Lincoln’s Industrial Revolution

In The Decline and Rise of Lincoln I wrote about how Lincoln fell from its position as one of the most important cities in England to a rural backwater hardly able to support itself.  Now I will cover the times when Lincoln grew in prosperity again but never regained it’s former importance. In 1821 Lincoln’s population was 11,776, while Boston’s, which gained the Staple from Lincoln in 1369, stood at 10,373.

Lincoln was about to go through immense change, Richard Ellison had purchased a 999 year lease on the Fosdyke Canal in 1740 and set about improving navigation on the canal and river Witham through Lincoln.  Farm produce and others goods could be sent from Lincoln by barge to other parts of the country and coal and lime could be brought in. Lincoln, surrounded by agriculture, was late in embracing the Industrial Revolution.

It was the 1840s when the Industrial Revolution arrived in Lincoln.

  • William Rainforth was possibly one of the first major engineering employers in Lincoln.  He set up his sail, rope, sack and waterproof cover business in the 1830s in Lincoln and later made agricultural equipment.
  • Nathaniel Clayton and Joseph Shuttleworth built their Stamp End works in 1842 on Waterside South, making pipes and moving on to making steam engines and threshing machines.
  • Richard Duckering established his foundry on Waterside North in 1845, although the company closed in 1961, examples of their work can be seen throughout Lincoln.
  • Robert Robey came from Nottingham in 1854 to build threshing machines and built his works on Canwick Road.  The company went on to manufacture steam lorries, road rollers and diesel engines.  The business continued at that location until 1988.
  • William Foster‘s milling business moved into the building of agricultural equipment, it is well known that the company was responsible for the development of the tank during World War I
  • Joseph Ruston became a partner in Ruston, Proctor and Burton in 1857, soon after Theophilus Burton retired and the firm of Ruston. Proctor & Co was established.  The company went through mergers, acquisitions and changes of ownership to survive today as Siemens, a German company.
  • John Cooke moved his plough manufacturing firm from the village of Eagle to Lincoln in 1858.
lincoln, waterside

Lincoln’s Waterside Today

robey, canwick road, lincoln

The former Robey & Co works on Canwick Road

Lincoln was one of the last centres of population in England connected to the railway, the Midland Railway arrived in Lincoln in 1846 and the Great Northern in 1848, bringing with them traffic delays on Lincoln’s High Street.

In the period 1841 to 1861 Lincoln’s population grew by over 50% to almost 21,000, the population of St Swithin’s and St Peter at Gowts parishes, where most of the engineering firms were based, almost doubled.

At the end of the 19th century the population of Lincoln was 48,784 more than three times that of Boston.

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Gallery | This entry was posted in Bailgate, Company, Foss Dyke, Joseph Ruston, Railway, River, Victorian and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Lincoln’s Industrial Revolution

  1. John Gleeson says:

    This is a fascinating period of the cities’ history, and should be explored in detail. I recollect that there was a local industrial society active in the late sixties, documenting visual evidence of industry in Lincoln-what happened to it?
    An area neglected in all this is Waterside, and all the industries that were established there. One question to consider is how did factories based on simple agricultural needs develop into making sophisticated products-such as diesels and gas turbines?

    • Many thanks for your comments John. I don’t knpw the industrial society you mention. They were prosperous companies in the early 20th century and probably bought the technology they needed.

      • John Gleeson says:

        The conditions that led from simple farm machinery to high technology were unique to Lincoln, and should be on the record as an important factor that made the city the way it is.
        I think it was called the Lincoln Industrial Archeology Society or something similar-I saw a display of their work in the Central Library c1969, and it was impressive-drawings, photographs and descriptions of the cities’ industrail heritage. Perhaps Ray Hooley may shed some light.

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