Thomas Broadbent (1833-1880)

Thomas Broadbent was a millwright and engineer who founded the extant company Thomas Broadbent and Sons, Limited.


He was born on 5 October 1833, the son of manufacturer George Broadbent and his wife Mary (née Kaye), and was baptised on 10 November 1833 at St. John the Baptist, Kirkheaton.

He married Ellen Crabtree[1], the daughter of John Crabtree and his wife Ann, in 1859. The couple had seven known children:

Thomas Broadbent died on 5 December 1880, aged 47, of typhoid fever.

Ellen Broadbent died on 12 November 1905.


Huddersfield Chronicle (18/Dec/1880):

The Late Mr. Thomas Broadbent. — By the death of Mr. Thomas Broadbent, which took place at his residence, in Stables Street, Chapel Hill, on the 4th inst., from typhoid fever, the town loses one of its most able scientific investigators. Mr. Broadbent, who died at the early age of 47 years, was one of a well known group of self-educated men whose tastes for enquiry, and practical application of the principles of science, have done much for the furtherance of local industries, and whose names are to be found in the patent books as the authors of many successful inventions. Mr. Broadbent was the bosom friend of the late Mr. Thomas Whitwam, well known for so many years as mathematical teacher at the Mechanics' Institution. As a mechanical engineer — he was a member of Society of Civil Engineers — Mr. Broadbent's ingenuity and practical skill has left its mark in almost, if not quite every mill in the district. He was the architect and engineer of one of the largest concerns in the district — the mill of the Slaithwaite Spinning Company — and his ingenuity is especially manifest in the work which he has done for the Corporation in connection with reservoir construction, and more particularly with the winding-gear for hauling up clay waggons on the inclined plane at Wessenden Head. Another work of his was the putting in of the hydraulic hoist in the Estate Buildings, and he has been very frequently consulted in almost every branch of the work of the town where engineering data was required. His love of his profession was one of his greatest characteristics. Making a "good job of it" was pre-eminently his predominant thought in any work he undertook. A knotty mechanical problem gave him pleasure, and his knowledge of the theory of mechanics was always at the service of anyone who stood face to face with a difficulty. His last task in the region of experiment was the improvement of hydro-extractors, and the patent which he had taken out for it promises to be a considerable source of profit. His knowledge of the physical sciences generally was very great, and although a man of reserved and quiet habits, and of an unassuming nature, he had a large circle of friends. His death is mourned by these, and by a widow and seven children.

Institution of Mechanical Engineers: Obituaries:

Thomas Broadbent was born at Kirkheaton, near Huddersfield, on 5th October 1833. After being educated at Huddersfield College, and serving an apprenticeship to Mr. Richard Armitage in that town, he commenced business at Milnsbridge near Huddersfield as mechanical engineer and millwright, in partnership with Mr. B. J. Shaw, a fellow apprentice. On the dissolution of the partnership in 1868 he commenced business for himself at Huddersfield. He was the architect and engineer of the Slaithwaite Spinning Mill, the largest concern in the district; and erected the winding gear for hauling up clay wagons on the inclined plane at Wessenden Head, for the construction of the Huddersfield waterworks reservoir. He was frequently consulted in other engineering works of the town. Shortly before his death he introduced an improvement in hydro-extractors, for sugar refining, drying purposes, &c., employing a small steam engine to drive the machine direct at a speed of 1200 revs, per min. His death took place on 5th December 1880, at the age of forty-seven, from typhoid fever. He became a Member of the Institution in 1875.

Notes and References

  1. Also known as Helen.
  2. Married chemist Arthur William Hallitt (1864-1899) in 1892.
  3. Also known as Charlie. Received a scholarship to Her Majesty's Dockyard in June 1880 and worked as a Naval Engineer. Married Martha Broadbent (d.1890), daughter of David Broadbent of Longwood, on 24 July 1889 at St. Mark's Church, Longwood. Married Honora Walker in 1901. Died 10 June 1923.
  4. Married manufacturer Joseph Blamires of Bradley Lodge in 1892.
  5. Worked as a surgeon and G.P. Married Annie Andrews on 10 August 1901 at Kirkwall, Orkney, Scotland. Died 22 February 1912 at Wisbech, Cambridgeshire. The couple's only known child was Merlin Arthur Broadbent (1910-1974).
  6. Married Beatrice Sutcliffe in 1905. Died 22 May 1924 at 140 Trinity Street, Huddersfield.