Gilbert, John

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b. 1724 Cotton Hall, Cotton, Staffordshire, England
d. 3 August 1795 Worsley, Lancashire, England
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English land agent, mining engineer and canal entrepreneur.
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Younger son of a gentleman farmer, Gilbert was apprenticed to Matthew Boulton, a buckle maker of Birmingham and father of the Matthew Boulton who was associated with James Watt. He also gained mining experience. Through the influence of his older brother, Thomas Gilbert, he became Land Agent to the Duke of Bridgewater (Francis Egerton) for the Worsley estate. He proposed extensions to the underground waterway system and also made a preliminary survey for a canal from Worsley to Salford, a project which Brindley joined as Assistant Engineer. Gilbert was therefore the prime mover in the construction of the Bridgewater Canal, which received its Act in 1759. He then collected evidence for the second Act to permit construction of the aqueduct across the Irwell at Barton. He was involved in a consortium with his brother Thomas and Earl Gower to develop the Earl's East Shropshire mines and to build the Shrewsbury and the Shropshire Coal Canals. He also excavated the Speedwell Mine at Castleton in Derbyshire between 1774 and 1781 and constructed the underground canal to serve the workings. With his brother, he was involved in the promotion of the Trent \& Mersey Canal and was a shareholder in the undertaking. Among his other entrepreneurial activities, he entered the canal-carrying business. His last work was beginning the underground inclined planes at Worsley, but these were not completed until after his death. His important place in the historical development of the inland navigational system in England has been very much overlooked.
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Further Reading
P.Lead, 1990, Agents of Revolution: John and Thomas Gilbert-Entrepreneurs, Keele University Centre for Local History.
JHB

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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