Catalogue description Documents of BRYAN DONKIN AND THE BRYAN DONKIN COMPANY LTD

This record is held by Derbyshire Record Office

Details of GB 0026 D5029
Reference: GB 0026 D5029

Records of Bryan Donkin and his early business activities prior to 1889, and records of the Bryan Donkin Company Ltd., after 1889. Also includes papers of the society that became the Institute of Civil Engineers, 1820s.

Date: 1804-1990s



Bryan Donkin and early business activities (before 1889) D5029/1-19


Journals and copy journals D5029/1


Notebooks D5029/2


Copy letter books and loose letters D5029/3


Specifications for patents D5029/4


Prospectuses for machinery D5029/5


Institution of Civil Engineers D5029/7


Working notes and business papers D5029/8


Business correspondence D5029/9-10


Papers relating to employees and industrial relations D5029/11-15


Scheutz Difference Machine D5029/16


Miscellaneous D5029/17


Engineering drawings D5029/18


Printed material D5029/19


Bryan Donkin Company Ltd (after 1889) D5029/20-32


Company papers D5029/20-22


Specifications for patents D5029/23


Correspondence referring to research in the company archives D5029/29


Company histories D5029/30


Brochures and promotions D5029/31-32


Miscellaneous D5029/33


Papers relating to rotary engines and pumping machines D5029/34


Papers relating to compound plate-making and the Donkin Pantograph Engraving Machine with Rose Engine D5029/35


Donkin family history D5029/36


Photographs D5029/37


Artefacts D5029/38

Related material:

For other company records, see D1851

Held by: Derbyshire Record Office, not available at The National Archives
Language: English

Bryan Donkin Company Limited, of Bermondsey, London, later of Chesterfield, Derbyshre

Physical description: 8 series
Immediate source of acquisition:

These records were deposited in Derbyshire Record Office in 1999 and 2001 by a private individual.

  • Institution of Civil Engineers
  • Donkin, Bryan, 1835-1902, engineer
  • Donkin, Edwin Bryan, d 1906, engineer
  • Chesterfield, Derbyshire
  • Bermondsey, London
  • Manufacturing industry
Administrative / biographical background:

Bryan 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. He also undertook overseas projects, notably the construction of a 75 foot water wheel for the Tuscan Felted Cloth Works near Florence (Italy) in 1842. His correspondents include John Rennie, Marc Isambard Brunel and Thomas Telford.


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 Petersburg (Russia) in 1858.


Barnard 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.


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. This site closed in June 1999.

Link to NRA Record:

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