The very civil engineer – an invitation

Donkin cover

Here at the record office we are fortunate to hold the company archive of the Bryan Donkin Company.

Bryan Donkin (1768-1855), engineer and inventor, in 1803 established engineering works, at first principally for paper-making machinery, in Bermondsey in London.  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.

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).

In 1889 the firm became the Bryan Donkin Company 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 and Co.Ltd of Chesterfield, makers of high-speed steam engines, and relocated in 1902 from Bermondsey to works at Derby Road, Chesterfield – hence why the records are with us!

A new publication celebrating the man himself has been written by former Bryan Donkin Company employees Maureen Greenland and Russ Day.  Bryan Donkin – The Very Civil Engineer 1768-1855 will be launched at Chesterfield Library on Tuesday 19th July from 4.30pm.

You are invited to come along to this FREE event to:

  • Meet the authors and Terry Woodhouse, former Managing Director of the Bryan Donkin Company
  • View film and slide shows illustrating landmark achievements and cameos from Donkin’s life story
  • Take a look at original Bryan Donkin Company archives, including engineering drawings from Derbyshire Record Office collections
  • Light refreshments will be available

To come along to this free launch pop into Chesterfield Library (New Beetwell Street, Chesterfield, S40 1QN) to pick up a free ticket.  You can also call or email the library on 01629 533 400 or @

This promises to be a fascinating launch and we hope to see you there.


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