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British Industrial History

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John Hall (of Dartford)

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John Hall (1764-1836) millwright, of Dartford, founder of J. and E. Hall.

See Dartford Archive

1764 Born 5th September in Alton, Hants, the son of William Hall (b.1710).

1785 John Hall established himself as a millwright and smith at Lowfield Street, Dartford.

c.1790 Hall was installing machinery in various paper mills

1792 Bryan Donkin started an apprenticeship with John Hall.

1798 Donkin married the sister of Hall's wife

1798 Hall advanced £250 to Donkin to set himself up in business as a paper mould maker

c.1800 Hall moved to larger premises on land which was formerly part of Dartford Priory. He bought his property from Peter Brames. He married one of Brames's daughters, Sarah Stainton Brames.[1]

1801 John Hall was millwright for the London stationers, the Fourdrinier brothers (Henry Fourdrinier and Sealy Fourdrinier). They asked him to build a papermaking machine for which they had acquired a share in the patent from John Gamble. Hall had no real interest in the machine and allowed Bryan Donkin to take over the project.

The original machine was imported and erected at Hall's Dartford works. Another Fourdrinier brother, Charles, worked alongside Gamble and Leger Didot, who had been involved with the machine's development in France, and Bryan Donkin (one of Hall's former apprentices), to develop it.

1803 They installed the machine at a mill at Frogmore, Hertfordshire, acquired for the purpose. Gamble remained technically and financially associated with the Fourdriniers until 1811.

c.1810 Donkin, Hall, and Gamble formed a business to acquire the English patent on canning from Peter Durrant; Donkin was in charge of development at Bermondsey. Donkin's adaptation of the process involved gradually heating the meat in tin cans in a bath of chloride of lime, thereby achieving complete sterilization. They also resolved the problem of how to solder the lids onto the tins. With the approval of the canned product by the Prince Regent, the process was a success. Donkin's tinned meat was taken to the Arctic by Sir James Ross in 1829, and by Sir John Franklin in 1845.

1817 John Hall sent his son Edward to Paris as their overseas representative.

1819 The partnership in food preservation was dissolved in respect of John Hall[2].

1820 Constructed Horton Kirby Paper Mill

c1832 Hall invited Richard Trevithick to do some development work on an engine of a new vessel at Dartford - the work involved a reaction turbine.

1836 John Hall died. He left the Dartford business to his sons John and Edward, who changed the name to J & E Hall. He left his gunpowder factories at Faversham and Erith to his sons William and Peter (which became John Hall and Son), and the paper mill at Horton Kirby to his son Henry.[3]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. 'Halls of Dartford 1785-1985' by Harry Miller, Hutchinson Benham, 1985
  2. London Gazette; the business was continued by Donkin and Gamble [1]
  3. Dartford Archive
  • Biography of Bryan Donkin, ODNB [2]
  • Biography of Henry Fourdrinier, ODNB [3]
  • Biography of Bryan Donkin, in "A biographical dictionary of civil engineers in Great Britain and Ireland, vol 1 1500-1830" edited by A. W. Skempton [4]