Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 129,543 pages of information and 204,552 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.
Joseph Bramah (1748-1814), famous for the lock he invented and also for the hydraulic press  but also responsible for many other inventions including a type of flush toilet, a machine for automatically printing bank notes with sequential serial numbers, the beer pump, as well as developments in civil engineering. Gained about 20 patents.
1748 April 13th (2nd?). Born Stainborough, Yorkshire, the son of Joseph Bramah, Senior (1713-1800), a farmer, and his wife Mary Denton (1710-1774). His parents married on 16th September 1743. See Bramah Genealogy
1748 May 12th. Baptised.
Bramah started work as a farm worker in Yorkshire before an injury caused him to divert his attention to woodworking. He moved to London where he obtained employment as a cabinet-maker. While working fitting water closets, he found certain defects in the model he was installing. He designed his own model, obtained a patent in 1778 and began its manufacture .
Later he moved to a shop in Denmark Street, St. Giles's, and while there he made a further improvement in his invention by the addition of a water cock, which he patented in 1783.
1774 Soon after Bramah left home for London, his mother was killed when riding home pillion she fell off on Kereforth Hill
1778 Patent 1177 for a water closet. Of Cross Court, Carnaby Market, Golden Square, Middlesex, cabinet maker.
1781 Patent Five ways of converting reciprocating to rotary motion
1782 Renting property from Val Ancheatz at St. Giles in the Field possibly in Denmark Street
1783 Patent 1402 for a water cock
1783 Married Mary Lawton of Mapplewell, near Barnsley, and the couple set up home in London. They subsequently had a daughter and four sons. The couple lived at 124 Piccadilly and later moved to Eaton Street(sic), Pimlico .
Moved from St. Giles to 124 West End (Opposite fields that became Green Park)
1783 October. Joined the Society of Arts, where he attended some technical discussions on locks.
1784 Birth of son Timothy Bramah
1784 Patent 1430 for the lock on the 21st August 1784.
1784 Bramah started Bramah and Co at Denmark Street, St Giles, London, soon after moving to 124 Piccadilly. The locks produced by his company were famed for their resistance to lock picking and tampering.
1785 Patent. 1407 for 'Water Cock upon a New Construction'. Shown as a cabinet maker of Denmark street, St. Giles.
1785 Dissertation on the construction of locks, Joseph Bramah . As his lock became more widely demanded, he invented a method of mechanising its production.
1785 First patent for a rotary pump
1785 Patent. 1478 entitled 'Hydrostatical Machine and Boiler, Propelling Vessles, carriages, etc.'
1786 Birth of his son Francis Bramah
1787 Patent for a Beer Pump
1788 Birth of son Edward Bramah
1789 Legal case to defend his patent. Bramah v. Hardcastle
1790 Listed at 14, Piccadilly, Hyde Park Corner, London as an engine maker machine.
1790 Patent 1720 for an improved rotary engine. Taken out with Thomas Dickinson of Bedworth Close in the county of Warwick
1790-3 Alongside his other business pursuits, Bramah also followed the profession of a civil engineer. He carried out the new water-works at Norwich, between the years 1790 and 1793.
1793 Patent 1946 for a fire-engine
1793 Second patent for a rotary pump
1795 Birth of daughter Hannah
1795 Patent. 2045 for 'Obtaining and Applying Motive Power' describing an hydraulic press. His most important patent.
1797 Henry Maudslay left the company
1797 Patent 2196 for a beer pump
1798 The lock patent 2232 was extended for a further 14 years.
1798 Partnership dissolved. '...the Copartnership between Thomas Winder, John Joseph, and Joseph Bramah, Iron-Founders, carrying on Trade at Narrow-Wall, Lambeth, under the Firm of Winder, Joseph, and Co. was dissolved by mutual Consent...'
1799 George Rich from Stainborough working for him but role not known
1801 Patent 2560 for steam engines and boilers
1801 Brings legal action against Wormald, Fountaine and Gott for the return of ten hydraulic presses. Bramah had supplied presses to Benjamin Gott, but his employees resisted their installation. The litigation ended in Gott's favour.
1802 Patent 2652 for 'Tools for producing straight smooth and parallel surfaces on wood and other materials...' This formed the basis of the planing machine supplied in 1805 to the Royal Carriage Department of what later became the Woolwich Arsenal. This was described in detail in Rees's Cyclopedia, and illustrated by two plates. The plates are available online at high resolution here and here. Bramah also supplied the steam engine to drive the machine. Visits to the planing machine were included in the itinerary for eminent visitors to Woolwich Arsenal in the 1840s. It was said to be still in efficient use as late as 1881.. The vertical spindle rotated at 90 rpm, and was raised, lowered, and held at the required height by a hydraulic ram.
1805 Patent 2840 for the manufacture of paper
c1806 Built a new manufactory on what is now known as Ebury Street but then a rural area. The workshops (when described in 1817) were 180 feet in length and 40 feet wide. Adjacent to the works he built himself a house
1806 Patent 2977 for the sequential numbering of bank notes
1809 Patent 3260 for writing pens
1809 Patent 3270 concerning wheeled carriages
1812 Patent 3611 for laying of water pipes
1812 Patent 3616 concerning wheeled carriages
1813 March 22nd. Public experiment of taking trees up by the root with a hydraulic engine was held in Hyde Park
1813 Timothy Bramah, his son, joined the business; company name changed to J. Bramah and Son.
1814 Patent 3780 to prevent dry rot by the application of Parker's Cement or Roman cement
1814 J. G. May, A visitor to Bramah's works, reported being shown a hydraulic press breaking a 12" wooden beam and iron plates 4" to 6" thick, and a hydraulic crane being used to lift a cylinder weighing at least 50 cwt. He reported that Bramah used a hydraulic crane to lift components onto and off a lathe.
Bramah erected several large machines in his works at Pimlico for sawing stone and timber, to which he applied his hydraulic power with great success. New methods of building bridges and canal-locks, with a variety of other matters, were in an embryo state in his mind, but he did not live to complete them.
1814 Bramah was supervising his hydrostatic press at Holt Forest in Hampshire, where more than 300 trees of the largest dimensions were in torn up by the roots in a very short time, when he caught a severe cold, which settled upon his lungs.
1814 December 9th. He died at his house in Pimlico .
1814 December 16th. Buried in Paddington Churchyard age 66
1814 December 18th. Obituary.
1815 March 20th. Will of Joseph Bramah, Engineer of St. George Hanover Square, Middlesex,
1815 Mary Bramah died .
1815 Wharves, warehouse and manufactory, leased by Joseph Bramah on the banks of the Thames near Vauxhall Bridge, were advertised for sale in part or as whole by order of the executors of his estate. As well as buildings, a 8 h.p. engine and a 12 h.p. engine, and machinery for sawing deals and stone, cutting wood, grinding mill for glazing bars, with connecting machinery invented by Mr Bramah were included in the sale . Similar advert in March 1816.
A memorial was erected in the Parish Church of Silkstone.