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British Industrial History

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John Player (1842-1931)

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John Player (c1842-1931) of John Player and Sons of Clydach Tinplate Works

c1842 Born at Loughor, Glamorganshire, the son of William John Player (1811-1895), manufacturing chemist, and his wife Elizabeth Amelia Dunkins / Dankin (1816-1876)

1866 Married at Swansea to Martha Lott Stick

1869 Membership of the I.Mech.E as John Player, Junior, (Engineer and Iron Founder) of Clydach

1911 Living at Thirlestaine Hall, Thirlestaine Road, Cheltenham: John Player (age 69 born Loughor, Glamorganshire), Tinplate Manufacturer and Employer. With his wife Martha Lott Player (age 72 born Clydach) and their two daughters Lucy Susanna Player (age 42 born Clydach) and Elizabeth Fanny Player (age 34 born Clydach). Five servants.[1]

1931 June 2nd. Died at Cheltenham. Of Thirlestaine Hall, Cheltenham. Probate to William John Percy Player, Lucy Susannah Player and Elizabeth Fanny Player.

1931 Obituary [2]

JOHN PLAYER was at the time of his death on 2nd June 1931 the oldest surviving Member of the Institution, which he joined so long ago as 1869.

After leaving school in Birmingham, he commenced his apprenticeship at the Neath Abbey Foundry, near the town of Neath, and it is of interest to mention that the late Sir Benjamin Baker, who designed the Forth Bridge, was receiving his training there at the same time.

About 1861 Mr. Player went to Clydach in the Swansea Valley and leased from the executors of Mr. J. J. Strick the Clydach Foundry. He took into partnership Mr. Christopher Bowley, who provided capital for carrying on the business; later Mr. Player was able to pay him his interest in the firm and to become sole proprietor. Colliery work was undertaken in the first years, but in 1874 Mr. Player erected a black-plate rolling mill of his own, and later a second mill and a tin-house department were added, making what is known as a two-mill tin-plate works.

Chilled rolls were a feature of the foundry's activities at this time, and the firm also manufactured engines, some of which are still working, and Grey's patent pickling machines, under a licence from Mr. Grey. They also carried out the compounding of mill engines for several Monmouthshire tin-plate works.

In 1888 Mr. Player and Mr. Philip Rogers invented a patent tinning machine for the coating of "black-plate." It was fitted with an automatic pick-up which took the sheets as they came out of the tinning rolls and placed them on a rack at one side of the machine ready for hand cleaning. Later a "branning" machine took the place of this rack. This machine, called the "Clydach tinning machine," was a success, and was installed by the firm in nearly all the South Wales tin-plate works. In 1901 four modem mills were installed with a new engine to drive them, the cold rolls taking the place of the first two old mills.

Mr. Player retired from active management of the firm in 1908, his two sons carrying on the business, but on its formation into a limited liability company in 1917 he became its chairman, and retained this position until his death.

He was born on 27th September 1841, and so was in his ninetieth year.

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