SD4180 : John Wilkinson memorial

taken 7 years ago, near to Lindale, Cumbria, Great Britain

This is 1 of 2 images, with title John Wilkinson memorial in this square
John Wilkinson memorial
John Wilkinson memorial
The cast iron obelisk constructed by John "Iron Mad" Wilkinson (1728 - 1808), who lived at Castle Head [SD4270]. According to Pevsner, it is 12m high, and an important early example of box casting. It was originally erected at Castle Head and removed in 1863. It was restored in 1984 and appears to have been repainted recently.
See SD4180 : John Wilkinson memorial for details of the inscription.
John Wilkinson Ironmaster
Text from the information board at the obelisk in Lindale:
John Wilkinson - Ironmaster
This extraordinary monument, some twenty tons of cast iron, pays tribute to an extraordinary man. John Wilkinson was one of Britain's most remarkable engineers, industrialists and eccentrics. His entire 80 year life was moulded by iron - so much so he was known as "Iron Mad Wilkinson ".
Born in 1728 John Wilkinson helped in his father's iron furnaces at Lindale and Backbarrow. As a young man Wilkinson had grand ideas which required more powerful foundries. As local charcoal could not fire the furnaces as fiercely as the coal being used elsewhere, he moved to the iron making centres of the West Midlands where he developed his own foundry businesses. Here he invented many new ways of working and using iron, and patented an extremely accurate method of boring cannon barrels a few inches in diameter.
A pivotal moment in his story, and in British industrial history, came when steam engine inventor James Watt asked for Wilkinson's help. Watt was struggling to prevent steam leaking between the pistons and poorly machined cylinders of his fledgling engines - even horse manure would not seal them! "Could you bore a cylinder on a giant scale, 7 feet in diameter and 9 feet long, that doesn't leak steam?" questioned Watt. Wilkinson succeeded and his engineering breakthrough made steam power a reality and the industrial revolution possible.
Lateral thinking saw him champion cast iron far and wide. This included the world's first iron bridges, crossing the River Severn at Broseley and Ironbridge (now a world heritage site); the first cast iron framed buildings; and even cast iron church pulpits. Abroad, his company supplied over 40 miles of iron pipes to carry water from the River Seine to Paris.
Lindale always remained special to him and he built Castle Head, kilometre south from here, as his main home and headquarters. His eccentric side shows in the arrangements he made at Castle Head for his own death. He laid a cast iron coffin in the garden ready for his day of reckoning; constructed this obelisk to stand above it; and composed his own epitaph. Wilkinson even offered select friends a choice of iron coffins as gifts!
He died in 1808 and was laid to rest at Castle Head. Unfortunately, he could not control what came thereafter. New owners of the house wanted it free of his memory. The obelisk was unceremoniously hidden amongst the undergrowth and his body moved to Lindale Parish Church in 1828.
The obelisk was eventually salvaged and re-erected here some years later and remains a fitting tribute to a remarkable man.
John Wilkinson, Ironmaster (1728 - 1808)
Thanks to Frank Dawson and the Broseley Local History Society (incorporating the Wilkinson Society) LinkExternal link
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SD4180, 51 images   (more nearby )
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Date Taken
Sunday, 4 September, 2011   (more nearby)
Monday, 5 September, 2011
Geographical Context
Historic sites and artefacts 
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! SD 4183 8033 [10m precision]
WGS84: 54:12.9229N 2:53.6109W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! SD 4183 8033
View Direction
North-northwest (about 337 degrees)
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Memorial  Obelisk 

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