This Heritage Week, a Blue Plaque has been unveiled at Webster & Horsfall to honour a 19th century industrialist, James Horsfall.
James’ inventions profoundly influenced the progress of the Industrial Revolution and today, his descendants continue to evoke his spirit of experiment and innovation as they embrace the new Industrial Age.
His company manufactured all the wire for the first successful Trans-Atlantic Telegraph Cable which, in 1866, connected the continents of Europe and America by electronic communication for the first time. His patent steel wire made the internal combustion engine a reality and cables strong enough for deep cast mining and is still manufactured by Webster & Horsfall today.
The plaque, authorised by The Birmingham Civic Society was unveiled on Sunday 13 September by The Bishop of Aston, The Right Reverend Anne Hollingshurst, and Charles Horsfall, Chairman of Webster & Horsfall, and a direct descendant of James. The ceremony took place outside St Cyprian’s Church, at Hay Mills, built by James Horsfall in 1870 for the benefit and wellbeing of his work force.
Charles Horsfall, in unveiling the plaque, said, “I am extremely proud to be here today to unveil this plaque to my great, great grandfather. At last we are able to give him the recognition he justly deserves for his extraordinary achievements. He has been the inspiration to succeeding generations of his family who have carried his company successfully into the twenty first century and continue to follow his principles of experiment and innovation as we work to bring green energy solutions to Birmingham. I would like to thank the Birmingham Civic Society for giving us this opportunity to celebrate James Horsfall in this way. St Cyprian’s Church, so long closely associated with our company who share in this commemoration, and most important our employees past and present and all those in our community who have, over centuries, helped to realise the aspirations of this extraordinary man.”
Webster & Horsfall is located at Hay Mills and is one of Birmingham’s oldest surviving companies. This year, the company is celebrating 300 years of continuous innovation and invention, exemplified by the work taking place at Tyseley Energy Park (TEP).
Developed and owned by Webster & Horsfall, TEP is harnessing the vision, passion and innovation of industry to increase employment in low carbon industries, stimulate innovation, demonstrate new technologies and create energy system solutions. TEP is working with a group of development partners including the University of Birmingham, local government and the private sector institutions to create a blueprint for systems thinking that will support Birmingham’s transition to a lower carbon future and positively contribute to local communities whilst reducing CO2 emissions by 2030. In doing so it follows the example set by James Horsfall driving new and innovative solutions to his manufacturing processes 170 years ago.