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Archive Reference / Library Class No.D1851
TitleBryan Donkin Company Ltd of Chesterfield (1902-c1997), formerly of Bermondsey, Surrey (1803-1902), engineering firm
Date18th-20th cent
DescriptionBusiness records of Bryan Donkin & Co. Ltd
Extent100 boxes, 5 outsize volumes
RepositoryDerbyshire Record Office
Full Catalogue ListClick here to view a full list for this collection
Archive CreatorBryan Donkin Company Ltd of Chesterfield (1902-c1997), formerly of Bermondsey, Surrey (1803-1902), engineering firm
Administrative HistoryBryan Donkin (1768-1855), engineer and inventor, in 1803 established engineering works, at first principally for paper-making machinery, in Bermondsey in London. Fourdrinier Bros. were the original financiers of this enterprise. Bryan Donkin continued to refine and improve techniques. In 1819 he invented a revolution counter to record numbers of items produced. To improve security in printing banknotes etc., he developed the Donkin Pantograph Machine and the Rose Engine. Bryan Donkin undertook overseas projects, notably the construction of a 75ft waterwheel for the Tuscan Felted Cloth Works near Florence in 1842 [see D1851 B/54].

Elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1836, Bryan Donkin died in 1855. He was predeceased by his eldest son John (1802-1854) who had been a partner in the firm since 1826. The business was then carried on by the founder's younger sons, Bryan and Thomas, and by his grandson, John's son, also named Bryan (1835-1902). The latter was responsible for the contract to build a paper mill in St Petersburgh in 1858 [see D1851 B/82].

Bernard William Farey (1827-1888) became a partner in the business in the mid 19th century. He designed a horizontal compound steam engine, which the firm manufactured in large numbers [see D1851 B/41].

In 1889 the firm became Bryan Donkin & Co. Ltd. with the founder's eponymous grandson as Chairman and another grandson, Edwin Bryan Donkin (d 1906) as Managing Director. In 1900 the company merged with Clench & Co. Ltd. of Chesterfield, makers of high speed steam engines, and re-located in 1902 from Bermondsey to works at Derby Road, Chesterfield.
Custodial HistoryThe engineering drawings were transferred to Derbyshire Record Office in November 1977. An additional deposit of copy abstracts fom letter books was received in August 1980. Further deposits and donations were received between 1999 and 2023.
Organisation Sub-TypeEngineering and Heavy Industry
Related MaterialSeveral objects from the firm are held at Chesterfield Museum, including a large oil painting of George Clark.

See Maureen Greenland and Russ Day (2017) 'Bryan Donkin: the very civil engineer 1768-1855' for a biography of Bryan Donkin.

Bryan Donkin Company Ltd of Chesterfield (1902-c1997), formerly of Bermondsey, Surrey (1803-1902), engineering firm

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Related Names
Name (click for further details)
Chesterfield; Bryan Donkin Co Ltd; 1803-; Civil engineering works and Manufacturer of Gas appliances
Donkin; Bryan (1768-1855); FRS; inventor and engineer
Place (click for further details)Type
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