Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

Registered UK Charity (No. 115342)

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 163,167 pages of information and 245,637 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 Taylor and Co

From Graces Guide
Model of Steam Carriage 'Elephant' at the IMechE.
1853 Taylor's steam winch.
1855 Taylor's steam hoist.
1857-8 Taylor's jib crane.
1858. Double Cylinder Steam Winch.
1859. Double Cylinder Steam Winch.
1859-60 Taylor's travelling jib crane.
1858. Dredging Machine.
Taylor's Portable Steam Crane - Metropolitan Drainage Works.
1867. Steam crane.
1869. Sheers at Pembroke Dockyard
1870. Direct Acting Steam Crane.
January 1880.
1889. 100 ton crane for Alexandra Graving Dock, Belfast.
Photo c1890s. 1876 Taylor rectangular proto-Titan on the LEFT.

James Taylor and Co of Britannia Works, Birkenhead

Makers of steam cranes, winches, engines and boilers.

1852 Company established by James Taylor.[1]

1852 Patent. '871. To James Taylor, Engineer of Messrs. James Taylor and Co. Britannia Works, Birkenhead, in the county of Chester, for the invention of certain improvements in and applicable to floating graving docks for repairing and building ships.'[2]

1850s Made traction engines, including their own 'Steam Elephant' design and engines to Bray's design.[3]

1853 Filed Patent No. 3004, 'Certain Improvements for Raising and Lowering Weights'.

1855 Listed as 'James Taylor and Co, (boiler makers), 22 Cathcart Street'[4]

1856 Listed as 'James Taylor and Co, Britannia Works, Birkenhead'.[5]

1857 Trials. 'Several successful trials have been made this week, at Birkenhead, of a portable hoisting apparatus constructed and patented by Messrs. James Taylor and Co., of the Britannia Ironworks, Birkenhead. The apparatus mainly consists in the application of Taylor's patent double cylinder to the working of two barrels, which are made to revolve either separately or together, as the case may be; the management being so simplified that they are brought under the control of one man. The whole of this apparatus is bolted down upon a truck mounted on six low tram wheels, with sheer legs erected in front, provided in the usual way. Its capabilities are has been supplied by Messrs. James Taylor and Co. through the eminent civil engineer Edward Woods, Esq., of London, who, with several gentlemen and practical engineers was present during the trial......'[6]

1860 Listed as 'James Taylor and Co, 22 Cathcart Street'[7]

1860 'One of Taylor's patent traction engines, called steam elephants, built at the Britannia Works, Birkenhead, for the Dutch Government, for use in the docks of Flushing, when tested, it is said, drew a load of 14 tons 13 cwt, going up and down hill, turning corners, &c, with ease.— The Builder.'[8]

1861 Listed as 'Britannia Iron Works, (James Taylor and Co, engineers) 89 Cathcart Street.'Also listed under Ironfounders.[9]

1861 Employing 230 men and 50 boys.[10]

1861 Dissolution of Partnership. '...the Partnership heretofore existing between us the undersigned, James Taylor and Matthew Henry Lewis, in the business of Iron and Brass Founders, carried on at No. 89, Cathcart-street, and at No. 346, Cleveland-street, Birkenhead, in the county of Chester, under the name, style, and firm of Taylor and Lewis, is this day dissolved. All debts due or owing by the said late firm will be received and paid by the said James Taylor, by whom the business will in future be carried on...'[11]

1861 Erection of cranes. 'Messrs. Taylor and Co., the Britannia Ironworks, Birkenhead, have commenced the erection of pair of their new description of steam travelling cranes, with the elevating jibs, on each side the second dock at Chatham Dockyard, in which the Achilles, iron steamer, will be built. The tramway and supports for the cranes extend the entire length of the dock — a distance of 330 feet, the works being of the most substantial character. The tram ways rest on double rows of supports of great strength, the cranes being required for lifting the immense beams and slabs of iron used in the construction of the new steamer.'[12]

1863 Steam driven grain mover for emptying ship's holds was exhibited.[13]

1866 Supplied engines for SS Jerome, built by Hunt and Sinnott [14]

1866 30-ton shear legs for Kurrachee (Karachi). Front legs 75 ft long, back leg 100 ft.[15]

