Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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James Sumner

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James Sumner (1860-1924)
c1888. The tricycle converted by James Sumner to go on steam.
1890. The Sumner works in the Leyland village smithy.
1894. Steam driven lawn mower built for Elvaston Castle in Derbyshire. Exhibit at the Museum of English Rural Life (MERL).
1895. The three-wheel steam car built for Theodore Carr.

James Sumner (1860-1924) of Leyland.

Descendant of Elias Sumner, a blacksmith at Leyland.

1860 Born at Leyland

1881 Living in Leyland aged 21, a blacksmith's hitter and with his parents Richard Sumner aged 51 and born in Leyland, a blacksmith employing 3 men and one boy; his wife Alice (age 48) and their children Ann (age 20), Margaret (age 10), Robert (age 8) and William (age 7). [1]

c1886 Built a steam wagon.[2]

c1891 Fined for speeding in his steam driven tricycle.[3]

1891 Living in Leyland age 31, a blacksmith and mechanic with his wife Mary (age 34), daughters Mary (age 5), Mary Alice (age 3) and son John (age 2). [4]

1892 James inherited the family business as a going engineering concern that could produce iron castings up to half a ton and brass castings up to half a hundredweight.

1894 Produced a steam wagon for carrying coal at the John Stanning and Son, bleach-works in Leyland. This made a journey from from Leyland to Ormskirk, some fifteen miles away. The flag boy was his brother William Sumner.

Fitted small twin-cylinder with oil-fired boiler in to a tricycle

Produced a steam driven lawnmower

1895 Produced a three-wheel 'horseless carriage' for William Theodore Carr of Carr and Co, a biscuit manufacturer, of Carlisle. Produced an improved version for the same person the following year.

The company J. Sumner Ltd was formed; later it became the Lancashire Steam Motor Co and then Leyland Motors

1897 October. Details of the steam autocar built for W. Theodore Carr.[5]

1901 Living in Leyland: James Sumner (aged 41), steam engine maker. Living with wife Mary (age 44) and children Mary (age 15), Maya (age 13), John R. (age 12) and Elias Sumner (age 7). [6]

1911 Living at Leyland House, Leyland: James Sumner (age 51 born Leyland), Motor Engineer at Motor Wagon Works. With his wife Mary Sumner (age 54 born Buxton) and their two children Maggie Sumner (age 25 born Leyland) and Elias Sumner (age 17 born Leyland), Apprentice to Motor Engineers.[7]

1919 He retires from the business as he increasingly becomes blind

1924 Died

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. 1881 Census
  2. The Autocar 1896/04/18
  3. The Autocar 1896/04/18
  4. 1891 Census
  5. The Autocar 1897/10/16
  6. 1901 Census
  7. 1911 Census
  • The First Fifty Years. Leyland Motors Ltd. Published in 1946.