devon and a member of the Panel for Historical Engineering Works of the I.C.E.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. Exeter Flying Post, 5 January 1809
  2. Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette - Thursday 18 September 1823
  3. 1824 Institution of Civil Engineers
  4. Exeter and Plymouth Gazette, 30 January 1836
  5. The London Gazette Publication date: 7 March 1837 Issue:19473 Page:631
  6. Exeter and Plymouth Gazette, 11 March 1837
  7. Exeter and Plymouth Gazette, 1 April 1837
  8. Exeter and Plymouth Gazette, 19 November 1842
  9. The London Gazette Publication date:18 October 1844 Issue:20395 Page:3581
  10. Western Times, 24 February 1849
  11. Exeter Flying Post, Thursday 16 January 1851
  12. [1]'A Biographical Dictionary of Civil Engineers in Great Britain and Ireland' edited by A. W. Skempton
  13. 'James Green - Canal Builder and County Surveyor' by Brian George, published by Devon Books in 1997
  • Richard Trevithick by H. W. Dickinson and Arthur Titley. Published 1934