1869 James Taylor of the Britannia Engine Works summoned for a breach of the Factory Act.[16]

1869 Advertisement (spelling uncorrected): 'NOTICE.—Messrs. THOMAS HODGE, GEO. HODGE, JAMES DUNLOP, and WM. HISLOP, lately in Employ as Four of our Foremen, are not Authorised, on and after this date, to Transact any Business on our behalf. JAMES TAYLOR and CO., Engineers, Brittania Works, Birkenhead.' [17] See Hodge, Hislop, Dunlop and Co

1870 'Large Steam Crane.—A very powerful steam crane, manufactured principally cf wrought iron, was satisfactorily tested on Saturday the New Dock, Leith. A weight of 50 tons was lifted, lowered, swung round, and deposited the quay again with the greatest ease. The largest steamers the Hamburg and American or any other line can now have boilers or engines of the greatest weight put into them at Leith. The crane was manufactured and erected by the firm James Taylor and Co., Britannia Works, Birkenhead, and although tested for only 50 tons, it can lift 90.'[18]

1876 'The Titan Machine. — On Saturday last, a huge machine, called the Titan, of somewhat novel construction, was tested at the Britannia Works, Birkenhead, where it has been constructed by Messrs James Taylor and Co. This new machine has been made from the designs of Sir John Coode, C.E., for the purpose of laying concrete blocks of 32 tons each, to form a breakwater in the harbour of Colombo, Ceylon, the foundation stone of which was recently laid by the Prince of Wales. The length of the machine is 76 feet, and the block carriage will lay the blocks to an overhang of 36 feet, the back end of the girders being ballasted to upwards of 40 tons. The lifting machine is placed over the ballast tank. The machine is so arranged that the locomotives, with the trucks carrying the immense blocks, come under the machine itself, lifting the blocks, and carrying them forward and transversely by means of the block carriage, so as to form a roadway for the machine as far as the breakwater may be extended. The capabilities of this monster machine were tested to the entire satisfaction of the engineer to the crown agents for Ceylon, and other gentlemen of the engineering skill' [19]

1877-1883 Business carried on by Joseph Bourne (1836-1893)

1880 Listed as 'Taylor, James and Co., Britannia Works'[20]

1884 Premises to be let. 'Iron and Brass Foundry to be Let ...with plant.... to J. Taylor, Britannia Engine Works, Birkenhead.'[21]

1881 A 60-ton steam crane for Yokosuka, Japan.[22]

1889 A 100-ton steam crane for Alexandra Graving Dock, Belfast [23] 'There has just been erected at the new Alexandra Graving Dock, Belfast, a 100-ton steam crane, the largest ever erected on the Derrick principle and the only one in the United Kingdom capable of lifting such a weight'.[24]

An account of James Taylor and his company is available online[25]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. James Taylor (1817-1894)
  2. [1] Gazette Issue 21390 published on the 10 December 1852. Page 19 of 36
  3. 'A Century of Traction Engines' by W. J. Hughes, Percival Marshall & Co., 1959
  4. 1855 Slater's Directory
  5. Liverpool Mercury - Friday 08 February 1856
  6. Liverpool Mercury - Friday 16 October 1857
  7. 1860 White's Directory
  8. Sherborne Mercury, 31 July 1860
  9. 1861 Mawdsley's Directory of Wirral including Birkenhead
  10. 1861 Census
  11. [2] Gazette Issue 22527 published on the 5 July 1861. Page 23 of 44
  12. Belfast Morning News - Tuesday 16 April 1861
  13. Liverpool Mercury - Thursday 10 September 1863
  14. Liverpool Daily Post, 19 March 1866
  15. [3] Engineering, 23 Nov 1866, p.392
  16. Liverpool Daily Post - Saturday 11 December 1869
  17. Liverpool Daily Post, 25 August 1869
  18. Dundee Courier, 24 May 1870
  19. Wrexham Advertiser, 3 June 1876
  20. 1880 Morris and Co Directory and Gazetteer of the Cheshire Towns with Wrexham
  21. Liverpool Mercury - Wednesday 10 September 1884
  22. Liverpool Mercury - Saturday 11 July 1885
  23. The Engineer of 14th June 1889 p501
  24. Edinburgh Evening News - Monday 02 December 1889
  25. [4]'James Taylor - A Great Birkenhead Engineer' by Jane Campbell and Bruce Ward